Archive for the ‘The CoffeeBoys’ Category


We have now moved this blog over to our dedicated server at:


At the moment the main page defaults to the blog too but that will be changing soon. Make sure you set your bookmarks for the /blog extension.

We are just finishing off our big Free Report and Video which we are launching at the end of this week.  This is the first of a variety of reports on the industry that we will be putting out at a rate of about three per year.  We will be dealing with a number of key issues that affect operators and all these reports will be free.

To get the free report you need to go to:


The report highlights the 10 key factors we feel that you need to be concentrating on to survive the recession/credit crunch and we have a sequence of ten videos with myself and Hugh describing the main issues within each section.

Additionally within the report we have managed to nail some of the biggest names in the coffee business world for their “one key piece of advice” that they would offer operators in the current economic climate.  This advice is priceless and fascinating since it comes from many seasoned industry professionals who, like myself and Hugh, have been through at least one recession before.

Please read and let us know your feedback on the new blog.

Many thanks for all your support and we wish you a very profitable and prospersous 2009.

Johnnie Richardson


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Today The Coffee Boys move into the funky new Web 2.0 world – we’re getting down there with the hip media kids and at the moment they’re staring at us in a “freak” fashion but we’re here to stay.

Hugh and I will be producing a lot more of these in the future but hopefully it provides an easier way for you to digest our information and spoutings!

So the number one key is…


It is entirely up to you how you deal with this. In a few years time when we are moving back into another boom there will still be loads of coffee shops out there. And a few will not have made it – no doubt about it. Which side of the fence will you be on?

Will you be like some of my clients, coincidentally the ones who keep working “on their business” regardless of the economy, who haven’t noticed any change in their takings?


Will you be like those operators I talk to who are all doom and gloom and are expecting not to make it. Who are simply working harder day in and day out and sticking their heads in the sand like an ostrich?

Will you be reading and nodding your head sagely at article like this on the MSN money site?

The end of the world is Nigh!!!

or will you be working away at training, developing new products and marketing and casually be noticing articles like this?

No it isn’t!

It’s up to you.

Johnnie Richardson

Small Business Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

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When we first set up our businesses we are 100% convinced that we can and will do a better job than the competition.  We list out the factors that we will do better, that we’ll relentlessly focus on until we have this wonderful business that clearly offers a “superior experience”.  We smirk, snigger and discuss with our friends and colleagues just how badly the competition is – we even allow ourselves to believe that our enterprise can’t go wrong, that it will be a “no brainer” since our offer will be so much better.

But what is the reality?  What are the actual facts?  What exactly does your customer think of this supposed “superior experience”

The management consultancy firm Bain and company undertook some research on the subject of which businesses supply a “superior experience”.   They surveyed a total of 362 firms and 80% believed that they truly offered a “superior experience for their customers.

When they surveyed the customers of these businesses though the story was a little different.  Only 8% of these businesses were rated as superior.

Where do you fall?

Are you in the 20% who know you don’t offer a “superior experience” – in which case good luck in the current economic climate.

Are you in the 8% who genuinely do offer a “superior experience” – in which case I bet you’ve worked very hard at it and are in that category of clients (of mine) who don’t seem to have noticed that there eve is such a thing as a “credit crunch” or…

Are you in the 72% of businesses who are living in denial?  Are you falling asleep at night worrying about the business and thinking that you can’t do any better but feeling the crunch hitting you hard?

If you are in the last category it’s time to get really realistic about your business and wake up.  It’s time to really push the boat out and genuinely provide a “superior experience” because if you’re not it’s going to be a VERY bumpy ride.

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I’m just back from nearly three weeks in the US and spent considerable time in New York – it is, as ever, just about the most stimulating city on the planet.

I saw some amazing retailing and some inspirational restaurants but I have to say the quality of the coffee bars (that I saw anyway) wasn’t going to set the world on fire. But one of the things that Hugo and I preach endlessly is to take ideas from other industries and see how they might work in our industry and specifically in your business.

The Abercrombie and Fitch store on Fifth Avenue is the most breathtaking example of a business understanding exactly who their customers are that I think I have ever seen. And, it’s worth bearing in mind, at the age of 41 – I ain’t one of their target customers! But i still walked around in awe at what they were doing and the level of thought that had gone into it.

Basically the store is laid out and created like a nightclub. You have to queue to get in at any time of the day but this is nothing more than the classic nightclub policy of making the place look busier than it actually is. The twenty or so people queueing outside could easily be accomodated within the four floors. The queue moves very quickly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t busy – it is. Very.

The “doormen” are model boys and girls, with one of the boys standing with his shirt off showing off a body like you might find on the front of Men’s Health. These boys and girls are so beautiful that some of the customers are asking to have their photos taken with them. Inside it’s a similar theme – lots of beautiful but extremely pleasant and friendly model boys and girls welcoming you and manning the tills. At the top of each flight of stairs there is another model waiting to greet you in a genuinely friendly fashion. The music is loud – nightclub loud and the lights are so low you really can’t even see the colours of the clothes. To someone in their forties it’s irritating and seems pointless but to an aspirational teens and twenty something it is amazing and boy were those tills working.

Have a look at their “casting video” here and you can see just how deep this concept goes. You can’t be an Abercrombie model usless you actually work in the stores. So in today’s model and fame obsessed world they must have the beautiful people lining up to work for them and perhaps taste their “fifteen minutes”. All the plain and normal customers are just lining up to buy and take away a little slice of this lifestyle. Even my wife and the wife of my friend were going in to “just have a look at the boys” – in my twenties I’d have been in every day in life to look at the girls. The only reason I wouldn’t do it now is for fear of being branded a “dirty old man” 🙂

This clearly didn’t happen by accident – there has been some incredibly detailed work going on in the background to help create this experience to support the sales of clothes.

  • How hard do you work to create a really great experience for your customers?
  • How well do you actually know exactly who your customers are or are you trying to be all things to everyone?
  • Have you really sat down and worked out how to attract great staff or are you just doing what everyone else is doing?

Food for thought.


Interested in free one hour consultation? Every week I offer two free one hour consultations where we can deal with any aspect of your business that is causing you problems. If you’d like to get on the waiting list please email me at John@thecoffeeboys.com and briefly list out your biggest challenge. I’ll get back you as soon as possible with some potential dates.

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Why are you doing what you do?

What is the outcome?

What are you slogging away day to day for?

Most people simply can’t answer these questions within their business. You must be able to clearly state what it is that you want out of the business in an effort to properly move towards that. Do you simply turn up day-in and day-out and do “your very best” or is there some clear plan?

  • How long will you do it?
  • What will you do when you finish?
  • How much money will you sell it for?
  • How much will you grow the business this year?
  • How much money will you make this year?
  • What is the plan for making that money?

And – if you have the answers to these questions. If you clearly know the “So what?” then are you working to a clear plan on a daily basis? Or are you drifting along with your goal little more than a vague wish?

You must, must, must have a clear goal, a clear plan for producing it and a clear system for measuring. Every single week I come across clients who singularly fail to grasp these concepts. They simply “go to work” every day and confuse activity with productivity. They end the week with the vague satisfaction of a job well done but ultimately they haven’t moved themselves one inch closer to some of their larger dreams or goals. The ones who do have a clear “So what?and a clear plan that they stick to and amend in the light of circumstances are worth vastly more than the rest. Trust me, the difference is huge and this should be all the proof you need.

You need effective and efficient action towards your clear goal every day.

Think about this when you arrive in tomorrow morning. Think about the “So What?” in your business and how your daily actions are moving you (or not) towards that goal.

(A slightly esoteric post today but this is more important than almost anything else I write in here)

Johnnie Richardson

How many of the ten big mistakes are you making?

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I’m increasingly obsessed with this concept since it applies to such a large extent in so much of our lives.

Why does Tiger Woods want to keep getting better at golf for example? What drove Michael Schumacher, despite so many years at the top of Formula One, to still work harder than anyone else and even in his last year still be fitter than any of the other guys? Why is one coffee shop owner happy with one site while another needs to grow a huge chain to be content?

Recently I seem to have come across a disproportionate amount of people who regard life in the Coffee Business as the ultimate goal for their lives. It can take some fairly harsh questioning to discover the real “reason why” they are setting up their business and make them understand that the reality is very different from the dream whilst still trying to help them keep their enthusiasm.

The reality is we all have different motivators and different “reasons why” we do anything. But ultimately if you don’t have a strong “reason why” for your customers to visit then they won’t. And your idyllic dream will be brutally shattered.

The harsh reality is that most people think they have a decent reason for customers to visit but they simply don’t.  Too many operators expect to be able to offer mediocrity and get away with it and with a potential “tough time” ahead of us in the market they simply won’t survive.

So here is my, by no means exhaustive, list of “reasons why” customers might want to visit you – and keep visiting!

  • Location – a great location is always a bonus but is not, as I often preach, essential. But generally make life easy for yourself with a great location. But NOT if you end up having to pay huge rent and rates bills.
  • Great Coffee – obvious really. But these days it has to be really great to stand out from the crowd. And you really need to have exceptional consistency too.
  • Great food – again it’s obvious but so often overlooked in the coffee bar business. Sometimes there is this perception that focusing on great food takes the emphasis away from great coffee. Which is, of course, total and utter elitist nonsense.
  • Great staff – people who really care about the product AND care about remembering the customer’s name and their drink. It’s probably the biggest challenge we all face but the clients who really care about recruiting, training and retaining great people are always those with the best businesses. (I’ll give you some tips on this in the next few days too)
  • A great atmosphere – do you provide somewhere that is really special? Do you have an environment that people instantly relax in?
  • A great story – is your business one that people can really “buy into”? A coffee shop stands for so much more than somewhere just to get a drink in many people’s eyes. Increasingly I find with clients, all around the UK, that locals are using them almost like a Post Office or a classic English “local” pub. Do you help to provide this?
  • Something genuinely new and different – do you have something properly unique about your business? How many star products do you have that people talk about and become “raving fans” of? If you don’t have something that is unique and really fires up your customers then you’re doomed to failure unless you have an exceptional location. I have the “mother of all star products” to show you in the next few days from one inspirational client who operates down a little alleyway off the High Street in their town.

You don’t need to be perfect on all counts but you do have to tick a few of these boxes. It’s not about being all things to all people but you have to have a few key areas that really provide a strong reason for customers to visit in the first place, return a second and third time and ideally tell their friends about you.

Why should customers visit your business? What do you do that is so great that they might tell their friends?


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Tomorrow evening in the US Starbucks are closing all their stores to retrain their baristas.  They’ve pulled together some nifty new milk frothing techniques and changed a couple of the rules in terms of pulling shots.  It’s their latest attempt to get themselves back on track after a pretty dismal year.

All round the world cool baristas are sniggering behind their hands in their cool coffee bars and thinking – “How much training do they need to push a button?” but, as ever, we should underestimate Starbucks at our peril.  With Howard Schulz back in the CEO position it’s very likely that they’ll get back on track sooner rather than later.  But we should also never underestimate just how slowly a big company like this reacts in comparison to your business.  While many operators out there simply fold and die in the light of an incoming Starbucks onslaught or indeed any of the big chains others knuckle down and really focus on being the best in their niche but also, more imporantly, stick on their marketing wizard hat and open the big bag of marketing tricks.


Coffee Klatch Roasting, a two site operation in Southern California, has chosen to offer free coffee during those three hours to highlight what they do.  Since they are the home of the current US barista champion Heather Perry you have to assume that they have a good grasp at what they do and will almost certainly retain customers after this little exercise.  But such is the fascination for the little guy standing up the big guy they’ve also generated a TON of publicity.  That publicity is available to you too.  You local papers love this type of story so sit back and think how you can use ideas like this to generate new customers and also make your existing customers proud to be a part of your business.

More tomorrow when I finally get round to giving you your “reason whys” …

 Johnnie Richardson

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