In Simon Sinek’s talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’ he said ’People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ I firmly believe in this. If you what you appear to have in your shop is passion rather than product, people will relate and customers will feel empowered in their purchase of a product as they are investing into a passion.
How does that relate to being a barista? Here are three examples of artisan coffee/tea shops that have given me an outstanding experience as a result of their why.
Teasmith - Spitalfield, London
A place that is completely dedicated to tea and the sensory experience. In order to drink in here, you have to engage with the person serving. All seats are around the bar, there is no menu on the walls, only on a small piece of finely printed paper. You understand you are coming in for an experience in tea, to see a ceremony of the creation of your drink as much as drinking the tea itself.
The why to buy: Like a sitting in and watching a teppenyaki restaurant, they are selling an experience in tea itself and not selling the just tea.
Kaffeine - London
Design is what strikes you first - simple, understated, elegant yet industrial. The uniformity of design across both interior to fine details of takeaway cup presentation makes the shop have a effortlessly cool feel to it. Top this off with some of the best coffee & sandwiches in the city.
The why to buy: They are selling a lifestyle, a place you would want to get your coffee from and not just the coffee you want to get.
Colonna & Smalls - Bath
What Teasmith is to tea, this shop is to coffee. While the shop still keeps its rustic charm, every wall has something geared towards coffee. You sense the expertise and that things are taken a little more seriously - whether that is in their smart uniform that has echoes of the old Italian barista, or the menu of brewing methods and tasting notes - with no prices in sight. Usual coffee shop expectations - large menu, house blends, sugar and milk for black coffees - have been cut out from the shop.
The why to buy: You are buying into an appreciation of a higher level of skill; a willing to get over a hurdle of things not being made easy for you, so you can appreciate something much finer - in this occasion it is coffee.
Apple was used by Sinek as an example and in this Forbes magazine article by Carmine Gallo, ‘Why Apple Store Emlpoyees Won’t ‘Sell’ You an iPad’, Gallo points out the importance difference in an Apple store is that their staff will never push sales upon you, they are only there to inform. They share their passion with the customer and a purchase will eventually be made from caring about the product and the customer will ultimately be more fulfilled because they know more about what they are getting. They will know how to use the product to the best effect, the limitations and future expectations, all because of the honesty and caring of the staff.
This then translates to hospitality, and in this case coffee/tea shops, by customers engaging with the baristas and then in turn caring about the coffee or tea they are tasting. This is not something that can be pressured, this is a soft sell. This is about finding ways, whether is is through design of shop, menu or clothing, for the customer to slowly align their expectations and come with the correct mindset to be engaged. You have to find ways that even a takeaway customer, who may be in a rush, will come to the correct realisation of what you are serving.
The coffee industry, if it wants to make a sustainable income from premium products, have to integrate new ways of engagement to create opportunities to share the ‘why to sell’ of their product and emphasise their differences to both chains and distributors of substandard brews. For more thoughts on that, see Seth Godin’s TED talk on standing out or James Hoffman’s post on A linen napkin.
This is just random collection of thoughts and I would be happy to hear on anyone else’s experience of service or how their expectations have been handled.