When Employees are Artists, Customers Come Second

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said to Dan, the manager of an Atlanta coffee shop.

A friend who spends a lot of time working in that coffee shop introduced me to him.

“I have a question for you, Dan. Gregg told me something I am finding hard to believe,” I said.

“I was talking to Gregg, and he told me you serve amazing cinnamon rolls on Friday mornings. He said they are so good he makes a point of coming here every Friday morning to buy one.”

Dan said, “Yes. Our customers love our cinnamon rolls.”

“Gregg also suggested you serve the cinnamon rolls every morning,” I said.

“A lot of our customers have made that very same suggestion.”

“So why don’t you do it?”

“Our in-house baker doesn’t want to bake cinnamon rolls every day,” he answered.

“Gregg told me this, and I couldn’t believe it.”

“It’s true.”

“So your baker runs this business?” I asked.

“No. I run the business.”

“Sounds to me like the baker runs the business.”

“No. No. I do.”

“The person who has the authority to say ‘no’ runs the business. And it doesn’t sound like it is you.”

He told me, “You just don’t understand.”

I left him with this question, “What would you do if your barista told you he doesn’t make lattes on Wednesdays?”

About an hour later, I figured it out.

The barista came to our table and asked, “How did you like your drinks?”

He made Gregg a flat white and me a cappuccino.

He said, “I really like making these traditional coffees as they are part of my art. I don’t really enjoy making the Frappuccino type drinks.”

So there it was.

This business respects their employees as artists. They get to create what they want to create when they want to create it.

Good thing the barista is respectful enough of the customer who wants a Frappuccino!

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