There’s a common misconception in business that you need to do something NEW – something absolutely no one else is doing – in order to be successful. That you need to invent something or innovate drastically or discover a completely new market… But it’s simply not true.
If you can be memorable (for the right reasons), you can be successful – even in a crowded market.
For example, there are thousands of web companies in NZ. Yes, the ones who haven’t figured out their USP may die a quick death but you can bet that there are still hundreds out there thriving. Ditto retail stores: just because someone else is selling clothing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enter that market – you just need to do it better or have a point of difference. Let’s talk for a minute about cafes – NZ must have about the highest number of cafes per capita and many of them are doing very well, despite operating in a busy sector. But why?
Because the best ones do what they do what they can to stand out from their competitors.
They have a strong brand personality, which they express through their signage, their fit-out, their products, their service and their team.
They take pride in what they serve. Yes, they might serve flat whites and espressos like every other cafe in town, but they do it in their own style.
Whenever I am in Wellington seeing clients, I try to base myself in Te Aro because that’s where Prefab is – easily the best cafe in NZ open today. Prefab is by the founders of Cafe L’afarre (a very successful early coffee brand). The decor design is amazing and the food (crispy bacon!) and coffee is to die for. Beyond that, the service is ridiculously good. Immaculate, warm, friendly and efficient.
This morning as I spent my $8 picking up two takeaway coffees (yes both for myself, ha ha) I was reminded in two subtle ways as to how Prefab has set themselves apart from the rest of the hospo industry and as a result is a completely pumping cafe, from 7am right through until closing time.
Beyond having a super great culture (happy staff = happy customers), you need a great leader driving a business. Today I saw it all in action.
The owner controls the whole business from a helicopter perspective, but in a good way. She oversees the 200+ seater premises (it’s a large operation) and calmly leads from the top. All at once she somehow makes the 20 people waiting for a table feel relaxed and not impatient, she gets things moving for the seated customers, and she keeps an eye on 10-odd floor staff who are looking after those 200+ customers. As I was waiting on my coffee I noticed her proactively seeing that something was not quite going to plan – just hearing her calmly talk to the staff member and working out a solution with them instead of losing her rag was a joy to hear.
I also know that Prefab is closed on a Sunday… Sundays are usually a cafe’s second best trading day. What a statement to make to give your staff a day off on one of the busiest days of the week! Imagine the goodwill that buys with the staff! It’s obviously working for them: I have been visiting Prefab every month or two for the past three years and so many of the staff seem to be the same – this is no mean feat in the usually transient hospo scene. Again, a likely testament to how the owners treat their team.
And as I walked out (to a wet and windy Wellington day), the lady at the counter noticed me juggling my two coffees and rushed over to open the door for me. Good old-fashioned service.
Without fail, every time I fly to Wellington I go to Prefab. Yes, it’s just another cafe in a sea of cafes, but they know what it takes out to stand out from the rest and keep customers coming back for more. Are you achieving this with your business?