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Extra Rice
What can you do to surprise and delight your customers?

By Dave Balch

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant? Of course you have! And did you ever take your leftovers home? Naturally! Did they give you extra rice? Hmmmmm...

Frankly, to me, that's what "separates the men from the boys" in the Chinese food category. At our favorite Chinese restaurant they ALWAYS give us extra rice with our leftovers. You're probably wondering, "Why is this so important"?

I'm getting there.

Think about it. You have ordered several plates of food, they bring rice on the side (usually complimentary, along with the tea), and you dig in. When you just can't eat any more, you call for the containers and they box it up. Maybe there's just a little rice left, barely enough to fill a container, but you can't eat your Chinese leftovers without rice, can you? So you ask for that as well. If there is just a little rice left in the bowl, they pack it up. But if they are on the ball, they will fill that container with extra rice so you'll have enough for your re-heated meal.

Or, better yet, they'll fill the container with fresh rice! It's thoughtful. It's good service. It's an unexpected bonus for you, the customer. And it's practically free for the restaurant. If you ask me, it's a no-brainer way to give customers added value at virtually no cost. If we are taking a dish that has a special sauce that's served separately, they include extra sauce, too. Again, more, unexpected, added value at no measurable cost.

How can you adapt this model for your business? How can you add value, surprise your customers with it, and do it at practically no cost to you? Even if there is a cost involved, maybe it's worth it. Only you can decide that, but think about it! How do others do this? sends out free bookmarks with every book. A local appliance store includes a free box of laundry detergent with every washer, a box of static-reducers with every dryer, and a box of dishwashing detergent with every dishwasher. Whenever I get my car serviced, they wash it before I pick it up. When we use the drive- thru at our local McDonald's and they see a dog in the car, they give us a dog biscuit. A movie theater gives free popcorn after you have attended a certain number of movies.

My challenge to you is this: come up with something extra that you can give your customers to add value to whatever you do. If you're already doing this, how can you make or do it even better?

But how do you come up with these ideas? Here are some ways:

1. Ask your customers (too easy)!

2. Have a brainstorming session with other business owners, and help each other come up with ideas.

3. Research what others do, and adapt what you like for your own situation. Get creative! Give extra rice and extra sauce too; you will stand out from the crowd.

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(c) Copyright 2009-2003, Dave Balch. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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