Fill the Whole Cup

Bedford-Farms1Anyone who knows me knows that I left my heart in San Francisco … but I have to admit one benefit to being back in Boston is our family’s frequent visits to Bedford Farms Ice Cream in Concord, MA.

The ice cream is great (it’s been featured in Oprah’s “O Magazine”), but more importantly, the servings are HUGE.  We only ever order “kid’s cup” servings because we often have a hard time finishing even that portion.

When I first started visiting Bedford Farms, I was struck by the wastefulness of this approach. They were scooping away their profits!  Since no one but a glutton would order anything bigger than a kid’s scoop, they were giving too much for too little!

Then, about 500 visits later, it struck me that the Bedford Farms’ scoopers’ unspoken mantra to “fill the whole cup” had created a metro region full of die-hard loyalists.  The thousands of customers who frequented this modest mecca of dairy delights never, ever felt short-changed.  So (like us) they kept coming back for more.

It’s a classic “underpromise –  overdeliver” approach.  It’s “surprise + delight.”  It’s a simple, brilliant strategy.  Create something great, offer it at a fair price, and then (this is where most businesses fail), figure out what else you can offer, to assure the customer’s loyalty and positive word-of-mouth reviews.


Using Bedford Farms as your inspiration, can you think of something else you could be offering to your own customers, online or off?

Posted on: August 8, 2011 at 9:48 am By Todd Defren
4 Responses to “Fill the Whole Cup”


  • PR Firm Sam says:

    What a great idea. But it’s true, you should always go “above and beyond” what customers expect. We incorporate little surprises (like sending clients birthday cards from our staff) or supporting their social media endeavors by “liking” their business on Facebook.

  • Christina Feeney says:

    Completely agree – Bedford Farms is a classic. Growing up, my family and I would make the 5 minute trek for ice cream almost every Sunday night and it continues to be a ‘must’ for any homecoming visits. Their ‘fill the cup’ mantra keeps locals and tourists coming back. Kimball’s in Carlisle/Westford is another great example. They know what customers want and always serve it with a smile :) .

  • Wilson Usman says:

    That’s right, the perfect approach and so many businesses miss it. Always trying to promise us the best, lowest price you’ll pay, plus 10 other promises.

    But I’m see that many online businesses are getting the point more than brick and mortar.

  • Todd ~ This absolutely hits the mark when it comes to customer service today. I keep having flashbacks to Mad TV’s skit, “Lowered Expectations” and reflect on how we, especially in the US, have engendered that attitude in our service delivery. It’s heartening to know that there are those out there who get it…and deliver! Thanks!

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