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Key Idea: Make Customers Say Wow

Employees and franchisees at Auntie Anne's are smiling because the pretzels
are so yummy that the customers are smiling and keep coming back.

Key Question:


Make a product that people don't want to live without.  Jonas Beiler found a secret ingredient which makes the pretzel taste fabulous and different from any other pretzel. Jonas' recipe is special and Anne is convinced that if a customer says, "Wow" about your product, you have a great chance to succeed. Most customers of Auntie Anne's either say, "Wow" or think, "Wow" when they taste the product.

Q: How does a business owner find out what the customer thinks?

A: In Anne's case, she started selling baked products when she was 12 years old. When she opened her own shop in 1988, she was standing behind the counter and watching her customers bite into the product and then react. Anne is always looking for someone to say, "Wow." This is not sophisticated research, it is simply evaluating the customers you have in front of you. Soft pretzels have been enjoyed by people in Pennsylvania and New York for years and Anne figured consumers in other areas would love them too. She was right.

Think about it

How do you get close and stay close to your customer? When was the last time you watched a customer engaged with your product or service?

Clip from: Auntie Annes Pretzels

Anne Beiler says that everyone is teachable and lovable.

Gap, Pennsylvania:   An angel investor stood by her while bank after bank turned her down because the purpose of this business was to make money then give it away.

Meet Anne Beiler, founder f Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  Anne's generous spirit is infused throughout this company and it is their secret ingredient.  Anne has proven that her franchisees want to run a business built on love. While most franchise companies have to market to find new owners, Anne has to turn away hundreds who want to buy into her concept. Products topped with her love of people make Anne Beiler a leadership example to follow.

In 1988 Anne Beiler turned a mistake into a new product. Today, Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels are baked fresh in over 800 locations and are the perfect high carbohydrate, low-fat, back-to-the-basics snack so many people crave. Customers will part with over $500 million a year to enjoy this hot treat.

So now, we travel out to Gap in Pennsylvania's Amish Country; it is a simpler place. And though it may be an unlikely place to be running a fast-growing business, maybe there are lessons here for all of us in these hostile times.  This business is based on love and on giving. This is the American Dream. It has come alive for all the right reasons.

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Auntie Anne's Inc.

Anne Beiler, Founder

160-A Route 41
Gap, PA 17527

Visit our web site:

Office: 717-435-1610

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1988

Make Customers Say Wow

Franchisee: Once we tasted the product--

HATTIE: For every 500 people who want to buy a franchise, only one is given the opportunity.
Franchisee: See, you watch and see the expression on their face.

HATTIE: They go, 'Wow, wow!'

Franchisee: Yeah. That's the first thing.

HATTIE: So part of your success pattern, I'm hearing, is you say 'no' to a lot of things.

ANNE: Yes, we do. It's very important to me, as the founder and as the owner of the company, that you do well. It's all about doing good and doing well and helping other people achieve that. It's more about that than it is about selling a franchise and putting profits in the company. We're in it for the long haul, for the big picture, and for 10, 15, 20, 30 years from now, we want to be in business.

HATTIE: Why do you think you don't have to go after the potential franchisees? Why do you think they're coming after you?

ANNE: I'm not sure. Let me go back a little bit to my personality. I'm not a salesperson, and if you don't want what I have, I'm not going to sell it to you. I can't. That's just not my style. So it's a good thing that our product sold itself. So for us, the way it's worked is the people have called us after they've tasted the product literally.

Employee: Do you want glaze on these?

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