I mean, what was I expecting from a place called The Orange Cat Cafe?
An orange cat, of course.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the sense of fun I felt as I entered this rural Maine eatery .
The Orange Cat Cafe is on our route to Ontario from New Brunswick - we take a short cut through Maine and come back into Canada somewhere in Quebec. (it’s a long but beautiful drive)
We usually pass by this quirky cafe around mid-day and hope (hope hope) they are open. When the website says open 7ish to 3ish, you know they are pretty relaxed about hours of operation.
How do you know they are open when you drive by? The sign on the front door is turned to say, “Come In, We’re Awesome”.
The number one reason this bohemian lunch spot is our favourite? The food. It’s delicious. Homemade sandwiches and baking. Reeeeallly good.
But it’s the rainbow staircase, quirky signs and total sense of fun that we experience while waiting for our food that makes the visit memorable.
I always take the opportunity to use their teenie, whimsical restroom. (it’s a long road trip). I laughed out loud last time when, after washing my hands, I reached for a paper towel and noticed the sticker on the dispenser: Voice Activated: Say Loudly, Dispense Towel.
The last visit to my favourite cafe got me thinking about how a sense of fun can really leave a lasting - and pleasant - impression with your clients.
Yes, of course, your product has to be good. Of course. But the way you deliver your service and the atmosphere that you create for your customers is a huge part of the experience. You have the opportunity to leave a long, lasting impression.
Creating a fun environment for your staff has an upside too.
I was a media buyer at an incredibly fun ad agency in Ottawa, Banfield-Seguin (now just Banfield). We worked hard and played harder.
Our days were filled with hilarious pranks, crazy celebrations for every little event, over-the-top parties - like the day a limo pulled up with the Queen (impersonator) waving from the window, Bill falling through the ceiling tiles just to startle a co-worker, and redecorating every room in the 3-story building with a special theme for a client event. You just never knew what the day would bring when you showed up at work.
You soon realized, when you least expect it, expect it!
The Banfield gang knew there was a direct link between fun, happiness and creativity. None of their clients took them any less seriously as an agency - they loved working with Banfield.
Guess what? You can be professional without being serious all the time. Lighten up. Keep it in good taste. Be playful. My hunch is, people who do... are laughing all the way to the bank.
From The Orange Cat Cafe website:
The Orange Cat Veggie Burger: A Sonnet
When yearnings press for peace in decor bright,
When appetite awakes with thoughts of lunch,
The Orange Cat is dreamt of day and night--
Its wondrous menu, thought "divine to munch".
With smiles and words of welcome from the staff
One enters, orders, finds a comfy seat
Within it's pictured walls, to quip and laugh
While waiting for one's meal - oh joy complete!
The kitchen's soups gain fame both far and near,
With sandwiches - a score -
chalked on the board,
And buns and cookies, jaded lives to cheer.
Who can resist - foreswear this tasty hoard?
All these entice my heart, o'er vale and hill;
The best of them? The Veggie Burger still!
-written by our amazingly talented friend, Geoff
The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners improve their marketing.
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