Thursday, July 18, 2002

An odd thought. from time to time (such as this afternoon) I sit in Starbucks with my laptop and work on the book I am writing. Starbucks are good, as there are usually power 0utlets in their stores where I can plug in my laptop and recharge its battery while I am working. (I am not sure if it is company policy to provide these, but I suspect so). I buy a coffee, sit down, plug in my laptop and work for two or three hours. In this time, I do not normally get up and have another coffee. This is not because I am cheap - although I am - but is simply because I do not wish to leave my laptop unattended while I get up and buy a coffee. Picking up the laptop, walking to the counter, buying a coffee and then sitting it back down again is simply too much hassle, and if I do this I face the risk of losing the table next to the power outlet to someone else.

Every now and then, a staff member comes along and takes away the empty cups. What I would like is for this person to ask me if I want another coffee, take my money, and then bring me another coffee. Yes, I know that I am asking for waiter service, and Starbucks is a company that minimises staff costs by not providing waiter service. However, what is needed is a sort of limited waiter service which only applies to people having a second or third coffee, or even only applies to people using laptops. What we need is an arrangement where people walk in, buy their first coffee, sit down, and then are waited on from time to time after that. I think the additional staff costs of this would be fairly minimal, and they would certainly sell more coffee to people like me. They have already gone out of their way to be laptop friendly with the power outlets (and the 802.11 wireless networks in some places) and surely this is just a small way to take it further.

I suspect the problem would be that if you offer some table service, then customers would rapidly expect you to offer full table service to everyone and nobody would ever come to the counter. Still, it's a thought.

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