Core offering

Today I walked into one of my client’s canteen. It had recently undergone a big refurbishment and the place looked bright, clean and welcoming. As I walked around to look at my options I was bombarded with stands with the heading ‘Rate our Service’ and I had the choice of a red unhappy face, yellow neutral face or a green smiley face.

Which one did I press? None of them. Why? I was annoyed by the question. The biggest complaint about this canteen was not the decor or the service but the food. People didn’t like eating there. The food was not up to standard and yet money had been spent on redesigning the look and feel and I was being asked to rate the service. I didn’t want to rate the service — I wanted to rate the food.

So my question to the canteen manager was — what is your core offering? Are you creating an environment? Are you competing with a multitude of other service providers?. Would you call your offering a service? If yes then you are competing against any organisation who has customers. Or is it the food? Obviously it is the food. This is a canteen but then why not ask me to rate your core offering. Why not get feedback what differentiates you from the other restaurants and canteens within a 5 minute walk of the building — your food?

This is a common challenge that a lot of businesses face. I see this regularly when asking the question ‘why is this important to you?’ A lot of times I get blank looks or the answer ‘because it just is.’ Who says it is? Your customer, your supplier, your employees? So many businesses both large and small are run on emotions. They operate in a certain way and focus on things because they ‘think’ it is right, not because they know it is right, not because when they surveyed or spoke to their target market the feedback was specific. You need to use your gut feel to drive your business but you also need to balance it with true reflection and questions to ensure you are focusing on the right stuff!

So as you look at your business ask yourself — what is my core offering? Then be ruthless in ensuring you are focusing your time and effort to meet the expectations of your target market. Build reward and recognition schemes that drive the behaviours that enhance this core offering. Don’t annoy customers by asking for their comments on secondary and tertiary propositions when you core is not up to scratch!

Originally published at on June 9, 2017.