Yummy – and Congratulations
This article made me happy for two reasons.
First, I really enjoy eating at Panera. Good, reasonably healthy food, well-prepared and served quickly by almost invariably pleasant people. (I'm an especially big fan of the black bean soup.)
Second, I'm pleased to read that they've succeeded during the recession by doing pretty much exactly what we've been encouraging our clients (and ourselves) to do for the past 18 months: Don't panic. Get clear about what you do that's most valuable to your customers, and do it really well. Make sure you're operating as efficiently as possible. Take a deep breath and keep on going.
Panera's stock was up 26% last year, and the CEO, Ron Shaich, says:
"We understood that the fundamentals of the marketplace really haven't changed. Unemployment went from 5% to 10%. There's 90% of society that is still employed. I couldn't capture all those people that are unemployed. They weren't eating out at all. All I could do was stay focused on who my target customer was, and not be reactive."
I raise my iced tea to you, Ron – may you and your delicious paninis live long and prosper!