My family and I were recently vacationing in northern Michigan. After spending a morning at a beach along Lake Huron, we decided to try a local pizza restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was a typical pizza place offering both carry-out pizza and dining in their restaurant. We found a table and ordered our lunch.
After ordering, we asked the waitress if she had any crayons and paper for our kids to color while waiting for our pizza. She told us that she did not have crayons, but would bring us something else for the kids to play with. There were no other kids in the restaurant, so we did not know what kind of "toy" she might bring. The toy was uncooked pizza dough. Each of our daughters got a small plate with some pizza dough and flour (to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the plate) to play with.
Our kids loved playing with the pizza dough and made all sorts of things: a snowman, a leaf, a smiley face, rings for their fingers, and more. For several days after visiting that restaurant we heard them telling us how much they liked that restaurant. They did not like the restaurant because of their pizza, it was the pizza dough that they got to play with. You can be sure our kids will want to go back to that restaurant when we are vacationing there again.
Here's the innovation lesson: someone had the creative idea of giving kids a unique "toy" to play with in the restaurant. Yes, crayons and paper are great, but you find that at almost any restaurant. By giving the kids an alternative toy that lets them use their creativity, the restaurant is setting itself apart from its competitors. Both the kids and the parents will remember this unique toy and will probably think of the restaurant when they want pizza again.
What kind of simple actions like this can you take to boost your own business?