Thomas Keller teaches us that sticking to your core beliefs may force you to leave a comfortable situation. He believed that small is beautiful and now all of his restaurants and portions are small. Customers seem to love a few bites of one thing and are happy to move on to the next tiny course.
Q: How do I stand out in the crowd?
We know that Thomas Keller is willing to stay true to himself. First, he lost a partner when he wouldn’t compromise on the menu at Rakel. Second, when he saw The French Laundry and decided this would be the location of what he hoped would be his first successful venture, he would not relent. He had no money but he was so strongly attracted to the building in Yountville that he worked like a dog to put together the financing.
We all know that accomplished people do whatever it takes for them to achieve their goals. The runner runs the extra miles, the parent sacrifices for the children, the scientist works non-stop in the laboratory to prove out a theory, the rancher stays up all night to nurse a sick animal.
Something deep inside told Thomas Keller that this location was right for him. He said, it feels like home and it feels like it could be any where in the world. It is a magical place and he knew he would not be happy if he could not open a restaurant in this location.
Q: How do I do it differently from others in my marketplace?
Q: How does this philosophy translate into a marketing strategy?
People brag that they have a reservation. They brag that they went to The French Laundry and tell stories about the fabulous food. This creates a buzz and more demand.
Second, Thomas has figured out that people are sated by a flavor after just a few bites. Therefore, he pleases the customer by giving them a little of a lot. Thomas plans his meals based upon the law of diminishing returns: the more you have of something, the less you want of it. He says, “So we want to give you just enough to where you get to the point that you’ve had that last bite at the pinnacle of flavor. Your taste buds accept the flavor, realize the flavor, and then your mouth reaches the point where all of a sudden, it becomes saturated with the flavor and then your enjoyment of the flavor begins to diminish. Well, we want you to finish the dish before your enjoyment diminishes.”
Again, he creates buzz. The diner is so perfectly pleased, he tells everyone they must go to The French Laundry. Many diners don’t even know why they are so happy when they leave.
Q: Can this philosophy be applied to other businesses?
Thomas Keller’s style may be difficult for diners, however, because we are all so conditioned to having salad, soup, main course, and then dessert. Thomas says he has no main course because every course to him is a main course. Every course is of equal value to the total experience. This offers a safety net because if you don’t like one particular dish, they’ll be another course along soon. What’s not to like?