During a trip to Cape Town I chanced upon the Espressolab in The Old Biscuit Mill at Woodstock. This is a fantastic little place where a range of bespoke coffees are also being roasted in a laboratory style environment.
When we arrived the owner asked us what sort of coffee we liked. I admitted I was happy with Nescafé instant. He was visibly shocked and, I fear, a tad insulted that such a novice had entered his domain. I realised I’d been a tad foolish – allbeit honest.
He asked what we’d like today and I said I’d chosen to try one of the half dozen specially blended coffees described on the counter. The coffee man asked me how I was going to TRY it? He continued. “These are coffees for connoisseurs”. He told me that if I had one of those I had to have it his way. Black. No milk and no sugar. I realised he wasn’t going to let me spoil, what he considered to be, perfection.
He told me that if, instead, I chose me of the specialist coffees listed on the general menu I could do what I liked to them. I took the point and had a cappuccino – with sugar! It was probably the nicest coffee I’d had for a long time.
What lessons did this bring to mind for accountants?
The manager exuded confidence, a pride in his work and passion about what he does. He didn’t set out to upset anyone but equally he didn’t pull any punches. He didn’t have much time for visitors who didn’t know or care much about coffee.
How do you react when you’re approached by someone seeking their first accountant?
Are you simply grateful they approached you or do you look to determine whether they will allow you to do your job properly?
They often don’t really know what they need. Do you evidence your experience and enthusiasm for the value you can provide so as to give them confidence that you know what you’re doing?
I wonder what would happen if you made your top quality (gold level) service something that you only allow serious clients to access? Others just get the basic service especially if price is their only criteria. Some may express interest in your all-round service with monthly management accounts and regular business review meetings. But you choose who gets that service. It’s not available to everyone. Only to clients who are evidently serious about their business. Maybe one day this new prospect will be ready for it. But not yet. Perhaps you might even create the desire that they want to move to a position whereby you will allow them to pay you more so that they can get your gold level service?
Can you see any other lessons for accountants here?