Give your customers a “reason why”…

By | February 21, 2008

On Sunday and Monday of this week Hugo and I were speaking at the Hotelympia show in London.  Ultimately both talks went very well and we had good audiences at both but it was a graphic illustration of the need to have a strong “reason why” in terms of promotion.   There had been very little promotion for the talk and we were simply billed as “Ireland’s Coffee Boys – John Richardson and Hugh Gilmartin“.  The first days talks were all delayed and we ended up speaking nearly an hour after our billed time.  This meant that people who had specifically come to see us had to rearrange their day to fit in with the disrupted schedule.

But we were the lucky ones.  The lack of “reason why” meant that the previous speaker ended up speaking to the grand total of two people.  When you’re Donald Trump you can rely on people turning up for your name alone but for the rest of us you must provide some clear benefit to spending the time to sit and listen.  Our “reason why” is that we help people to make more profits with less time working in the business of coffee and when clearly articulated it’s a strong message.

But exactly the same principle applies in your business too.  You have to provided a clear, articulate message about why customers should visit you.  We spoke to a great many people at the show who simply weren’t busy enough in their businesses.  We put together a questionnaire to establish what the main problems operators are having and I will be publishing the results of it on here in the very near future.  A quick glance on the plane back home revealed no surprises though.  The big issues are:

  1.  Not busy enough.  Not enough customers, not enough turnover, not enough profit.
  2.  A difficulty in recruiting and keeping great people.

In both cases “reason why” is a big issue.  When pushed and questioned more closely most of the people we talked to clearly were not providing their customers with a strong enough “reason why” to spend money or a strong enough “reason why” for great people to come and work for them.

Times may very well be tough for the next year or two but even as it stands it is a very competitive marketplace out there for coffee bars.  You simply won’t survive if you don’t provide a clear reason for people to visit and spend money with you on a consistent basis.  Likewise it is impossible to expect great people to work for you if you don’t provide a great job and your expectation is that they should be lucky to have a job at all and that you pay 10p more than the average rate.  Those days are long gone.

So why should people visit your business?  What is it that differentiates you from the competition?  What is it that you do so well that the sales rep makes a 5 mile detour just to get the chance to buy?  What is it that you sell that is so great that the office worker in the building across the road cannot concentrate on her work because she can’t stop thinking about the taste of it?  What is it that makes people walk past Starbucks in their prime location to visit you in your location which is a little bit further down the road?

And likewise why would somebody want to work for you?  What is it that makes your business a great place to spend eight hours a day?  What do you provide that makes the person working in the big chain down the road think “I’m fed up here, I’m just a number, I’m going to see if XXXXXX have any jobs – apparently they’re a great place to work”

I’ll give some examples of great “reason whys” in the next couple of days but in between the frantic “doing, doing, doing” of today try to grab five minutes and watch your customers to observe why they might give you money.  Also ask your staff why they like working for you.

Johnnie Richardson 

5 thoughts on “Give your customers a “reason why”…

  1. Phil

    Great post.

    I’ve missed your posts recently and would have definitely seen you talk at Hotelympia if I’d known you were there.

    Why didn’t you announce it on here?


  2. darren

    Hi Jonnie,
    Just back from the show. Subi came third in the final and was also awarded best cappuccino and best espresso which is fantastic. I spoke to Hugh at great length and he did an amazing job of comparing at the finals. When we got there on Tuesday they had no video camera, no radio mics, no cd player which was abit disappointing and I can’t believe you guy’s were talking and I didn’t know about it. I’m sorry I missed that.
    Hugh, our sincere thanks for all the help and support you gave us at the competition it really made a difference. It was one of the `reason’s why` they did so well.

  3. Hugo

    Very nice of you to Thank me Darren but you know yourself it was all your own hard work. Well done to Subi and of course Cafe Krem’s runner up Neli & Marius. The best coffee in Northernn Ireland is now in Coleraine, Portrush, Newry & Banbridge …. hey what happened us city slickers ??
    Answer …. Focus, Planning & Patience – or lack of !

    Well done to all … I feel a post coming on !

  4. darren

    Your too modest Hugo, the first thing Subi said coming off the stage was ‘Thank God Hugh was the compere’. Spoke to Se’ about all of us going out a night to celebrate. I will keep you posted!

  5. John Richardson

    Shame I didn’t get to see you there Darren but congratulations nevertheless.

    Good question Phil. Never take anything for granted is the issue really.

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