How well do you react to external factors?

By | February 25, 2008

Tomorrow evening in the US Starbucks are closing all their stores to retrain their baristas.  They’ve pulled together some nifty new milk frothing techniques and changed a couple of the rules in terms of pulling shots.  It’s their latest attempt to get themselves back on track after a pretty dismal year.

All round the world cool baristas are sniggering behind their hands in their cool coffee bars and thinking – “How much training do they need to push a button?” but, as ever, we should underestimate Starbucks at our peril.  With Howard Schulz back in the CEO position it’s very likely that they’ll get back on track sooner rather than later.  But we should also never underestimate just how slowly a big company like this reacts in comparison to your business.  While many operators out there simply fold and die in the light of an incoming Starbucks onslaught or indeed any of the big chains others knuckle down and really focus on being the best in their niche but also, more imporantly, stick on their marketing wizard hat and open the big bag of marketing tricks.

Coffee Klatch Roasting, a two site operation in Southern California, has chosen to offer free coffee during those three hours to highlight what they do.  Since they are the home of the current US barista champion Heather Perry you have to assume that they have a good grasp at what they do and will almost certainly retain customers after this little exercise.  But such is the fascination for the little guy standing up the big guy they’ve also generated a TON of publicity.  That publicity is available to you too.  You local papers love this type of story so sit back and think how you can use ideas like this to generate new customers and also make your existing customers proud to be a part of your business.

More tomorrow when I finally get round to giving you your “reason whys” …

 Johnnie Richardson

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