Lining Up to Be in Your Life

Accountability Organizational culture Transformation


Key Point: How do businesses become so beloved that people actually line up for them to be in their lives? Think about this amazing and unique phenomenon, and why it happens in a sustainable way?

I read about thousands of customers signing a petition to get Trader Joes to open a store in their city (Baltimore). I was on a team bus of professional athletes and team execs when we commandeered the vehicle to pull into an In & Out burger restaurant for an unplanned stop and burger run; messing up our flight schedule to make it so. Speaking of burgers, today there is an app people have on their phones to let them know how big the line is for Shake Shack in NYC. The lines stretch for blocks everyday. And in Austin, for years, people gather every day for Franklin Barbecue starting at 6:30 a.m even though it doesn’t open till 11 a.m. By noon, everything is sold out and Franklin closes. Over the last few years, when Apple has come out with a breakthrough product, people around the world have camped outside stores overnight to be first to buy. Newly released Star Wars movies evoke a similar response. Most Tim Hortons in Canada always have a cue. How about Warren Buffet’s Berkshire investors? And there are prototypes of business-to-business companies too. If one looks at things at a local level you probably can name other “small” remarkable examples. In Edmonton, Alberta, Duchess Bake Shop is like that; always a big crowd. It’s been that way for years.

In some ways, when you examine these organizations it seems fairly straightforward. There is something extraordinarily great AND consistent about the overall experience; often but not always, it involves both the product and the service. People will line up for just one of the attributes (remember the Soup Nazi episode in Seinfeld)? If it is amazing (and usually genius), product and service combine to give a legendary outcome, causing word of mouth from customers to fuel both customer and sales growth. The difficult thing is to do the hard work of the hard work of knowing what are the differentiating factors are, and then becoming fanatically obsessive about consistency! Pop culture phenomenon’s without either do happen, but usually do not last (remember Krispy Kream donuts)?

Jeanne Bliss, author, consultant and customer service guru emphasizes the following about this notion of becoming “beloved:”

    Know the Growth or Loss of Customers and Care About the ‘WHY?’
    Give Leaders a Framework for Guiding the Work of the Organization. Unite Accountability as Customers Experience You. Not Down Your Silos.
    Seek Input and Customer Understanding, Aligned to the Customer Journey.
    Know Before Customers Tell You, Where Experiences Are Unreliable. Deliver Consistent and Desired Experiences.
    Leadership Behaviors Required for Embedding the Five.”

It’s that easy and that hard!

Character Moves:

  1. Think about companies you line up for, if any. What lessons are transferable to your organization? Do you have the tenacity and insight to apply those lessons? Will people line up for your company?
  2. Here is the harder character move: Examine if people will line up for YOU (and me)? In your organization, what is YOUR (and mine) extraordinary product or service differentiator? If we could open up the opportunity, would people line up to work with or for us? Line up to keep us in their lives? What is the hard work of the hard work to achieve that status?

Lining up for us in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: As a resident of Los Angeles, I know quite a few of these establishments. The latest I’ve heard of is Howlin’ Ray’s hot Nashville chicken… You can check them out on YouTube and quickly notice you’ll be waiting more than an hour. In a town commonly afraid of carbs, that says something. At the end of the day, it seems every company can tweak their recipe in certain ways to make it a workplace worth lining up for, it just depends if the chefs can combine the right flavors.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis