Bring your best, develop the best, and deliver a “Plus One” experience

Looking for something SWEET to do with your family, for your sweetheart or with your crew? Look no further (especially this week) than Northeast Florida’s own modern-day Willy Wonka, Pete Behringer. He can be found doing his thing at Swete Pete’s bringing joy to young, old and everyone in between!

My wife and I have had brunch at their amazing restaurant and visited recently over the holidays for fun with our two kids to experience the “My Bar My Way’ guided tour. It is well more than worth the $6.00 per person price tag.

As we learned about the history of Sweet Pete’s and the candy factory he built along with his wife, Allison, some leadership lessons began to emerge as it is generally impossible for me to not find some sort of lesson out of these experiences.

Bring Your Best

Growing up, Pete’s family was in the chocolate business. During the tour, we learned that Peterbrooke Chocolatier was founded by his parents (the name Peterbrooke is a combination of his and his sister’s names). Candy is his passion, and it shows. Sweet Pete’s is teeming with delicious handmade options created by Pete and his team, plus hundreds (if not thousands) of unique and familiar name brands.  Pete is there bringing his best every day. The tour guide mentioned it was unusual for Pete to take more than one day off in a week. Throughout the tour, it became clear that a focus on excellence is one of their core values. As a leader, Pete’s focus and determination are contagious, and the team elevates their game to make sure the candy is consistently delicious. When the leader brings their best, it’s more likely for the team to follow suit.

Develop the Best

This is a more challenging aspect of leadership, especially if quality is a critical deliverable. I’ve worked with many leaders who are of the mindset, “If I want it done right I have to do it myself.” Well, that may work in some smaller companies, but as the leadership level increases that will lead to high stress and potential burnout. As we toured, our guide shared a little about how Pete has mentored him since joining the team. In fact, he has helped many members of his team become experts in various areas and then delegated appropriately. Pete is intentional and methodical about making sure everyone is empowered to succeed. All while making sure the level of quality remained superb. Here is a great formula I’ve adapted from John Maxwell on delegation that can be applied to leadership in most industries:

I do it and get really good at it

I do it and you watch me

You do it and I watch you

You do it and report to me on challenges/successes

We work through those together

You do it and get really good at it

You teach someone else using this formula

Leaders and companies can go further when delegation is intentional and thorough.

Deliver a “Plus One” experience

Well, they say a picture speaks a thousand words. At the time of the experience, which was over the holidays, I was fully present in the moment and didn’t even think about blogging until we were on our way out, so I grabbed a quick photo and video but wish I had a few more.  Here’s what I know, you need to go check it out on your own. There are a variety of tours, packages, and parties, and I will say they deliver more than expected for the price. When we first arrived we filled out our “My Bar” card, which was selecting different elements for your perfect candy bar. We were each given a free sample of their famous salted caramel candy. There were beautiful “selfie” spots throughout the store. As we progressed through the tour, we ultimately got to watch our candy bars being assembled by, you guessed it, Sweet Pete himself.  Our kids were ecstatic! There was also a copy of a “Golden Ticket” used on the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – how appropriate! When leaders and their teams deliver more than expected, even if just a little “Plus One”, it makes for repeat customers and referrals galore.

Pete’s leadership and passion for his craft also landed him an amazing opportunity to be featured on CNBC’s “The Profit.” Here is a 10-minute recap of that show:

One bonus takeaway from that video is another leadership principle – perseverance through challenging times can be a major contributor to success.

Check it out, and see sweetness in action!

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