Paulelmo's Blog

Leaving a little something on the table–more on Arthur Blank

With deciding to keep the cost of concessions down at his new stadium, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank proves that he is insightful enough to leave a little something on the table. Mr. Blank realizes that he’s going to make money, and he knows that he doesn’t need to make all of it. There’s something to be said for common decency. Not only will Mr. Blank be spoken of highly, but I think his decision will make him more respected in all angles of the business world.

I have worked for two restaurant companies when it was evident that they didn’t comprehend the whole leaving a little something on the table thing. Business like this are hospitable in their portions and amenities when they’re growing, just the nicest bunch of folks anybody would ever want to deal with. People like that, that they’re going to a place where every little penny doesn’t seem to matter, so they go back and the business thrives.

Then, perhaps the worst thing that could happen to a business happens, they start making money. No, of course (concourses?) I don’t really think that making money is one of the best things that can happen to a business; after all, why would you have a business if you didn’t want to make money? Making money isn’t the bad thing that happens to businesses; the bad thing is noting how much money is made.

When they note how much money they’ve made, that old human greed kicks in, so they want to make more. Therein lies the problem. It doesn’t seem logical to me that someone would look at the product of something, see it good, and then change it. I’m fond of saying “dance with the girl who brung ya”; other ways to express the same thought are “stay the course,” “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and “don’t change horses in mid stream.” The meaning is the same throughout: if something is working, stick with it.

Still, these two companies I worked for, and millions of others no doubt, couldn’t see that. They had not followed the greedy path–that is to say that they gave guests their money’s worth and they stocked and staffed in necessary fashion to do so. But then, when they started to make some money, they changed things so they could make more money. I just don’t get that.

A restaurant can give me crappy food and weak drinks; the floor might be dirty and the men’s room might be out of paper towels; my server might stand off to the side and send texts while I desperately want to order some more chimichongas. Still, none of those things will bother me nearly as much letting me see how cheap they are.

Now, it’s OK, to a point, for a business to be cheap–businesses have accountants and other counters of beans (and if you’re a traded company you just don’t have a prayer) so extreme frugality is the name of the game and PAC (profit after cost) is the acronym–but you should be able to do it without it being evident.

When I see how cheap you are, it says that you don’t think much of me, the patron. That’s unforgivable.

Fans who go to Atlanta Falcons games beginning next season won’t feel forgotten. They won’t just be saving money when they go to the concession stand, they’ll be reminding themselves that the man who owns their team is a decent man who sees them as more than just dollar signs.

And concerning the stock market, if you want to invest in something, you might want to see what Mr. Blank is involved in; it’s good to go into business with people who have the insight to leave a little something on the table, someone who knows what every business owner should know, if you start with the Golden Rule, the numbers will take care of themselves.

To Arthur Blank, once again, kudos, my friend.

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