Personal Politics, Religion and Your Small Business

I seem to have a recurring theme which is – keep your personal views i.e.) politics, religion, etc. out of your business! Maybe the subject is near to me because I did spend some years with a company that mixed their religious views with their business and the outcome was never good. Ultimately the individual franchisees suffered when the parent company held views which were controversial and made it into the media. Sure it is possible that some of the franchisees agree with the views but it is also likely that a good percentage of your existing customers and potential customers do not! Why alienate someone who wants to spend money in your restaurant or other small business? And for sure there are plenty of people who will boycott your establishment if they disagree with your blatant expression of your politics or religion.

Yesterday I stopped into a local pizzeria to pick up a take-out menu. They are a long established business in a small town with less business than they should have – truth be told. As I looked around I noticed an abundance of ultra-conservative stickers on the viewing window looking into the kitchen. These stickers (bumper stickers actually) would have been offensive to what….50% of your potential customers? Why would you do that? If it is so important to get your message out there, do it somewhere else! I have no doubt that any customer who supported the president or is a registered Democrat would think before ordering and just might hit the Dominos down the road. Likewise with a liberal message the reverse would be the case.

I will not divulge my political leanings on this blog because that is not what we are about. I am holding fast to my beliefs that a wise small business person will shy away from expressing his/her personal beliefs in a way that can hurt their business.

Chick-fil-A vs Eat More Kale

Several months ago’ I wrote a blog about Chick fil-A and the support that the founder of the company gave to various groups that were aligned with anti-gay movements and the damage it was doing to the brand image.

The purpose of this post was not to take sides but was about the damage the bad press can do to the franchisees who have invested large amounts of  money into a business they thought had their best interests at heart.  In other words, keep your personal beliefs out of business especially when you are talking about the livelihoods of decent hardworking people.

Well, the boys at Chick fil-A are at it again. This time they have rolled out the big legal guns and gone after a small businessman by the name of Bo Muller-Moore. Muller-Moore, a silk screen artist was asked by a kale farmer friend to print three t-shirts that said Eat More Kale to give to family. A few weeks later the farmer told Muller-Moore that people had been asking about the t-shirts and a small business developed. Muller-Moore says that this was more about supporting local kale farmers  than anything else but it did manage to make enough money for him to set up a small silk screen business.

Local entrepreneur does good?

Not as far as Chick fil-A is concerned!! Their legal eagles are after this small Vermont silk screen artist. Too close to “Eat mor chikn” they say. It will confuse their customer base. They have to protect their copyright and their intellectual property.

Chick fil-A must think their customers are not very bright. Can’t tell the difference between chicken and kale? A hint. Kale is green and it’s a vegetable. Chicken is neither of those things.

Leave the guy alone the phrase “Eat more xxxx” has been used for a variety of things over decades not just chicken. Sometimes big companies should use common sense rather than a big stick when dealing with other people. I am sure if this artist made a million t-shirts with “eat more kale “ printed on them it would not hurt Chick fil-A sales by one cent. Maybe they should learn from this artist. He’s promoting a product that is good for you….. and at least he can spell.

Kids Free Restaurants

Apologies for not updating the blog for a while,  I have been involved in a few projects and was busy launching my first book on buying a food franchise – Click here to check it out…)

How often have you been in a restaurant with your significant other enjoying a romantic dinner or attending a business dinner with colleagues or clients only to have a family with small screaming children sit at the table next to you? You end up listening to screaming kids all through your meal or even worse, having a grubby fingered urchin running around the restaurant playing hide and seek under your table while their parents eat in blissful silence, totally unaware and uncaring about the havoc their child is creating.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a child myself but I am one of those people that like children when they are at least a mile away and under strict parental control. My wife will tell you that I go green at the gills just watching a baby eat…….Yuk!! And that included my own! Another story she loves to tell is about a time some years ago while at a party where a variety of dips and snacks were laid out on a low coffee table. Unfortunately two small unsupervised children, who were not chained to the nearest lamp post, were eating in their own little way which meant double dipping and fishing broken chips out of the bean dip (with fingers of course). I turned a few shades of green and had to move away from said table or risk  embarrassing myself in a number of ways.

So, it was with some interest when I read a Yahoo news story about an English restaurant that imposed a  “Baby Tax” equivalent to $5 on anyone bringing a baby or toddler into the restaurant. Of course there was an uproar from the local community and the restaurant ended up apologizing and retracted the “Baby Tax.”

Now, my question is, did the restaurant retract the tax because they upset a few parents or did they retract the tax because the local newspapers had gotten a hold of the story and blew it up with interviews, etc.

After doing a bit of research (it took 5 minutes) I found that this seems to be a growing trend not only in the restaurant sector but in other areas of business as well.

Malaysian Airlines have banned kids in first class, some theaters are having adults only nights and I don’t mean xxx movies. Some hotels, resorts, cruise lines and condo’s  have bans or restrictions on children so there is obviously a need for these services.

The growth of kid free restaurants, businesses and areas while not outstanding, still shows a trend that needs considering. One North Carolina restaurant has a sign that says “Screaming kids will not be tolerated.” In another part of the country a restaurant called McDains has banned all kids under 6 years of age and have claimed that sales have increased!! This is unfair, there are a lot of 7 year olds that could be banned as well but where do you stop!!

I fully understand that kids and families have the same rights as everyone else, but those rights also relate to people that want a quiet dinner without the interruption of screaming children. While I do not agree or disagree with the no kids policy, people should have a choice and you have a choice to spend your money in a no kids restaurant or take your patronage elsewhere.

I know where I will go….