Prufrock Coffee in London isn’t your typical coffee shop. It’s run by a former World Barista Champion and caters to serious coffee connoisseurs, the kind that read coffee blogs and have strong opinions about beans, equipment and technique (they even offer barista training classes for people who want to know how to mix a proper latte).
But here’s how much they love truly great coffee. They offer their customers a “Disloyalty card.” If you buy a cup of coffee from each of eight particular competitors who are part of London’s “emerging coffee scene,” Prufrock will give you a free cup of their own.
What a great long-term view for a small business. Prufrock is so passionate about great coffee, they want to help people appreciate it, even if they go to a competitor to do it. Prufrock knows that the better their competitors do, the stronger their London tribe of coffee connoisseurs becomes. And you’ve got to love the confidence of a small business that says, “Hey, here are eight competitors we like and respect. You should drink their coffee, too.”
It’s easy for a small business to be so concerned with their own success that they lose sight of the bigger picture. If you’re a private counselor:
Do you encourage families to talk with their high school counselor before they consider hiring someone else?
Do you remind families about all the good news, that there are plenty of great colleges to go around (and most people get in without the help of a private advisor)?
Are you willing to admit to a prospective customer when you’re not necessarily the best choice for them?
Will you say to a customer, “Here’s a list of competitors I like and trust. You should talk with them before you make a decision—I want you to find the best fit for you.”
If not, why aren’t you? The best thing that can happen for any family is to recognize and appreciate just how many options they have for help with college advising. The ones who pick you will be a better fit and will be predisposed to like what you do. And you’ll be helping people make good decisions even if they don’t work with you.
It works in coffee, and in college counseling.