Time for Coffee

In North Sydney up the road from my office is a small coffee shop. There is nothing particularly unusual about this shop – it looks like any one of the thousands of other cafes and restaurants littered across the country.

Each morning as I walk by on the way to my office there is a fantastic smell of freshly roasted coffee beans swirling around the pavement delighting pedestrians’ noses as they walk by. This fantastic, evocative aroma wakens my and all other commuters’ senses. Something they are doing works. Inside, groups of customers are seated on bentwood chairs, leaning in on small round tables holding their latte or flat white cupped in their hands deep in conversation. The working day has started and the buzz of laughter and conversation empowers the beginning of their day.

Now only a short walk, just some 10 meters away, I also regularly pass by another café – this one is noticeably quieter. Almost library like, a few silent customers are sitting alone reading the morning’s first edition. This bugs me – why is this so? Why is one café flat out and another struggling? I think the first coffee shop does actually sell better coffee but not that good. Not good enough to explain why their business is at least five times busier.

Prompted by this puzzle each day this question has been bouncing about my mind looking for resolution. Recently one Saturday afternoon while watching my son’s football team playing in their local league I started thinking about sport and winners and losers in relation to the café scenario.

Often the difference between coming first and second is very small in terms of actual technical performance [hundredths of a second in a 100m sprint] but vast in terms of reward for the athlete. Take golf for example. In golf the difference between the world’s best and players ranked much lower [around 150th down the list] is about one stroke for each round played. An average round of golf will take 72 shots. In his best year Tiger Woods earned over 115 million dollars – many times the revenue of those whose actual golfing ability is really not that far off.

My point is this; it is essential when you are starting out on any venture to aim to be the very best. Identify the characteristics of the current #1 business; create a measure and set targets and goals to exceed them. If your business is to be successful you can’t afford to be second in sales.

An excerpt from  ‘How to Build a World Class Sales Team’ by Ciaran McGuigan

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