Some Things Are Better Free

The Ranch & Table

Podcast Notes

Some Things Are Better Free

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Welcome everybody. Lee Wells here at the Ranch and Table podcast. And today I am I'm excited to bring you a new topic that I don't think we've talked about in detail. We may have mentioned along the way, but not really dove into deeply. And today I want to talk about it. And it's just two words.

Two very big words in our, in our society, in our language, one is money and the other is free. And those are kind of related, but they're also kind of opposites and they're tied together very closely. And I want to show you that today in in business strategy, how we have. Kind of attack this concept of making money, but not being ultra focused, just hyper focused on money.

And I really think if you break down the Wells business practice and the culture that we have, you'll find that. We put money down a couple of rungs and put quality customer service way up there. And then my belief has been. When we take care of the basics, when we take care of quality, when we take care of people, money follows and money just takes care of itself.

Now let me start off this session by telling you that I don't think we need to ignore money. We don't need to ignore budgets and bottom lines. I think that's foolish, but I do also believe that a lot of people. Probably focus on money a little too much and that can hurt a business. I'm going to show you how that works today.

I'm also aware that there's a lot of podcasts, a lot of motivational speakers, business speakers, books written about money. And about money being primary and the main thing. And I understand I'm going against the grain a little bit with this today. But I, I just want to tell you what my philosophy has been over the years and what has worked for me.

So hopefully you can gain something from this, at least an interesting thought out of it. But in business, we have to remain diligent. On the business and the business is more than money, the business and success and balance and having a life and doing things well all come together to make a culture of what we really are, what we're about and if money is the only thing that you're after, you will end up.

Parting out and sacrificing your business and the passion that you have to start the business in the first place, if money becomes the number one most critical thing that you think about all day if we're honest, I believe all of us would say that there was a passion that started us on the journey of, Opening up our business.

And if you're thinking about opening a business, I support you. I I want you to get my book, which it just came out and I just opened up the box yesterday. And so you're looking at one of the very first copies here that are available. More coming in, but I'm, I'm. I'm excited to be able to offer this book.

I'll tell you more about how to get it in a little bit. You can get it on our website. I'll tell you about that just a little bit. But in this book, I talk about the, the passion that we have to start a business and, and the reasons why we do what we do and money is not. The primary focus of that. I know that sounds strange.

I know everyone wants to be rich and everyone wants to have all the things that you get with money. But I promise you that money is an elusive Thing it's an elusive mistress. It's a it's one of those things. That's it's like a fog you see it But you can never grasp it in the way that you think you can and if that's what you're chasing in your business I believe you're gonna be left empty.

You may end up finding some level of success I'm not saying that you won't but I'm also saying you could very easily become A shell of what you started out to be whenever you started in the passion and in the desire that you had to create what you created. So money is a tool and, and really it needs to be left in that category.

You know, you wouldn't worship or. Fall down at, at a, at a shovel or a spatula or a lawnmower. I mean, it's just a tool to accomplish what needs to be accomplished and what needs to be done. And money is simply in my life, at least a tool that has to be there. I have to pay my employees. I try to pay them well have to buy products to end up.

Turn it around to sell to somebody to have a product to sell. So money is just a tool that I use. It's not an end goal. It's not something that measures my success necessarily as many people might think. So money is one of those things I think needs to be. Put into perspective in a right way at the onset of what we're talking about today.

And so if, if you're thinking, man, you're way off base, you're, you're wacko. This is crazy talk. I encourage you to listen to the rest of this podcast, because I'm going to prove to you, some things are better free. I'm going to prove to you that some things are better left uncharged for. And if you're all about money and you're all about your own success and your own bottom line and your own bank account, I submit to you that you might reach some goals.

But it's going to be in spite of a lot of things that could have been beautiful in your life. And so I'm not against money. I'm not anti money or any of those things. I just think it's a tool that needs to be put in check in a way that. We can function around customers and with our employees and without it being the main thing that we're looking at them for.

I think that that's where a lot of people mess up is they see their customers walking in the door as dollar signs. They see the, the, the, the order that they're making. They're trying to upsell upsell. They're trying to add this and that. I get accused sometimes of upselling. I'm simply just giving you options to build what you're building.

If you're building a burger, if you're building a enchiladas, or if you're looking at desserts or whatever, I'm just giving you the options that are available. But some folks are really. Trying their best to get just another dollar and get just another buck 50 out of somebody. And I believe that that's detrimental to our relationships.

That's detrimental to our overall image and culture whenever we do that. So I think that money stays in the category of a tool that is used to be able to further what we're trying to do, to be. a provider for those that we need to provide for. And so you know, the old saying is true. It takes money to make money.

It takes an outlay of money to do something. It, it takes some money alone or somehow. An investment to be able to start a business many times. And those are true stories, but that's also in the category of a tool and not the end means or end result. And so let me say it this way. A lot of people are so bottom line driven.

They will sacrifice their product and the quality and the experience to be able to just make another. Amount of money, another dollar, another profit. You can get so hyper focused on your bottom line that you cut away every reason someone has to come in and purchase your item. Let me give you an example.

If, if everything that we do is. Money driven then and I talk about this in my book. This is, this is part of the book that I talk about. And there's a sub chapter called the money centric mindset. And that's what, that's where I'm pulling from today. If you're interested in, in learning more about this there's a whole sub chapter about it, actually the whole book is about it, if you want to be honest, but this is the core of what.

What we do, people can get so focused on their bottom line that they cut away all the quality and value that they are wanting to offer somebody. So, so let me take you through this and I'm going to make a hamburger and I'm going to sell this hamburger. Well, beef is a very high cost item. That's your proteins are always going to be your.

Your big layout of expense in order to do something. So the first thing people will do is, Hey, if that's my big ticket item, I'm going to do some trimming and I can get away with you know, a 70, 30 Patty instead of an 80, 20, you know, the fat's a little higher, it'll cook down a little more, you know, but who's going to know, and then they say, you know, I'm, I'm spending you know, 40 cents, 50 cents on this artisan bun.

You know, maybe I, maybe I back up to, you know, a Mrs. Baird's bun or something that's going to be cheaper. And then, you know, leaf lettuce is more expensive or. A shredded lettuce I can get away with, you know using less or, you know, in, in this mindset begins to strip away whatever the value was you were trying to offer in the first place.

And let me just be honest about it. The customer knows the customer understands when this is happening, you're not getting away with it. You are selling a product in spite of it. If you continue to sell that way, because then your fries are too expensive. So you go with a cheaper bag fry. Well, the oil and the fat that you're frying the fries and that's, you know, it's just too expensive to use that good of an oil and.

After a while you have chiseled away and you've, you've whittled away all the value, all of the special, all of the exceptional, all of the reason that someone might choose you and then you're standing there and it was all about money. And no one's coming in the door and you're wondering why, because you made it all about the money.

I choose to put every ounce of quality forward that I can. I've talked about mayonnaise before on this, on this podcast. If I'm putting mayonnaise on, say, 65 to 75 percent of the burgers that go out, mayonnaise is a very important, critical element to building a burger. I go cheap on that, then people will notice they may not be able to put their finger on it, but the taste is different.

The consistency is different. You know, it's, it's going to save me a couple bucks, a gallon, maybe, maybe. And. , it's going to affect the flavor of 75, 60, 70 5% of the burgers that go out of my kitchen. Why would I do that for a couple of dollars? Why would I do that? When the great majority of my product goes out with this item on it, I'm gonna spend the extra $2, $5, whatever it is, per gallon, which translates into a lot of burgers.

I'm gonna spend the money on the best mail I can. Name, brand, best flavor, whatever it is I'm going for. I'm not going to go cheap on that because that's going to affect a big percentage of what goes out the door. And so if someone is hyper focused on money, they'll say, well, I can save, I can save 5 on that jar and I can multiply that across how many jars a month.

And man, look, I'm, I'm saving, you know. 50. I'm saving 100. Look, I'm, I'm doing frugal business. I'm doing good business. There's a lot of books that will agree with you that you're doing good business. When you do that, I'm telling you, you're doing bad business when you're doing that. It doesn't pay off in the end in the number of sales you're going to lose over time.

And here's the tricky part about doing this kind of thing. The customer will recognize, especially if you do this two or three times, you do this a few times in a few different ways, they'll start noticing that there is something off something not quite right, but they won't necessarily tell you about it because it's not a raw burger or overcooked burger, or it's not Necessarily nasty or not edible.

It's just not special. If I wanted to save money in my business right now, cut costs, big costs. The one thing I could do is go buy meat. From a wholesaler. I could buy meat from Cisco or from Benny Keith or any number of, of providers that we use for our grocery items. I could buy beef cheaper from them.

Then run my ranch and run our beef, whole ground beef, all the steaks, cuts roast briskets, all that in there. I could do it a whole lot cheaper if I were to buy another beef from someone else. It would take the special. It would take the uniqueness, it would take the reason out of somebody coming to my place to eat my food.

And you could say, well that's just your thing, that only applies to you, and that's not true. Every one of us could go cheaper on the base products that we use to assemble these things. And we could all find ourselves with less business and no feedback from the customer. If a customer finds that their burger's burnt up or it's raw, they'll usually let you know even if it's in a bad review.

But things that are gradual over time that you think you're getting away with, many times they just stop coming. They just say, you know what, that wasn't good enough for the price tag that they're charging. That's just not good enough because here's the problem with money centric mindsets is you never think that your product is worth less just because you're spending less to provide it.

And that's the, that's the, that's the catch. That's the That's the part where you're kind of blinded by your, your own self. And I'm trying to say this very nicely and very kindly because I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I don't want to, I'm just, I'm just talking, just going through some information here.

Don't want to be offensive, but it seems to me that the guy that cuts the most on the back end is the one that's the first to up his price on the front end. It would be different if we said, you know, we're going to make the cheapest burger in the world. And we're going to go as cheap on the products as we can.

Cheapest bun, cheapest meat, cheapest mayo, cheapest condiments lettuce, tomato, we're going to go the cheapest that we can, but we're going to give you the cheapest burger on the market. You know, there may be a market for that for some, I don't know, but that's not the way it works. Typically, what we say is, I'm only going to spend this much to provide it, but it's going to cost them dearly on the other side.

And there's a place where the value doesn't add up, the, the quality doesn't match the price tag. And when that happens, we find ourselves losing customers and then you start over marketing. We've talked about this a week or two ago. You start over marketing because your product is weak because your product offering is not Up to the price tag you are having to ask for it.

And so you're, you're still throwing. All this marketing, and so you're getting new people in the door, but they're not becoming repeat customers. You're getting one time, in and out, and that's all you get. And with that, you find yourself frustrated. Because you've done it to yourself, but you didn't realize that you did it to yourself.

And so when we're focused on money. It can be detrimental and it can sneak up on us and we find ourselves in trouble and not even understanding why. And so keep your quality up, keep your value up, keep your reason for being there, your passion for why you started in the first place. Keep that, keep it burning inside of you and keep your products to a level that you're proud of them and you're not afraid to ask the price you have to ask.

And then. You perform whenever that price is given and it makes people happy and they come back and they become part of your extended family as, as it were. So just, just a couple of thoughts there to start us out today. And then I want to talk to you about the other word. I said money. And then I said another word at the beginning, if you remember, and that is free, this is really what I want to talk to you about for a minute.

Some of the best things in life are still free. I know that's hard to believe in this economy. And that's hard to believe in this world right now. It sounds like I'm making a joke, like where's the punchline, but really and truly some of the best things in life are still. Free. And some of the things in the restaurant business specifically I think we do ourselves the biggest favors when we think.

about this. And let me let me explain just what I mean. If you walk into a Tex Mex restaurant today and you sit down, chances are you're going to be greeted with a basket of fresh tortilla chips. Usually salted to perfection. And then your own bowl. If If they're in Texas, anyway, they're your own bowl of fresh salsa, their version of whatever sauce, hot sauce, salsa that they make there.

And then you're going to get offered, you know, do you want any queso? You want any guacamole? And so you, you begin the meal with this gracious welcome of, let me bestow some gifts on you for choosing us today. Let me give you something before you ever give me anything back. And then that's that kind of idea does more for them than it costs them.

I must, I'm going to say that one more time, what they're doing, they understand provides more, more value than the dollars that it costs them to provide that free service, that free appetizer. When you walk in. And we've grown to expect it, and it's part of the culture of Tex Mex food. It's not necessarily a Mexican cuisine type of a culture thing.

It's a Tex Mex. Kind of a thing that is started. If you go, if you go say to a true authentic Mexican restaurant, that's, that's based out of Mexico or, you know, you may not see that kind of thing happen. If you go to like I mean, Chipotle is really not a Mexican restaurant, but you got to buy your, you know, you got to have your chips added to your ticket.

If you go there, it's not everywhere. But in Texas, at least the, the free chips and salsa is a thing and it's an expected and an appreciated thing. And sometimes if you're hungry enough, you'll go to that restaurant because you can get some food quick and get something going first before waiting on your whole meal.

But that kind of a welcome is an amazing thing. Volvo, and this is, this is in my book with Volvo back in the fifties developed the three point. Seat belt, safety belt harness. And so just like you all have in your cars now in front and back seats, now is a three point pull over the shoulder and snap in a three point harness.

Volvo designed that and patented that in the fifties. They, they're the ones that came up with it, did the testing and and, and created the apparatus to, to be able to. To do what needs to be done in that situation, the, the different recoiling for the belts and the, and the snaps that could hold the kind of pressure that an impact would hold, they, they developed all that, they patent all that, and they did something very interesting with that patent, they left it open, they left it available for all automakers to use for free.

And here's what they said, and this is what got me, they said in the 50s, when they, when they left, they were asked, why would you leave a multimillion, perhaps billions of dollars worth of patent open for just anybody, your competitors to use? And they said, some things are more valuable than money. Some things must remain free.

There's something to that. We're talking frivolous, you know, chips and salsa, but I think there's something to that. Nowadays you go just about anywhere you go, they're going to charge you for sauces and extra sauces. You want a second ranch, even though they give you a tablespoon to start with, well, that's going to be 95 cents to have another tablespoon, or that's going to be 50 cents, or it's a dollar 50 for a bowl of ranch or sour cream or whatever.

And now if you go to fast food you're going to find that if you ask for a second packet or second in a lot of places, I don't want to name names, but a lot of places that's a charge item. They, they charge you for that. There's a certain place that sells certain types of chicken fingers and the only sauce they have, they charge for every single one that you get.

That's their prerogative. They can set their business plan up however they want to, but it's a little irritating to me when I'm spending 16 for, you know, four strips of chicken and some fries and, and a, and a piece of toast, and they're going to nickel and dime me on a second sauce. I just think that some things in life should remain free.

Now, again, you can do it however you want to do it, but. We make five sauces by hand every day, every week at our restaurant. And we don't charge you for any of that. On purpose. It's part of our culture. I will never charge you for a second ranch, a first ranch, a seventh ranch. I will not charge you for some spicy ketchup or a barbecue sauce or mustard or whatever.

Whether we make it or buy it, it doesn't matter. All of the sauces available in my kitchen are free. And that is on purpose because I believe it's those kinds of gestures that show the heart and show the character and show the culture of an establishment. Now I understand everything can't be free. I mean, I can't serve burgers for free and stay open.

I get it. But I also understand that there are some things that I can do. Like, like for instance, if you order a double. Double third pound burger. First of all, you better be hungry, but if you order a cheese burger at my restaurant the first slice of cheese is we charge you for that because not everybody wants cheese and cheese is expensive.

I don't know if you realize we spend thousands of dollars a month in cheese. It's crazy how much we spend in cheese. And so cheese is one of those expensive, sneaky little things that you do have to charge for. If you get a double, then I'm going to just charge you three dollars for the extra patty, which is a third pound, ranch raised whole ground beef patty.

But I'm going to throw in the cheese on that for free. Because I believe, and I talk about this in my book, I believe that some things just should be that way. I don't think you should have to pay for a second slice of cheese if you get a second patty. I think it needs it if you wanted the cheese and it needs to be in balance, it needs to stay in balance.

And that's something that I can do for you at that price point. I can put that second Slice of cheese on there for you because it belongs there and because it's the right thing to do now. That's just my opinion That's just the way I do it I don't belittle anybody in the burger business for charging that second slice of cheese you do what you're gonna do But for me, it's just one of those things that I can do to show and I don't even know if a lot of people even realize this or not, but at the end of the day, I know I know why I do that and I feel like you need it.

I don't feel like you should have to be charged for that second slice of cheese, even though It cost me as much as the first slice does is something that we like to do for you. And then, you know, there's, there's other things that we do as well that that happened. Did you know that in Europe and in most European countries and most European restaurants, it's my understanding that it is rude for you to ask for water for free, even though it's water.

It's considered rude for you to want something for free at their table. And so most European restaurants, it's my understanding, charge for water. And that's just, and then I've also done some research. There are several countries that have passed laws, making the restaurants make water available. To customers, and you shouldn't have to do that either like Australia and Spain.

And there was a few of them I looked up that, that have passed federal laws saying you can't refuse somebody water when they sit down at your table. I think that should be just a, a God given right. That should just be a. that, that people that care do, but it's, we take it for granted here in America. We just, we just demand it and demand a whole lemon to go with it, you know, or whatever, but in other countries, that's not the way it is.

And so we take for granted the fact that, that we get to. A lot of times enjoy some free things here that other countries don't. I was in a restaurant the other day and it was so, it was so unexpected. It was so cool. We've eaten at this restaurant before. It's, it's one of our more favorite hibachi restaurants.

It's right outside of. Rock wall there on the lake and, and they do a great job. Their food is always top notch. Their service is great. They do fun birthday parties with the drums coming in and crashing in. It's, it's a lot of fun. It's a, it's a festive place and everyone is involved with it. They, you know, their, their cooks are, are dinging and throwing the spatulas and, you know, doing the train and all the stuff that, that they do.

And, and it's fun. But I got a surprise a couple of weeks ago. We went in and we were, we had finished our meal and it was excellent. And then they come out and ask for any desserts. And we said, no, no, thank you. And then they brought us these little two ounce cups of a. Oreo pudding type of dessert.

And it's some kind of a maybe a heavy whipping cream, a custard type of a and it was just a little, just a little cup and they brought it one for everybody at the table and they said, thank you for eating with us. And so we didn't, we didn't know what it was. We had, we'd been there before, but it'd been a little bit, maybe it'd been a year since we'd been.

And so we were surprised. So we all took the lid off of the little plastic cup and, and with our spoon took a bite and we're like, man, that's good, but what was really good. Was that they cared enough about us choosing them, that they were able to. Show us whether you ate that or not, whether you like that or not, whether that's your thing or you were too full or you weren't having sugar or whatever is beside the point because they didn't have to do it.

They didn't charge us for it. It was complimentary. Just a bite of sweet after. And I understand, and this is I, my, my friend that wrote my foreword in, in the book is Jimmy Niwa, and he owns an amazing Japanese steakhouse in Deep Ellum. A five Wagyu. I mean, they've got some delicious food over there.

And so if you get the book, you'll read the forward, how we met each other on a helicopter. It's, it's a cool story. Anyway, Jimmy told me one time he was eating with me in the restaurant at our place and, and he asked me if he had room for dessert. I wanted him to try one of our desserts and we make them there in the house, in the house, and, and he told me the story that.

There is a, a word in, in Japanese that we don't have in our American language and English. And he said, the word means the second stomach for something sweet. And I don't speak Japanese. I don't know how to say the word. I don't remember the word, but he said, it's a, it's a word and they use it and, and it's an active word in their language and we don't have an equivalent for it.

And I thought, well, that's weird. If any. Country that needs the equivalent for some dessert, a dessert stomach. It should be us Americans, but anyway, we don't, he said that we have a custom. We believe In Japan, that there's always room for something sweet after a meal. And if you know this culture and, and appreciate it, like, like I do, there's always a, maybe a little, a scoop of green tea ice cream or something just to, to clear your palate and to, they say, settle your stomach with something sweet and and I think it's cool, but when I'm sitting there.

At this restaurant, hibachi restaurant, Japanese hibachi restaurant, and they bring me this little cup. It's not fancy. It's in a little like a to go cup for what ketchup or something would be and what we use our ranch little cups for. It was something like that. It wasn't decorative, but it was special and it meant something.

It was delicious. It was. It was amazing. But it was special and it communicated exactly what they wanted to communicate with us. And that was, here's something for free as a thank you for choosing us today. You see, they could have put that on the menu and charged 5, 7 for a few more scoops of that in a bowl and, and maybe someone would have ordered it and enjoyed it.

But it wouldn't have meant What it meant at that moment To hand over to us for free and and it's just amazing to me the little things like that Sometimes get lost when we're always looking at the bottom line. We're always looking at the money. We're always checking to see if, if, if our profits are there, if everything is focused in on money, we could never imagine giving something up for free, but free.

Sometimes things are just meant to remain free. And I don't ever want us to get to the place where we have to charge for water, or I don't ever want us to get to the place where we ever feel like we have to charge for sauces or that Mexican restaurants, Tex Mex restaurants have to start charging for chips and salsa.

I think that some things just need to remain. A thank you and part of the compliment that a restaurant gives for someone choosing them. And so as a wrap up today i'd like to just say that money Isn't everything and money will take care of itself if we take care of the basics of taking care of people And keeping our quality up and there's a concept in the in the earth in the world of reaping and sowing and harvesting and As a, as a rancher, we just finished seeding our fields for the winter.

And we just finished going through making fertilizing and seeding for the winter pastures. And. We don't see anything for a week. We don't see any change, but in time that seed does come up and that seed does produce a field that is, that can be grazed and can be enjoyed by the cattle. In the spring can be harvested for hay and maybe sold or maybe used for feeding again at another time.

And so when, when we understand that not everything has to have a direct benefit right back to me right now, and we just sow it, we just, we just give it, we just let it go out of our hands and into the lives of other people. Money in return. Is a law in the earth that will always come back to us. It will, you cannot be too kind.

You cannot be too gracious. You cannot be too nice. It's just impossible. You, you will get those things back in your life. If you let them leave from your life and into other people without strings attached, without any kind of rewards immediately, the, the things that happen are, are natural. That's a, that's a natural law of the earth.

Just like gravity is a natural law, just, just like centrifugal force is a natural law. So is the law of the harvest that comes back into our life. And so always be willing to sow, always be willing to give. And And hopefully, hopefully money will become secondary and, and money will take care of itself.

And the more we focus on the right things, the less we have to worry about money at all. It'll take care of itself. I don't want to be money centric in my mindset. I don't want to be money focused. I want to be people focused. I want to be product focused. I want to be success focused in the right directions.

So that when it does come back into my life. I have earned it in a way that's honorable. And so I hope this has helped you today. I hope that something I've said will maybe, maybe shift how you do things. Or maybe, maybe what I'm saying today is just affirming what you're already doing. And so I hope that's the case for you.

Have a great day. Thanks for spending this time with me and I'll see you next time on the ranch and table podcast.

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