Hello and good day!
There are few feelings in this world better than when all of your hard work and preparation pay off.
We've all had experiences like this.
Maybe you worked your butt off getting ready for a big game and when game day came around, you played your best and absolutely sizzled the other team. Or maybe you studied hard for a big test and then aced it.
I had the opportunity of seeing one of my sons play violin at an anniversary party not too long ago.He practiced and practiced and was ready.
However, at the last minute he didn't want to play because he got too nervous. In the end, we had to bribe him with his own, full bottle of Martinelli sparkling apple cider if he could find the valor to play.
With that inducement, he recovered his nerves, and got up in front of the big party. He nailed it and felt so proud of himself afterwards. Everybody came over and congratulated him.My wife and I lived up to our end of the bargain by pulling a fresh bottle of sparkling apple cider out of the party fridge.
Those little moments when your kids see first hand how hard work pays off are priceless.
Anyhow, yesterday, Saturday, in our chocolate shop, my brother Brian and I got to live through a similar experience.From the moment we opened the door until the time we closed, we were absolutely packed.
Brian and I work an owner's shift on Saturday mornings.
If you are ever in Issaquah, WA on Saturday morning, and you'd like to come on by and stay a while, we'll be there.During the week, Brian and I don't get much quality time together. We see each other most days, but in general, we have to talk business.
\He has a family and runs our cacao buying and processing operation in Peru. He also oversees all of our customer service and shipping.I run the shops with the help of my wonderful wife, and I also oversee production.
We have a wonderful production team though, and my job in that regard isn't so taxing. I do all the sales and marketing and much of the accounting work as well.
But on Saturday morning, Brian and I get to hang out together for a solid 5 hours.
We are usually working hard the entire time, serving customers, but we also find ourselves getting into some funny banter and generally enjoying ourselves.
It is something we really look forward to. In the picture we are working together at our processing facility in the campo in Peru.
Anyhow, what I found so interesting and satisfying about being in the shop yesterday was that customers have told friends, who have told friends, who have also told friends, and they are all coming in.
There are a lot of repeat customers.
And now, we are drawing people in from the surrounding big cities.Issaquah, WA is a little town of 40,000 - 50,000 people.There is a Costco in town, and an REI. Those big shops bring people in from other places.Seattle is 20-30 minutes west of us.
There are a couple of other cities that are much bigger than Issaquah that are a similar distance away.For example Bellevue and Redmond both have big tech headquarters.In general, you don't get folks coming from the bigger cities over to Issaquah. They've got plenty of amenities right where they are.
So when we start getting people making the trek over to Issaquah to see us, that is the ultimate compliment.
And to be honest, I thought that this would happen.
I didn't know how long it would take. But I thought that if we could provide outstanding customer service and a unique shopping experience, the word would get out.And it has. Just like we drew it up.
Free hot chocolate, lots of free samples, lots of story telling, lots of educating people about where chocolate comes from, lots of asking people how life is going, lots of saying thank you, and smiling, and remembering people's names.
That is the work that we engage in and it is starting to pay off. And if we keep engaging in that work, the result will stay the same and multiply.
Thankfully, we've been through the wringer too much during the course of our company's history to ever take anything for granted. We've got the battle scars to remind us that once something starts working, you don't stop doing it.
You'd be a dang fool to.
Seeing something finally come together is one of the sweetest of all feelings, why would you ever do something to put that in jeopardy? This is where battle scars and making a lot of mistakes over the years really help us.
Those things humble you.
They make you realize that whatever good thing you've got going in your life isn't because you are so naturally great. It is because you stumbled on to some piece of knowledge or wisdom, you put that knowledge in play, and the results flowed from that.
It isn't you. It is what you discovered and how you behaved as a result of your discovery. If we stop fermenting cacao the same as always, our chocolate will start to suck, no matter how smart we think we are.
And if our level of customer service goes down, or if our production team starts to cut corners, people will stop doing business with us and telling their friends.Anyhow, I am running out of steam a bit for now.
Thank you so much for your time today.
If you've got something going in your life that is working well, keep doing it! It won't just keep happening all by itself!
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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