Here in the greater Seattle area, we have thousands of espresso drive-throughs, espresso carts and coffee kiosks. There are tons of these up and down the West Coast – and certainly everywhere now – so how does one differentiate from the other?
We have high standards for a good cup of joe here in the Northwest – largely due to to this being the starting place for Starbucks and its many local industry counterparts.
Certainly, as in real estate, much of what draws regular customers is location, location, location. I have done informal studies of drive-through espresso stands since my return to Seattle in 2002. Originally I wanted to do some photo-journalism because of all of the great, creative ideas that make this coffee culture so interesting.
With unique names like Jitters, Vivace, and Big Foot Java, interesting looks such as a giant coffee pot drive-through named Hotspot Coffee north of Seattle, and helpful names as Speed Trap Espresso (yes, located in Lynnwood, WA, near where cops on motorcycles often have their radar guns in wait for speeders) it is an industry of creativity and opportunity.
My observations of who survives and who closes shop has much more to do with where their location is and how easy the access in and out of it is, than anything else. I’ve even seen a Starbucks or two over the years, located on a busy road, relocate due to poor access – median barriers or no left turns permitted. So a catchy cute name or look may be helpful, but it does not determine staying power like access does. Relate this to whatever it is you sell and support.
So how accessible are you and your business? If you are a virtual business, on the web, you have 24 hour ordering access – how about customer service hours? Do you respond promptly to requests and inquiries? If you are a service professional, do you follow through, ,do you let people know that you are not too busy to help them out and gain new clients this way? There is a whole other discussion about telling people how busy you are – sometimes they won’t refer you business because of your harried “busy” state. Keep that in mind – if you want referrals from everywhere, don’t run around rushed and out of breath, or bragging about how ‘busy” you always are. It can be quite a negative.
If you have a physical location – it is about hours, parking, ambiance, merchandise, and customer service that get me back in the door year after year. While I purchase many things online, there is no replacement for a place to go where you feel great – where you enjoy patronizing and referring others there.
Takeaways from this coffee-oriented discussion – think of your business in regard to a busy coffee drive-through. What can you learn from both a successful operation and a not-so-successful one? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I always encourage photos of great looking espresso drive throughs and kiosks. Send them to me through my email at the Score More Sales website and I’ll post them.