Best. Show (and Burger). Ever.
I think I speak for all the Bob’s Burgers fans here at CallFinder when I say it’s one of the best shows of all thyme. No, that wasn’t a typo. It’s my way of paying hominage (last one, promise) to one of the show’s staples – the burger of the day, created by Bob and inspired by really bad food puns.
But this animated series about a quirky family who runs their own mom and pop burger joint has a lot more to offer than a running gag. While the restaurant is usually empty, except for a few regulars, and the Belchers are often late on rent, Bob, Linda, and their 3 children make it work. They do it with a sense of humor, creative business tactics, and plain old fashioned customer care.
I know this is a TV show we’re talking about, but I also think Bob’s Burgers can teach businesses a lot about how to deliver excellent customer service. Here are three customer service lessons from Bob’s Burgers that every business owner could use.
1. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone in customer service is learning to recognize one’s strengths and weaknesses when dealing with customers. This is very true for Bob.
In an episode from season 7, Linda tells Bob he doesn’t get good tips because he’s “surly” or at least “not conventionally charming.” Bob attempts to prove her wrong by “turning on the charm” for some customers in a nearby booth. Not surprisingly, his awkward attempt to casually strike up a conversation is painful to watch. Seriously, watch it for yourself.
Once Bob admits that charm may not be something he’s good at “turning on,” he can work on his people skills. By the same token, Bob knows what he’s best at – coming up with the burger of the day. This is what drives his relentless efforts to offer his customers a unique menu while adding a little humor to their day, making customers happy with each new creation. Know your strengths.
2. Shower Your Loyal Customers with Gratitude (and Free Stuff)
Teddy is perhaps my favorite minor character turned major player. He eats at Bob’s Burgers every day, and if he’s not having a meal, he’s at least having a cup of coffee. But when Teddy’s daily burger consumption causes heart problems in “Friends with Burger-Fits” (not even episode titles are immune to puns), Bob commits to helping Teddy improve his health.
First, Bob tries to serve Teddy a veggie burger disguised as a regular burger, but being the burger connoisseur that he is, Teddy quickly sees through Bob’s ruse (a little Archer reference for the H. Jon Benjamin fans out there). Then Bob offers to get up at the crack of dawn to go running with Teddy, sleepily telling his family, “I’m off to go running with my best customer so his heart doesn’t explode.”
This generous gesture is not something every business owner can offer. But the point here is that every business, no matter how large or small, has at least one cradle-to-grave customer. And there are plenty of ways to show your loyal customers how much you appreciate their business. Free stuff never hurts, but even a simple thank you email goes a long way.
3. Listen to What Your Customers Want and Give It To Them
Wrapping up the list is something that Bob is often incapable of doing, and can be argued as his most fatal flaw. Bob’s refusal to simply read the room consistently leads to a slump in business – from ignoring the town’s love for Lobsterfest in the first season to his bitterness toward trendy sweet potato fries (slight bittersweet pun intended) in the most recent episode. Whenever Bob manages to embrace the thing he hates the most about his foodie customers, then and only then will he see a bump in sales.
My favorite example of this comes from the “Food Truckin'” episode, kicked off by Bob catching the kids ogling food trucks lining the street outside the restaurant. Crossing his arms, Bob says, “Look, I know you kids are excited about the food trucks that are stealing our business and bankrupting us. What’s so great about getting food from a truck?”
That’s what Bob is ultimately missing. The great thing about getting food from a truck is that’s what customers want. I’ll let you watch the episode to find out what happens when Bob finally buys a broken-down ice cream truck and converts it into a food truck and heads to the Lolla-Pa-Foods-A festival (spoiler: Linda gets “hopped up” on antihistamines before getting behind the wheel, and there’s a Tori Amos parody).
For now, I’ll wrap this up by saying that I think the writers on Bob’s Burgers give us, the customer, everything we want as consumers of an intelligent, well-written, animated TV series: humor, a few life lessons, and characters we can relate to and fall in love with. Every business owner, no matter what they offer to consumers, could stand to mimic Bob’s Burgers approach to pleasing the audience.