Last weekend I visited my father at his home in Hartsville, South Carolina. Hartsville is a typical southern small town that the likes of Andy Griffith would be proud of. So you can imagine the buzz around town when a new Italian restaurant opened up. There wouldn’t be much debate, this is where we would be going for dinner.
I am not a food critic by any means, but I like Italian food. My mother’s side of the family is from Malta so while I am no expert on Italian cuisine I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on Mediterranean culture. Overall this place did a good job representing a Mediterranean style, but that wasn’t enough to save me from what was to come.
We took our seats and I couldn’t help noticing that it was apparent that a lot of time and planning had gone into the interior design. There were stucco walls inlaid with custom brick work. They had live plants above archways and the bar was what looked like a dark mahogany. The lighting was subtle enough to create an air of sophistication that one might find in an expensive New York restaurant. I was looking forward to the rest of the meal.
And then it happened. There was a man standing at the table beside ours flirting with some college girls (don’t take me wrong, I have nothing against flirting with college girls!). He was in his upper 50s in age and not at all in shape. He was talking loudly and being pretty obnoxious, but none of this is what bothered me. What bothered me was the fact that he was wearing a tank top. Yep that’s right a freaking tank top! I don’t really like tank tops myself, but I am not going to judge you if you want to wear one, they seem like a great thing to wear at the gym or while on a jog. But, please don’t wear a tank top near me while I am trying to digest food!
Honestly, its not really the tank top that bothered me, it was the fact that this guy had hairy armpits, and well, I could see them! It was like driving by a horrible car accident, you know you really shouldn’t look but you do anyways. The only difference here is that this guy’s armpits weren’t passing by they where stagnant right beside me, inviting my twisted curiosity to take another look over and over again. Even after he left and went to another section of the restaurant I couldn’t get the image of his pits out of my head. I didn’t have much of an appetite after that.
I kept asking myself, why doesn’t someone kick this guy out! They should have a dress code! No Armpits Allowed! And then I found something out that floored me. Armpit-Man is the owner! No wonder he felt so free to look like a complete bum, he owns this joint!
So now that I have totally grossed you out, I bet you are thinking um Joe, why are you sharing this with me? Well, lets take a look at this situation. This guy opens a new Italian restaurant in small town. He spends a good amount of money on interior design to create the perfect ambiance. You can tell he has trained his wait staff and bar tenders well, and the kitchen staff does a good job too. But for me all of this is a complete waste because I can’t get his freaking armpits out of my head! In a small town like Hartsville, everyone is going to get to know more about his armpits than his business!
If you are going to invest time and money into producing and promoting a product, you need to give 150% effort, 100% of the time. Which means you always hide your armpits! Never let your guard down and provide the best possible service and product at all times. This is not a choice it is an essential element to doing business in an age where consumers can find something better in several mouse clicks.
So the question becomes: How do I give 150% effort, 100% of the time? Here’s a real easy tip to remember. When doing anything, if you feel any amount of doubt about its quality or value, don’t do it! If you think for even a second that something you have invested time and effort into, isn’t going to succeed then bring it back to the drawing table and fix things! Otherwise you are cheating your customers, yourself and any other person that has invested time in you.
In closing if you think your product or service is showing it’s armpits, cover them now! For a quick reminder print out this flier [PDF] and paste it up somewhere in your office!