I wrote previously about the coffee ritual I had in Afghanistan. This was an important part of every day during that, and follow on tours.
I used to make coffee in a 4-cup, stainless steal French Press, and I always shared this. I shared it with my team, but I also made it for meetings with Allies, locals and visitors. It became central to every discussion, and also a signal that the meeting was to start – once everyone had a cup in hand.
The social relevance of this ritual cannot be overstated.
I didn’t have much spare time in Afghanistan, but when I did I had access to a computer – most of the time. With memories of North Carolina and the genesis of this dream relatively fresh, I used this time to begin researching how to open a coffeehouse. The previously referenced business concept I called at the time Jagged Peaks was the result.
Jagged Peaks recalled an event from many years earlier when my dad was dropping me off at the airport for the flight that brought me to Vancouver in 1992. It was a simple yet influential event; we had breakfast at a ‘greasy spoon’ before heading to the airport. We ate, we had coffee, we paid, we left. My dad, being a long-time beat cop, was not a stranger to these diners. The service was attentive, if not a bit gruff; personal, but not superficial. The conversation was just genuine. Eye contact, active listening, a little banter; not veneer.
My dad paid the bill. He tipped generously and on the way out the door, he said, although I paraphrase, “That just sets the tone for the whole day.” It stuck. I have never been able to shake that moment and that insight into the impact of great service; or rather, getting service right.
It was nothing spectacular. It was definitely not fancy. The customers there though were comfortable, familiar, engaged and treated with respect. This was obvious even with the the gentle ‘ribbing’ that was happening between owner and patron.
Service is about knowing your customer. It is about creating a comfortable and familiar environment. It needs to be genuine; relationships are key.
The customers that day were there because they wanted to be. They were probably there often. They came not for just the food and the coffee. Respect was mutual. It was not a ‘red carpet’ of superficiality; it was a genuine interaction.
Know your customers. A coffee shop is a ‘people’ business. Coffee is the product; service the industry. It is about interaction, not just transaction.
Jagged Peaks has evolved. My business is no longer named the same, but it remains central to the foundation of what I am trying to do now.
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf