Recently Ben Worthen posted on the Wall Street Journal's Technology Blog that:
"The first mistake that companies make when they’re designing a Web site is copying features from competitors. Bells and whistles are worthless if they don’t help a customer find what he’s looking for. Manning says that too few companies take the time to sit down with customers and find out what they’re using a Web site for and what information would make a site more helpful."
What does this have to do with coffeehouses? Businesses where customers are naturally spending a larger amount of time and money on, year after year, need to be able to tell the public as much information as possible about their business. Especially since the number of coffeehouses in Portland has reached near-saturation, the public's choices are so numerous that the smallest bit of helpful and easily accessible information can mean the difference between snagging another regular customer or watching someone walk by to the coffeehouse down the block.
Just because the purchases are smaller, doesn't make the business any less important. I think Starbucks is a pretty important business that makes its billions one $2.00 purchase at a time.
While it is true that location is still the number one reason a customer will patronize one coffeehouse over another, when there are several "near-by" coffeehouses to choose from, which one wins out and why?
Take the three coffeehouses within blocks of each other on Alberta: Random Order, Star E Rose and Concordia Coffee House. I think it's a given that if you want to find out some info on a local business, or any business, or anything in the world you are going to hit the internets first. So I did. (What else would someone do? Find the Yellow Pages?)
Star E Rose has no website that I could find. Furthermore, I didn't see any posted hours of operation when I walked by the other day. Isn't posting your hours Small Business 101? (The counterperson said they close at 10pm.)
Concordia Coffee House does have a website. They have plenty of info on their site like a list of menu items, their "coffeehouse" philosophy, and photos of the space. They even mention that they are "open late for the night owl". Fantastic! But I could find no hours of operation on the site. What does "open late" translate to in real time? Apparantly 8pm. At least those business hours were written down on paper and taped to the front window.
Random Order, however, has a smokin' website. Looks very expensive and is loaded with great graphics and tons of info on the food, coffee, art, crafts and neighborhood. Best of all they have their hours right there on the home page: "6 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday". Except they actually close at 9pm.
In the end I stopped by Star E Rose as it was the only place left open when I was out and I dropped over $6.00 on a brownie, iced coffee and tip.
I have coffee money I want to spend! Finding a place to spend it shouldn't be hard to do.
Japan trip update (& Thanksgiving week hours)
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