Don’t Blow that First Impression


Unless you are a “one person” operation, an employee is likely to be the first contact that a client, or would-be client has with your company.

The question you then have to ask yourself is; “Are my employees making the right “first impression”? I was inspired to write this today, after visiting a Starbucks for my morning fix.

The girl taking my order did not even try to lower her voice as she informed her colleague; “that woman must have been stupid or on drugs”. If you are a business owner with employees, that should make you cringe.

What makes it worse in my view, is that it happened in a Starbucks. Say what you want about over-priced coffee, but customers and caffein addicts alike can usually expect a first-class service from those who don the green apron.

I was tempted to ask the psychchiatrist masquearding as an order taker if she had considered a third or fourth option. Perhaps the customer was hard of hearing, or maybe English was not their first language. I think that visitors and foreigners should also be allowed to drink coffee.

Do you REALLY know how your employees behave when you are not around? Maybe you should consider hiring an investigative firm to conduct an undercover review of your place and those working there.

Ever heard; “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”? We are experienced in catching “mice” for cat clients.

Is Coffee The New Millenium Drug?


I dropped in to the local Starbucks yesterday on the way to my office to get my morning fix.

I overheard the young barrista telling another customer about how she has wicked headaches on her days off. Her explanation was that the headaches were withdrawl symptoms from not being exposed to the coffee at home like she is at work.

What I found amazing was that the barrista did not even drink coffee but because she was constantly breathing in coffee in the air (second-hand coffee grinds?)and handling it, the caffeine was able to get into her bloodstream.

What she said next completely caught me off-guard. She said that some people even use coffee soap. I figured it was because they must like the smell of coffee so much, but that was not the reason.

It seems that the really hard core caffeine addicts shower with coffee soap in the morning so that the caffeine will get into their open pores and enter the blood stream that much quicker. I thought I was a caffeine addict until I heard that. Now I seem normal.

Or am I? According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins, as little as one cup of coffee a day can produce caffeine addiction. Before you go thinking that such an august institution as Johns Hopkins would hardly spend much time on researching the habits of coffee drinkers – their study was based on 170 years of caffeine withdrawl research.

Is there any wonder there is so much road rage, school violence, workplace violence etc.? The next time that person cuts you off or acts a little crazy on the highway on the way into work, give them a wide berth. They might not have had time for their morning fix.

Maybe coffee soap is not such a bad idea afterall.

Why your company may need a mystery shopper


Do you really know how your employees are treating your customers? You might be surprised to find out what is really happening.

I went to one of the big office supply stores yesterday to look at purchasing a printer for the office. I had been impressed with a recent episode of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice that featured a well known brand that was attempting to re-invent itself with a line of printers whose ink cost 50% less than that of their competitors.

When I entered the store there was a clerk type of person and another guy who appeared to be a manager. They were both standing with their backs to the customer service counter and had their arms folded across their chest. Without moving, or unfolding his arms, the clerk asked if I needed any help. I said I was looking for a printer that I believed was etiher made by Kodak or Xerox and it used a cheaper ink. They thought for a while and the manager shook his head and said they didn’t sell anything by either maker. Arms were never unfolded.

I figured that they would guide me to the printers and show me an alternative in order to try and make a sale, afterall, I was in the market for a printer. Neither one attempted to move. All I could think about as I walked out was how unprofessional they appeared and their total lack of interest in their job.

If I was the owner of the store, or the general manager and my yearly bonus depended on sales, I would really like to know that my sales people were doing everything possible to sell merchandise. What better way to test them than to send in an undercover investigator to document their actions?

They could do well to take a page from Starbucks’ book. From the very start, Starbucks made no bones about letting customers know that they were there to SERVE them. The result? Loyal customers willing to stand in long lines at 6am to get their caffinated “fix”. Starbucks made coffee fun.

I have been drinking coffee for many years and I never thought of it as fun. Then comes along Starbucks with a strange language and deserts in cups masquerading as coffee. Customers bought in to the experience to such an extent that they even bring their little children in and buy them coffee. “No Tiffany, you can not have a Venti, you are only eight years old. Next year.”

How interested in client satisfaction are they? So much so that they closed down their stores from 5:30pm to 8:30pm yesterday evening in order to train their staff enmasse how to make their clients even happier. I did not even know that the country could carry on for three hours sans Starbucks.

It should have been commemorated by inventing a new drink especially for the occassion – the “Happycino”.