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
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More