Everybody thinks their hometown donut shop is the best. Living in Springboro, my family prefers Donut Haus. The donuts are great, and I truly believe it’s impossible to beat their apple fritters. But this isn’t my hometown donut shop. My actual hometown donut shop does something that none of the local Dayton places do.
I grew up with Square Donuts. In 1967 in Terre Haute, Indiana, Richard Comer, Sr., began making his donuts with a square cutter instead of a round one. People loved them, and still do. The business eventually expanded to Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Richmond.
Don’t misunderstand me; I didn’t grow up eating garbage donuts just because they’re square. They’re really good. Better than any other donut shop I have ever been to. Ever. But also, they’re square!
There are two lessons we can take away from this little donut shop and its success since the mid-’60s.
First, don’t be afraid to add a little something extra or do things a bit differently. Put your signature on your work, especially when it’s easy to fall in line and produce the same stuff over and over. People always appreciate something that makes them look twice. Was it difficult to make donuts square rather than round? Not really. But doing a little extra made them unique.
Second, and most importantly, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can let quality slip because of a gimmick or unique idea. If the donuts weren’t good, they could be any shape you wanted, and nobody would eat them. This donut franchise is now all over Indiana, and it’s not just because of an odd product shape. The quality behind the gimmick holds up. If you gave me a round donut from Square Donuts and a donut of any shape from Bill’s or Donut Haus, I’d pick out the Square Donut easily. Challenge me!
What’s your signature? Is it a color or funny name? Is it a great story or personal quirk? Identify what makes your product special, or add a little something to make it special. And if you can add a sugary glaze to it, do that too.