Recently while I was accompanying one of our technicians on an install, I noticed 2-3 groups of people walk by the cafe we were in, past the neighbouring cafe and disappear around the corner. To my surprise, 10 or so minutes later, each group returned in the opposite direction, carrying a competitors coffee cup.
When the third group walked past I felt compelled to ask them ‘why are you walking past these 2 cafes to a mystery third site. With almost unanimous voice they replied, ‘the coffee is better’.
As with any cafe, I am sure there are many factors involved in customers choosing a site. Location, food, staff etc, though coffee is likely to be the number one reason that customers choose to stop at a coffee business over the competitors, and when the coffee is preferred elsewhere, customers are willing to make the effort to get beverage they desire.
Can we rest on putting the right fundamentals together, e.g quality machine/grinder, fresh beans, staff training etc? Or, alternatively, do we need to understand the quality of what we are serving on a cup by cup basis?
From our experience to date, we see most coffee outlets fall into 2 camps.
- Have a great desire to be aware of the quality of their coffee offer, and are driving for quality at every opportunity. Or,
- Think they are doing an adequate job on their coffee, and are happy to rely on other factors driving customers to their site.
The results of ‘adequate’ or poor coffee are obvious, customer satisfaction decreases, sales decrease and customer loyalty is almost non-existent. Cafe aside, any business that falls into this slippery slope doesn’t have a great future to look forward to. There’s a chance that this line of thinking isn’t hurting the business, maybe there isn’t another option close by for customers to choose over your site. What is almost guaranteed though, is that when the inevitable day comes where another option is available, if your business hasn’t built loyalty into your customers through having amazing coffee, then many of your regulars are going to give the competition a visit.
On the flipside, great consistent coffee can cause your site to be the one that people walk or drive further too in order to get the great coffee that they are looking for. Great coffee can create loyalty, drive word of mouth about your business and ultimately lead to greater sales. If you happen to offer great food as well, then great coffee will have a positive effect on sales volumes for your entire offering.
Great coffee is happiness, a great experience, a kick start to set the day on the right trajectory. This experience has become an important and desired part of the day, and customers expectations around that experience are increasing.
As part of a recent customer visit I read the following quote they had printed on the wall: ‘As a coffee drinker, I want the coffee that I drink in the morning to be regular, to be the same, to be like the coffee that I had yesterday, and the day before. Coffee can be a friend, as opposed to a surprise’. In my opinion, this is the hope of the modern coffee drinker. Irrespective of what coffee you serve, what customers are looking for is consistency in the experience. Something that can be expected and relied on.
What every site that supplies coffee needs to strive for, is to be the place that people make the extra effort to go too. As I mentioned at the start of this piece, there will be many factors in clients choosing your site, though what we know for sure, is that coffee will be one of if not the main driver in customers choosing your site. All the more reason to make sure you are aware of the quality of your coffee offering, to make sure that it is as good as it can be. As one thing I have become very aware of is even if you are not aware, your customers will be.
Finally, is ignorance bliss? Well if growth, loyalty and customer satisfaction is your goal, then ignorance has no way to deliver bliss to your business.
Don’t do anything you can’t track results for. If you don’t know your numbers find them out.James Kemp – Entrepreneur