Here is a real world example that resonates with me and I hope it does with you.


So when Starbucks first opened the purpose of it was to create the atmosphere and social vibe of cafes in Europe. It dramatically and completely changed the way people in America existed. Maybe people would stop by a Circle K to grab a coffee or brew a pot at home. Now they pay 5x as much and it’s a regular stop to work. It integrated into people’s lives. As a result of their service and homey vibes in their stores they intentionally create a place called the “third place”. Not home, not work, but another place you could do either/or. It was a place of social gathering that’s a neutral group and yet totally hospitable.

I believe that has changed. Have you noticed the decreasing. tables for 4? Have you noticed the complete change from large stores with lots of seating to drive thu’s? Have you noticed the absence of the oversized seats? Have you ever used the pay ahead part of their app? Have you noticed how unbearably cold it is at some of the locations?

It would appear to me that they have moved from customer first to “customer fast” type service. Get them in and out.

Now I can’t entirely blame them. People are in a hurry a lot. And some people just want a coffee and don’t want to hang out. In addition I can’t even imagine how much the company has made out dollar -wise by making the shift. Looks pretty good to me.

But customer first? I’m not so sure.

Now let’s look at Dutch Bros.

If you have ever run into anyone that has gone you almost can’t get them to stop talking about how friendly and outgoing the staff is there. They also say the coffee is good and believe me it is.

If you ever get there and the line for the drive-thru (they are almost 99% drive-thru only) is long, you’ll see one of their staff walking up and down the line chatting with people in their cars and taking orders. They do random acts of kindness where they will give you extra stamps or just a free drink in general just because. They ask you how your day is going, what you’ll be up to, and seem genuinely excited about your life. No doubt they are moving you through as quickly as possible but in my experience it has never felt that way.

April 9th they launched their first “espresso bar” in Arizona in Scottsdale. It’s their first walk-in store that includes a drive-thru. It’s almost the complete opposite direction Starbucks is headed. Oh, and I forgot to mention Dutch Bros is now the largest privately owned coffee shop in the United States. Guess they have something figured out.

My point is giving all this context is this, when you lose sight of who really matters and the experience that individual has at your business, it doesn’t matter how established you are, how great your product is, or how much people used to like you. People can learn to like someone else. Just watch, it’s going to happen. Dutch bros will stunt the long term growth of Starbucks. Not because they are better but because they know exactly how to make their customers love them.

How are you maintaining a client focused business? Share below 😀

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