The Slow Drift from Great to Good


I love a GREAT cup of coffee. For years I began every day by grinding freshly roasted beans to make a rich and full-bodied cup of morning goodness. There isn’t much better than that first cup of the day.

About a year ago I begin to tire of having to grind the beans in the morning, so I started to grind them before I went to bed at night. Everything I’ve read says the coffee begins to drop in quality soon after grinding the beans but I figured it was a small price to pay for convenience.

After a few months I decided that grinding the beans at night was becoming a grind.  I decided to buy my coffee already ground. I did notice the difference in my morning coffee between my freshly ground beans and the already ground coffee I bought at Peet’s or Starbucks but I figured it was a small price to pay for convenience.

Now that I was already buying pre-ground coffee I figured that I might from time to time skip the extra trip to the coffee store and buy coffee at the grocery store. Even thought there have been some great strides in the improvements in packaging technology, there is still a noticeable difference in ground coffee bought at a Peet’s or Starbucks store and the same brands bought at the grocery store.  But sometimes when I was in hurry I just grabbed some coffee at the grocery store.  I figured it was a small price to pay for convenience.

One morning as I drank my “GREAT” cup of coffee, I was reading an article in Cook’s Illustrated about how to properly brew coffee.  As I read the article I thought to myself over and over, “I used to do that.”

I realized that my GREAT cup of coffee wasn’t really that great any more.  Over time I had slowly drifted away from the small but simple steps required to make a great cup of coffee. Because each change I made only reduced the quality by a small amount I didn’t really notice how much less “great” my morning coffee had become.   Of course it was all in the name of convenience.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

The same thing can happen in our stores and in the experience we deliver.  One or two of the little things you would once did to make your store a GREAT place to shop fall by the wayside. It might be to save time, payroll, or inconvenience.  And it’s such a small thing it won’t make a big difference.

It happens often.  A store offers to carry every purchase, no matter what the size, to a customer’s car.  Then over time they might only offer if the purchase is big and bulky. But now they only carry purchases to the customer’s car when the customer asks.

Or maybe it’s the practice of offering customers something to drink. The store goes from offering all customers a drink, to those customers they’re working with on a sale, to only giving a beverage to the long-time customer who still asks for one.

Other areas that sometimes get lost in the name of convenience are gift wrapping, follow-up phone calls, thank you cards, and getting customer contact information.

The point is that just like the decline in quality of my morning coffee, these small changes slowly takes the experience away from what used to make it special.  The cost of saving time, money, or just making things a little more convenient for us is a lot higher than we think.

Right after reading that article I went back to doing what it takes to brew a GREAT cup of coffee.  The difference is amazing.  Over the last year my morning coffee was good, but good isn’t great.  Sometimes good is okay, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that good is GREAT.

So let me ask you as you enjoy your morning coffee, is there anything in your business you’ve let slip to good even though it’s GREAT that is the key to your success?   If there is, what steps will you take today to turn it around?

About the author: Doug Fleener is founder of the Dynamic Experiences Group. He is a veteran retailer with more than 25 years of hands-on retail experience with world-class retailers including Bose Corporation and The Sharper Image. He has also owned and operated his own specialty stores. His new book, The Profitable Retailer: 56 surprisingly simple and effective lessons to boost your sales and profits published by Acanthus Publishing.

Doug is now president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a Lexington based retail consulting firm dedicated to helping retailers create unique customer experiences that results in higher sales and profits.  Learn more at or call Doug at 866-535-6331.

Fleener also shares his knowledge of experience based retailing in a series of custom key notes and workshops designed for stores, businesses, corporations, non-profits, and trade associations of all sizes. His casual style and quick wit make him not just a crowd pleaser but also an incredible motivator, encouraging people to take action and deliver extraordinary experiences to customers and employees alike.  Learn more at

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