So I was in a Manhattan-style espresso bar.
Designed for a quick in-and-out.
Although I note extended dwell-time does take place as people like to sit along the tall window benches, tapping onto laptops, tablets and phones.
Yet disaster had struck.
Constructors laying down new tram tracks had chomped through a water main. The entire section of the city had no running water.
Being only a coffee drinker in moderation, when I walked in, I was happy to try a trendy tea. Yet I couldn’t help be taken with the manager’s approach to custom.
“we’ve no mains water … but all is not lost”
Before going on to list a couple of options.
In his absence, the remaining young barista repeatedly informed potential customers,
“we’ve no coffee, sorry”
Pretty much all they got. In a stunned state, each one slowly left without any purchase.
I was compelled to intervene.
I first asked whether his opening statement was strictly true.
I knew they did have coffee. Just not from the proper La Marzocco machine.
They luckily had an urn of hot water on the go before the cut in supply. Ready for teas. And pour-overs (my pic up top).
I’ve often come across a similar situation lately in Cape Town.
The monopoly state energy supplier is a nightmare. Eskom. Powercuts are legion. Or load shedding, as they euphemistically term their frequent enforced black-outs.
It plays havoc with the often tremendous local cafe, bar and restaurant trade. Yet South Africans are a resourceful lot. Many have developed their own Eskom Menu.
They know what they can conjure when the lights go out. Plan for it. And clientèle reward their endeavour.
It seemed to me that these water-deprived guys still had plenty of decent products to offer.
So chatting with barista Ollie, I suggested he consider mentioning them.
Straight away, he pitched the next punter;
“Unfortunately we’ve no coffee from the machine. The water main’s been cut. However. We do have any of the teas, smoothies, cold drinks in the fridge and pour over coffee.”
A sale duly followed. Two pots of tea.
Over the next ten minutes he merrily took on board a tip I offered him after each greet.
He ditched the cumbersome “however”.
He plonked a “because” in the midst.
He upgraded teas to “brew bar”.
He mentioned all the (beautifully presented) savoury and sweet snacks.
He offered Ethiopian versus Columbian bean choice.
He talked of the “delicate” flavour.
He asked people if they’d drank Aeropress or V60 before.
He made sure people gave him feedback on the pour over.
Before his iterations, several had left without buying.
In the short time I was opposite him, each one of ten successive customers had entered. And all had bought. Many with a friend in tow.
And one had even liked the coffee so much they’d bought a pack of the beans for a tenner.
Two minutes tutelage, over a dozen satisfied sippers, fifty quid’s extra sales.
Despite being a retail selling tale, such stockouts happen in our b2b solution world too. Are you turning them from trauma to triumph?