Jay Leno was spotted hauling some subs out of an LA Subway yesterday. It’s nice to see the late night superstar and I have at least one thing in common.
Like Jay Leno, I am a sub shop customer. In my town we have a mixed bag of sandwich shops, from the biggies (you know: Subway, Quiznos, Jimmy John’s) to unique locals, like the Blue Ox (one of my faves).
This variety is good because I tend to get bored easily. It’s nice to be able to shop around. Which makes me wonder, what keeps people (like Leno) coming back to certain sub shops? Why did he grace Subway with his presence? Why not a place with some local flavor? Why not Jimmy John’s or Quizno’s? What do customers look for that attracts them again and again, especially with all the choices they have?
So I did some research. (I talked to some people and went online – not at all scientific.) Here’s what I discovered.
The main attractions that draw people to (or pushed them away from) a specific sub shop seem to be: location, brand, food (menu & quality), price and experience. (These are not listed in any order. They’re just the reasons I heard most from people.)
The best responses are when people talk about their experience as a reason for choosing or avoiding a sub shop. For example:
The sub was good, but nothing I haven’t had anywhere else. But I cannot recall being made to feel so unwelcome in an otherwise empty sandwich shop. Maybe they were robbers, and the real owners were bound and gagged in the back? Anyway, I won’t be back. I’ll go to shops that appreciate my money.
At the other end of the experience scale is Lenny’s Sub Shop (a small chain in and around Houston, TX). Again and again their customers rave about how friendly the people at Lenny’s are. Here’s a typical remark:
This place has the best sandwiches and service. They are very friendly. Prices are a little high, but worth it.
I’ll go to the Blue Ox if I have time or if I’m meeting someone. If I’m more in a rush or craving their cookies, I’ll go to Subway. But that’s when I’m in my home town. Things are different when I travel.
If I’m away from home and I decide to eat at a sub shop, I always pick Subway or Jimmy John’s. I like Subway because it’s consistent and clean. I know I will always get what I expect no matter which Subway I’m in. On the other hand Jimmy John’s has a specific sub I can’t get anywhere else. And I like the attention I get at Jimmy John’s. They never fail to shout out a greeting when I arrive and a farewell when I leave. (I know they’re trained to do that and so it’s not 100% genuine. But it feels good.)
So why does Jay Leno like Subway?
Is it the closest place to his mansion? Is it the cleanliness? I doubt it’s the $5 footlong deal but you never know. Maybe they baked some fresh chocolate chip cookies just for him. Only Jay knows for sure and I doubt he’ll tell me.
What’s more important though, is why do YOUR customers choose your business? It didn’t take me long to learn why a few people pick or avoid certain sub shops. You can do the same with your company. Talk to your customers. Discover why they choose you or why they avoid you. Then put this knowledge to work. Do this and you’ll see more repeat business, greater share of wallet and more referrals from your customers. I guarantee it!