Who would have thought a cup of coffee could impart essential business lessons?
I must admit I was fairly oblivious to the invasion of the coffee houses, as well-known brands like Starbucks carpet-bombed city centres and opened outlets on every high street corner.
My initial impression was why would anyone want to spend up to £5 on a gigantic cup of coffee when they could make their own at a fraction of the cost?
Then one day, one of the best-known brands opened an outlet in our own staff canteen.
Each morning I walked past huge queues of people who could now buy their coffee within feet of their desks, thinking that even though it was subsidised it was still rather a lot of money for a cup of coffee.
Then one fateful morning, a shorter then usual queue lured me into buying one for consumption at my desk. That was it. They had me. One cup a day soon became two and then sometimes three. On particularly heavy meetings days, I started to lose count of the number of cups I was shelling out for.
I had gone from spending nothing to £25 per week at least, on coffee alone. All these seemingly inexpensive pleasures we take for granted soon add up. So, just by cutting out one or two a week, your client could save enough to buy a substantial amount of protection.
It is a great sales angle. So go on, ask your clients how much they spend on coffee and other luxuries. How much more protection could your client afford each month if they just cut out one or two coffees a week? It certainly adds up.
The second business lesson was demonstrated one morning when the brand's coffee machine broke down. Despite their presence on every high street, it appeared there were no qualified engineers in the whole of Scotland.
It took more than a week, during which people either lapsed back into buying the more expensive, unsubsidised cups from elsewhere, or went back to drinking nothing. Takings were down by thousands of pounds as people had taken their business elsewhere.
Here's the angle: In order to be successful you have to be able deliver a consistent product and service and ensure you have back up plans in place.
Otherwise, when things go wrong your bottom line will suffer.
Roger Edwards is proposition director at Bright Grey
First mentioned in Cridland Report
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