Business lessons from my favourite doubles vendor

IF YOU are a true Trini then you have your favourite doubles vendor! Whether you buy George doubles on Carlos Street or you’re coming from the east and patronize the famous UWI doubles or you’re like me, and enjoy a good doubles from the woman in the Starlite Shopping Plaza car park. This is exactly where I found myself on Tuesday not realising that I would be given a silent education in business success.

You see for the first time I arrived when she did, and got to see first hand what I usually just take for granted – the mother preparing the doubles – the daughter taking the money. Let me first warn you upfront: This information is going to appear very simple, almost inconsequential to most. Og Mandino said it best in his book The Greatest Secret in the World: “It’s so simple that it’s going to “turn off” a lot of your reading companions of the moment who believe that nothing can be very worthwhile unless it’s expensive or complicated.”

What took place before my eyes on Tuesday morning was like a screen play. First the guy I usually meet there (who I thought was just a limer) sprinkles disinfectant around the entire area. Then the woman and her daughter off load the car, making it seem as if each item is like part of a jigsaw puzzle that they’ve built over and over again. There is no fumbling or awkwardness – just definiteness of purpose with the aim of installing the entire structure quickly.

What truly impressed me was the attention to detail and the fact that EVERYTHING had a purpose including the string that I thought was an untidy oversight. The daughter swiveled the umbrella and said the string was used to fix the “brully” in place to the wrought iron stand, curbing movement. Next she used two clothes pins to attach a towel in what seemed a precise position as well – this cleverly placed to shield sunlight as the morning wore on. The “limer” then placed a Newsday in a space in front of the doubles stand – complimentary reading material for customers to browse while in line. He then made sure that the opener for the cold drinks on the side was meticulously placed. The daughter then whipped out Mom’s food badge and just as fluidly…took my order! I kid you not: FIVE MINUTES MAX! Oh and I almost forgot: quite visible for all and sundry to see, was a neat sign alerting us to the fact that our favorite doubles was going up in price come August!

I left there and could not help but reflect on what I had just seen. There are lessons here, I thought and this is what I learned:

You must have a system! A system allows for ease of process, not too much thinking and fast execution. Too many businesses have no system and continue to shoot from the hip – not sure which strategy they intend on using and why. I am sure my doubles vendor has got this routine aced…down to the loading up of the car so as to facilitate the offloading process on the back end.

Focus on the basics.How many times do we find ourselves stalling, and kidding ourselves that what we really need is that new whatever and once we get it our business is going to shoot through the roof! Everything that the doubles vendor took out of the car had a purpose. There were no extras. Know what your basics are for efficiently operating your business and stick with that!

Communicate with your customers. Don’t you just love surprises? Most business owners seem to think so as they sometimes raise membership fees or prices of goods and of course never tell us – their loyal customers. After all, we NEED what they have to offer so we will HAVE to buy at the new price. This is the second time that my favorite doubles vendor has raised her prices but what I remember from the first time is that she gives you such a long heads up…you know well in advance and are not surprised when the change finally hits you.

So for the cost of four doubles *($8.00) I was reminded of some business success principles that I hope you would heed since your investment for this information is $1.00 for this newspaper– or perhaps you prefer to spend $1,000’s of dollars in your own trial and error effort or is it that you want to have a “marketing guru” tell you the same thing for $1,500.00? The choice is yours.

*Doubles prices have increased since 2007 (when this article was first published) – you now pay $3.00 and $4.00 for one but still less than $20 for a great meal and STILL a great investment for sound business advice! 🙂

Doubles vendor pic from
Doubles pic from

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