February 19, 2014 we celebrated our third Waffle Wednesday with over 55 people enjoying waffles we made to order, hot coffee, fresh juices and plenty of toppings. While we enjoy making and eating waffles, this quarterly event is about much more than that.
Here are a few observations and lessons from Waffle Wednesday:
1. It’s not about us. These events allow our customers, partners, neighbors and friends to break away from their normal routines and enjoy an opportunity to connect with others. Creating a place for people to let loose with a picture in the photobooth, go wild with the whip cream cans, re-live their childhood waffle creations, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee or juice is better than any “low interest rate” advertising we can do.
Business application: Don’t always be talking about yourself. Take an ego break and genuinely listen to others. Listen for opportunities that you can provide value to others, even when you are not the one benefiting monetarily. Make any experience you are a part of, a positive one. Leave others knowing that you care about more than their wallets.
2. You’ve got to roll with it. It’s taken three Waffle Wednesdays to realize that a standard power strip or even a heavy duty one from Home Depot will not simultaneously power six waffle makers from the same outlet. When our first customer arrived the iron was not hot enough, nor did we spray the irons with the almighty Pam leaving what looked like a mess of spewing waffle batter. We kept making new waffles while keeping the environment light and fun. Everything turned out fine, we just had to go with it.
Business application: Don’t allow your stress to affect your customers experience. When you open the “waffle maker” in your business and the batter isn’t doing what it should, own it and when appropriate laugh. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Chances are your customers have done something similar and have an equally embarrassing story. How you handle a not-perfect situation says more about you than how you handle the best one.
3. Spotlight your values. It’s not about the waffles. We created Waffle Wednesday to celebrate one of our favorite core values, to be Creative and Fun. We wanted to create a space where our customers, partners, and neighbors could connect with others and understand that our values are more than just words on the wall.
Business application: Create opportunities for your customers to understand how you do what you do, and why. Connect with them in a genuine way. Life is not always about business, however, it’s always about people.