Bring On The Salsa

I was going out to lunch with a co-worker a couple of weeks ago, traveling to that area of the city where all the chain restaurants seem to land and compete against each other in a lunch rush death match.

Anyway, there on the left was the skeletal remains of a Chi Chi’s Mexican restaurant. Seeing it there made me blurt out: “Man, what the heck ever happened to that chain? That would make an interesting case study in how to run a business into the ground.”

Well, I suppose it would, but frankly, I was a fairly keen observer to the demise of this chain that dominated the mid-1980s to a degree equal to Outback Steakhouse and Chili’s today.

High school friends that moved to the West Coast for college called home and told us about the marvels of Mexican fare back then, so when Chi Chi’s came to town, it made quite a splash. 

Chips and salsa to start the meal? Cool. Spicy, cheesy, tasty stuff we hadn’t experienced before. Margaritaville. Happy Birthday sung at the table. My wife-to-be was hooked, so we were there about every other weekend.

They brought a lot of value to the table, including well-trained and upbeat servers. It was great for quite a while. But then, something happened.

I can remember the meal like it was yesterday. The hostess was not so upbeat. The chips came, and they were obviously from a different (and frankly inferior) source. The chip basket was smaller. And instead of bringing out both hot and mild salsa, they asked us to choose, and brought only one kind.

I looked up and caught my gal’s gaze. She said: “What’s going on? It’s all different.” I said: “Hon, it feels like some managers got hold of the place and they’re trying to cut costs.”

I don’t generally have the guts to ask stuff like this, but I couldn’t resist asking our waitress about it.

“Sorry, sir, they changed our instructions on serving guests.” 

“But we liked it the way it was!”

“Sorry, sir.”

Clearly she was exasperated, and it was likely not the first time she heard it. We paid for the meal, left, and never again returned to a place we considered special to us.

I’m sure there was a rational business reason for doing what they did. Profits, minimizing waste, efficiency … very practical, measurable reasons. But businesses built on the personal experience are anything but practical.

In many ways, seed selling is an impractical business, too. It takes year-round commitment. It takes getting out with the growers, in the combines, scouting the fields; testing, talking, sharing the experience of growing, harvesting, measuring, learning, and analyzing well before a sale is complete. Without that commitment, seed selling can never become what it must for the full-service retailer ­— a pillar of profitability.

In the cover story, I included an interview with a farmer-seedsman to bring home the importance of dedication to seed. As a full-service retailer with multiple inputs to deliver, it may not be a business model you can emulate. But it does show the level of commitment possible with a high degree of focus and unquestionably strong service.

To get growers, and to keep them coming back, your service must be excellent and consistent. In other words, keep the salsa coming …

Leave a Reply

Latest News
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Corn Field
InsecticidesArysta LifeScience, DuPont Collaborate On Rynaxpyr Prem…
February 8, 2017
Arysta LifeScience recently announced that it has entered into a global collaboration with DuPont Crop Protection for the development of Read More
Industry NewsThe Fertilizer Institute Board Elects New Chairman, Vic…
February 8, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) Board of Directors has elected Chuck Magro, President and CEO of Agrium, and Tony Will, President Read More