December 9, 2012 by Colin Kelly
Starbucks took ads in national newspapers today to try and save their reputation after their tax arrangements were exposed.
What a nerve.
‘The truth is we find it very difficult to make a profit in the UK.’
Welcome to business guys! Every coffee shop in the country can relate to that and my heart bleeds for you.
Why not be honest and admit that your decision to ‘invest 300 million pounds into opening in new locations’ is motivated less by charity and more by a ruthless determination to further extend your global brand and to hell with anyone who gets in your way.
And if a little inconvenience like tax can be got round, with the help of some lawyers and accountants than all the better. All perfectly legal of course.
Whatever their intentions, the result is scores of independent coffee shops up and down the country are being obliterated in the same way independent sports shops were wiped out in the 90s.
In the end, the market decides. If they’d rather have Starbucks that’s what they’ll be left with and there’s not much room for sentiment.
And the smart independent shops don’t moan, give up or take this lying down.
They should get together, understand what makes them special and fight the big bully all the way.
Social media has a role to play and some of the best examples of Facebook business use comes from within this very sector. But they could do so much more. I often hear attitudes like ‘we do Facebook but just don’t see the point in Twitter’.
These businesses are really missing out and I’d urge them to re-think. Get some training, start doing Twitter properly and experience its power.
And do more offline too. Form strategic partnerships with other independent coffee shops. Find a voice and speak up for yourself in newspapers and on radio and television. Do more with live music, loyalty schemes and free wifi. And if you
don’t have free wifi you don’t deserve to survive. Now I’ve seen what it costs and how easy it is to set up I consider it an insult when I visit somewhere without it.
There’s no excuse for complacency. So you serve nice coffee and try your best. The counts for nothing. ‘Try your best’ and you’ll be sunk within a year.
What you need to do is to be brilliant. To bend over backwards for people, to ‘wow’ them at every opportunity. But if you do that, they’ll love you. Actually love you, to the point where they’ll tell their friends, wear your t-shirt and ask for one of your branded mugs for Christmas.
Make it easy for people to love you.
Do things the big bully can’t.
Think big and go the extra mile. Collaborate, innovate, inspire.
And read that one page ad from Starbucks again. What are they saying between the lines?
There’s a very clear message.