Growing Prize Potatoes

I was just checking this year’s first crop of potatoes, which are growing strongly in pots in my greenhouse.  

I only ever grow one potato in each pot since I’ve found from previous years that if I plant more I don’t get a better crop. I just get lots of small potatoes that are hard to clean.

Trying to grow potatoes and tomatoes in the same pot leads to complete disaster.

This reminded me of a conversation I often have with restaurant and coffee shop owners who aren’t doing so well. Their usual solution is to ask me to design ways to add more services, perhaps so they can open at breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. Sometimes they want want to add ever more dishes to the menu.  I’ve never known any of these things transform a struggling business. This is because customers won’t believe that they can be good at lots of different things all at the same time.

Famous For One Thing

I think this is worth repeating another way.  It’s not possible to be famous for doing lots of things averagely, it’s only possible to be famous for being the best at something.

So mainly, what I find when I'm asked to help failing restaurants is that they got left behind and would be better fixing the problems with what they already do instead of making more work.  Mostly, they’re best advised to reduce their menus and improve their focus.

I once knew a posh chocolate shop owner who, in a failed attempt to improve his business, which was doing just fine anyhow, started selling sandwiches at lunch.  The sandwiches sold well but his customers no longer understood his story and they stopped buying chocolate, which was his most profitable line.  He went bust.

You may argue that there are exceptions.  You’ll say. “what about McDonalds?” The world’s biggest restaurateurs or Weatherspoon’s, who own pubs everywhere and open all day.  My answer is that McDonalds are famous for being fast and Weatherspoon’s are famous for being cheap.  These are believable, focused stories managed in microscopic detail by experts.

So, if you’re ever tempted to add more products or services to your business make sure to remember that you can only get one good crop from your pot.