Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Last month I was nearing a trip to my birth state of Michigan when I saw a tweet mentioning Michigan Cherry coffee. Not only do I love Michigan cherries, I enjoy coffee now and again. I inquired about the coffee and found out that a company called Biggby offered it. My sister works and lives in Lansing, the home of Biggby, so I had heard of them. Nearing my trip I searched Biggby's website and noticed a location close to where I was traveling. My wife and I couldnt wait to pair two of our favorite things, cherries and coffee.
After a longer than expected stay we needed to make the 4 hour trip from Ann Arbor back to Noblesville. We decided to forgo the stop to the local Biggby and get on the road. A little way down the road we decided the call of cherries and coffee was too strong for us to ignore. We needed to find a Biggby. Not knowing the area I had to pull out my handy HTC Hero to find a location. I had a tough time navigating their mobile site. The site wasnt optimized for mobile phones. The map gave me major hassles. There were so many locations around that the flag markers all ran together. I tried searching for Jackson (the next town down the road) and was sent to locations in Alabama. Yes there is a Jackson, Alabama but I already did a Michigan search. I got completely annoyed with the site, turned off my browser and was bummed about my lack of Michigan Cherry coffee.
As soon as I turned off my browser I turned on Twitter. I sent a tweet that stated, Biggby Coffee you lost a customer tonight due to your mobile site. I didnt know if they had an account. I have taken to mentioning brands without their account to test if they are listening properly or not. Its a thing I do since part of my job is brand monitoring and awareness. I heard nothing back from that tweet. The next day I happened to find out Biggby's CEO Bob Fish had his own Twitter account, @biggbybob, through a tweet from another person I followed from Michigan. It turned out Bob had a pretty good following. I check his tweet stream and he seemed to engage with his followers and probably managed his own account. This was at once encouraging and troubling. I was encouraged that a CEO of a growing company would engage with followers personally. I was troubled that someone who understood Twitter didnt see my tweet and/or didnt respond.
It was now my mission to get Bob to listen to me or respond. Getting customer feedback (and insight on their habits) is one of the main reasons to be on Twitter. I had valuable free advice that he should be interested in not to mention that I put negative information about his brand in the Twittersphere. I sent Bob an @ message. The next morning I received a direct message (Twitter email so to speak) from Bob asking that I email him with my issue. Again I was encouraged and troubled. I was encouraged the CEO of a growing regional company would reach out to me. I was also troubled that someone who engaged and understood customer service online wouldnt engage me publically. Public engagement and acknowledgment of company shortcomings goes alot longer in the new media world than addressing the issue one on one privately.
I proceeded to email Bob my soapbox social media engagement, brand monitoring diatribe. As you can imaging by this post it was sort of long. There was alot of criticism, albeit all constructive. My intention was to give Bob insight he may not have had or open his eyes to other ways his company could leverage technology they already deployed.
I received an email back from Bob that was thoughtful and thanked me for my effort and constructive criticism. I was extremely impressed with Bob's response. He stated that he agreed with my assessment of their mobile site. He mentioned they were a year behind on this initiative, but had one in the works. Not only did he respond to me but he copied his VP of Operations and a few others within the company. Impressive to say the least.
The next email I received I did not expect. Their VP of Operations, Tom Butz, stated they normally monitor their brand but somehow my tweet slipped through the cracks. Tom offered to send me some Michigan Cherry free of charge. I was thrilled! It wasnt necessary but I took him up on the offer. Not only did Biggby engage with me, they continued engaging in the days after our initial contact. They truly cared about what I had to say and werent just blowing me off. I found out that Tom had lived in the next town north for 8 years. Its a small world indeed.
A week or so later I received not one but TWO bags of Michigan Cherry grounds. They smelled delicious before I ever opened the bags. I couldnt wait to brew it! You would've thought we were opening a rare vintage, my wife and I were so excited to try this coffee after all of this. The coffee didnt disappoint. I looked forward to coming home and having coffee. My wife swears by it now. I enjoy it alot but she always finds an excuse to make some. The smell and taste of cherries takes me back to my Michigan youth. A truly great coffee drinking experience!
Im not sure if Biggby has incorporated any of my ideas I presented them. I hope they do if they havent already. Regardless Biggby understands customer service, interaction and engagement. I do wish Bob and the company would've heard or interacted with me in a more public fashion so they could've gotten the credit they truly deserve. This blog post is my way of repaying them and giving them their due credit for listening and responding honestly to a nobody from Noblesville. Heres to Biggby Coffee, Bob Fish and Tom Butz. Now when are you opening in Indiana?
Go To -- Chris Theisen’s "blog"
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Big Rapids Biggby is by far the best coffee place I have ever been too. The owners, Tami and Julie, know all the regulars by name and it seems that I can never get out of there much under 10 mins! I come in every morning between 8 and 9 and Emma and Macey are always there to greet me with a smile. They are the perfect morning barista duo! They have more energy than any college student should that early in the morning.
My day just isn't complete until I make a Biggby Run. I have been to others, and the coffee is just as good, but you truly can't beat the service and people that work at Biggby Big Rapids!
Carrie...a most loyal customer
Monday, March 22, 2010
Career Transition: Rose and Joseph Glendinning
By Dustin Walsh
Names: Siblings Rose Glendinning, 29, and Joseph Glendinning, 32.
Education: Rose has a bachelor's degree in business economics from Providence College in Providence, R.I. Joseph has a bachelor's degree from Albion College, a law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago.
Last career: Rose Glendinning formerly managed exchange-traded funds for State Street Bank in Boston. Joseph Glendinning was an associate attorney in business, real estate and tax law in Chicago for Amari and Locallo law firm and River North Law Group.
New career: Coffee. The brother and sister opened a Biggby Coffee franchise in Bloomfield Township in 2008, and their second location will open March 22 in downtown Birmingham.
Why they decided to make the switch: Neither of the Glendinnings were satisfied in their jobs.
“I was beginning to feel the rut of working the daily grind,” Rose Glendinning said. “My job was fast-paced and deadline driven. I craved interaction with people and having a feeling that my career would positively impact people's lives.”
Joe said that while practicing as an attorney he helped others achieve their goals, but he desired to achieve his own. “I wasn't super excited to go to work every day,” he said. “I enjoyed my work, but I never felt satisfied with my career choice.”
How they made the transition: “I was very familiar with Biggby growing up in East Lansing,” Joseph Glendinning said. “I remember when they just had one store. Coffee had just hit Michigan. They were happening places.”
The Glendinnings' mother owns and operates three Curves locations in the Lansing area, so becoming a business owner always interested them, he said. And, after attending a franchisee informational session, urged by their mother, the siblings procured a lease space in Bloomfield Township.
Obstacles they overcame: “To be honest, it took a lot of stamina to transition into the role of barista,” Rose Glendinning said. “It's very fast-paced, but my enthusiasm to succeed pulled me through until I had my "barista legs.' ”
“I invested a lot of time, money and effort into my career as a lawyer,” Joseph said. “It wasn't easy to leave it behind for something that was not guaranteed to be a success.”
Advice for others: “I think the best advice is something that my father told me as a boy,” Joseph Glendinning said. “He always told me to find a job that isn't a job, but a passion — something that I could wake up to every morning and couldn't wait to start doing.”
If you have made a similar change in your career or know of someone who has made an interesting career transition, contact Andy Chapelle, managing editor at Crain's Detroit Business, at email@example.com.
Go to the original CRAIN'S
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Are you getting the most out of your local Biggby?
One might think that delicious coffee, smiling baristas, and daily trivia is all there is to their Biggby home (or homes); however, that "one" would be highly mistaken.
Did you run out the door without breakfast but are still shunning the greasy drive-through with what is left of your New Year's will power? You're in luck! Stop by your local Biggby and grab a bagel, granola with milk, or yogurt parfait ... along with your favorite brew.
Are you running late for that lunch meeting? Again, you're in luck! Stop by your Biggby and grab an oh-so-tasty bagel/turkey/havarti (nom nom nom) sandwich and you're on your way. [I like mine heated up in the microwave. Honestly, I can count on my hand those things that trump melted havarti cheese.]
More importantly for my current dilemma, do you need a public, non-threatening, don't-even-think-about-it-buster locale for that first real life meet and greet with a mysterious guy you met online? That's right, I'm saying it: Biggby is my "first meet" go-to place. My home court advantage in the world of online dating. My Biggby is public, bright, and comfortable with the added chocolaty goodness of skinny skinny mocha latticinos. Perfect. Blog boy (since he contacted me through my blog) won't know what hit him.
Ooh, bonus --> I can get instant feedback from my baristas. And let's face it, if your barista doesn't like the guy, there's a red flag being thrown somewhere in dating land.
Biggby: Be happy, drink good coffee, and listen to your baristas.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
By Jeremy Warnemuende
Original State News Article
When Bob Fish and Mary Roszel decided to open a coffee shop in East Lansing 15 years ago, many people wondered if it would be a profitable business endeavor.Originally Published: 6 hours ago
“When we first started, there were many other coffee shops in the area,” Roszel said. “People would come up, put their hand on my shoulder and ask, ‘Are you sure it’s going to be OK? Are you going to make it?’”
On Monday, Roszel and Fish proved their doubters wrong by celebrating Biggby Coffee’s 15th anniversary and offering free tall drinks to Biggby E-ward members at any participating store. In addition, a birthday party was held at the original Biggby shop at 270 W. Grand River Ave.
Roszel, Fish and several of their business partners attended the party, and customers could receive a free drink of any size from 8 a.m. to noon.
Customers went in and out of the original Biggby all morning to receive a free coffee and help celebrate the occasion.
“We definitely expected a lot of people, we just didn’t know how busy it would be,” said Jessica Belen, a corporate trainer and barista at the original Biggby. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people here. It’s really cool and exciting.”
The turnout could not have been better, said Fish. He was excited to see so many people he remembered from when Biggby first started.
“For me, it’s awesome to be at the original store,” said Fish. “What I liked is being able to hang out and see people that I served drinks to between ’95 and ’97, say hello and talk about Biggby stories.”
Roszel agreed that coming back to where it all began for Biggby was important to her, but her favorite part was showing those who doubted her that she knew what she was doing the whole time.
“I never lost confidence that we would be successful, and it’s nice to come back and see those people that didn’t believe me again,” she said with a smile.
Since opening in 1995, Biggby Coffee has expanded from one shop in East Lansing to 107 in five states. Although some coffee chains are forced to close shops, Biggby is opening three more in the next 45 days, Fish said.
Fish attributes his company’s success and ability to reach the 15-year milestone to its simplicity.
“One of the things we did differently when we opened was we tended to make coffee less intimidating than most places,” he said. “A lot of people do this whole Euro chic and fancy-pants names. We call things caramel marbles and teddy bears, and our business is much more approachable.”
Along with making it easy for customers to order, Roszel said Biggby prides itself on customer service. She said the baristas at Biggby are taught to be friendly and get to know their customers.
Ben Newman, a senior at East Lansing High School, said friendliness brings him to Biggby on a regular basis, and Biggby giving away free coffee to customers mirrors the coffee chain’s typical customer service.
“It’s awesome,” Newman said. “It’s kind of like it’s my birthday. I love it.”
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
I just wanna let y'all know, the other day I was absolutely miserable. Nothing was going right, and all I wanted was a bloody cup of strong coffee to help get me through the rest of a dreary day. Anyway, one of the baristas, went out of her way to chat with me, joke around, and talk to me about the rain cloud hanging over my head. I just wanted to let y'all know, I truly appreciated the fact that she spoke to me like I am a real individual, and not just another customer, and she went out of her way to try to make me laugh. And I have to say, that made all of the difference in the world. It was good to have the caffeine, but Hannah really made me feel better.
I am just hoping there is some way to let her know that I truly appreciate the energy she puts out.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I think I'm in love with Biggby's. I mean, all the symptoms are there: giddiness, forgetfulness, laughter (in the rain), the pain of separation (when I have to leave the store after buying my drink) from my beloved, giving all my money to my beloved ;-) Say you'll be mine, Biggby's!
btw...we love you too Mark :)
The Michigan-based coffee retailer thanks customers with drinks on the house on March 15.
-- Chain Leader, 3/8/2010 3:11:28 PM
PRESS RELEASE: East Lansing, Mich., March 8, 2010 - Michigan-based BIGGBY COFFEE celebrates its 15th year of business this month by offering a free tall drink to all customers on the 15th of March.
BIGGBY COFFEE is coming off its best year to date in 2009, with positive same store sales during the latest 12-month period and growth of nearly seven percent in the past three months. The positive news contrasts a study issued last week by the Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) that reported a 3.26 percent decline in retail food and beverage sales in 2009.
As a special thank you to their customers all participating BIGGBY COFFEE stores will offer a free tall drink on March 15. To receive the free drink, customers must be current "E-ward" members. Membership sign up is free at www.biggby.com. In addition to the free drink offer this month, E-ward participants will receive free gifts or coupons on the 15th of every month throughout the year.
BIGGBY COFFEE partners Bob Fish, Mary Roszel, Michael McFall and Sandy Green will be on hand for a special birthday party on March 15 at the original BIGGBY COFFEE in East Lansing where the "Big Orange B" got its start. Anyone visiting the café at 270 West Grand River Avenue in East Lansing will be offered their drink of choice for free from 8 a.m. to noon as a special thank you for being a friend of BIGGBY COFFEE.
"That store represents the birthplace of BIGGBY COFFEE, so we're excited to get everyone back together to celebrate with our friends and supporters who've been with us since day one," said Fish, CEO and founding partner of BIGGBY COFFEE.
When BIGGBY COFFEE opened its doors in 1995, partners Fish and Roszel did so with the desire to demystify the "gourmet coffee" approach that relied on unpronounceable drink names and an air of exclusivity. Instead, the Company relied on an inclusive approach complete with fun drinks with names like Caramel Marvel and Teddy Bear, and inviting, friendly staff.
The uniquely fun approach and locally-owned and operated stores has allowed BIGGBY COFFEE to open 107 stores in five states.
"We couldn't have done it without our amazing franchisee family," noted Fish.
"When we opened our first store we adopted simple set of values that included making friends, loving our customers, having fun, being happy and making great coffee," said Fish. "That approach allowed us to differentiate ourselves from competing coffee shops in the area, and it's what continues to fuel our growth today despite the challenges most retailers face in today's economy."
BIGGBY COFFEE's sales have grown 65% in the past three years-from $23 million in 2006 to more than $38 million in 2009. The Company continues to grow and will add three additional Michigan locations next month including new coffee shops in Birmingham, Ann Arbor and Lansing.
About BIGGBY COFFEE(r)
East Lansing, Mich.-based BIGGBY COFFEE opened a single store in March of 1995 based on the founding principal that coffee-lovers and coffee-curious alike would benefit from a less pretentious approach to the standard gourmet café paradigm. BIGGBY COFFEE introduced connoisseur-worthy drinks only with pronounceable names like Teddy Bear and Caramel Marvel, and barista staff surprised guests with simple gestures like free kazoos and bouncy balls for no other reason than to brighten their day. The "Big Orange 'B'" caught on, and today BIGGBY COFFEE has 107 cafés across five states including Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.biggby.com
Friday, March 5, 2010
I was in the grocery store the other day and this nice older gentleman was driving around his shopping cart. As he passed people he would say hello or stop to chat for a minute. I doubt he knew many of them, but just about everyone responded with a smile and walked a way a bit happier. Think about your favorite businesses. Do you go back just because of the quality of their products or do the people that work there make a difference?
BiggbyBob has built a network of coffee shop franchises (Biggby’s) based on a friendly, welcoming place to have a cup of coffee or work out of the office. Every time you go in, you’re greeted by the staff and you can stay as long as you want (although I think they require you to purchase something, which is reasonable). BiggbyBob uses social media to build relationships and have conversations with customers, but he also travels around to individual franchised stores to converse with customers in person (and franchisees).
Our favorite local bagel shop, Blazing Bagels, operates under similar circumstances. A loyal group of regulars comes in every week to get a bagel and coffee and have a chat with each other and the owner. Another local favorite, Pastries by Ellen, also has a friendly and welcoming environment. You’re always welcomed with a smile and treated with respect.
Do all these places have great food and drinks? Yes. Could you get similar food somewhere else? Probably. But there’s something to be said for treating customers like people and being friendly. You give them a reason to want to come back. Sure, your competitive advantage may be in your awesome soup, but someone else is probably making better soup. People will be loyal to the places where they’ve built a relationship, and they’ll tell their friends (free advertising!). Being friendly can go a long way – and it costs so little.
What are your favorite places? What makes them stand out?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
So I love coffee. I mean really ... I adore the java. Coffee drinks from latte to cappuccino ... drip coffee to espresso... it's all fantastic. The aroma of roasting beans makes my day! It's why I began going to Biggby (back when it was another name!). Of course, I keep coming back because every franchise makes me feel like family. You all up in the corporate offices do too! But I digress; the bottom line is that I love so many things about about coffee. So the other day when I stopped in to get a pick-me-up from my usual Biggby haunt - the one on Westnedge by Kilgore - I surprised myself by asking about something besides coffee. *GASP* Yes! Really! Well Kaitlin and Haleigh were very helpful. I asked about the Pomaberry Freeze ... the Red Bull Freeze ... and what all those delicious fruit drinks were. I didn't know what the boosts were or anything. Haleigh broke it down for me, taking her time. It's great to not feel rushed as a customer. She explained the BOOSTA you can add to a fruit freeze. I took a risk. And WOWZA it was great! So thanks to Haleigh for the advice and the knowledge. And thanks to Biggby for the choices. Now ... back to watching the Olympics. Hmmmm... now there's an idea ... feed the USA athletes Pomaberry Freezes w/ a Boosta!
As Bob says - "B Happy!"