Thursday, March 27, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Coming Soon

I wanted to thank Deb (a barista in training)....who inspired me to go visit two stores that are opening on April 1st (no foolin :) ....that's right next Tuesday there will be 89 BIGGBY locations instead of 87.

These two stores are located in the Metro Detroit area...Northville and Farmington Hills, both within my old stompin' grounds. As many of you know I lived much of my childhood in Europe....but in between, I lived in the Metro area.

I love gettin' down this way, and seein' the BIGGBY brand grow here...if ya' can't tell it's personal....ya see, nothing thrills me more than to see our entrepreneurial spirit invade a part of the country that has been dogged by that corporate mindset, you know, where the company is bigger than the people in it.

For us, it's just different...we are a franchise company....What's that mean? That means every one of our stores is individually owned....that's right, a person owns that store, not some big goliath pumpin' money out of the community, no our people are local, they're vested, they're involved....right there on the ground, in the community. It makes a difference in so many ways...that's why when you go into one of our stores somebody actually knows your name, and they remember what you want to drink, and they probably know what you do for a living, and how old your kids are...that's why they ask..."how's your day goin?".....Now, not everybody knows why they like going to our stores....but they do know, somehow, that when they go...they feel better, about their day....about what's going on....

The only way this can happen is if people touch people....not physically, but touching their lives....and it has to be real. And the only way it can be, if it is. And so I come full circle, and I'll say it again, "a person owns each one of the stores"....and that makes all the difference :)

So let me introduce the newbies....

Jose and Irma

Farmington Hills, (store #250)

Opening April 1st

32433 Northwestern Hwy Farmington Hills, MI 48334

Bruce and Kim

Northville, (store #238)

Opening April 1st

20570 Haggerty Rd Northville, MI 48167

To find directions you can look up the store numbers here (thanks Jeremy)....,-86.396484&spn=15.514228,29.619141&z=5&om=1

So, Jose and Irma, and Bruce and promised I'll see you on Opening Day...and for the rest, I hope to see you there too! Take care....

A blast from the past....BIGGBY (original store)

Hot off the press from our B-Heard hotline (online)

We get these notes every once in a while and I like to share them with you....You see, everything you do in business affects peoples lives....and that impact can be long lasting....Julie was part of that original crew (13 years ago!) that made everything happen....passion ran high and we were all so plugged into what we were doing. Not much has changed...Of course the torch has been passed to our franchisees....but they get it too -- People are what makes the difference....we miss you too Julie!

I miss Biggby (Beaners when I worked there) so much. It was December of 1995 and Bob and Mary hired me and provided the most intense training ever! I live in Seattle now and work at the University of Washington where almost every building on campus has a coffee stand - but I have found very few who come close to the attention to detail in pulling shots and foaming milk and none that have as good taste as I remember. Starbucks has nothing on Biggby and I can not bring myself to enter any of their stores. Any plans to expand to the coffee obsessed (we really, truly are) Pacific NW? Hello to Bob and Mary and thank you for taking me on and teaching me alot - especially how to stretch that fat free milk to make an extra dry cap. So great to see how well the business is doing - I miss the converted Abry's store near MSU.
Go Spartans!

Albion College

So I left the Marshall BIGGBY COFFEE, and knew I had about twenty minutes to go down the road. I've got my GOOGLE map this I'm pretty sure I can find Norris Hall. I get off the freeway exit and follow Business 94 all the way in, passing the local Felpausch grocery store .....typical main street all the way in.....then boom you're at Albion College....has sort of a feeling that you might find at a college located in the North East. I am able to park right up front...I had to take a couple of phone calls along the way, and I was still on the phone as I looked for the main entrance.

I musta looked lost, there was a guy out front trying to flag me was David, he was my main contact for this event....he is the Director of Educational Programming for the club S.E.E. at Albion College. Really he took care of everything for me and did a great job....we did the 'howdy-doos' and slipped inside.

We had about ten minutes left before things got started, and the gang helped load one of those boring slides shows....from my computer to a jump drive and into their computer....they had it well under hand. I also pulled up our website and of course the blog....I like to open up with the slides (you know, get all the propaganda out of the way early), my favorite part is the Qn'A, that's where things always heat up.

I was a little takin' back initially, normally when a young crowd like this gathers...people can be a little shy....and we all gently avoid each other until you do the presentation...but there must be something in the water there at Albion...cuz' I shook more hands than I thought I would, people were coming up and introducing themselves and telling me made me feel right at home, ya'know?

While people were still filtering in I met Heather (El Presedente) of the surprise she is a leader.....there was no doubt that she was in charge. I got her to stop for a moment so I could snap a shot....she told me that we would start about ten past the hour....I saluted, and told her I'd be ready!

Now if you look in the background of Heather's can see David Wheatley trying duck outta the picture...or maybe he was just trying to show me his good side:) Anyway, David did take a moment to introduce himself....turns out he is Co-Author of a book called "50 DOs for Everyday Leadership"....Cool!

He is also a Humanergy co-founder and is a former Scotland Yard officer . Well we had a lot to talk about there, cuz I lived in London myself for a coupla years....I'm glad I never ran across him (in an official capacity) then...whew! Anyway, last night I'm thumbing through the book (he gave me a signed copy) and diggin' a lot of what they are sayin....the opening quote is "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."'s a quote from Drucker .....right up my alley, philosophically speaking.

I figure David deserves a better picture than the one I took from my camera I called his publicist....and this is what they sent me (kidding.) But I do want to thank you again.....and I appreciate all the questions you asked!....I had to think pretty quick on my feet last night....all the questions I got were good 'let's get to the bottom of this' kinda favorite:)

I met all kinds last night including Andrew, another one of those firm hand shakers....and the enough enthusiasm to light Gotham City.
And then there was Erika (yeah, that's with a K) named after her father....she was floating around like a helium balloon, the whole time...and she is a Primo Biggby customer, and told me about all the different stores she goes to....and all about e-wards and so was hard to keep up with her.

All in all it was a great night....and the Qn'A lasted a lot longer than I expected....we had about 60 people and I didn't see anybody nodding off. I took the usual questions on the side....and I met Dr. Mike Frandsen....his title is 'Director, Carl A. Gerstacker Liberal Arts Institute for Professional Management', jeez, that's heck of a title there....can't be easy to wheel that one off :)....anyway he thanked me too....sorta gave me his history pre-college....turns out he was 11 years in Corporate Finance (wow, sorry about that, Mike!)...I think I like your current vocation a lot better, even if it is harder to say your title:)
Thanks Albion College!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Kalamazoo (WMU)

I love saying the word Kalamazoo, you have to smile when you say a word like that, right? I've school on my brain because I am speaking tonight at 7 pm tonight at Albion College, Norris 102. So this morning as I'm watchin' the results come in from the most recent poll (peanut butter cup is still winning)...and thinking where I would like to go...and I decide to head to the BRONCO MALL on the campus of Western Michigan University.

I shot down I -69 to I-94 West towards Chicago. On the way I passed a couple of these trucks....BAREMAN'S Dairy, quality outfit from Holland, MI....apparently we are keeping over 100 cows employed 24/7. They have the best tasting milk in the State, hands down.

I hung a left up 131 towards GR and hopped off at the next exit....WMU bound, I figured I would just follow the signs....not so easy, WMU campus is like the streets of Paris....without GPS, it was nearly'd need a degree just to get off campus. Well, after a few U-turns I finally found what I was lookin' for, and pulled into visitor parking. I was feeling a little relieved but not for long visitor parking was .25 cents for every 10 minutes, yowzaa! I buck up , though....cuz I'm

not sure where else to go, but if you look at the lot, you can figure the same that I did...what they meant to say was 'Don't Park Here' unless your desperate. Got it!

It's a short walk (and I paid the price)...I get to the store and man was it busy.....people all over the place....protocol went a little out the door, but understandably so! These guys barely had time to breath....much less go through the was one 'Big Chill and Mint Chip Freeze' after another. The blenders were screamin' for mercy. People were hanging out on their computers, reading books, talkin' ....the whole nine yards. Nice to see. Kelsey and Nate were answering question left and right...."what's a red eye', 'what's the e-wards about'.....big excitement!

I got my usual double short latte on my way in, but on my way out I changed it up with a Tall Nutty Buddy, ICED, Yum.

But look what happened....Yikes!

Kelsey was a little embarrassed, especially when I asked if I could take a picture....and she said "You're not Bob Fish are you?" and then when I nodded yes....she put here hands up to her face...sorry Kelsey, but it was such a great moment. The cup cracked, cuz' somebody opened the case using a knife and basically scored all the cups (a lesson out there for those of you in the know).

These guys were workin' hard....but the spirits were high (it's the BIGGBY WAY!)

Kelsey (keepin' her cool)

Nate...for those interested, he told me he was a model...he even had to approve my photo of him...(I have a witness)

And guess what I met Ellen too...

Ellen is on the staff too, but wasn't workin at the moment.....are ya' crazy? Your supposed to go home when your not workin'....some people just can't get enough!

I'm writing this in Marshall, MI BIGGBY COFFEE because ya' had to be a student to get on the wifi at WMU....I'm twenty minutes down the road from I'm gonna have to wrap it up pretty's 6:15. My degree is from MSU.....but I'd go back to WMU any day......can somebody send me a map....and circle where yer' supposed to park, thanks!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chocolate Survey

Just take it, will ya :)

The deal is we always in these perpetual debates internally like....

'fancy shmantzy' vs 'American traditional'

milk choc vs dark choc

'childhood memory'/retro vs 'euro-chic'

You get the idea....anyway I was sitting in one of those corporate meetings and everybody is makin' their case, gettin' all red in the face about what customers want...and all of a sudden I start hearing words like focus group, research, and mega trends....and all the while I'm thinkin it's gotta be easier than that.

In the old days, when I was workin' in the store, I would just talk to people about, that was lot more enjoyable....and the results amazing....people will tell you exactly what they want.

So that's why I'm asking you to take a second and make a choice on the survey.....I know there is a lot more choices that I could have if you got one you want to it in the comments...and I'll run it against whatever the winner is here ok :)

Now for those of you that want to pick them all...I understand (your issues)....but, I just need a little focus....pick one. Cheers!


I woke up bright and early this morning...knowing that I was headin' to the metro Detroit area...I had my pot of coffee, but with a you know I am a big Mocha Java fan, but this morning it was Costa Rica...we just rolled it out to all the stores, and it is one of the best straight origins I've had in a long time....clean, bright, but was gooood!

Anyway I had Mohamed (Mo) on my mind....he is the franchisee in Westland...I hadn't swung by his store yet, but I really wanted to, he has one of those very dynamic personalities....that just doesn't quit....and since there was still a little snow on the ground, and Spring was still feelin' a little distant, I needed that kinda 'pick-me-up.'

It's a straight shot down I-96, till you get to I-275....about 80 miles, an hour and fifteen minutes for me, since I've had to pull the reigns in on going above the speed limit. I had Janis Joplin in the deck and it was some good listening.....traffic was heavy, but I just took that as a good's when traffic's not heavy that you gotta worry.

I was just pullin' past Novi when I noticed some roadway construction....another good sign....SPRING is (really) coming! Hotdog! I only had another 20 minutes left on the exit number was 25, but I didn't have to look too closely....all I had to do was look for the big IKEA sign....everybody seems to know where that is. If you hang a left off that exit and head down Ford road about two miles you'll find Mo's location on the's gotta be one of the best locations I've seen....great roadside visibility, plenty of parking!

I had to ditch my logo-coat cuz' I wanted to go in incognito....and it was all workin fine....I came through the door, with my backpack, and a smile....Al greeted me right away....these guys had one of the best counter-side manners I have ever seen. Al did a brilliant job of convincing me to have a scone.....I ate already, but it didn't matter...he convinced me. Just about that moment Mo, came out from back of the house, he hadn't notice me yet.....I was skating by. Al wraps me up and sends me down to the end of the counter to get my double short latte, and Mo hollers out "Is that Bob Fish, I see" much for my espionage work :) But I am already smilin'.....I'll say it again, Mo has one of those very electric personalities...a lot of our folks do....but this one is just a little extra....and it feels good.

He hooks me up with my drink and I find a spot by the window and a little behind the cash area, so I can keep an eye on things. Although I don't know what I'm worried about, because Mo and Al are pros....there wasn't a customer that came in that they didn't know their name and was awesome! These guys covered a lot of ground....and everybody was talkin' and chattin' and leavin' in a good mood. That's what it's all about!

After a while Mo came over to chat, but he never stayed for long, he had to keep hopping up to take care of this or take care of that....he reminded me a lot of me, in those early days, always on, always invested, really caring about people. We were talkin a little bit about the various things he's is doing to 'imbed' into the community, my favorite was a 'refrigerator art contest' involved running a contest with a 4th grade class at Patchin Elementary.... .....and mean while they just kept rolling in. I've been here for about an hour so far....and here is the amazing thing...they still know everybody's, people in our system are good....but this is the best I have ever seen, hands down.

Mo stopped by again, and were talking, and he tells me the Mayor comes in, the Deputy Mayor comes in .....he rattles off more (the police, the fire guys) but I can't even keep up.....although I did write down the name Nick, he works for wwj 950....loves a grande chai latte, thanks Nick.
Well it's hard to keep writing, cuz Mo keeps introducing me to everybody....I met a guy named Dan (primo-customer), been comin' since day one (back in October '07).....thanks for muggin' the mug Dan!.....but you're gonna have to loosin up a little :) Dan, a man who never misses an opportunity brought me his resume...and began to tell me why he should come to work for was goin' well until I told him he would have to commute to East Lansing.....but even then, he was pushin' was great. I get that a lot, people wanting to come work at Corporate, I think they are crazy to want to become a 'desk jockey'....'course that doesn't apply to the gang in Ops....they're always on the road.

Well, I am beginning to wrap up.....but it isn't easy, I just finished a tour of the back of the house.....and, if I don't leave now I might never leave....ya'know?
These guys are awesome! ...I wanted to take a picture, but it's gettin' harder and harder, every time I get up to take one....somebody else comes in....well finally I just had to jam them up a little, ta' get it done....between customers.... :)

Al and Mo.....You have to visit them!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't forget to fly the plane...

Yep, you can tell somethin' is on my mind again....I'm gettin' all these reports and articles talkin' about what some of our competitors are doin'. You know who they are.

Apparently all kinds of things are goin' wrong for them....there seems to be an announcement a day on it....what they are gonna fix, what they're gonna change, who they are....Hmm, sounds like an identity crisis to me :)

Well for their sake, I hope they figure it out...for us, it's just not as hard...granted we are not some huge Goliath tryin' to take over the world....that's gotta take some thinkin' :)

Let me share a couple of things with you....
  • Love people
  • Be happy
  • Have fun
  • Make great coffee

Seems a little simple doesn't it? That's flying the plane....

Ya' see in flight school, when they're teachin' a pilot how to handle a crisis, when all the buzzers and alarms are goin' off in the cockpit.....they say the number one error, is the pilot begins to pay more attention to all the warnings....and they forget to fly the plane...and the plane crashes. Ouch!

So to all of our people out there makin' us great....I just wanted to say...

"Thanks! ....for keeping your flaps up, eyes on the horizon, and burnin' at full throttle :)

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Buford Georgia

Here is an article I missed back in Feb....normally I'd take a pass anyway, but it tells such a great story about Amy and Glenn (super-franchisees), that I had to post it. These guys are awesome....I mean, just read this quote:

"When we mention the passion exhibited by the Thompson’s for their coffee shop, you can either say it’s contagious or it runs in the family."

'Course this is the way it is with most of our operators....but I can never here it enough!

The full story....


Here is Simeon Lowe, a BIGGBY staffer on 'expert villiage' teaching people how to make a mocha at home.....of course this is not endorsed, but it is is the bio from the site...

"If you are interested in many some of the many coffee drinks out there, this video series is perfect for you. Our expert, Simeon Lowe, shows you everything you need to know to make a variety of beverages. He shows you different kinds of syrups and toppings to use on coffee drinks. He even gives you tips for finding the perfect coffee machine. Learn how to make lattes, mochas, espressos, ice coffee drinks, and many more. So, if you are looking for ways to spice up your addiction to caffeine, learn how to make gourmet coffee drinks "

He gets 4.5 stars out of 5 for his video....and over 3,400 people have visited it!

Just one question Simeon....Some of those ingredients look mighty familiar in the background :) ?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Grand Rapids

I was just packing up from my visit to Steve's store....thinkin' that I had gotten by without being noticed and bang!...Tony walks up to me and says 'how's it goin' Bob?" So much for being there on the I pop out to the car to get my camera...well worth it, both Tony and Andrew have those winnin' smiles that make our shops so nice to go to, ya'know?

We were chattin' for a bit, and one of them asks me if I'm headin' downtown GR? "For what?" I say....well apparently Steve just took over the Downtown BIGGBY store. I break out into a smile because that shop has been under a little duress, we had the wrong kind of operator in there...and it wasn't doin' much for the Brand. I made a mental note to send the guys back at the corporate office an email to say 'thanks for lettin' me know!' I should give them a little bit of a break though...they been workin' hard....and their job isn't to baby sit's to take care of the franchisees.
Well this good news puts a skip in my step, and it's all gonna work out because I have to head downtown to see Brian anyway. It's a sunny day and I have to make a few phone calls on the way. I roll into the parking lot at noon sharp. I'm ready to get the job done....we are disco-ing one

of our teas....and I have to pick a new one. We tried a couple, but I had the Pomegranate Oloong tea on my mind....we cut blackberry, and a couple of cinnamon types (but we already have one of those), I still really like the Pomegranate it's a done deal, should be showin' up in the store in about 6-10 weeks. Brian and I talk shop for a while, he has been in the coffee industry a while...and has a good understanding....he wanted to take me to lunch, but I'm not into the wine and dine thing....I needed to get back out in the street. He asked me if I was going to stop into Steve's new downtown store (and I thought to myself "I really am the last one to know?"), but I played it off and said "of course."

We shake hands and I blow out the door, the sun is shinin' and I am only a couple blocks away from Steve's store....but decided I was hungry. There are plenty of places to eat in GR, but I decide to go to the Sundance Grill , (a friend, a fellow HB graduate, and a fellow MRA board member...Jeff Lobdell, owns the joint) and it's only 1 block from the BIGGBY COFFEE store. Jeff is one of those brilliant creative types....that has a great business sense (not only does he own Sundance....but he has got places in GR and TC, like the Omlete shop, Beltline Bar and Grill, and the Bagel Beanery....tell me that's not a lot! Occasionally he gives me reports on what's going on in our places, but to be frank, he has a lot on his plate already. Well I'm a starvin marvin by now...but I know the food and service would be primo....and man was it! I had the Pueblo Chicken Taco plate.....yummmy! Thanks Jeff! I'm plenty full when I leave and I just need to walk down the block....I could of used a few more ;)

I'm hoping I'll run onto Steve when I get there....but he moves around so much with all these stores that I am never really sure. I walk into the downtown store, it's right across from the Amway Grand Hotel....a highly visible spot (I love it!), and I see a face I recognize already (Justin)...he breaks out in a smile and says hello across a couple of customers....I was tryin' to be a little more low key, ya'know? Anyway he and Noah were really workin' the crowd and I can see the change already...Everything looks like it's good and stocked, and the store is spotless....You can already feel Steve's influence.....I ask to see if he was still there...but busy guy that he is, he had already moved on. Lot's of professional types coming in this store, I asked Justin if anybody was talkin' much about the ownership change, and he said everybody was ready for it, and they were very excited!

Well I had an appointment back at the office that I had to get I blew out and asked those guys to let Steve know that I stopped by....the day was still sunny....and a lotta good things happened today...what more can you ask for!

Noah and Justin

Thursday, March 20, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Grand Rapids (Cascade) -- Feelin' the love

Jeez, first day of spring is almost upon us, and there is talk of snow....I'm beginning to think that HQ should move to South Carolina....with Stu and the gang. Yup we've got stores there too, for those of you who didn't know :) ....but I am just kiddin'...we're not moving anytime soon (it is tempting, but no)

I'm sittin here in store #209 (the Antaya clan own this one), located just off I 96 (exit40B), hang a right and go a couple more blocks....right hand side. When I drove up the parking lot was full....people comin' and goin'....I began to think (as I do).....reflecting really, on what has gone on in this marketplace. In 2002 we began to break out of the Lansing area in serious way, with our first store opening in took another two years ('04) before another location opened in 2008 (I took a count) there are roughly 15 stores in the Grand Rapids and West Michigan area. Wow...when things happen they happen fast. But it's all good! Amazing really when you think about it...and the caliber of franchisees is unparalleled! Steve who owns this store, started with his first store in 2005 in Portland MI, and he is a great example of that excellence...and now he is working on opening his fourth location (in GR too)....anyway he is one of those guys who is just plain smart, and a good retailer t'boot...we've got a lot of that in our people, gutsy, good hearted...wantin' to do the right thing. The three partners that started this concept did a great job....but there are two things that make BIGGBY COFFEE what it is today....first, the people we serve...I know it's goofy, but when we opened our first location there were already 35 coffee shops in our marketplace....we were just another coffee shop....but the people that came to us, and became our customers....became such loyal enthusiasts, I mean one day we had no business....the next day everybody is talkin' about it....and tellin' everybody that they know....and then...everybody wants one next to them. Yeah...our customers are the best! Second, and I have already said this but, our franchise operators are amazing, people just like Steve...I am dumbfounded at how much they just get it. I have been out on the road for some time now...and it doesn't matter what location I walk's people paying attention to people....Of course our coffee is the best too, but how hard is that? I mean you decide to use quality products and you call it a day....but people talkin' to people, sometimes I think we just forgot how to do it, in our day to day world.....but when you land at a BIGGBY COFFEE all that changes...and it's a big circle....people love us, we love them, they love us some more, we love them some more.....and so on, and so on! You get the gotta' feel the love!

And oh, to the gang at this store, great service....I mean great! I had a double short hazelnut latte....and a 16 oz of MJ, my favorite drip coffee. I managed to stay undercover my whole time's my favorite way....sit and watch. I looked for it (the unforced errors), but I just couldn't find em' my hat is off to you! I didn't bring my camera in this I'll make sure to come back, and grab a photo of all the smiles, k?

I'm outta here for now....I'm off to see Brian.

Just a little Dogma...

Good Morning!
I'm heading off to GR on this morning, because I have a meeting with one of those distributor types that do a great job for our franchisees...I'm gettin' out early so I can drop by a location on my way. I already have my coat on (as I write) and I am rarin' and ready to go...
Somthing ran across my email the other day that I have been meaning to share...
It comes from the manager (Ryan) of the St Johns, MI location....Cool guy and an amazing trainer of his people.
Here it is...
"Dear founders of BIGGBY COFFEE (Beaners) Coffee,

I would just like to share a quick story with you. I have just hired a young lady who has been working for Cxxxxxxxxxe Coffee. She was their trainer and with them closing (3 of their 4) stores they did not have the hours to give her. As I was training her, she seemed almost amazed with the way we do things. One of the biggest differences that she noticed was the different positions that we have and how jobs are given to that person so that everything gets done.

I think that sometimes, we managers and employees, forget that not all coffee shops operate like we do. It has proven once again why WE are the best. It has inspired me to use position priorities even more so. Thank you for setting up a system that allows us to be the best.

I also wanted to say happy anniversary to all the BIGGBY corporate staff for 13 years at being the best coffee in the world.

Store Manager
Store 170 St. Johns MI"
Now I call this dogma cuz' he refers to this 'position priority' thing....and not many people know what that's all about. But he touches on an idea here which I think is worth mentioning....
When people come to our cafes they notice that something is different (something is better)...sometimes ya' can't really put you finger on it, but it's nice. The deal on that is we care a lot about our staff...enough to give them the skills to do their job.....What does that mean in the end? .....Well simply put, if everybody knows what their supposed to do...they feel better about what their doin'....and if they feel better about what their doin' shows! It beams comes out in everything they do...Who wins in that deal?.....absolutely everybody! (owners, employees, and customers).... Ya'know? You just can't beat it!
BTW....he says Happy Birthday!'s true we opened out first location on March 15th 1995....and 13 years later, we're still having fun!
Last....can you guess who that 'little marvin' is pokin' his head above the table? Yup! that's me.....I told ya' that 'coffee break' was a tradition in my home.....'course I'm still hooked:)
See you in GR....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Leaving Howell

Yesterday, after I wrapped up in the Howell location...I began to head north up Grand River Avenue, and I realized that I was starting to feel a little hungry. I drove by this place called "Rocket" (grilled subs) caught my eye so I turned around and decided to give it a try.....much to my surprise, it was awesome. It reminded me a lot of the early years at BIGGBY COFFEE (at the original store).....the location was highly visible, a well thought out concept, the service was exceptional, and the food was was a gem, and if you ever in Howell you should give it a try.....They had a newspaper article posted about the store, give it a read....

After lunch I headed straight back to the office for some admin stuff and I had to stop into the training center to get another pound of MJ...(our house doesn't function without it!) I walked in on a PERC class (train the trainers).....and there was Jeremy with the world in his hands....(not a bad place to be)'s a little interactive exercise to learn where coffee grows through-out the world. Anyway, I said hello....and let them know that I would see them bright and early tomorrow, at the roasting facility. I give a tour to all the PERCs, and it is one of my favorite things to do!

I only have twenty minutes to get I gotta go....later...

Monday, March 17, 2008


Good morning all,

Short trip today....I have some business back at the office around I couldn't stray far. But watch out Metro Detroit I am comin' yer way....this week. Remember if anybody catches me in a store and knows I'm blogin', I'll buy!
This weekend I had hopes that Spring was on it's way, and I actually got out and did a little yard work....nothing magnificent, just enough so that I could hold onto to that idea that Spring and Summer were comin'. Of course my mind started wandering, as it does, I was out there picking up sticks...and I started to think about melons! Yep, melons.....
Now, I was also trying to make a final decision on which location to drop by on Monday too, so I decided to combine the two.....melons and locations, and Bingo! It came to me Howell, MI.
Ahh, your wondering how does that work?....Well Howell produces the the most lush cantaloupe I is sooo good...and it is celebrated every August at the Howell Melon Festival ...if you never had one, ya' should.
I am quite excited about gettin' to the store because their numbers have been amazing....Up over 60% over this same time last year. I don't care what business you're in, those kinds of numbers are impressive, especially when you consider the economic climate MI is in right now.
Terri (manager extraordinaire) has been runnin' the shop and Phil is the BIGGBY Franchisee....I wanted to get in there, and pick their brains a little....find out what this growth they are havin', is all about....did they have any secrets? So anyway, I had my pot of MJ at home this morning and rolled out early....I had a reporter that wanted to interview I scheduled it for the drive took about a half an hour to get there....just enough time to not get in trouble with anything I said to the reporter. It worked, before I knew it I was at the front door, and I didn't say anything 'too' crazy in the interview:)
I bounced out of the car...and rolled inside...Terri was doing some interviewing (I guess you gotta hire, when you're growin' like that)....they were a little light on the cash point, because the drive through was jumpin'....but Dave saved the day! He didn't recognize me (which is the way I like it)...but boy did he do a good job. Now the thing about this is, he is a brand new employee....that's right....just came out of that's impressive! I can usually spot a newbie a mile away....I mean ya' go to most places in this retail world and OJT, means the customer trains you....not here! As you can guess, I found the first (#1) secret to success at the Howell hotspot....They invest in their people! There is a lot of chatter in the business world about training your people and giving them the tools to do their job....but most places, that's just 'jargon'....when you find someone earnestly doing the right can really feel the results...Nice job Terri!

Well I settled down somewhere between the door and the cash, but by a window (so I could keep my eye on the drive-thru)....and I saw Terri wrapping up her interview, and as you might guess she came over and sat down with me for a bit.....You want to know the first thing she asked me? "How did we do?.....What can we do better?...Anyplace to improve?" Now this is a woman after my own heart....and I just found the second secret (#2) to success in's not what they already know that is's what they don't know that ends up being important....and that's what she was after! Said differently, the pathway to perfection has no finish line....the line keeps moving, and you have to keep moving with it!
Now I know for a fact that a couple of coffee shops haven't been able to compete with this BIGGBY COFFEE...these (other cafes) had to close their doors...never a good day for any business....but I am beginning to understand why. One of these closings, was one of those big guys that seem to think their brand has got the magic.....they don't understand that it comes down to people like Terri....I'll say it again....People Make a Difference!!!! I hope that wasn't too loud....Whew!

So Terri is tellin' me a few more things and I found out she is ultra plugged into the community....(you know that ROI -- Return on Involvement-- I'm always talking about.) She takes me to a wall full of it! There are softball teams, Balloon Festivals , team awards, Chamber stuff, letters of thanks....and on and was real personal.....and what is the reward for this??? As I always comes back ten-fold.....they were voted "Best Coffee House in Livingston County!" Reason #3 for the success of the Howell store....
I finally managed to get a photo of the whole was hard, they (Janelle and Sally) were keepin' the folks movin' through that drive-thru.....Now there are times when you can hear the drive-thru speaker, even in the dining room....and that's OK, but I wanted to let you know that over the babble...while Janelle and Sally were working, I actually heard the words "I Love You Guys!" come over the drive-thru.....Now how many times in a day do you hear that in retail? I bet almost never....but ever since I have been on the road to all these BIGGBY franchises....I have heard it over and over again.....the last time I heard it 'shouted out' like this though, was in Ann Arbor....
Dave, Sally, Janelle, and Terri
Now when Terri and I were talkin' there was one more thing (reason #4)....I was asking her about the customers that were abandoned by these other coffee shops....and one thing she said stuck with me. She said "Some of these customers didn't even know the difference between a cap and a latte"...Now at first blush, you might think that's a 'snooty' statement, but you would have to know Terri and the gang to realize that they were just aghast that those other cafes never took the time to help their customers understand. They get an A+ on this have to recognize your customers as individuals, and you have to invest in them.....if you don't...they won't invest in you.
I've now been here a coupla' hours now and I am sure they are ready for me to go....I have had two double short lattes, cuz' the first one was just that good.....I know I am biased, but I love our coffee....
This team has never stopped since I arrived, but I am glad I came today....I learned a lot, Thanks Guys!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Leapin' Leprechauns -- FREE DRINKS @ BIGGBY COFFEE

I gotta say this is above and beyond...

I found this tidbit at (otherwise known as channel 7)

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, BIGGBY COFFEE is offering any size specialty coffee for *FREE* from *5-7 PM* at the following 4 Metro Detroit locations:

Shelby Township -- 21 Mile & Hayes

Southfield -- Evergreen Rd. between 10 Mile & I-696

Auburn Hills -- University & Pontiac Trail

Royal Oak -- Woodward Ave., between 12 & 13 Mile

This is somethin', especially if you consider that the group that owns these select stores all have Italian heritage (if it was Columbus Day it would be impressive...but St. Patrick's Day, is twice as impressive)...Way to reach out guys!

I love this kind of follows the whole "giving is getting" philosophy....have fun, John and Gino, and keep up the good work!

No need for kid gloves....

Ok, Ok....I admit it...I have a problem, spelling and grammar.

Understand that this blog is not ghost written by a bunch of English Majors (you probably figured that out :) )

Mike Zimmer, of our great store in Merrillville Indiana, had this to say to me....

"Hi Bob, I have been enjoying your blog. You are a gifted writer. I have noticed a spelling/usage error a few times, and in friendship I wanted to point the mistake out to you. The word "your" is possessive, as in "is that your car?" "You're" is the contraction for you are. I hope you accept this in the spirit in which it is offered. Mike"

Jeez Mike, can you believe I actually proof read this one?

I have no excuses, except that this is all stream of conscious writing....and occasionally I am not re-reading it before I hit the publish button.

I appreciate, that you handled me with 'kid gloves' on this one, but know that my ego is not so shallow as to be offended by someone pointing out a few errors....actually I encourage it.

Thanks Mike....for dropping me a line, and squaring me up.

Friday, March 14, 2008



This is an may be too serious for some, so I want to stop you right here if your not in the right frame of mind. When I was driving to Grosse Pointe the other day two concepts crossed my mind on the long was ROI (and I have covered this topic in a few recent blogs), but I still owed you my thoughts on PE ratio, and so here it is....( at your own risk)

PE ratio..the definition?

The P/E ratio (price-to-earnings ratio) of a stock (also called its "earnings multiple", or simply "multiple", "P/E", or "PE") is a measure of the price paid for a share relative to the annual income or profit earned by the firm per share.[2] A higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying more for each unit of income. It is a valuation ratio included in other financial ratios. The reciprocal of the P/E ratio is known as the earnings yield.[3]

....lifted from the wiki

What? Fine and dandy if you're a publicly traded company and what you are doing is serving Wall Street....but where in this definition is the word 'people', whether it be 'customers', 'employees', or your 'local community'?....where is the word 'service' or 'quality'? It is blatantly missing...Oh yeah, I understand that all these things are built into the numbers and should be a reflected in the final results.

But this is where I think things get lost....Are profits important? Absolutely! It is a measuring stick of success in a capitalistic society....In any good company; profit is a reward for performance.

So if profit is a the reward for performance...then profit itself cannot be performance, only the reflection of. I think some companies out there have lost their way...because they became focused on profits and not on the performance that produces profits.

So what is the performance that produces profits....well in my opinion it begins with people...and the investment into those people...this investment is evenly distributed between employees, customers, and the community you live and work in. If a company does not put a hyper conscious effort into each of these areas it will will be a charlatan, it won't be believed or respected, or returned to....

In the end it takes a person to sell and it takes a person to buy, and if a company does not invest in both sides of that equation....then simply put, there will be no buyers and no sellers for that business.

Is the product important? Yes....but I think that almost goes without saying. Whether the product be a service or a widget....or some combination of both...without a person nothing will happen. People or even a single person is what makes the difference. Think about it? Think about the last time you went out to eat, or went to the mall, or were in any retail transaction....think about one that you can that you can remember that was a good experience. I bet you can pin that good experience directly to an interaction with a person....with a personality....and I bet you considered that a 'positive' experience.

We absolutely crave positive experiences, but generally they are very hard to find....but when we do, they impact everybody and it becomes contagious. The 'giver' feels good, the 'recipient' feels good, and they in turn spread that positive energy.

This then leads me to what I actually think PE ratio should should be the Positive Energy ratio. I know, I sounds a little 'new age' and 'spiritual'.....but I come to this conclusion from honest experience. I have asked myself...why does one business grow when others falter? I can see similar products and services, I can even see that there is an investment in people, but what is the 'x-factor', what is the variable that really sets one business apart from another. I'm telling's the Positive Energy....even within our own system, those operators that have a higher P/E ratio...inherently do leaps and bounds.

You can have all the tools, all the mechanisms, and all the people...and it simply won't be enough. Have you ever heard the words ''s contagious'? It's true, and that’s what I am getting at here....Positive Energy output...begets positive results, conversely Negative Energy output begets negative results. Think about it this way...Think of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion...

Third Law.... Whenever a particle A exerts a force on another particle B, B simultaneously exerts a force on A with the same magnitude in the opposite direction. The strong form of the law further postulates that these two forces act along the same line.

This law is often simplified into the sentence "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction".

Let me say it again this way...."Every positive action has an equal and opposite positive reaction" ...that's right your Positive Energy will come right back to you....and if one uses that positive energy on employees, and customers, and will all come back....and when it does, that's when you will find a profitable company....with a good PE Ratio!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I am up and at it early this morning...knowing that I will be out of pocket much of today. I have two meetings set up with two different equipment vendors. These guys are all from Italy and it takes a little concentration to get what their saying all the will take more energy than it should. These meetings are a little bit of an all day I wanted to drop a line before I headed out the door. I know I still owe everybody a little something on PE ratios....I've already dropped a hint about ROI (Return on Involvment), but I won't be able to get to PE till later this evening.

Until then I have two bits of is about ROI again, the other is about the character of our operators.

First a little shout out to Terri Hawes....a manager for BIGGBY COFFEE in the Metro Detroit area...she attended the South Oakland Business Expo where she said this to the Daily Tribune....

"Terri Hawes, a manager for Biggby Coffee, poured cups of their special blends and told people about her store at 30332 Woodward, Royal Oak, and another one coming to Madison Heights.

"We're so busy in Royal Oak we now open an hour earlier at 5 a.m.," Hawes said. "We have free WiFi and our stores have become offices for some people."

Biggby coffee patrons also spill over to the 1-800-flowers shop next door, which opens at 7 a.m.
"We actually get a lot of people who buy their coffee then come over to get flowers to take to work for people's birthdays and other occasions," manager Nichole Baker said. "We get a lot of customers from 7-7:30 a.m.""

That's the way to "do it" Terri....positive, positive, positive... for the full article go to ....I couldn't have given the quotes better myself....Keep up the good work!

Second is a little tidbit into the O'Connor clan (they own three stores with more on the way)....What does this headline have to do with BIGGBY COFFEE .....

Guts Frisbee team aims to soar at world games

Everything! This is really what it's all it your all! For those of you that have met anybody in the O'Connor clan you will agree they are over the top (in a good way)....they have the big "E"...ENERGY....actually they have the double "E"....and here is the story in the LSJ that proves it....

This is a story about a 'Guts Frisbee' team that made it to the Nationals and is now moving on to the World Championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, next August. Joey O'connor son of Joe and Jane O'Connor is off to the World championship....that's impressive, but whats more, he is 24-years-old, a MSU grad, he manages a BIGGBY COFFEE and is working his way towards a medical degree. WOW-WEE.....can you imagine? But for this family...if their not doin' fifteen things their just not workin' hard. That's the way they's a genetic phenomenon. Every member of that family works harder than the next....they got the double "E" ....and it shows, it shows in their stores, in their employees, and in how they operate. These guys have won all kinds of awards, both internal and external....they deserve every one of them...kudos Joe....and Thanks for making BIGGBY COFFEE such a great place to go!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Hey Nick.....nice job, that's the kind of ROI (return on involvement) I like to see.....


Good Morning....I am locked down for about six hours at the front desk of the corporate office. My shift runs from 8am to 1pm....we all take turns running the front gives you a good perspective of what's goin' on.
I stopped through the training center....and yes, there was another class in session...a great group!
I ran into Lori who is opening the Mason location (I talked about her store a couple of weeks ago) and she is quite excited. She has been dealing with a MDOT issue related to her front drive onto M-36.....and if she has to do what they are suggesting, she would have to spend an additional $100,000 to change the drives.....Holy Cow! Well an article came out in the LSJ and in it the Gov essentially comments on this situation in a postive manner....
"City Administrator Marty Colburn also mentioned that Biggby Coffee wanted to open a franchise on M-36. Because of ingress and egress issues created by the state's reconfiguration requirement, it would cost Biggby $100,000 to start a business there.

"A policy set that does not allow fine-tuning is not a good policy," Granholm said.

She said she would work with Byrum to address those local concerns, and added that there is enough flexibility within the state government to "soften" the issues and help create "dynamic downtowns."
How cool is that? Boy that's the kinda language I like to hear from our public officials....essentially "Let's work together."
Instrumental in all this has been Barb Byrum (D-Onadaga), she owns her own business too, and brings a real practical perspective to it all....Thanks Barb!
If you want to drop a line to Rep Byrum and thank her, go to
If you want to thank the Gov go to ....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

BIGGBY COFFEE - Grosse Point

Evening...just a quick update. Before I left today's location...two things happened. First Sue introduced me to these fine ladies...Barb, Lydia, and Anne. Huge BIGGBY supporters and top shelf customers. All three of these women helped Sue distribute door hangers in their neighborhood, a highly generous act. It goes back to that ROI that I was talking about at the close of the last note.... Return on's a big deal and it always comes back in droves. Store operators that are directly involved with their communities can expect this kind of support. It reminds me of the early days at the original store....there were 35 coffee shops already in the was a tough first year, but there were a lot of people in the community pulling for us...somebody (who I will not mention) helped us buy outdoor furniture that we couldn't afford....I remember going home that night and collapsing in a chair and adding up all the people that helped us out, up to that moment in time...and tears just started flowing down my cheeks....I vowed at that moment in time, to always give....
The second thing is a little lighter...those USPS workers finally came in, thank goodness I knew...I moved to a different seat and sure enough they sat where I was sitting....pretty cool, I was starting to fall into the grove of the store.

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Grosse Pointe, MI

I'm up early this morning and still a little under the weather....but I've been thinking about it since last night.....Grosse many people have told me how beautiful this store is, but I haven't had the chance to visit. I Google map it to find out how to get there and the directions take me down I 96, then I 696, and so on...but I decide to slip in the back way by shooting over to Flint and head south on I's not shorter, but there is a little less traffic. It's a fairly long drive, but I've had my pot of MJ this no worries. The drive was beautiful...and everything clicked along nicely.....I spent the time thinking about ROI and PE ratio's...sounds a little dry...but you never know where those kinds of acronyms can take you....especially with this company.....before I knew it I was there.

As usual my goal is to drift into the store as undetectable as possible, and ride under the wire for a get a feel for things.....but I walked in the door and found about half the corporate office there....Tom (VP-Ops) and all his cronies Tony D., Caroline, and Stephanie....they are making the rounds, and touching base with all kinds a stores today. Talk about overkill though....I was going to call back to the office to see if anybody was still working there.....but then I thought about it some more, and decided that it's not such a bad thing to have these guys out in the field working with the operators.....if I was a franchisee that's the way I would want it, ya'know?


So anyway....I'm walking in and I want to get up to order my's been about an hour and fifteen and I usually can't go that long....those corporate guys probably thought I was a little rude, cuz' I blew right by them....and Joe said good morning to me right's the 'BIGGBY way', he handled the whole thing perfectly.....frequency card and all, I ordered a double short latte (you can tell I am feelin' better), he must've been doing this a while.....he sent me down to Jenny right away...I read the trivia it right (I'm good), and then boom there was my drink! It's exactly the way it's suppose to happen.....I couldn't wait, the crema and milk foam looked so good, that I had to have a sip right away.....Thanks was sooooo good!

Now you would've thought with all these corporate types runnin' around, Joe and Jenny might have been a little nervous....but they didn't miss a beat....not one. Sue (the owner), told me that Jenny is the shift leader and has been here since day one, and Joe is relatively new....but they were workin' together like a well practiced team.

I found a spot n' started to boot up the computer....and while I was waitin', I went around to snap some photos. Sue and Tom were talkin' out front...I caught them here in front of the fireplace and TV....I didn't want to keep them long, it seemed like they were covering some important business.

Sue (Owner/Mom), Tom (VP-Ops)

Next I had to get a picture for you of our team out there in the field....Tony D., Caroline, and Stephanie....I mean, I wasn't sure all the stars would come together like this again....Sue has a very unique space in her store for kids, so I decided to take a shot of those guys there...somehow it seemed appropriate to put them in those undersized chairs.... :) Now you can see that the women are havin' fun...but Tony D. is a little suspicious....I think he knew, he would end up right here.....but I gotta give it to him, forever the marketeer......nice way to hold the logo for a photo shoot Tony! Thanks guys!

Stephanie, Caroline, Tony D.

A lot has happened since I've been here, Sue is very proud of her store and the place that it holds in this community....all kinds come here, including the local police and a couple of guys from the Post Office (I think I am sittin' in their table (oops)) know when you get these kind of people in your are plugged into the community! She showed me some things going on with her store and took me to their 'community message board'.....the first one is a 'thank you' from a kindergarten class (the store saved milk jugs for make gift baskets with, the second one is from Ed Gaffney , he has meetings at this store on a regular basis....hey Rep. Gaffney.....that's a great way to spend time with your people, I love it! He probably goes to our store there in Lansing too, on Ottawa St. (they call it the Rep BIGGBY's (there is a Senate one too)a story for another day) In some ways I already knew about all the cool things that go on here.....(spies everywhere:) )....I have some folks that I know, that live in the area and they always have good things to say about this store. One of my MRA buddies Janet Belcoure (owner of Detroit's oldest restaurant...Roma Cafe ) stops in every once in a while and gives me the lowdown....the nice thing is that Sue goes to Janet's place too....and has nothin' but good to say about the place.

Sue had a chance to sit down with me and we chatted about all kinds of things....but the thing that comes through the most is she loves this community....and she loves her staff....she calls them 'her kids'....the love is strong, and you can feel it throughout the store. We talked a little about all the different kind of people that can come through the store.....and some of the funny stories that go along with them....I told her my 'tutu guy story'...she told me some of we were talkin we watched a love affair unfold in front of us, by the fireplace....apparently it's been going on for months.....who needs a TV in the store....with "as the World Turns" live :) Well the cool thing is that every BIGGBY COFFEE is a microcosm of the shops today are the back yard of your 'community of yesterday'....and this one certainly is....they are practicing good ROI (Return on Involvement) here, and it shows! Thanks Sue and everybod Team, we are very proud of you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Something Funny

Not the best photo...but really?

If I am A&W...I'm not too happy about the placement here. I mean A&W is advertising something called 'Cheese Curds' (which is a name for a product which I am sure is excellent, but I am still having trouble coming to grips with it)

I shouldn't knock it till I have tried it, but anything with the name 'curd', just doesn't sound like it would be followed by the usual 'mmmmmm'.

Anyway, right next to them is a PSA for losing weight sponsored by the goverment ...I read up on the site, and I like what they say....but the ad is a little jarring (effective), with it's beach ball stomach letting all the air out...

Anyway, all of it stuck me as a little funny, and a quite a juxtapostion.....thanks Adams did it again!

BIGGBY COFFEE -- Grand Ledge

I worked at home as long as I could, but then I just got the itch to go out. I figured that there was no better way to make myself feel good than to drop by one of the stores here in town. I was due to get out to the West I decided to head out to Grand Ledge...about a twenty minute drive from where I live. I cut across town using I 496, then jump briefly on I 96 until I got to the Saginaw Street exit....from there it's straight West on M 43 for a couple of miles. On the way you pass the turn off to the Sundance Riding stables...Nixon Rd ...a cool place even if your just a beginning rider. I like being outside...being outside on a horse is a whole different kinda experience though...brings out the cowboy, ya'know :)

I'm excited about gettin' to the Grand Ledge store....Andy one of the key people there always sends me great questions about BIGGBY COFFEE for me to answer....I love when people are thinkin', anyway I'm hoping I'll see him and we can get a chance to sit down together for a while. This store is interesting because it was a place called PERK-UP, before it became a BIGGBY COFFEE and went through several owners and never really had the good 'chi' ( ) that coffee shops have a tendency to have...the location was converted to a BIGGBY COFFEE by a 'Super-Franchisee'....Deb Kirchen....she is a multi-unit operator with six locations up and running....opened her first unit in 2000 and claims (rightfully so) to be the oldest running franchisee we that doesn't mean she's 85 years old, it means that she has been with us the longest :) ....anyway, Grand Ledge has really opened their arms to this location. Grand Ledge is know known for many things...but one of the most interesting to me is 'The ledges' (check out these photos).....well I know I don't have time to drop by there, but I am just pulling up to the store....and I can already feel the energy...the day is nice, chilly with blue skies...and I have already made a quick adjustment to the time change...but there is something good coming from this location.
I am not disappointed, I walk in and Mandy is doing it all...and she is such a pro. There is a gentleman ahead of me...and she gives him the royal treatment and before I know it he is talking about the trip to Vegas he just took and's one of those things that our barista's do so well....they talk to people (a lost art), you used to find this in local stores....but retail in general has turned into such a 'blob' of service...that I really dig it when I run across somebody of Mandy's caliber.
It was my turn, and I already had two pots of my favorite (Mocha Java) at home I needed to change it up and have something to sooth my throat...I knew what that was....Hot Cinnamon Spice...we use Harney and Sons Tea (best tea around!) with a little honey....perfect! Mandy took care of me right away....and everybody else too, I didn't stay long, but long enough to watch her work with one customer after another....all women (seven in a row)...hmmm, wonder why? After things settled down a bit, I went up to let Mandy know she did a great job, and she did...I had a chance to chat for a minute, and she said she also works at Pier One...another neat place. I asked her if she was from the area, and wondered if she remembered the coffee shop when it was Perk Up....[what I was lookin' for was whether it is busier now that it is a BIGGBY COFFEE]...."definitely" she said..."how come?" I asked....without blinking an eye she said"the reputation of BIGGBY COFFEE"....'course I had already tipped her, so there was no reason to 'flatter me up'....but I am a sucker for it, and it was music to my ears. I actually think it's the job that people like Deb, Andy (I never did see him), and Mandy do...Mandy said she had only been with the company since January or sure seemed like she was an old pro to me...Oh, and I asked her about all those women, and she said that seems to happen a lot in the afternoon....around school letting out and so. Thanks was awesome...and next time wake up Andy in the back will ya':)