Article by Jonathan White, White Coffee
As the year starts out, we are inevitably looking to what we did the prior year- and thinking how we can improve our performance. On a personal basis this often comes in the form of “New Year’s Resolutions”. Many people join a gym in January, only to realize that the financial and/or physical investment is not what they thought. In the business world, at the beginning of any given year, companies and executives frequently look at their past actions as a guide for potential things to change.
Vendors, in the same situation, wanting to grow their sales in the new year, may want to offer what appears to be on the surface a “deal you can’t refuse”. It may involve initial promotional product, brand new equipment, or an extra low price. All of that can seem understandably enticing for a customer looking to improve their bottom line.
Everyone should always keep their eyes open for opportunities that help their business. But in the long term, one has to ask, is the deal “too good to be true”? Or, put in another way, is the inducement to make a change really worth it in the big picture? What if the quality is really a notch down- do you think the educated customer in New York won’t notice? The problem is that sometimes the customer will tell you, and in other circumstances may vote with his/her feet and purchase elsewhere. Similarly, for a product where service is a key component, a cheaper price may save a few bucks today, but in the long term, what impact will there be if the service deficiency leads to a far larger loss of income?
The actual offer is often deceptive when looked at on a long term or per unit basis. In my coffee world, two examples come to mind. For instance, customers may be offered “new equipment” – but like a used car, after the first brew, that equipment is now used. Are customers really buying product because the equipment is new? Or is it more important how the product tastes? Tell us that another competitor offered. In another frequent occurrence, a competitor may offer a seemingly significant lower price- like a dollar a pound on coffee. But at the end of the day, that extra dollar translates to only two pennies per cup- which could be completely addressed by a nominal nickel price increase.
Another example can be the selection of a “brand”. A brand may offer perceived reliability and awareness. But in some cases that “brand” may just be a “label” constituting a pretty sign- with no real consumer recognition. And even in the case of a well established consumer brand, this selection does not in any way allow you to differentiate yourself from another prospective location that offers the identical product. With the intense competition, shoppers seek unique experiences or products- not merely something they can get anywhere else (and likely cheaper). Strong companies, even in the absence of a consumer brand, can still offer consistency in their products. Third party audits insure that companies are following procedures on an ongoing basis and using the quality of products that they represent.
Far too often customers can be fooled by one factor that at the end of the day does not translate into a better experience for the customer. Be alert for opportunities of a good deal – but think before you jump. It may not be what is on the surface.
Jonathan White is the Executive Vice President at White Coffee Corporation in Long Island City, NY. Learn more about how Jonathan and his team can help you at their website.