Sabin Lomac was working hard in California back in 2011 working both in real estate and as an actor. But when he invited his cousin Jim from Boston for a visit and they couldn’t find a place to eat with Lobster the way they liked it they jokingly suggested starting their own Lobster business that would bring the best lobster in the world to California. What started out as just a cool idea turned into Cousins Maine Lobster which now has a fleet of 19 trucks in 13 cities throughout the United States, a restaurant, and an online store. Read about their journey and take your dream idea across the United States just like Sabin & Jim!
When we started out we had no experience running a business. But Jim and I knew two things- If the food is out of this world and the customer service is even better we’re gonna make it! In fact, those two principles are the bedrock of our company and they will continue to be what guides us in the future. The most important element for any business that wants to succeed is excellent customer service. I know from my own experience, if I eat out at a restaurant and the food isn’t exactly how I like it, but the service was pleasant, professional and enjoyable I will definitely go back and try it again. However, if the customer service is lousy I won’t go back even if the food was great! Whether you’re in the food industry or any other industry, customer service is a make it or break it ingredient for success.
When you’re running a business of your own every sale is a walking advertisement for your business. It takes time to really perfect your product or service, but when you have that “got it” moment, stick to it like a fish sticks to water. When we saw people happily waiting at the end of a 70-person line and then coming back again for more, we knew we figured it out. We’ve had people email us that when they land in California our truck is their first stop, which is so encouraging and validating for us. The challenge for us moving forward is to make sure we keep it up, especially in the food industry where “you’re only as good as your customer’s last sandwich”. If we take our finger off the pulse even for one second and send one customer away with a meal in which we didn’t take 100% pride in we’ll absolutely fail. Passion is a necessity to starting any business, but to truly succeed every sale you make needs to be done with the same level of passion you had when you made your very first sale.
At the same time, it’s important to find others who you can trust who have the same passion that you do in order to grow your business. So many entrepreneurs become power freaks, and in many cases for good reasons. You’re the one who grew the business and you’ve put your life and blood into the business like no one else has, so it makes perfect sense why you’d want to remain in charge of everything that goes on. However, it is a skill to learn how to remain involved rather than in charge. Staying involved means making sure the people you hire share the same level of passion for your business. It means hiring people who share the same level of sensitivity towards quality and an impeccable level of customer service. But when you find those all-stars, you need to be able to put them in charge.
Together with Barbara, we’ve been able to open many franchises all over the United States, we made sure that the people we offered the franchise opportunity to were people who believed in everything we believed in. By making sure we partnered with the right people every Cousins Maine Lobster truck is being run with all the values and qualities that we believe in.
One of the biggest challenges a young successful company faces is the need to stay focused on what you do best. After we went on Shark Tank and partnered with Barbara things really picked up in a hurry. In just two months we were getting offers from so many people, and so many different ideas. To be honest, success can sometimes be deceiving. You start to think that if we succeeded selling Maine Lobster, maybe we could start doing other things. One of the most important things we realized is that time is the most valuable asset we have. If your core business is selling apples and then you try to sell peaches, every minute you spend selling peaches is taking away from how well you run your apple business. Entrepreneurs are inherently looking to keep things moving and jump into great ideas, but at a certain point you need to zero in on what’s working, stay laser focused and forget about anything else. If you’re lucky to find success in what you love doing- don’t stray!
The dream of Cousins Maine Lobster has always been to share the delicious seafood Jim and Sabin devoured during family gatherings in Maine with their patrons outside of their home state. Starting with one truck they have quickly expanded their fleet of vehicles to four roving Southern California. Today, Cousins Maine Lobster is proudly served off the truck in 10 regions throughout the country and is available online for home delivery throughout the U.S.