(In the above photo, Jeff Lobb is shown with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame.)
Marketing executive and ice cream man Jeffrey Lobb offers advice for success.
Story by Eddy Hoyle
Jeffrey Lobb spent his career as a marketing executive in both Canada and the US with such companies as Walmart, Nestle, and Pepsi Cola where he rose to vice president of marketing. Pepsi sent Lobb to South Carolina in 1991 for two years and that’s when the Lobbs vowed to return.
“I have too much energy to retire,” Lobb said. “I always worked at big companies and always thought I’d be good at owning my own business. It’s a different skill set where I can use what I learned.” So three years ago, Lobb opened Ben & Jerry’s on the Promenade in Bluffton. “I wanted to be associated with a strong brand that is the best. Ben & Jerry’s was founded by two activists who were authentic. They wanted to drive social change and that authenticity can’t be faked. Now I’m in the ‘memories’ business. Generations of customers come in and share stories about their Ben & Jerry’s experiences back home. It’s all about engagement and fun. And I can work in shorts and flip flops.”
Lobb’s wife of 38 years, Bay, is also involved in this venture. They bought land in the Lowcountry in 2006 and moved into their Palmetto Bluff home in 2015. “It’s so fantastic to live and work in a place like this,” Lobb said. “And there’s so much to get involved in. I love the outdoors — we kayak, golf, fish, play tennis and paddleboard.” Here are his tips for success.
Keys to Success
1. Avoid an expensive hobby. Lobb advises that if you want to start a business, assess the market potential and create a business plan. “It’s your capital and your reputation, so understand the viability of the business. At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Do your homework so it’s a prudent risk. You want to avoid having your business turn into an expensive hobby.”
2. Exceed expectations. “It’s imperative to exceed customers’ expectations on every level using all five senses,” Lobb stated. Your place of business should be clean, it should smell good and what customers see when they come in should be interesting and pleasing. The ambiance should be an environment that when customers come in, they really enjoy it. “We have reclaimed wood, speakers in the ceiling, and décor that reflects our brand but with a Lowcountry flavor.”
3. Obsess about your staff. “When customers come in, I only have one question. How was the service?” Lobb said. “You only get what you pay for, so compensate your staff well. Train well, be a mentor, and when you hire, look for a size 10 personality. Create a great team. It’s all about your people.”
4. Nobody knows everything. Lobb said it’s important to recognize both your strengths and your weaknesses. We all avoid tasks we don’t like or don’t understand. “My wife takes over for me with doing the books, for example. You must value what you’re not good at and get a plan in place to overcome your weaknesses,” he said.
5. Think like a local. “Develop a local business network,” Lobb said. “It behooves me to know my community and become involved. We have a great Chamber of Commerce and business associations. I’m not from here, so networking accelerates our ability to grow the business.”