Focus on what you are good at.

Do a few things really, really well

TedPetersIt was a perfect St. Pete Beach day. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds that matched the sand, small crowds since it was also a Monday, and enough of a breeze that you didn’t feel the sunburn building. A great day and a great way to wrap up a vacation.

Our nephew, a local resident, finished up work and suggested we meet at a restaurant called Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish. My first thought was:

When a kid is born, who decides to give them two first names?

Then, when I saw the place, my second thought was

Really? That’s where he wants to eat?

It was one of those nondescript, cinder-block buildings with a covered porch up front and plenty of paved parking. As you walk up to the entrance, you are greeted with a big sign that says “Cash Only.”

The bar outside on the porch has the limited menu on boards for those ordering carry-out: four types of smoked fish, smoked fish spread, and only one draft beer (Miller High Life) advertised for $2.50 in an ice-cold mug. If you eat there you can get fries, pieces of pie, even a cheeseburger, and they have a few other beers in the bottle.

Inside, the decor is old fishing lodge, and they proudly tout the availability of AC when the weather is hot enough to turn it on. Of course that AC doesn’t do much for you when you have to go outside and around the back to use the restrooms, but I suppose 60 years in the same location doesn’t give you much time to fix up the place.

Now you might think by that description that I thought the restaurant was a dive, and it is. But I truly enjoyed the place.

I also kept thinking about how many things credit unions can learn from a place like Ted Peter’s:

  1. They focused on what they were good at. Sure, that means the menu is limited, but that also means that you don’t waste much time looking over the menu, or end up ordering something mediocre, so no one is disappointed. Locals and tourists alike come to them specifically for what they offer. That’s great branding, no matter what business you are in.
  2. They delivered what they promised. The food was excellent, and the portions were big. No one could complain that they didn’t get their money’s worth. Credit unions provide a good value, but is it obvious to your members and potential members?
  3. There were a few nice surprises on the menu. I wouldn’t have ordered a cheeseburger at a fish place, but my nephew likes the burger so much he has never ordered the fish. And the key lime pie was great, even if they didn’t make it there. What is something unique that you can do to delight your members?
  4. The service was friendly. They treated you like a local, not a tourist, the waitress teasing and laughing along with the customers. Now substitute tellers and members and see if that same thing can be said about your credit union.

I’ll go back to Ted Peter’s next time I’m in the St. Pete/Tampa area. That smoked fish spread is killer.

Kent Dicken

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