Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The joy-joy of ice-cream

Daddy and the nugget monster...
Over the last few nights I've experienced some deeply good things.

The first is the ubiquity of wifi and the extent of real-time social networks that is delivering. The rate of change in one small Spanish resort over the last 12 months in this respect is quite breathtaking (I stayed here in Cambrils on the Costa Dorada exactly 12 months earlier). FourSquare's grid is everywhere, for example.

Laptops are now competing with paperbacks as must-have holiday accessories. Not so many years back the holiday user of a laptop was doing so for 'very important business reasons'. Now the holiday laptop user is doing so for pleasure, entertainment, connectedness - work may or may not be part of that. The divisions dissolve.

I benefited very much from that connectedness. One of my twitter friends noted I was in Cambrils and offered that he used to live there. This resulted in a series of welcome local tips - recommendations of restaurants and ice-cream parlours (to which I will return...). Another who has a place nearby also had advice on what I should see and where I should go.

Trusted peer recommendations. In real time.

Dining out in Cambrils - particularly the harbour - is a pleasure. Here's some things to bear in mind re what I'm about to share.
  • We were visiting this particular restaurant for the first time.
  • The owner had no idea whether we were here for one night or 100.

So (and I hope this will embarrass my daughter some day...) my wife had spotted a particular pasta restaurant (Porto Vecchio) she wanted to try. My daughter (5) was resolutely against this very ancient establishment (17th century I believe) on the grounds that it did not serve chicken nuggets and chips. I suspect it never had in all those centuries.
Well. I thought there may be a middle ground. Would it be possible for the restaurant to source a chicken nuggets and chips from a rival nearby? Mum and dad happy, daughter happy, restauranteur happy?
You know what? They made a quick phone call. And said sure, come on in.
So we all ate together and we all ate happy.

And when we call for the bill the owner tells us the chicken nuggets and chips are on the house.
And I'm even happier.

So I tell you all about it. Imagine that in the average chain restaurant...

There is an interesting business model going on here: making everyone happy. Happy beats going for growth over everything. Happy beats going for the last turn of the screw on profit. Happy wins.

And happy wins for those doing the delivery too. How much nicer is it to have your customers leaving shaking you warmly by the hand? Isn't that a better way to live?

It's not a rarity either.

I was recommended (via twitter) to try SirVent - an ice-cream parlour on the harbour front. And it was truly awesome. The staff were brilliant and informative. The prices keen. The ice-cream just mind-blowing.
SirVent creates a steady stream of happy flowing from its door. It over delivers to such an extent most people leave not just smiling but laughing. And they take that joy with them past all the other Harbour front diners on cones piled beyond high with spectacular looking (and tasting) icecream. I've eaten ice-cream in a lot of good places. And this one wins.
The business has been in Cambrils (so far as I could tell) from the mid 50s. It's family run and has no great ambitions to rule the world. It's hard to be this good, to over deliver so magnificently and service shareholders.

But I wonder if businesses of the kind found on Cambrils Harbour show the way business models could and should move - in the direction of the maximising of joy for all parties vs the maximising of profit.
Are they the kind of businesses more of us want to exist? When there is an abundance of most things, there remains a scarcity of happy.

So, could it be the Temparanillo speaking? Or is there space for successful businesses who place joy first?

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?