Are you wanting to stand out in your business? Do you feel like you need to reinvent yourself to be able to catch up to the competition?
Last year, I went on a road trip through Route 66 with my family, and I learned a bunch of lessons about how to stand out in your business just like Route 66.
A little background
Let me give you a little bit of context first. My family and I flew into Vegas for a holiday before my mastermind. From the airport we rented a car and since it was night we started to drive towards our first hotel on Route 66. When we woke up the next day, we were able to head off to Arizona, and our starting point was Kingman.
The goal was to go along the old Route 66, which decades earlier, used to be so busy with 10,000 cars a day going along it. When the new highway was created, it was in danger of becoming a ghost town. Some changes were made to make the little locations tourist destinations, and so it didn't lose its life. I'll get into that a little bit later.
Because of these changes I really wanted to take my kids and my husband on Route 66 on our way to the Grand Canyon. On my trip, I saw so many cool things that businesses were doing that I felt I should share with you and you and your business can benefit too!
A Short History of Route 66
I picked up a brochure from what used to be an old barber shop called Angel and Vilma's Original Route 66 Gift Shop and it has a little bit of backstory.
“For 50 years, Route 66 was the main thoroughfare through Northern Arizona and brought much commerce to the town of Seligman. But on September 22, 1978 the newly constructed Interstate 40 bypassed Seligman and replaced the section of Route 66 that had brought the traffic of thousands of cars through town on a daily basis.”
Just imagine all of those restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, gift shops, and attractions, their livelihood shut down in a day. Could you imagine your business having an outside source or new technology shut down your business? It’s like owning a Blockbuster, who did VHS rental, and then all of a sudden all video is digital. Things in business can happen so quickly that we can get bypassed just like this new highway literally bypassed those businesses!
“The livelihood of the businesses in Seligman disappeared in one day. All the travelers who had one stop to eat, get fuel and stay the night were now quickly driving by just two miles south. For 10 long years, the residents learned to live on very little. Businesses closed down. People moved. Buildings were abandoned.”
Isn't that crazy? Super crazy! Then Angel Delgadillo, a barber and proprietor of the town, didn't want this to happen. He didn't want his town to die. Just like maybe you've had times in your business where you've thought,
Long story short, Angel didn’t give up and kept writing letters and raising money. One of the ways he raised money was he sold souvenirs about Route 66. Eventually, it became a historic route.
The state of Arizona christened it Historic Route 66, from Kingman, to Seligman. Isn't that amazing? Now, rather than a place that people just went through on their way to somewhere else, Las Vegas or wherever they were going, instead, it now became a really cool touristy destination and adventure. It completely shifted the purpose. Then it actually continued on into California and all these other places as well, based on the route, the work of Angel, the barber.
3 ways to stand out
What happened to Route 66 could very well be happening to your business. There could be:
If you’re in that space, then here are 3 things that can help you. (If you feel like your business is doing good, then great! Just take a look at these ideas and see if you want to add any of them to your business)
Maybe it’s time in your business for reinvention. For Route 66, it went from just a thoroughfare to a landmark and a destination place. Maybe you need something new to draw people in.
In this reinvention, it wasn't just, “We've got great burgers” or “We've got great souvenirs.” It then became “Look what we have on the outside.”
There is a place on Route 66 that has Giganticus Headicus. It's this big green head and makes no sense to me why it was there. Except it made us stop for a photo…then go in the shop. I chatted with the guy there, probably the owner, who said his friend made it about 10 or 20 years ago, and it is drawing people into his shop. It catches their attention. It's an Instagram moment!
Here’s a photo of me picking the nose of this big head because that is exactly what my son did before he ran off to go to the bathroom!
Now, how are you catching the attention of people that are driving by, walking by, or scrolling by? The way they're doing this on Route 66 is with colorful old car signs and other pieces of art. This is the area that inspired the Disney movie Cars.
Angel, the barber, was interviewed in his barber shop for three days by the eventual writer of Cars and that's where Cars and Radiator Springs and the whole idea was born.
They have other ways to catch people’s attention. There are dinosaurs in the Grand Canyon Caverns. Things are also interactive like in Kingman, they have a massive drive-thru sign. You can drive through, have your car sit there, get out and take some photos. There’s also a train where you can go inside and take a photo.
If you're thinking of things like having booths at markets or if you have a storefront, what are you doing to draw people in or to have people be interested? That's what I was thinking about because of the big green head. I asked myself, “Well, what's happening here? This place looks interesting and I need to stop by.”
So what are you doing in a physical space with people in person to draw them in?
Next, ask yourself or ask your team about your website: “What am I doing to draw people in, to catch their attention, and to keep them on my website longer than seven seconds?”
The last thing is when they're scrolling by on social media, what are you doing to capture their attention and to have them stop? There might be some reinvention that needs to happen for you as a person or maybe for you and your business.
Even just wearing my hair curly, I've had so much positive feedback. That small change in my hair could be a little bit of a reinvention because it's drawing more attention and having people stop.
2. The Route 66 Passport
They have a Passport for Route 66. If you can imagine a little guidebook showing you all the cool places to stop. Well, they've done that. but they also added in the ability to get a cool stamp at each location.
They’ve gamified the drive and sightseeing. My kids had so much fun going through the book and getting the different stamps. Even if there wasn’t much to stop for, it gave us a reason to. Ask yourself, “Is there something in my business that I could gamify? Something that I could do to connect one piece of the journey to the next and encourage my clients/customers to continue?”
Because I'll tell you, we followed the Route 66 passport that day and we stopped at places we probably would have just driven by because the stamp was there, that interactive piece of it and the milestones.
It gives people the purpose to complete it.
Also, is there a way you could connect with other businesses and do something similar? It got me thinking about my client journey and all the services and programs that I offer. Could I have my own passport where my clients can mark off how far they have gotten and then I send them something in the mail to celebrate their journey? It might not be the stamps, but it could be something else.
I really liked the idea of this passport. What's even more clever is I had to pay for it. I paid $1.75 US for it, which I was like, “Oh, that's so cheap.” But how many times do you go to a visitor center and you get a map, marking off the places to go or a little guidebook for free? They're making money off of this as well, which I just thought was genius!
There are also so many other sections to it: the western section, the central section, then there's the eastern section which encourages you to keep going, even if you hadn’t planned on it. Then at the back of the passport, there were extra pages for any other stamps you got.
There was even a PRIZE! They have a passport redemption coupon. When you get seven stamps, you're entitled to a special certificate. It’s just made of paper, but it’s a motivator and a reward. You can also mail it in, which I think is clever.
Do you know what's also clever for them? You have to send in the passport redemption survey, which asks for your demographics and so they learn more about their ideal customer.
3. Having some charm, humor, and wackiness
It kind of blew me away how quirky all of these places are and it’s like they're playing this up. They've got some people working in these different places who are like historians, sharing the history of Route 66. When I was at the barber shop or the Original Route 66 Gift Shop, it was so amazing. The woman there was sharing lots of cool info and encouraging us to experience the shop, “Hey, go sit in the barber seat” and then we noticed a big cardboard cutout of Angel and so in a photo it looked like he was cutting your hair. My son sat in the chair, and he loved it!
Then at another place, there’s a whole wall where people stuck dollar bills or different denominations and currency. It has people's names on it and so many things stuck on that wall, like license plates.
As we were there, a real ambassador was chatting with us. He even encouraged us to all sit up at the fake diner counter and he’ll take our picture.
They're really encouraging these types of connections. That charm, that humor, that wackiness is there, but also that ambassadorship.
I want you to think, how are you showing up? Are you just showing up as someone in their business? Or are you really embodying what you're wanting for your business?
Let me give you another example. There's a place called Delgadillo's Snowcap Diner. I think it was actually run or started by Angel as well. They do burgers and fries, and fried foods. I'll tell you though, their shakes are amazing. We went there, and their place is like one of those hole-in-the-wall sort of place. You have to sit outside. But it had so much character. Even the backyard area, it was like the bathroom was an outhouse, but it was all done up inside, almost like you were in Pee Wee's Playhouse. It was so wacky. There was a fake TV that was playing music and all these funny signs. But as we're going to order, the woman there pulls out a mustard bottle and shoots my kids with it. They all jumped back. It was one of those fake gag mustard bottles and only a yellow string touched them. We all had a good laugh.
The other thing is to get in, there are two doorknobs. I went to open the doorknob on the right because I'm right-handed, but that wasn't the doorknob. It was the doorknob on the left. It was quite funny. We had a giggle and even funnier when I went to leave and I did the exact same thing.
Then after we ordered the shake, she goes, “Straw?” I said yes and she went to pass me a handful of actual straw from a farm rather than a straw you would drink from. So again, we all had a giggle.
This is the charm, humor, and wackiness. It makes me think of my business, “Where can I take it up a notch?” She could have just shown up and been like, “Okay, what do you want to eat? Okay, here's your food. Thank you. Bye.”
So how could you show up differently in your business as someone more charming, humorous, wacky, like an ambassador, or a historian? All of these people had different ways of being, but so endearing. I really enjoyed my interactions with them. It has me now telling you about it. Maybe it wasn't the best nuggets and fries for my kids. Maybe they weren't the best souvenir shops. But I'll tell you, they left a mark on me.
You have to think, how many times in your life have you bought something that's not as good as something else because you liked the person? Or do you continue to shop or buy somewhere because you just love what they stand for? Or do you continue to go to a certain hotel or a certain coffee shop because of their reward system?
It's so interesting how a few hours on Route 66 caused all of this in my head.
I'm curious for you, out of these three, which ones are new for you or which ones are you going to implement? Has one of them made you think, “Oh yeah, maybe I could do that?”
Because what would Route 66, and all the small towns be, if they didn't do these things? They'd be like certain companies out there that didn't evolve, that didn't change.
I know you care about your business, and you love your business, or at least you want it to succeed, so one day you can sell it or pass on the legacy to your family, or just enjoy life while you're doing it.
I hope that you take at least one little piece of what I shared and look differently at your business, and possibly your life.
P.S. If you want to receive tools, tips, and truth about all things life and business, sign up here for free!
Read my other blogs here:
Get Goaled! Coaching Mastermind
Connect with me