Jason Kyle | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jason Kyle

Background:  

Over Easy opened its first metro Phoenix location in 2008. The brunch spot features from-scratch cooking, throwback décor and Midwestern hospitality. It has been featured on Food Network’s "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." Over Easy has Arizona locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Gilbert and one in Bellingham, Wash.

The Mistake:

I didn’t take enough time to look at how [customers] saw the business and how they interpreted it.​

I played in the NFL for 16 years and as I transitioned out of that, I started an internet business called Pro Player Connect, which was a secure site for professional athletes to communicate and network. It was a true startup company. 

Being the owner of several businesses, I was trying to define and understand the customer experience. You want to be liked and known by everybody. When you do that, you get a little distracted and the quality and value of what you do suffers.  

Pro Player Connect was a platform for companies to connect with athletes. Ninety-five percent of the guys were willing to do appearances or promote products for less money, and it removed the agents and the marketers from the equation. In order to attract the athletes, I extended to them an opportunity to do more things than just promotions and appearances. I turned it into an all-inclusive player/management system that ranged from connecting with other players to helping promote their charitable events and tracking their injuries. 

I tried to make the homepage something that managed the all-inclusive professional athlete experience off the field. It confused the message as to what that site was and what, primarily, they were there to do. It also became very expensive to build and create that.

You constantly have to try to understand why people are coming to your business.

The Lesson:

You’ve got to remain disciplined to your customer experience. You’ve got to define it and stick to it. It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re starting out – you’re struggling and you’re wondering where the next sale is going to come from.  

You have to define who you are. That’s not to say that it can’t change. For me, the struggle was being forced to define who I was, which meant I was limited to that. I didn’t really understand that the definition could change and evolve. 

You constantly have to try to understand why people are coming to your business. You need to make that very clear and you need to create obvious value. You have to understand who you are as it relates to your customer, yet know that you can redefine that at any point. You can evolve, but you have to continually try to see things through their eyes and understand what that exchange of value is.

It was very clear to me, but I didn’t take enough time to look at how they saw the business and how they interpreted it. I now realize that I need to get out of my shoes and get into the customer’s shoes. In any business I’m in now, that’s the goal I keep in mind.

Follow Over Easy on Twitter at @EatAtOverEasy

Photo courtesy of Jason Kyle

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