Avoiding 3rd Degree Burns in Your Small Business


Avoiding 3rd Degree Burns in Your Small Business

I went to have a coffee over the weekend with my lady.  I was at the beach and supposed to be completely switched off of work mode (for my own good as well as hers).  Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Anyway…  Coffee.  We were in a great little cafe.  Full of style, great art, lovely staff and an awesome menu.

Now, we all know that those glowing attributes I mentioned above are no mistake.  Someone (or a few someones) put a lot of time and love into creating a stellar experience.

When the drinks were delivered to the table I just had to laugh.  My large long black in a mug was essentially un-pick-up-able.  The boiling hot liquid was served in a very wide, low mug filled to the brim.  And a tiny mouse ear of a “handle” with which to pick it up.  One so small your thumbs and forefinger barely touch in the opening…  Creating a system that seemed designed for just one thing.  3rd degree burns in your lap.

Yes, I know…  #FirstWorldProblems.  But I’m not mentioning this to complain about the mug.  Interestingly, it gave me a very poignant insight into my own business.

In the case of the coffee mug, all of the great ambiance and fantastic service was kind of undone in the delivery of the single product they were there to deliver.  I was lured in by the telltale signs of a super experience and then at the key moment, failure.  I should also note that the coffee mug WAS cute as hell.  That had obviously received the same care and consideration when the owners were choosing what it looked like.

It made me shine a very critical light on my own business.

What parts have I taken countless hours crafting?  All with the intention of creating an outstanding product or service for my clients.  What culture have I crafted so people want to walk in? So people feel like they are a part of something special.

But at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing.  What’s it like to use it?

I haven’t been my own client.  I don’t personally know what it’s like to try to “pick up the coffee mug” I give people in my business.

If I’m going to be brutally honest, I can execute like no one else around.  But the delivery side of my business is probably my weakest.

I think I’m pretty good at creating some things:

  1. a great culture – the ambiance and service
  2. an exceptional product – the coffee, itself
  3. and an overall result that’s better than anything else available – a great breakfast.

BUT.  All of that is meaningless without knowing EXACTLY what the customer actually experiences.

There are loads of things we can do to find and fix anything that’s not great.  But nothing is more important than consistent, critical feedback.  Even if I did go through my own business as a customer and “try to pick up the full coffee mug”, I might not be able to see it for what it is because I’m too close to it.

But I do know one thing, if I ever open cafe, I’m going to get the most ergonomically brilliant mugs money can buy.

In the meantime, I’ve got my own “mugs” to fix.

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