How a 10-Cent Lid Could Put You Out of Business
There’s a coffee shop right up the street where I get my daily morning dose. They’re always busy, but that’s okay, ’cause the people who work there are incredibly efficient. That’s their thing.
Another of their USPs is the lids they put on the to-go cups: Solo Traveler Plus, the premium version of my favorite coffee lid. It is a double layer, with a little slider to close the cup entirely. Great both for preserving heat and preventing spills.
One morning recently, however, the line was particularly long. And instead of waiting, I thought I’d give the new café on the block a shot. (Yeah. I’m a whore when it comes to coffee. But it seems like a nice place, and I’d love to see them make it.)
It was disappointing, then, when I got a cup of the hottest coffee in memory, and the only lids they had were the cheap-o kind: flat and thin, where you have to tear back a little tab that you have to try and stick onto the top.
I tried to take my coffee with me, but it would have been impossible to make it all the way to the subway without spilling the too-hot coffee all over my shirt. Instead, I had to sit down, to let the coffee cool down and drink the top half.
It wasn’t exactly a traumatic experience. On the contrary: it would have been completely forgettable, except I’m in the business of spotting blown opportunities, and this is a prime example: The next day, I went back to buying my coffee at my regular, preferred place.
It never occured to me to go back to the new café, who failed to impress (or even properly satisfy), and therefore missed out on some decent business. If they had impressed me, they could have wound up selling me 150+ cups of coffee every year – and more importantly: getting me through the door every morning, building a relationship. Now, they’ll hardly ever see me …
Almost all businesses have little things like that: Decisions that seemed so small when they were made, that nobody probably even considered that the customer might have a preference. Trust me, though: If there’s a choice to be made, somebody has a preference you should know about.
How many small things like that, and petty clients like me, make up the difference between a line out the door and going out of business? When you have even the slightest competition, it’s fewer than you think.