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Sashay and My Chai Latte: A Lesson In Personalized Service

Solopreneur Advice

This the tale of two coffee shops…

The Friendly Neighbourhood Coffee Shop

…is close to home, practically walking distance away. Small and quaint, but with a decent sized menu that’s pretty affordable.

With only 4 small tables, most customers don’t even sit – they grab their food, pay and head out.

The staff is friendly, pleasant and efficient.

The Coffee Shop in Town

…is much further away – about three times the distance.

It’s a lot larger and way more popular. Freelancers and entrepreneurs use it as an ‘office away from home’. Students come to piggy back on the free WiFi. The noise level at times makes you wish for the best earplugs money can buy.

The food is good too, but double the price of coffee shop #1, and the staff is just as friendly, pleasant and efficient.

Which One Do I Choose?

Let’s see. I’m carless – which means distance matters. I love supporting small businesses. And I absolutely positively hate noise, especially when I’m working.

So clearly I’m going with coffee shop #1, right?

Wrong. For the past year or so, I’ve bypassed the quaint little coffee house and gone the extra few miles to work from the one in town.

Which seems rather odd…until you pay attention to one tiny detail.

Sashay and My Chai Latte

Coffee Shop #1 used to be my first pick. Until one day while there, they lost power.

Deadline looming. Net down at home. No power there. I need to find another location and fast. Enter coffee shop #2.

So I walk in and Sashay, my server, recommended a Chai Latte. Never heard of the stuff, but she swore by it, so I said, ‘yeah, why not’.

I remember this as the day I fell in love. Chai Lattes are amazing.

When I returned a few days later, Sashay was there. She smiled and said, ‘Would you like another Chai Latte?’

That. Right. There! That had me hooked.

She remembered me, she remembered my order and each time I’ve been there since (at least 20 times), she’s already making it the moment I walk through the door.

The noisy atmosphere? The higher price? The longer distance? I’ll put up with it. All because of Sashay and my Chai Latte.


A few lessons business owners should take from this:

  • Just because you have ‘the right experience’ on paper, doesn’t mean your target customer will think so
  • Never underestimate the effect one day’s bad service can have on your business.
  • Friendly, pleasant, helpful service is a start, but personalized service will get you to the finish line.
  • Find out why your ‘ideal customers’ choose your competitors over you. It may just be one tiny thing. Don’t assume. The reasons may surprise you.