10Strengthen Others

SAMANTHA ASSEMBLES MADE-TO-ORDER DISHES at a Chipotle Mexican Grill. Diners direct every step as she prepares their food. First, they choose a format—burrito, taco, salad, or bowl? Flour or corn tortilla? Crispy or soft? Next the protein—tofu, steak, carnitas, chicken, chorizo, barbacoa, or sofritas? Or some combination? Then the starch and veggies—cilantro-lime brown rice or white rice? Black or pinto beans? Any fajita-style veggies with that? Next, the salsa—mild fresh tomato, or tomatillo red or green chili, or roasted chili-corn salsa, or some blend? Finally, the toppings—lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole?

Every order is unique. Every buyer tells Samantha precisely how to make his or her meal perfect. A little less of this, a little more of that. The dish is completely custom built, with an infinite number of ways to mix-and-match twenty-five ingredients.

Choice and the ability to create exactly what they want contribute greatly to buyers' loyalty to Chipotle. Despite a series of food-borne illness outbreaks in 2008–2009 and again in 2015–2016, fifty-seven new restaurants opened in 2016, comparable-store sales rose 17.8 percent and overall revenue increased 28.1 percent in the first quarter of 2017, and the company launched plans for rapid expansion in Europe.1 Other restaurant chains have successfully emulated the build-your-own model to give buyers similar control. Subway was the first, and Chipotle upped the game. Now dozens of rapidly growing ...

Get Stop Selling and Start Leading now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.