Off The Menu

It’s a classic scene from “When Harry Met Sally.” Harry orders “a number 3.” Sally asks for  something that’s not exactly off the menu but not exactly a number that’s on it:

GLENDALE, CA - JUNE 21:  A Domino's Pizza rest...

(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

I’d like the Chef’s Salad, please, with oil and vinegar on the side, and the apple pie a la mode … but I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real. If it’s out of a can, then nothing.

I’m not sure why that popped into my head as our Foodie Friday Fun this week even if it does seem to be one of the most true scenes I know (and to preserve familial bliss I’m going to leave that there).  However, it does raise a good business point:  customers that order dishes that aren’t on the menu.  Most restaurants will accommodate a reasonable request if they have the ingredients and it’s not the dinner rush.  Substituting chicken for veal or leaving the anchovies off a salad isn’t a big deal.  Even national chains have secret menu items that aren’t on the posted menu but regular customers order all the time.  My favorite comes from my favorite burger chain, Fat Burger.  It’s called The Hypocrite and is a veggie burger topped with bacon.

I bring this up because if any of us want to foster success we need to let people order things that aren’t on the menu and to honor their requests as best we can.  It seems obvious but pay attention to how many “one size fits all” products and services you encounter out there.  Too many in a time when there are very few mass markets any more.

I can hear some of you grumbling that Apple doesn’t behave that way but I think if you reflect on some of their product history (the iPhone antenna issue, for example), they do adjust to meet customers’ needs.  An organization’s ability to let customers put their own spin on things from time to time is a secret ingredient every pantry should stock.

What have you ordered that wasn’t on the menu?  How did the organization meet your needs?

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