Dream big and obsess about delighting customers

Google can search the equivalent of a stack of paper 70 miles high and find any piece of information in that pile in less than half a second. And it's better information, more relevant information, than any other search engine. That's why people love it.

But Google doesn't advertise. So how did you find out about it?

Google's growth has occurred entirely by word of mouth. Amazed users recommend it to their friends and others learn about it through the stories in the media - like this one you're reading. No Madison Avenue marketers have pushed it. Instead people have become attracted to Google, and stayed loyal, because it provides fast, reliable information to satisfy almost any interest or curiosity.

Lesson for Area Developers: To attract customers via free publicity and positive word of mouth deliver a much better product in a much better way. In every franchise organization the very top franchisees far outperform the average performers.

Google is one of the hottest business, media, and technology stories of our time. But most people have no idea how or why the Google search engine was created or why it has triumphed over deeper-pocketed competitors. There are two big reasons. First, the founders of Google dream big dreams - huge dreams. Not only dreams about getting rich but dreams about building something great. And second, they obsess over creating a customer experience that is better than anyone has ever known.

For example, you know that you can type in the name of a business and find it on Google, but did you know that you can type in your zip code and the word Sushi and see a complete list of Sushi restaurants nearby?

Have you ever scribbled down a phone number on a piece of paper without the name? Then you can't remember whose number it is? Just type any phone number into Google and it will tell who the number belongs to - unless it's an unpublished number.

All the published information you want exists somewhere. Google wants to make it all available to you in ways you never dreamed of. That outrageous dream motivates the Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

When they met back in 1995, the Internet was like the Wild West - vast territory that was not well marked or well addressed, so it was hard to find things. Existing search engine competitors like Alta Vista, Excite, and Yahoo tried to organize information so you could find it on the Internet. But their simple key word searches did not yield the most relevant or useful information. Rather, they returned lots of information that you had to manually read through in order to find what you really wanted. And people (customers) hate that kind of frustration and inconvenience.

So the Google guys downloaded the contents of the entire known world wide web - that's dreaming big - and they created a system of ranking web pages by relevance. Let's skip the technical details and just call this system Google's "Secret Sauce." It's what allows me to look up "Therese Thilgen franchise" and get her company website at the top of my search results. Even though there are 105 results, the most relevant results come up on, or near, the top.

Lesson for Area Developers: Innovation creates competitive advantages from big dreams. Franchisees who obsess about delighting customers are always coming up with new ways to make life easier, more pleasant and simply better for their customers.

The Google system was first used at Stanford, where news of it traveled by word of mouth and it became the search engine of choice on campus. The philosophy was deceptively simple: customers (users) would gravitate towards the best search engine. So Google set out to build something of value and deliver a service so compelling that people would just use it. And tell their friends.

When Sergey Brin and Larry Page were brainstorming for ideas to name their new company, they recalled the name of a mathematical expression called a googol. That's a real word. A googol is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 followed by 100 zeros). A googol is larger than the number of elementary particles in the universe, which amount to only 10 to the 80th power. So a googol of anything is an almost incomprehensible amount - bigger than anything in the universe, or the universe itself.

Google the company is spelled differently. Why? Because someone helping to search for available domain names fat-fingered the keyboard and misspelled the real word "googol." Thus was almost accidentally named a company that would aspire to unleash all of the information ever documented by the human race.

Lesson for Area Developers: When you dream big dreams and obsess about delighting customers, you can overcome mistakes and accidents. You may even get lucky!

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