A couple of weeks ago, the hotel where my Rotary Club meets switched out plate lunches for buffet lunches. It’s a seemingly unremarkable change. Rotarians went from being delivered a plate with food on it to serving themselves from a buffet.

However, the hotel grew their profitability by making this change.

Consider that:

  • Food takes less labor to prepare as it’s no longer being plated for guests.
  • Rather than having two or three staff members ferry meals to every person in the conference room, there’s just one person who monitors the buffet tables for when a container needs to be replaced.
  • There’s less food waste, because guests serve themselves the amount and type of food they want.

No one in the Rotary cared. In fact, you could make a case that the hotel made the meal more valuable for Rotarians by increasing the speed with which they were able to get their meal and customize it to their preferences.

There is a difference between what you value and what customers value. One method to grow your business, without adding customers or staff, is to optimize the delta in your value mechanisms.

We tend to project our own values onto our products and services- but we’re not the buyer. The result is that we spend resources on work that customers really don’t care about.

Not only that, but we can often increase the things that we value and often customers don’t care about that either (e.g. payment terms, pricing, how things are produced.)

To take advantage of this though, you have to have a deep understanding of what customers do and don’t value and also what you value.

More on optimizing profit and how you can amplify it from the customer’s perspective: The Profit Window

Featured image is of course the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. One imagines Jesus was served his dish, but maybe he and the disciples went through a simple buffet? High resolution scan by http://www.haltadefinizione.com/ in collaboration with the Italian ministry of culture. Used under Public Domain.