By Richard Bleil
Today is the Dairy Queen Miracle Treat Day. The proceeds are actually the profit margin that the DQ stores would ordinarily make on selling Blizzards, which is given to local Children’s Hospitals, earmarked, I believe, for victims of cancer.
Let’s be honest about this; Dairy Queen makes the money back. This promotional activity brings in a huge influx of business, and while they may not benefit from the Blizzards, they do profit on other food and Blizzard sales made throughout the year by people who get “hooked” on this day. And the truth is…this is okay.
This is a “win-win” situation. Thousands of dollars are raised for children who are facing a condition that nobody should ever have to go through. The point that I want to raise is how much can be accomplished with a win-win approach to problems. DQ is supporting a great charity, and benefiting in the process. It’s an example to which we should all strive.
If you look it up, the top selling DQ in the nation since the start of Miracle Treat Day has been one in a painfully small town in Madison, South Dakota. With less than 7,500 people in the entire town (and an hours drive to the next “large” city of Sioux Falls), this Dairy Queen often ends up with twice the sale number of Blizzards than the second place location. So, how is this?
Well, first of all, it’s the only DQ for many miles, so there’s not really significant competition for them. And, there is a university in the town, but it has no summer classes on campus, and Miracle Treat Day is when the campus has no students. So…how do they do it?
The event is very personal for the owner (who is a friend of mine, actually), so he works very hard to make it as successful as he can. He has built relationships with surrounding companies (there aren’t many, but there are a few) who will take and place orders for anybody interested in advance, allowing them to pre-make these orders. I do not know if they are delivered, or if they have to get them, but this is a lot of year-round work.
A few years ago, there was a concerted and heavily advertised effort in Sioux Falls to knock the Madison DQ off of the top of the mountain. They didn’t do it, but before Miracle Treat Day that year, I chatted for a bit with the owner of the Madison store. I asked him how he would feel if, indeed, he didn’t win. His answer was perfect, saying that he would be happy because that would mean that somebody raised even more money for the charity.
As a result of this conversation, every year, for DQ Miracle Treat Day, I post a challenge on my FB page calling for knocking them off of the top spot. Yup, I challenge people to help beat the Madison DQ. Maybe some people take heart and actually try to do this, but I’m betting more people make it a special point to buy from Madison just to spite this call. But, in reality, regardless of where they buy or what their motivation might be, increased sales is increased money going to the Children’s Miracle Network. Win-win. I myself was not in the mood for a Blizzard today, so I didn’t buy one. But, I did buy a book of ten DQ Blizzard Gift Cards (the proceeds of which, I checked, do also go towards the day’s sales for the charity) and gave them to my friend Anna who teaches Harp for her to give out to her students. DQ gets the sales, Children’s network gets the proceeds, her students get an unexpected surprise, and I get to feel good for supporting not only the charitable event, but my friend as well. Win-win.
The owner and his wife are some of my favorite people in the world. I met each of them independently from the other as his wife worked at the same institution as I taught only in biology. I was chatting with her one day during finals week, when she told me that because so many of their student employees leave right after their final exam, she had to put a shift in at the DQ immediately after her scheduled exam. I couldn’t help myself; I made it a point to go through the drive-through for lunch that day. At the end of ordering, when asked if there is anything else, I said, “Yes, please ask Professor Not-her-name what I grade I got on the final exam.”
She came to the window, and just laughed. “I should have KNOWN it was you,” she said.
There are so many great lessons from these two, and today’s event. The power of a win-win attitude, the power of hard work for something that is important, and what it means to have a truly great heart. Whether they know it or not, I owe a lot to this amazing couple, as do so many people for the charitable efforts of these two. Plus, the DQ is such a marvelous piece of the Madison community. I don’t speak with them often enough, but I’m fortunate to have them as friends.