For those of you around Brighton, or if you've been stalking me, you might have noticed a place I check-in to every once in a while for lunch, called The Troll's Pantry.
It is a burger truck in Brighton that serves the best burgers I've ever had. And I have had my fair share of burgers in my young life!
I regularly come back to The Troll's Pantry and every time, there is something different from the last time. After following him on Twitter and Facebook, it became apparent that the owner is above most local businesses in town, when it comes to the way he works, interacts with his audience, and markets himself in an area full of foodies.
The more I thought about it, the more I started seeing things that other businesses and startups can apply in their respective areas:
- Follow your passion
Paul has set quite an example for himself. You can tell the passion he puts in his work. One would assume that he justs makes burger. But it goes beyond that. Because it is his passion, he makes everything himself. He spends his evening preparing the buns himself. He weights the meat and turns the mixed beef into patties by himself, upon orders. He even chooses the cheese from organic farms, and makes his own fries and cola-ketchup sauce all by himself.
He is dedicated to something he is passionate and talented about: making amazing gourmet burgers.
You can see the dedication when he wants the perfect cooking and swears at his oven when the latter has difficulty operating. This is something that small shop owners know about but that startupers can often forget about. But you need passion (and talent) if you want to be able to succeed in your ventures. Now more than ever, you need to think about your projects from the moment you wake-up until the moment you go to sleep.
And if you manage to have dreams (or nightmares) about your company, then please, pat yourself on the back: you're doing it RIGHT!
- Start Small
The Troll started as a food truck going in different places.
The owner is the only employee (although he recently got some help during busy days.) Even today, he is operating as a one-to-two people business, and wouldn't have the space for more in his current truck anyway.
At a time where startups are following the trend of “being lean”, working on “minimum viable products” and such, it is vital not to scale your business too early nor too late. Timing is important. The time will come, Paul!
I have seen something very interesting from The Troll recently: over the last few weeks, he's been experimenting a lot. He's tried to slightly change the ingredients on certain burgers, and even tried a day where he would NOT sell any burgers, but rather tried to only sell pulled pork and chili to his customers.
I believe it actually worked well. But above all, it shows that he is willing to test his ideas in the real world, as well as adapt to his customers' demand. He even has a vegetarian option!
The Mighty Troll, as I said, has been experimenting quite a lot over the last few weeks. And as a result, he recently decided to trim his menu quite a bit.
Concretely, he had around 6-7 burgers in 3 different sizes each. He now has only two sizes and has less burgers (he rotates them daily to provide differs ones at different times though.)
As a result, the customers get less confused, and it's much easier to evaluate what kind of foodgasm you want to experience!
- Go All-in
Paul has created his own universe with The Troll's Pantry, and all his burgers are named after fantasy elements and typical characters you would find in The Lord Of The Rings or World of Warcraft (“The Shaman”, “The Smoky Mountain”, “The Emperor”, “The Paladin”, etc...)
Even the decoration of the truck and his social updates or website play on these Heroic-Fantasy elements.
I believe this helps him create a very unique personality to his business, which can only benefit his small operation.
The Troll's Pantry is slowly starting to be an institution for burgers around Brighton.
I believe, part of the success is linked to the fact that his products (in this case the burgers and it's ingredients) are insanely delicious. He puts a lot of efforts in every part of the process, so much that I'm not scared to call it a craft.
I first heard about it by looking at my Twitter feed and seeing various different people that I follow around Brighton (Ashley, Jon, Nik, or Jeremy) who were talking about how good it was. And the reason the word has (and continues to) spread, is because he focuses on one thing: his burgers.
To the point that he recently teamed up with the local pub around the corner and (in these cold winter days): you can eat your burger inside, provided you buy a drink there. It's a win-win situation: customers have a way to eat away from the cold, while Paul focuses on his burgers and the pub on the drinks.
- Be transparent
One of the thing that I personally appreciate about a brand is when transparency meets customer demand. In the case of The Troll's Pantry, Paul often shares the most detailed aspects of his job. He posts pictures about his latest gourmet creations, (often making most of the fans and followers hungry, regardless of the time of day), or details his next experiments, ahead of time.
Seeing behind the scenes of a business you like increases your appeal towards customers and also makes them want to engage with you: they can get an idea of how you work, some things they wouldn't usually get to see. This is especially valuable for local businesses! Which leads to my last point...
- Know what your customers want
Everytime he tries something new, The Troll does something that most business owners don't think about, or don't want to do. It is something that is vital to a small (and recent) business, something that can play a determining part in the success of your venture: he asks his customers what they thought about the changed recipe. He asks on Facebook, on Twitter, and in real life, when they return for another treat!
In that regard, social media is just a tool to have the conversation with your customers, and the tools do not matter. You don't need a Facebook page or Twitter account to go towards a customer and ask them if they liked your new recipe. Just do it, no matter what channel you use. Don't assume what your customer want: ask them!
To me, both as someone aware of Digital Marketing and as a customer, these very simple ideas are part of the reason of the increasing growth and success of Brighton's best burger joint, and I couldn't encourage you enough to try apply these values in your own personal and professional lives.
And if you were wondering whether I'm giving Paul too much credit: