Hey there people,
Just wondering if any of you have some cheap customers that come into your shop.
Over the past couple months I have seen people a few...

1- One person asked for an espresso shot and hot water on the side, they then mixed them and used the milk on the tables to make a little flat white.

2- Another comes in almost daily with her own tea bag and asks for hot water but refuses to pay, she just sits there and drinks her own tea.

3- And finally the last one is people sharing tea, I've had people order tea then their friend comes up a couple mins later and asks for a mug of hot water and is less than happy when we charge them for it but when she returns to her table she takes her friends tea bags and sticks it in her water.

All of these people sit at tables and wont move for well over an hour while they chat away to their friends.
Have any of you had customers like this?

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Joseph,

Love your posts!

"black and white" sounds so "black and white"... but it really is. We have awesome tea and killer iced drinks (nothing blended) as well, but in terms of how you position your business, it IS black and white. Consumer studies all show that customers will choose quality as the number one reason for returning to a coffee shop, nearly twice that of customer service -- followed lastly by atmosphere.

This isn't "my" contention, it's marketing research from the best here (US) and in Japan (I love Japanese business mindset). As a professional, I'm sure you understand that it's not about how much experience and information one has gathered, but whether or not they've understood the value of that experience or information. It's the ability to intuitively understand what's between the lines.

Quality will reduce the need for the origin of this thread. Quality, excellence-- what have you, needs to be a mindset in everything you do. Quality is reality, it's not hype and it's not supported by fake smiles. Genuinely care about what you're serving without compromise and your customers will genuinely be loyal.

We focus on quality above all else, even if it may ruffle a few feathers.

- We source micro region and small estate coffees based on quality, we roast everything on site in small batches. We continuously study new roasting parameters and brewing techniques because we DO care about improving rather than "resting on our laurels".

We're not a kid (as in child) friendly place.
We don't allow people to come and hang - EVERYONE who stays must get a drink.
No espresso or macchiatto to go.
No espresso over ice.
No drip coffee. Everything is by the cup.
For home -- Whole Bean only.
Our bathrooms are for CUSTOMERS only.
And we don't do "to go" water glasses. We have bottled water. Water is free for all customers while they stay.

What does this do? Over time it tailors our environment to attract the customers we most desire.

Who are our customers?
People from all walks of life, from high schoolers to professors who love great coffee, tea and espresso.
Kids who come with their parents behave like young ladies and gentlemen.
No loser freeloaders. So great customers who come because each of us cares, it's not about convenience.
Customers who care about espresso or who want to experience and learn about good espresso come.
Customers who care about the coffee rather than customers who just want "a coffee" or "some coffee"
And we don't have those who see us as a convenience store, customers respect us, because we treat ourselves and our product with respect. Respecting the process respects the customer.

As one of our daily regulars puts it, "You don't share customers." Most of those who SAY the "love coffee" move from shop to shop based on convenience, what's going on, so-and-so wants to go there, etc. But once they come to us, they don't go anywhere else. It's one of the things (as a business) I'm most proud of. To paraphrase what I wrote earlier: excellence creates loyalty.

Everything from the music you choose, cups: ceramic or paper, drip or manual (press, Melitta, siphon, eva solo, Chemex...), espresso only, flavor/no flavors, blend/no blend, semi-auto or auto, etc. etc. All of these decisions will attract AND detract certain customers. Those who continuously come do so because the environment is comfortable for them. The more defined your vision, the more focused your environment, the less "bad" customers you will have. And as time goes on the "bad" customer or "undesirable person in the door" will lessen to almost zero.

As Schomer so aptly put it when talking about "Art(isan) Coffee" "When it comes to espresso (coffee) you have to be Artisan at your core. You can't fake the truth of your (coffee) soul... your customers will see right through it. "

So it's not for everyone, because everyone doesn't REALLY believe it... most just say they do.


My three cents.








Joseph Robertson said:
John,
I like most of what you just said. Especially the last part "Loyal customers will always gravitate towards excellence." Can't not go with your opening question though. "Are you trying to appeal to the masses? OR Are you structuring your business to attract the customers you want?" It imply's the question is black or white. Not the way it is in the real world of business. At least not in my experience as a Coffee shop owner. Great discussion. Cheers, Joseph


John P said:
The Question is: Are you trying to appeal to the masses? OR Are you structuring your business to attract the customers you want?

Cream and the like in the fridge, we will provide ~1.5 oz cream in a nifty little pitcher if a customer wants cream in their Americano. We don't do drip coffee, and outside of the occasional person who puts it in their black tea, it's not used for anything else.

Espresso should only be served in a demitasse. There is not any rational reason for doing otherwise.

You can always serve the customer a "baby" iced American sans ice if they want something small, cold, and espresso. Straight espresso and ice don't mix. Leads to metallic awful flavors. It shows the customer you don't care about what you serve, therefore you don't care about the customer.

What you serve should be more important than whether or not the sale is made. In otherwords, don't compromise just to get their money. Be POLITE and informative, most everyone will be happy you actually care. Be PROUD of being "above the fray". Loyal customers will always gravitate toward excellence.
Reply to Kathy,
Sorry you took it in a way I did not foresee. I was not dissing your place nor your choice of where to place your condiments. The problem is, as i remember from so long ago is Cheap ass customers!

While there are many coffee places in this college town, there is one good place. They have a knowledge of coffee and their own very clean and high quality roasting location away from the shop.
-Richard
John,
At the risk of sounding a little on the fruity side of coffee <];^), I double love your posts John.
I much more understand your "Black and White" now. Thanks for taking time to explain yourself and your mission involving coffee. I could not agree more. After owning and operating this coffee shop/roastery/bakery/ 3rd place hang out for special locals...I meant to say "special hang out for locals" but my locals have a very special sense of humor so it works either way. I think I just wrote a run on sentence that didn't go any where. I shouldn't roast so late. The smell here is somewhat hallucinatory.
I have been told by my local regulars that they come because of me. I'm sure it is not just me and my passion for coffee but my quest as you say for quality and excellence in product and especially customer service. I spend a lot of face to face time with each and every one who happens by our door. As you so eloquently point out John, the customer can see if you believe yourself or not. The customer can see if you speak from ego or soul. They are my best gauge to what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. Back to the "Black and White" thing. In many respects it is just as you say. Your reading from a invisible company teleprompter or it's coming from down deep inside your black coffee soul. I look forward to a face to face at your shop and one of those cups of coffee you so passionately sell. Hey, I want to learn more about US and Japanese business/marketing mind set John.
Best Regards,
Joseph
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.


John P said:
Joseph,

Love your posts!

"black and white" sounds so "black and white"... but it really is. We have awesome tea and killer iced drinks (nothing blended) as well, but in terms of how you position your business, it IS black and white. Consumer studies all show that customers will choose quality as the number one reason for returning to a coffee shop, nearly twice that of customer service -- followed lastly by atmosphere.

This isn't "my" contention, it's marketing research from the best here (US) and in Japan (I love Japanese business mindset). As a professional, I'm sure you understand that it's not about how much experience and information one has gathered, but whether or not they've understood the value of that experience or information. It's the ability to intuitively understand what's between the lines.

Quality will reduce the need for the origin of this thread. Quality, excellence-- what have you, needs to be a mindset in everything you do. Quality is reality, it's not hype and it's not supported by fake smiles. Genuinely care about what you're serving without compromise and your customers will genuinely be loyal.

We focus on quality above all else, even if it may ruffle a few feathers.

- We source micro region and small estate coffees based on quality, we roast everything on site in small batches. We continuously study new roasting parameters and brewing techniques because we DO care about improving rather than "resting on our laurels".

We're not a kid (as in child) friendly place.
We don't allow people to come and hang - EVERYONE who stays must get a drink.
No espresso or macchiatto to go.
No espresso over ice.
No drip coffee. Everything is by the cup.
For home -- Whole Bean only.
Our bathrooms are for CUSTOMERS only.
And we don't do "to go" water glasses. We have bottled water. Water is free for all customers while they stay.

What does this do? Over time it tailors our environment to attract the customers we most desire.

Who are our customers?
People from all walks of life, from high schoolers to professors who love great coffee, tea and espresso.
Kids who come with their parents behave like young ladies and gentlemen.
No loser freeloaders. So great customers who come because each of us cares, it's not about convenience.
Customers who care about espresso or who want to experience and learn about good espresso come.
Customers who care about the coffee rather than customers who just want "a coffee" or "some coffee"
And we don't have those who see us as a convenience store, customers respect us, because we treat ourselves and our product with respect. Respecting the process respects the customer.

As one of our daily regulars puts it, "You don't share customers." Most of those who SAY the "love coffee" move from shop to shop based on convenience, what's going on, so-and-so wants to go there, etc. But once they come to us, they don't go anywhere else. It's one of the things (as a business) I'm most proud of. To paraphrase what I wrote earlier: excellence creates loyalty.

Everything from the music you choose, cups: ceramic or paper, drip or manual (press, Melitta, siphon, eva solo, Chemex...), espresso only, flavor/no flavors, blend/no blend, semi-auto or auto, etc. etc. All of these decisions will attract AND detract certain customers. Those who continuously come do so because the environment is comfortable for them. The more defined your vision, the more focused your environment, the less "bad" customers you will have. And as time goes on the "bad" customer or "undesirable person in the door" will lessen to almost zero.

As Schomer so aptly put it when talking about "Art(isan) Coffee" "When it comes to espresso (coffee) you have to be Artisan at your core. You can't fake the truth of your (coffee) soul... your customers will see right through it. "

So it's not for everyone, because everyone doesn't REALLY believe it... most just say they do.


My three cents.








Joseph Robertson said:
John,
I like most of what you just said. Especially the last part "Loyal customers will always gravitate towards excellence." Can't not go with your opening question though. "Are you trying to appeal to the masses? OR Are you structuring your business to attract the customers you want?" It imply's the question is black or white. Not the way it is in the real world of business. At least not in my experience as a Coffee shop owner. Great discussion. Cheers, Joseph


John P said:
The Question is: Are you trying to appeal to the masses? OR Are you structuring your business to attract the customers you want?

Cream and the like in the fridge, we will provide ~1.5 oz cream in a nifty little pitcher if a customer wants cream in their Americano. We don't do drip coffee, and outside of the occasional person who puts it in their black tea, it's not used for anything else.

Espresso should only be served in a demitasse. There is not any rational reason for doing otherwise.

You can always serve the customer a "baby" iced American sans ice if they want something small, cold, and espresso. Straight espresso and ice don't mix. Leads to metallic awful flavors. It shows the customer you don't care about what you serve, therefore you don't care about the customer.

What you serve should be more important than whether or not the sale is made. In otherwords, don't compromise just to get their money. Be POLITE and informative, most everyone will be happy you actually care. Be PROUD of being "above the fray". Loyal customers will always gravitate toward excellence.
Remember that one time when we let this 7 month old thread die so that "Cheap Ass Customers" wasn't on the homepage?

...yeah me either, but here's to hoping.

-bry
But, but, but if it's still on the homepage after seven months it must be an important stimulating thread[s!]
[s!]= sarcasm alert :)

Of course these posts also help keep it on the homepage[i!]
[i!]= irony alert :)

Bryan Wray said:
Remember that one time when we let this 7 month old thread die so that "Cheap Ass Customers" wasn't on the homepage?

...yeah me either, but here's to hoping.

-bry
Two years ago, I tried something that I thought would be good for business and great for the staff as well. On Christmas Eve... we made 'everything free'... a sort of thank you to loyal customers... but we didn't promote it.

I told the staff, wait until the customer orders, prepare the order and wait until they have the funds in hand... and THEN... tell them... it's on the house... thinking they would drop the cash in the tip jar.

I told the staff they had complete discretion ... my thought being we would turn the cash drawer into a tip jar. The staff would make a small fortune and all the customers would be happy...

That was... the plan.

It was the worst single day for tips EVER... we were cleaned out to the bare walls... people would come in and order an espresso and a muffin... oh... this is on the house... happy holidays... REALLY... let me have some cheesecake, a truffle and two mocha frappes ...

From a human nature prospective I was very disappointed ...
I get those customers all the time. The worst is when someone orders and iced espresso and then goes over to the condiment bar and tops it off with milk.
I can second that proposal Bry,
Joe

Bryan Wray said:
Remember that one time when we let this 7 month old thread die so that "Cheap Ass Customers" wasn't on the homepage?

...yeah me either, but here's to hoping.

-bry

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