Panera Bread Making lots of dough (as in fresh bread and $$$)

The consistent delivery of high-quality fresh food within a comfortable gathering place in which to linger… this has been a recipe for success for centuries.  It has always been… it will probably always be.

So easily said, yet so very hard to consistently deliver, particularly on a national or world-wide basis over a period of years.  Many have tried; many have failed.  The difference between the winners and losers virtually always comes back to THE KEY INGREDIENT… Leadership.

Take the case of Panera Bread.  If you have not yet heard of Panera Bread, you will.  Sales rose 16.2% in 2008.  Profits were up 33% in the first half of 2009.  Penera is the best performing major restaurant stock of the last decade with annualized growth of 31.5%.  That is for the last decade!  Compare that to your 401K.

During this same period of time, thousands of restaurants and hundreds of thousands of other businesses opened their doors and then either quietly closed, or struggle daily to survive and pay the bills.  The bottom line difference is almost always the same… Leadership.

Leadership need not be complex or difficult to understand.  Leadership Excellence principles are universal and can be compared and applied to any industry or any field of endeavor.  I encourage you to carefully read each of the leadership related facts below… and thoughtfully identify areas within your leadership that might be improved using this information.  The facts below were highlighted in an article entitled Rising Dough:  How Panera is thriving by selling real food – and a gathering place – in suburbia.   The article was written by Kate Rockwood and was published in the October 2009 issue of Fast Company:

“While its competitors scale back on upscale ingredients, trim portion sizes, and create value menus, Panera is selling fresh food and warm bread at full price, and encouraging customers to linger.”

  • Question:  Are you leading such that customers are willing to pay full price for what you have developed and deliver?

“Panera has become as much a community gathering space as a bustling lunch spot.”

  • Question:  Are you leading such that you and your organization are the desired “gathering place” for your customers and clients?

“‘In many ways, we’re renting space to people and the food is the price of admission,’ says CEO Ron Shaich.”

  • Question:  Are you leading such that you, your team and your colleagues clearly understand the core reason(s) people and organizations buy from you?

“’We’re food people, and if we’re not working on something that really gets us excited, it’s kind of not worth working on,’ says chief concept officer Scott Davis.”

  • Question:  Are you leading such that your team and your organization want to work only on that which is truly worthwhile?  Only that which is core to your mission and gets them really excited and committed?

“’Panera’s on-trend with what consumers are asking for: fresh, customizable, convenient, won’t break the bank,’ says Darren Tristano.”

  • Question:  Are you leading such that your organization is on-trend with what your customers most desire at this time?

“’Meetings start with the staff breaking bread together (no, really).  We start by paying homage to mother bread,’ says manager Mike Vasil.”

  • Question: Are you leading such that you and your organization believe and live your vision, mission, and values?  Do you and your colleagues use and enjoy the programs, products and services you sell?

The leaders of Panera Bread are making lots of dough (as in $$$) for themselves and their shareholders by very carefully and successfully leading those who make and serve the dough (as in high-quality fresh bread and food within a comfortable gathering place in which to linger).  I guarantee you that Panera Bread is being watched very carefully by the leaders of McDonald’s, Chipotle, Burger King, Starbucks, Subway and other leaders within and outside the restaurant industry.

By the way, unfortunately I do not own any stock or have any financial or other interests in Panera Bread.  I am simply very impressed and desire to learn from what they have achieved.

The success of Panera Bread offers many valuable leadership strategies, results and lessons learned.  Read the article… intentionally study and experience Panera Bread…  learn from their leadership to enhance your own!

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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