I have a confession to make. I didn't have my article ready to post in this space until early this Friday morning. And, as I was climbing out of bed to write, my wife rolled over and asked, "Time to make the donuts?"

"Time to make the donuts" is the phrase Fred the Baker would repeat in a somber tone as he was getting ready before dawn, day after day, to make sure fresh donuts were ready at Dunkin' Donuts.

Great job on the ads, Dunkin'. It has been thirteen years since those ads ran, but the catchphrase is still with us.

Many of us can relate to Fred ---doing the same thing day after day.

In these commercials, Dunkin' was trying to convey the advantage they have over their competition---grocery stores---fresh baked donuts each and every day. As Fred states in the commercial, "I"ll bet the grocery store guys are still in bed."

[Link to Commercial No. 1]

While we've turned the phrase to mean something we must do routinely that we may find grueling, many of us have forgotten the last scene of that commercial. When the store opens, Fred turns and faces his customers with a welcome smile.

The marketing lesson here ... The life lesson in fact, is that much success can be found in simply following through. Being there consistently. And, consistently delivering on the promises you've made to your customers.

But it isn't easy.

The last role I had at Starbucks Coffee was helping to develop customer service strategy. One of the biggest challenges in delivering customer service is being consistent.

As customers, we prefer to receive "slightly better" service all the time than to have awesome service one day, and a crummy experience the next. But that service roller coaster was happening at Starbucks. Up and down. Service at the same location could change from day to day, and it wasn't consistent from store to store. It is a challenge many retailer's face.

Consistency is so important, we're willing to sacrifice quality for something we can count on. McDonald's success is built on this. No one is claiming McD's has got the best burgers in the world, but what a comfort to know they taste exactly the same in Rhode Island as they do in Russia.

In another version of the commercial (below), we see Fred in rain, storm, and snow going to make the donuts. He's got sticktoitivity.

[Link to Commercial No. 2]

The recipe for consistency is:

  • 1 part, Commitment---showing up day after day.

  • 1 part, Anticipation---being prepared for the inevitable glitches.

  • Stir constantly.

  • Provide consistency, and for your customers, "it's worth the trip."

Quick Notes:

  • I'm proud I've been "makin' the donuts" here at the Daily Fix each Friday for over three years. And like Fred the Baker, I do it with a smile.

  • Fred the Baker was played by actor Michael Vale who passed away at the age of 83 in 2005. When Dunkin' retired the character, it held a "retirement" parade in Boston and offered free donuts to customers on that day.

  • Amil Gargano of Ally & Gargano, the agency who created these commercials, has a new book "Ally & Gargano" coming out next week that tells the story behind some of the agency's famous campaigns.

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Hi there!

I'm Paul Williams... guest writer on Daily Fix and founder of Idea Sandbox.

I'm a professional problem solver. Through brainstorm facilitation I help people create remarkable ideas to grow their business. As one client put it, “Idea Sandbox turns brains into idea machines.”

Prior to launching Idea Sandbox in 2005, I spent 15 years building marketing, branding, and customer-experience strategy for The Disney Company, the Aramark Corporation, and Starbucks Coffee Company.

I founded Idea Sandbox driven by my passion to help others create remarkable ideas. I blend the skills and lessons I have learned to build a sandbox---an idea sandbox.

You can reach me on Twitter via @IdeaSandbox.

Through Idea Sandbox, I have helped solve challenges, grow brands, think-up remarkable ideas, and create innovation for companies including: Starbucks Coffee Company, Starbucks Coffee International, Panera Bread Company, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Woodhouse Day Spas, The Microsoft Corporation, and Wells Fargo Mortgage.

I am a writer, speaker, columnist, and brainstormer living just outside Washington DC, in Alexandria, Virginia.

If you like what you've read here, you can find more of my thoughts at my Idea Sandbox blog.

I always welcome comments and reactions to what I've written. I'm on Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

Nice to meet you,