How to Inspire Life Long Fans

Bit of a personal story: the younger son is a pickier eater than his elder sib. The Tall One will eat anything and is infamous for things like, at age four, trying to talk his grandmother into trying sushi.  Into her trying sushi, not the other way around.Tallulahstacos

The Small One, as we used to call him, now nicknamed TOTO (for The Other Tall One) loves Mexican food…or anything in a tortilla, particularly soft tacos.  Sadly, his lack of adventuresome eating has given him lackluster tacos – chicken, cheese, mild taco sauce, lettuce and the occasional black bean.  No matter how many times we beg, plead or cajole –  no guacamole, spicy salsa, tomatoes or other options.

This all changed on Saturday with a trip to Lippett Memorial Park in Rhode Island for the Summit Music Fest, timed to coincide with the weekly farmers market and craft fair.  There were also a number of food trucks and tents, include our customer service heroes of the day, the team from Tallulah’s Tacqueria.  They make authentic tacos, as they explained to TOTO, no cheese.  Their chicken tacos had chicken, lime, onion and cilantro, and guacamole, as well as divine pickled radishes.  Once again wading into the fray, I suggested he try a taco with everything — as the chef intended.  I even offered to purchase a one-with-everything (henceforth to be known as the Zen Taco) and eat it myself (no great sacrifice there on my part) if he didn’t like it after one bite and purchase him The Boring Special.  Nope.

At this point in the conversation, a flash of good humor from behind the grill, “You should always listen to your mother.” Lots of laughter on our end. Oh, I like these guys already.  But still nope. Sigh. One Boring Special, please.

In a few minutes, My Hero from behind the grill appears with not one but two tacos – one Zen Taco and one Boring Special. (Admittedly, with the spices and lime, still pretty tasty-looking.)  He offered TOTO the absolutely splendid-looking Zen Taco and the Boring One, gently explaining that he might just like trying something new.

Now anyone with kids knows, parental suggestions are always suspect and the advice of a stranger is much more appealing.  Also, never underestimate the appetite of a teenage boy. Sure enough, 10 seconds later, Zen Taco is entirely consumed and TOTO’s pronouncement?  “Delicious! THAT’S what guacamole tastes like?” And, “I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I?” Smart boy.

Yup, Tallalah’s has a fan for life in this mom. I broadcasted my story immediately via social media and you better believe I’ll be sending friends to try out the tacos there – I also went back and bought one (truly exceptional) taco for me too and tipped well.  I will go to the mat for this little taco shack. And what do we all learn from this?

  • Start with an awesome product and be proud of what you have created. That pride and confidence in the product shines through.
  • Listen to your customers, even as they bicker good-naturedly at the counter, for tone and openness to engagement. If there had been a truly tense parental-child stand-off, I’ll bet our Hero would not have intervened. But the smiles, tone of voice and laughs told him it was OK.
  • A well-placed/timed sample can reap continuing rewards
  • Empower your team to act as your ambassadors.
  • Solve my problem and I am yours.
  • A smile, a little humor and human interaction makes for big fans