The Roadhouse. The Deli. I love them and anything else that Zingerman's does.
When it comes to their eateries, obviously the quality of food plays a big role, but let's be honest (and perhaps a bit pretentious), we live in Ann Arbor. There's so many great places to eat in town that the quality of the food definitely matters, but in this town, although you can get by on great food alone, it helps to have more of a culture outside of great food.
What keeps me a Zingerman's loyalist and fan are the people and the experience.
I've been hard pressed to find an organization, let alone the size of Zingerman's, where everyone seems to truly care about providing a high level of service with their own personal touch to it. I've never left Zingerman's and thought "man, that person must be having a bad day." I always have a friendly face (or if ordering over the phone, a voice) to take care of me. I truly appreciate that.
Go up the ladder to the co-founders, Ari & Paul, but first a quick story.
Without going to into a crazy amount of detail, for those of you who don't know, Zingerman's has a brand under the Zingerman's umbrella that provides educational experiences for other businesses on how Zingerman's conducts business (it's called "Zingtrain"). If you're interested in learning more, then click here.
Anyway, I took their "Zingerman's Experience" course back in the summer of 2014. After one of the days, we all go to the Roadhouse for dinner. That's where I met Paul. We sat and talked about life, business, and then eventually got on the topic of his health & fitness. Long story short, Paul came into the gym and started working with me. During the time that I got to know Paul on a personal level. To know his background and how he and Ari had built the Zingerman's brand to what it was at that time was beyond admirable. Not to mention he was one of the most kind and considerate human beings that I've ever met.
As for Ari, he lead our course and then other courses and talks that I attended. Let me tell you first hand, this guy is a legend. His work ethic and vision are unmatched. I know through talking with him and witnessing with my own eyes how devoted he is to Zingerman's and making sure that it is the absolute best part of someone's day when they walk into a Zingerman's establishment.
Here is one story that sums Ari up and the kind of guy he is and how passionate he is about what he does. A friend and colleague of mine was in town for an event with the UofM Kinseiology department. We both were on the expert panel and after the event we met up and went to Zingerman's Roadhouse for dinner. We're talking and catching up and drinking our water ridiculously fast. Who comes over and refills our glasses? Ari. The head of multi-million dollar company serving us water at 9PM on a Tuesday night!
Some of you business people might think "wow, that's a really inefficient use of one's time", but as a fellow business person I think "damn, this guy is so passionate about what he does and about connecting with people." Ari does it because he enjoys doing it and it's an opportunity for him to connect with his customers. Integrity moves like that are what make me respect the hell out of Ari.
I took another course on the process of creating a vision. At the beginning of each morning they would feed us with a buffet set out for us to get into. I'd eat my breakfast before I would get to the event, but I'd always grab 3-4 slices of bacon. On the last day of the event, one of the team members walked up to me with a plastic bag that was the size of a couch pillow. Stuffed inside? Zingerman's bacon!
"Hey Mike, we noticed that you really like the bacon. We had a lot leftover so we thought you might want to take this home."
Then there's the countless times that I've ordered Roadhouse To-Go which if you have ever driven by the Roadhouse, then you will see that stainless steel trailer that sits outside. That's where you pick up your food. Everytime that I had Calvin sitting in the backseat, they would make sure to put a little piece of bacon inside of a plastic container and give it to Calvin. I think he enjoyed licking the plastic container all the way home more than actually eating the bacon 🙂
There's so many more ways they make my experience great, but those two stories are a couple of examples that I wanted to share.
What's The Point of Sharing This?
Whether it's in business or in life, we all have people that we do our best to be there for and serve. Two of the things that we can focus on to make sure we're making the most impact is our actions/behaviors and the experience for the people that we interact with.
Nobody likes being around someone who is always complaining, gossiping, hypocritcal, etc. You've gotta be better for yourself in order to be better for others.
Your actions and behaviors will likely be enough to provide the impact that you seek to make as people will look at you as someone who provides inspiration and a guiding light, but then the icing on the cake becomes the experience. What do you add to those qualities and traits that makes you one of a kind?