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When Listening Allows You to Discover A New Revenue Stream

What Gets your Goat - Instalment #3

At /ASK our philosophy is that if you don’t /ASK they can’t say Yes. We have spent decades asking questions and listening to customers, clients and internal business partners articulate their needs and expectations.

Sometimes it requires asking a lot of questions to get an internal business partner to express their real problem. Too often, they jump ahead to tell you what they want or think they need – which can be quite different from what will address the problem at hand.

Often, a good question is only the starting place, the real work is in listening, identifying the dynamics of brand loyalty, or discovering what was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to customer abandonment.

In other conversations, we listen for clues which will help us identify a white space opportunity or provide a path for further inquiry to unearth the emotional needs of customers.

And every once in a while, we don’t even have to ask a question, we just need to listen for customers to tell us exactly what they need and deliver upon the request.

In 2014, I moved from Paris to Madrid, most days I would arrive home late and didn’t have the energy to cook, thankfully I had several dinner options steps from my door. I rotated between Sona Cafeteria and Restaurante Martinete. Both had nice terraces, but when the heat was unbearable (+28) at 21h, I just wanted to retreat to my air-conditioned apartment which was kept at a constant 18 degrees, 365 days a year for my dog Nils.

While neither establishment was in the “take-away” business, I managed to persuade them, with my broken Spanish, to allow me to take their plates and sometimes the wine glass home with the excuse of “mucho calor y mi perro negro mayor, tiene una problema con su corazón” (it is hot, and my older black dog has a condition with his heart).

My first apartment had always been “temporary,” I didn’t know if I was staying five months or a year? When it was clear I was staying, I started looking for a classic 19th-century apartment with 3-meter ceilings, parquet flooring and more space. I found the perfect apartment with two balconies and a lovely view on Calle Hermosilla. The move was just 800m away, but Sona and Martinete would no longer be practical options when I worked late, I would need to make new restaurant friends.

On the day I signed the lease, I walked out and looked across the street and noticed a lovely white building draped in ivy, it was Restaurante Estay where a little over a year earlier, I had learned just how far a euro would go in Spain. My friend Liz and I had stumbled upon the cute spot and were skeptical at la carta ¿1,70€ for a glass of Albariño and 2€ for a Verdejo? I remember asking Liz “how bad can it be.” We ordered one of each and were pleasantly surprised, both glasses were good and served with Spanish tortilla and some potato chips on the house.

Fast forward to early 2016, I was about to make risotto, but I realized I didn’t have any white wine. Carrefour Express was open, but I wanted a wine I could drink not just one I could cook with. So, Nils and I walked into Estay and asked the bartender if he would sell me a bottle of wine? He looked puzzled, and I acted out “una botella para mi casa” pointing across the street to. my apartment. He consulted with the other man who spoke a little English, and explained they had never sold a bottle of wine-to-go, but they were willing, was 8€ ok? Perfecto!!

A few days later, I walked by Estay and saw a sign hanging by the front door - TIENDA DE VINOS, and in very small print, TAKE AWAY. This was not a fancy sign, but an A4 piece of paper, laser printed with a nice photo of the interior bar.

With five simple words, Estay had launched a new revenue stream!

No one had laboured over a business case, analyzed the data or called out that only one customer asked for a bottle to-go. A very intelligent person at Estay listened to my request and decided they were now also a Wine Shop!

During the year and a half, I lived across the street, I became a regular customer of the Tienda de Vinos and the in-restaurant dining experience. The staff was lovely, they offered great pinchos, nice warm goat cheese and foie salad and of course, the chips and tortilla were an automatic gesture for guests. Nils was welcome and after he passed away, the staff warmly welcomed my rambunctious new puppy, Milo. I miss Estay, their potato chips, good food and drinking wine with my friend Liz.

I looked up their website to see how they were faring during Covid times and discovered that my idea had made their timeline. They proudly proclaim in “2016 Estay reinvents itself to offer you a better service and excellent quality!” It continues “Wine Cava & Take Away- Our cellar at your disposal, to taste our best wines or take them home.” I smiled – a una gran sonrisa!

Not only had Estay transformed but did so without any fuss or stress. They listened to my /ASK and they said YES! I’m sure this open-mindedness coupled with ingenuity served them well during the severe Covid lockdowns in Madrid, after all, they had already evolved to be a TIENDA DE VINOS four years prior. Bravo Restaurante Estay!!

If you are ever in Madrid, visit this charming, old-school establishment with a modern mindset. The food is good and the staff friendly and accommodating. They start serving at 8 am and continue until 00:30 am, Monday - Saturday. Calle Hermosilla 46, 28001

Brace yourself, the Verdejo is now 3,30€ but there are many other lovely options from their Wine Cava for 2,20€. And remember, they offer TAKE AWAY if you ask.

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