Cafe Systems – Mysteries from a Mystery Shopper

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While studying Marketing at Swinburn University, I thought it would be interesting to take up a position as a Mystery Shopper. I went to McDonalds and ordered burgers and reported on what experience I had, from the customer perspective. I went to banks and opened accounts and so on. What I learned, among many things, was that the symptomatic facts that I presented in my findings were unable to properly diagnose the true cause of the problem that I encountered. For example: if I went to McDonald’s and reported that my burger was cold… Was my burger cold because A) it was not cooked long enough? B) it sat for 10 minutes on the counter before my number was called? C) or perhaps, the mustard was too cold because it was not defrosted for long enough before it was put as an ingredient in my burger? As you can see the problem or the symptom is not necessarily the cause…

When it comes to a cafe environment, particularly with coffee (!) the customer, let alone the manager (!) rarely see the true cause of outcomes or problems in their business. Was the coffee not strong enough because they changed the blend? Does the customer even know what strong means? Is ”strong” a word that means bitter, or is it a word for bold? Does the colour and size and mouth-feel of the crema indicate strength? Often a barista or cafes reputation is based on wrong signals… He’s what you can begin to do to improve the signals that you are giving to your clientele…

Have a clear vision – Know the what why and how of your business.

Many business owners know what they are doing – they are selling coffee or food. They may even know how they are doing it (fresh ingredients from the local community perhaps). But few know, and even fewer communicate WHY they are doing it. Fitzrovia is an example of a business that knows the why. This video communicates it brilliantly! 

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Turn-key your business

Most cafes have systems, however they are often not written down, not communicated, and break during peak or rush hour. Make systems that work. 

Train your staff

Very few cafes actually train, induct and manager their staff. Have performance reviews, rewards, KPIs, staff meetings and a warning system. Know your staff and help them know you. ‘Very few cafes I’ve even spoken to have staff meetings. Take your team on a vacation, to the snow, or even play Lazer Tag. You’ll be surprised what synergy comes out of a true TEAM. 

Work ON your business, not only IN your business

Many business owners are so tied up in doing the work that they never step outside and see the business from outside eyes. If you really cannot afford to do this, then please hire a consultant or a business coach, or at least get a customer feedback box!

Having run and managed, and owned my own businesses I think these tips will help.

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