Authentic Japanese – A Hundred Little Things and More
I have a friend who lives in Michigan, near Detroit, in a city called Canton. One of his favorite restaurants is a local authentic Japanese place called Matsuchan. He told me an amazing story about how he found it and why he loves it.
According to him, he has eaten there twice a day. Once, three times. The small restaurant is tucked back into the corner of a plaza and has about 8 tables. It’s small, but not crowded. Sometimes it’s empty but there are plenty of times where it’s packed and people are waiting despite plenty of alternatives within a quick drive or walk. What is the secret to the success here, what makes it worth the wait?
After listening to him relate the story, I can say there is really no specific reason. The energy of the owners is more than likely part of it, but customers at their tables don’t typically interact with them – they’re cooking. It’s more than likely the hand-fitted gestalt of hundreds of small decisions surrounding caring management that make a real difference.
I have to share the story on this restaurant though. My friend found this particular place when he was scheduling a last minute date night for himself and his wife. They wanted something different, so he started looking up “restaurants canton, mi” in Google. There was the usual list of big brands and some small places. Down at the bottom of the map listing was Matsuchan.
They like Chinese, but had never had authentic Japanese. He told me the simple description – they served Japanese ramen soups. Immediately you start thinking about ramen from Wal-Mart and you cringe a little but then he told me about the reviews. Quite a few, all rated very high. People traveling from all over, talking about how they always go to Matsuchan when they come home to visit. So they went.
And he loved it.
You see, the problem with a lot of small businesses now is that many of them aim to get bigger, which transforms them into a chain. At that point, business owners and marketers begin to make decisions they feel are intelligent, smart compromises. That’s when the college degrees collide with that unknown “mana” and things get boring quick. It’s that point that you’re not the little location people love, but you become something else.
That’s where people are starting to wonder why there are 60 different noodle bowls in other restaurants when you get by with just a dozen – like Matsuchan.
“Maybe we should stop service cola drinks with free refills and focus on traditional tea instead, to make money while offering an authentic product” …kind of like Matsuchan.
This is the secret to success for any business, no matter where you’re located. You may be able to carbon copy several of the competitive advantages of other businesses, but it’s impossible to recreate the magic that occurs from hundreds of smart little choices made by caring management – where those decisions are customer-centric.
Too many businesses are scared to invest real time and energy into making hundreds of little decisions that can make them extraordinary. Instead, they settle on what works fast, and what creates fast results. You can see it in the way the business is run, and you can certainly see it in the online marketing they do.
The most amazing thing is that Matsuchan doesn’t even have a website. They function off a simple Google map listing. Their focus is in the kitchen, on the food and on the customer. They aren’t overdoing it with social media marketing or online marketing, because they know they don’t have to. They keep it simple, and that seems to do them just fine.
What does your business look like? Have you made hundreds of little decision like Matsuchan that create a business that is irresistible?