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Lesson #3: Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Unlike its predecessor, the second Subway store had a more visible street entrance on a road in Bridgeport that experienced much higher levels of street traffic. Slowly, business began to pick up, and DeLuca had learned an important lesson. He put himself in his customers’ shoes and thought about what they would want: a highly visible storefront that communicated a message of cleanliness and safety. Soon, he had begun opening up additional stores on prominent corners throughout the city, and he found the recipe worked.
Visibility was essential for DeLuca, not only in terms of the external storefront, but inside as well. He revolutionized the fast food world by offering fresh ingredients that were put together right in front of his customers’ eyes. He believed that customers would want to be able to see what was going into the foods they were buying. And so, he built custom-made counters that would allow customers to see the sandwiches as they were made – and to specify what they wanted in them. He thought customers would place high importance on custom-made food.
On top of that, DeLuca wanted his company to be known for having only the freshest of ingredients. That is why he began requiring each store to bake its own bread on a daily basis. He even personally designed Subway’s bread machines to ensure that the quality of bread was healthier than what most other restaurants were offering. Before DeLuca, fast food chains were thought of as greasy and unhealthy, and their food filled with mystery ingredients. DeLuca brought his operation out into the open and offered customers the chance at a healthy alternative.
The success of that formula spilled over into the company’s brand image. After realizing what he was on to, DeLuca made the company’s slogan, “Eat Fresh.” Whenever people wanted to eat a fresh and healthy meal, DeLuca wanted his store to come front of mind.
Besides giving his customers both a trusting environment and the ingredients to go along with it, DeLuca also made it a priority to attract new customers each and every day. To do that, he encouraged feedback from his customers and never stopped listening to their tips. After all, how else better was there to understand his customers’ needs and put himself in their shoes than by asking them directly?
By focusing on what his customers would want from his store from the inside out, DeLuca was able to anticipate their needs and give them what they wanted before they even knew it themselves.
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