A Beaver Tale
You’re trudging your way home through rush-hour traffic. The only thing on your mind is spending some relaxing moments with your loved ones. Then, from out of the blue, it hits you - a revolutionary concept, one that’s sure to redefine your industry and your place within it.
With a vigor you haven’t felt since your short pants and sandbox days, you call everyone into your office the next day to unveil your concept. It’s met with reluctant zeal, putting it mildly, and as the day progresses, you inevitably begin to succumb to this prevalent lack of enthusiasm.
Probably, and that’s a shame - because that’s how most ground-breaking concepts are dashed before they ever get the opportunity to flourish and prove themselves as viable, capable, business ideas.
Case in point – A BEAVER TALE.
It all began at a meeting with our client, the Holiday Inn On King. They tabled a concern that their in-hotel restaurant, The Canadian Bar & Grill, was not drawing a large enough share of the area’s lunchtime patronage.
We agreed that we would be facing three obstacles in attempting to increase the lunchtime traffic. Namely: 1) The Canadian Bar & Grill was inside a hotel, which traditionally draws less traffic than does a street level restaurant; 2) there was a torrent of competition in the immediate area; and, 3) nobody was quite sure what a "Canadian" themed restaurant was.
Returning to the office, we met for a brainstorming session. Many ideas surfaced, including mine for creating a signature snack food in conjunction with an incentive offer - a coupon for the lunchtime menu. While the idea evoked a slew of positive feedback and remarks, I could see it making a beeline for the "great idea, but..." file.
And that’s probably the way it would have ended, except...
I couldn’t let it go. I thought it was a great idea. I resolved that the others at the session just needed a little more convincing. So, with only a credit card in hand, I headed off to Pusateri’s, our local "if you need anything, you can find it here" grocery store.
Two hours and $300.00 later I headed home and into the kitchen.
After Toni, my wife and partner, settled down from the shock of the state of the kitchen – I presented her with my creation – a Beaver Chip. Beaver Chips are delicately fried, fresh pasta snacks seasoned with my very own blend of nine secret herbs and spices.
Feeling a vested pride, (especially considering the Colonel needed 11 to attain his notoriety), I presented Beaver Chips at the office the very next day. Modesty aside, they were an instant hit, and we all agreed that we would include them in our recommendations for marketing the restaurant.
Presentation day came. We had designed and mocked up several sample bags, which we proudly filled with Beaver Chips and our coupon offer. We presented, and our client's response to Beaver Chips was positively ecstatic.
Our ride back to the office was spent with me deflecting my team’s "what if" questions with, "don’t worry guys... we’ll figure it out!". When we got back to the office, "figuring it out" became a top priority. The call from the client had already come in. Holiday Inn On King had ordered 5,000 bags of the Beaver Chip promotion!
Let’s do the math - 5,000 bags of Beaver Chips at approximately 25 chips per bag equals 125,000 chips! While I tried to maintain a calm exterior, visions of myself, my wife and my kids donning hairnets and producing Beaver Chips en masse were flooding my mind.
I got busy trying to find a manufacturer to produce the product. My first visit was to a potato chip factory, where I found out they produced 100,000 chips in about one hour. Taking that enormous figure into consideration, our order of Beaver Chips wasn’t large enough for them to reconfigure their automated process to fill our order.
But they too loved the product.
Next, I was off to a contract food manufacturer and then to a contract caterer – both of whom told me in no uncertain terms that the order was much too big for them to handle.
But they too loved the product.
The next week was filled with us checking out numerous manufacturing possibilities and holding several taste test focus groups. The results in finding a manufacturer were dismal, but the results of the focus groups were amazing. Of the over 300 taste testers, we received only two that didn’t like the product. (And if the truth be known, we didn’t really like those two people anyway!).
What to do now?
To make a long story short (or is it too late?), we tucked our beaver tails firmly between our legs and we met with our client to come clean with the Beaver Chip tale. He sat expressionless as we told our story. After he mulled it over for a few moments, he firmly suggested that we not tell anyone else about the product. He had decided that we could manufacture this first order in the hotel’s kitchens and he then went on to arrange a meeting with the owner of the hotel. This meeting resulted in a partnership to take "Beaver Chip Brand Pasta Chips" to market nationally.
Shameless self-promotion aside, by now you must be thinking – so what’s the moral of the story? Well, as simply as I can put it – see your visions through. And while this may sound easier than it really is, I believe it’s important to keep this in mind – “every time you read one of these inspirational success stories, remember that some vital facts and figures are usually omitted, which are all the failures that preceded the success."
Of course, that’s not to say you should enter into this with the notion that you will fail. Whenever I think of a new, amazing concept, I’m always under the impression it will prevail. Sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it does. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t try it out, you’ll never know either which way.
Just keep at it. Have faith in your incredible idea. Even if your most trusted and valued peers don’t recognize it’s promise right away, before you know it, you’ll be writing your very own success story (minus the multitude of failures that fell in between, of course).