Tuesday, July 28

We value your money, not your satisfaction.

Warning, this is not a tech article. Today I'm going to rant about [stupid] business owners.

The backstory: A couple years ago, there was a quaint little mom-and-pop coffee shop near my office where I liked to spend my lunch breaks. I'd bring my bagged lunch, order a large coffee, enjoy the half-hour escape from my work day, and be on my way. It was such a pleasant experience that one day I decided to invite a few coworkers; four of them in fact. As we walked in the front door, the owner comes over and informs me that I'm no longer welcome to eat my bagged lunches there; in the future I must purchase and consume their food. She says this to me as I'm bringing four new customers into her business! Do you think I ever went back after that day? Nope.

Flash forward to today. I work from home now, and decided to break up the routine and try working the morning at another coffee shop, not quite a mom-and-pop, but a small local chain. I like this particular shop because it's right next to a bagel joint. I can pick up a piping-hot double-toasted eight-grain bagel with hummus, then step next door and order a big ole coffee to wash it down. That was the plan, but after I purchased my bagel and walked over to the coffee shop, I noticed a new sign on the front door. In big bold letters it read, "DEAR VALUED CUSTOMERS, NO OUTSIDE FOOD!" I walked right on by.

On the drive home I got to thinking exactly what is "valued" in that statement? Obviously it's not the satisfaction of the customers that enjoy a bagel and coffee in the morning. The only thing being valued there is taking money from customers that don't eat bagels, because all the rest were just alienated and driven away.

It pains me to say this, but I've taken bagged lunches from neighboring restaurants into several different Starbucks on hundreds of occasions and never once been harassed, and that's why the next time I have a craving for a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto sandwich with an iced latte, they'll be getting my business.


Allan Branch said...

Most business fail because most people are morons.

Rich Cavanaugh said...

I had a similar experience with a small coffee shop near my house. I used to go in with my laptop, order a drink and sit down and work for a while. Usually getting at least one more drink.

After a while the owner told me that if I want to stay I must purchase something every ten minutes or leave. I chose to leave and sit at Starbucks instead where they have never hassled me.

Many small business owner mistakenly feel that if you're not actively spending money with them then you are a draw on their resources. Times when money is tight seems to bring this to a ridiculous extreme.

brupm said...

Priceless stupidity. I could understand if you were bringing your coffee as well.

Salman said...

Let me play devil's advocate here.

Would the local chain be real busy during the time you planned on being there? If the answer is no or relatively normal, then the owner traded a $1.45 (revenue for the coffee) for $0.0.

If the answer is a resounding yes, then the owner has some grounds for the posted sign. His opportunity cost was high by having you there.

Of course, the owner probably did not perform a thorough financial analysis (which would include recurring revenue) and maybe was wrong all along.

Allan Branch said...

@Salman unfortunately your logic is flawed. You're suggesting Ted is going to coffee shops and NOT purchasing a beverage. In reality he's buying coffee and sitting there eating. It's no different than sitting there and just drinking coffee (without food). The sign would be better reading "Seating is for paying customers." or "I'm a moron business owner have pity on my soul."

Erik St. Martin said...

Business owners especially smaller mom and pop type shops also need to take into consideration that the busier your restaurant appears the busier it gets. Having a few regulars who hang out and work while drinking their coffee probably draws more business then it turns away

Salman said...

@Allan I should have qualified my sentences better. But, if you read my comments again, I mention that the the owner has *some* grounds on posting the sign. Followed by the statement, that the owner should then conduct a thorough financial analysis of his decision, which would include recurring revenue.

Now, what do I mean by some? Well, let's assume that the owner's margins on his coffee were really low. But, coffee was a product that would help him up sell some pastries/assorted items, for which his margins were high.

In that instance, ted was not making him any money because his stomach was already full with bagel yumminess.

P.S I'm sure ted is going to hate me for a long dwindled post/re-post session on his blog

Salman said...

I certainly re-enforce ted's position with my last post: We value your money not your satisfaction ;-)

Jake C said...

Have you tried creating a relationship with the coffee shop owner? Very plainly state your intentions, including the fact that you'll bring your friends. I'm willing to bet that had the previous owners seen you as a friend instead of a mooch you wouldn't have got the boot.

Teflon Ted said...

> had the previous owners seen you as a friend instead of a mooch

They should have seen me as a loyal paying customer. They are selling one less coffee a day now in my case. Who knows how many other customers they drove away. All the business they *thought* they were losing to coffee drinkers with bagged lunches is now officially gone.

> you wouldn't have got the boot.

They didn't kick me out; I chose to stop giving them my business.