I have a confession: On average, I eat at Chipotle 10 times each week. I’ll often buy two—sometimes three—burritos at once in an effort to be as efficient as possible since I know they’ll all be gobbled up within a day. While the habit developed after I realized my ingredients of choice (brown rice, black beans, chicken and hot salsa) were actually not that bad for me—not to mention the time I save in meal preparation—it’s grown into a fondness for the brand that makes it easy to justify the frequent visits.
Below are three marketing lessons I’ve picked up from the folks at Chipotle, who clearly know a thing or two about creating a loyal following:
- Relationships are key. One of the major draws of haunting my local Chipotle are the employees themselves. They know who I am, and even more impressively, they know my order by heart. And while Chipotle doesn’t have a frequent visitor card, they know who their regulars are and will reward them accordingly. (Excuse me, you’re comping both my burritos?) Lesson learned: When you make your customers or clients feel important and show you care about them, you’ll foster a dedicated fan base.
- Be consistent. When I walk into a Chipotle, I know the food I’m getting is going to taste the same as it did yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. Sure, the size of the chopped meat and amount of salsa ladled atop by burrito will vary, but I’m never going to be surprised by what lies underneath that aluminum lid. How can I apply that? By knowing that clients don’t want to be thrown for a loop.
- Stand for something. GMO-free meals put Chipotle on the map as a leader in the healthy fast food movement. And when one of the company’s suppliers wasn’t meeting Chipotle’s strict animal welfare standards, they suspended all purchases. This led to the company being unable to supply more than one-third of its restaurants with carnitas for several months now, but they wouldn’t compromise their standards. The takeaway: When you believe strongly in something and your actions back that up, others will respect you even more for taking a stand.
Now if only they would start delivery service.