It’s a hot, humid summer night – a large bustling crowd surrounds the small white building on historic Route 66 in St. Louis. The building is illuminated – with its distinct dormers clearly visible in the dark of the night and its small black top parking lot is filled with cars of all makes. There is a sea of people taking up virtually every inch of sidewalk. The crowd includes families, couples, sports teams – the people are old, young, black, white. This night a bachelorette party exits their stretch limo which consumes two – if not three – of the extremely limited parking spots.
Many in the crowd have come from the St. Louis Cardinals game – another victory – others from their own sports activities – there are families enjoying a night out – and still others are tourists. So what is it that draws such a huge and diverse crowd?
Concrete. That’s right – concrete! Concrete is the name given to the frozen custard sold from the windows at the front and sides of the tiny building. The name concrete comes from the fact that this custard’s consistency is such that its container can be held upside down without a spill. The frozen custard sold – and made- at this location, has the reputation of being the best in the city, if not the country.
It is not just their high quality product that makes Ted Drewes Frozen Custard a fearless brand – it is that combined with the total experience.
Fearless brands know that the key to their success is consistently giving – giving value that is.
Those of you who have read The Go-Giver will see the similarity between Ted Drewes and Ernesto’s hot dog cart. For those who have not yet read the book, Ernesto is the restaurateur whose success began with a hot dog cart. That business won the award for the best outdoor dining experience in the city. Visiting Ted Drewes is an experience.
Make no mistake, Ted Drewes – the company and the individual – are completely committed to product quality. The success of the operation has brought it nationwide attention in the form of offers to franchise but Ted Drewes Jr. says that will never happen. He explains “It is a matter of quality. Franchising could lead to mediocrity.”
Product quality is the starting point. Ted Drewes’ success is built on delivering more in value than they take in payment – the first law of The Go-Giver. For $3.90 customers get a single flavor regular size concrete – custard made to the highest standard of quality. The product justifies the price. The extra value comes from the experience.
Driving to Ted Drewes, finding a parking spot, choosing from the over thirty ingredients and eight products, having a ‘custard ‘tailgate’ with family and friends – all combines for an experience – and memories – which far exceed the cash outlay.
It is said that it’s never too cold for Ted Drewes but winters in St. Louis can be as cold as the summers are hot. There needs to be more of a reason – more value – given to get customers in the winter. For decades now Ted Drewes has sold live Christmas trees in their lot – and plenty of concretes from those windows. The commitment to quality extends to their tree business. Ted Jr. travels to Nova Scotia each fall, where he personally selects the best Canadian balsam Fir Christmas trees to bring home to St. Louis.
The experience – the value – in the winter differs from that of the summer but it’s just as unique and compelling. It combines the joy of searching for just the right tree with the deliciousness of a concrete. Buying a tree becomes much more than a task to be completed. It becomes a special occasion which adds to the joys of season.
What we should learn from Ted Drewes is this – fearless brands have found that magical spot where competence, passion and relevance collide. These brands have discovered and deliver their maximum value. They consistently deliver more in value than they take in payment.
It takes commitment and courage to discover your brands’ ‘sweet spot’ where authentic competencies and genuine passion overlap – especially if it’s your personal brand. Often the most daunting challenge is determining how relevant that value proposition truly is. Take the time. Make the effort. Realize your greatest value. Become a fearless brand. While you’re doing that, find a way to get to that parking lot on historic U.S. route 66 – experience a Ted Drewes concrete.