Making Better Fries – A Story of Social Media and Small Business

November 7, 2008

image Charlie owns a few things, a wholesale bakery, a few burger joints, some other odds and ends.  And he checks regularly for mentions of his businesses on the web.  Yelp, blogs, google reviews, where ever.

Charlie replies to every review, every mention of his companies.  He understands that social media is a conversation and not an invasion.

But he also understands that it’s not just a conversation to be grudgingly participated in.  He knows that real market research, real customer feedback, is coming out of these reviews.

So, when Yelper John C. of Pemberton, BC reviewed Charlie’s Blue Moon Burgers in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and said this:

The fries at first were great, but they got a bit soggy and mushy as I dug into the heaping portion.

Charlie knew he needed to do something.

Blue Moon Burgers uses all organic ingredients, which means that the fries they are making for you are hand cut from organic potatoes.  They aren’t bred in a lab or reconstituted for perfect fryability.  They are actual potatoes actually being fried in actual organic and natural oil.

The reason that products like oil and potatoes are so engineered today is to make them have the consistency and taste people want at the expense of health.

But, Charlie wanted real food and he wanted it to taste good.

So Charlie gets on the horn and calls his various suppliers and starts experimenting.  Different oils, different temperatures, different cooking times.  What combination would give people the best real french fries while not making the fries cost $30 a plate? 

Good oils have short shelf lives and have short lifecycles.  If you have to change out the oil too much, fries become expensive fast.

After a bunch of experimenting, Blue Moon ends up with a combination that allows everyone to be happy.  Good fries, good prices.  Good outcome.

While it only takes up a few minutes to type or read this, consider that a fairly random review on Yelp caused a man to rethink a major element of his menu, gather people to brainstorm options, test those options and then arrive at a new and better product. 

And consider this from both sides.  Business owners should note that it didn’t take a long look for Charlie to verify that this reviewer was correct and that action was warranted.  The reviewer gets confirmation that their opinion mattered, the community knows that they’re not just Yelping to each other – they’re Yelping for change.  And that the change can be positive.


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