Fit & Finish: Coffee Culture – Setting the right mood with clients and suppliers
It’s like a big steaming mug of business success.
June 3, 2020 By Chris Meiorin
Anyone that has visited our office here at EuroVinyl Windows knows we take our coffee seriously – and we aren’t talking about a drip filter coffee that’s been baking for hours. More along the lines of high-quality espressos, macchiato’s and lattes, thoughtfully and carefully prepared using the highest quality bean and hand-crafted Italian equipment. Now, before you consider this column nothing more than a muse, reflecting on yet another obsession, think again.
The significance of coffee our workplace stems back over 20 years when it wasn’t at all uncommon to be working with fenestration installers and business owners of Finnish origins. On one occasion, I offered one such installer a coffee, and he gladly accepted my offer. While enjoying his coffee, he asked, “Do you know which country has the highest coffee consumption per capita?” As you can well appreciate, I just assumed it was Italy, and when he informed me it was Finland, I had to take his word for it as Google didn’t yet exist. He explained that it was considered rude not to offer a guest a coffee and equally rude to refuse one. With this information, I made it a point to offer our guests and visitors a coffee, and worked hard over the next 20 years to make each coffee a memorable one. You might ask “What does this have to do with anything?”Let me explain.
Coffee has become an important part of how we do business. Most every morning starts with coffee. It could be short shot of espresso with production. An oat milk latte with the marketing manager or a strong espresso macchiato with our ERP engineer. Consider it an elevator-pitch length of time for a map of the day, except the short espresso is more like an escalator and the latte a gondola. Guests and customers get a coffee, as well. This, however, is a very different experience. Much like the morning coffee, this tends to be a little slower. It’s an opportunity for us to get to know our guests better, and for our guests to know us for the things we do and what we stand for. It’s a balancing segue into what might follow. A vendor meeting. A plant tour. An architectural presentation. All of the above. The act of preparing and appreciating a coffee sets the tone. If there is any doubting this, look to high-end luxury retailers like Louis Vuitton, Lexus and Emirates. They all subscribe to this business culture. In retail, it’s used to increase “dwell time” – basically keeping the customer in the store longer so they will buy more. Or it might be at the back end of the sale while you’re waiting to settle up for the new Rolex. Either way, the act of extending a co-worker, a customer or a guest a coffee that you took the time to prepare and serve is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to talk. An opportunity to communicate. An opportunity to share ideas. An opportunity to get to know someone. An opportunity to learn.
There’s a branding message here, of course. Do you want your customers to feel like they are in Home Depot or a BMW dealership? Let’s just say the difference between those two feelings could be the difference in how much money they are willing to fork out for your products. Getting the quality message across for better fenestration products is a challenge we all face. You need to set an atmosphere that encourages people to slow down and take the time to look at something except the price tag. And keep them awake at the same time. Coffee kills both birds with one stone.
All of this was learned over a cup of coffee almost 20 years ago, and to this day holds truer than ever. So, when a Finn offers you “santsikuppi” (another round of coffee), say yes.
Chris Meiorin is president of EuroVinyl Windows and Doors in Woodbridge, Ont.
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