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
CropLife 100Allied Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
FungicidesReport: Sudden Death Syndrome Symptoms Appearing In Soy…
July 30, 2015
Last week, symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Read More
Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
ManagementTechnology and agriculture: a Futurist’s Perspective
July 30, 2015
Futurist David Zach, speaking at this week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, shared thoughts on the benefits and limitations of Read More
Biofuels Plant in Lousiana
Industry NewsIdle Biofuels Plant In Louisiana To Reopen As Ammonia F…
July 30, 2015
A Lithuania-based company plans to spend $265 million to reopen an idle biofuels refinery in Grant Parish as an ammonia Read More
FFA at Monsanto Booth at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Industry NewsFive Students Receive The 2015 Monty’s Plant Food Compa…
July 29, 2015
This fall, five college-bound students will have financial support through the Monty’s Plant Food Company FFA Scholarship. All five scholarship Read More
GYPSOIL Blendable Pellets
Crop InputsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches Pelletized Gypsum …
July 29, 2015
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) announced this week at Ag Media Summit that its GYPSOIL Pelletized Products Division will open a Read More
StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosph…
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
FertilizerKoch Agronomic Services Launches N-TEGRATION Technology
July 27, 2015
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) has launched  N-TEGRATION Technology, a process technology platform designed to enable production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers at Read More
HerbicidesExpert: IARC Herbicide Classifications Leading To Confu…
July 24, 2015
Few people in the crop protection industry had heard of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) before this Read More
ManagementFCI Trade Summit Update & Precision Tank Turns 50
July 23, 2015
Editors Dave Frabotta and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the upcoming FCI Trade Summit in Las Vegas, NV, and how Precision Tank Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesUSDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait
July 23, 2015
The USDA today issued its decision deregulating Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the U.S. The USDA has now completed its Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Showcases Versatile Product Por…
July 23, 2015
Technology has revolutionized agriculture by bringing farmers, retailers and distributors to the forefront of the digital age. To meet the Read More
FertilizerWSJ: Cf Industries Exploring Merger With Dutch Chemical…
July 23, 2015
U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries is in advanced merger talks with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI NV, the Wall Street Journal Read More
HerbicidesNufarm Releases New Panther SC Herbicide
July 23, 2015
Nufarm has announced the availability of new Panther SC herbicide. Panther SC is the first liquid formulation of flumioxazin available Read More
EquipmentFarmLink Launches Farm Equipment Sharing Program
July 23, 2015
FarmLink has introduced a new online farm equipment sharing community – MachineryLink Sharing – leveraging this new economy business model Read More
HerbicidesCould The South’s Most Troublesome Weed Represent A Thr…
July 22, 2015
Palmer amaranth is undoubtedly the most troublesome weed in the southern United States, taking a devastating toll on both cotton Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Hires New Director Of International Sales
July 22, 2015
Global Agriculture firm H.J. Baker announced today that Steve Langley has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division and Animal Health Read More