At 06.45 last Monday, on my way to the gym, I popped into my local Pret a Manger for a coffee. Still quite early, there were only two other customers. I was promptly served by Michaela who greeted me with a big “Good Morning” and an even larger smile. which I returned.
A customer in front of me had forgotten to pick up his croissant so I handed it to him as he was leaving which earned me another big smile, in fact two more, as Michaela gave me another one too. Then as I went to pay for my double espresso Michaela said, “no charge, it’s on the house, have a great Monday” and this made me feel ridiculously happy – I had a grin of Cheshire Cat proportions. But what made this small act extra special is that the previous week I’d been waxing lyrical about Pret to the senior team of Romans Estate Agents who I took to La Manga Club in Spain for a three day event. During one of my presentations I described many of the small things Pret do which both individually and even more so collectively, go such a long way to making this business so special.
Let’s start with the free coffee – Pret baristas are told they can give free coffees to anyone they like – I’ve been the recipient twice now, the other time was at Kings Cross when the place was rammed, so being empty or busy appears to have no effect. This is not just great for the lucky customers – my sense is the Pret employees get a huge buzz too as I’m sure the response I gave is similar to that they receive every time.
Pret also gives away free sandwiches and other food at the end of every day to homeless people – another simple act but one that makes me feel good about the company and again I’m sure the team too, particularly those who have lovingly made the sandwiches, rather than see them thrown away. (Pret only sell products made on their premises that day, it’s why you’ll never see a “sell by date” on their fresh food packaging).
And when I say the sandwiches are “lovingly made” I don’t feel I’m exaggerating. What runs deep throughout Pret is passion, as illustrated by the Pret “passion facts” such as:
Like bread, coffee beans go stale. Big coffee companies keep schtum about this. The truth is, after a couple of weeks the flavour goes out the window. Imagine if all milk was ‘long life’ simply because it suited the distributors. Anyway, we get Just Roasted beans delivered every day to every Pret (any not used go to the compost heap). We grind a generous 14 grammes of Just Roasted into every Pret cup.
Our Baristas are obsessive.
Passion Fact No. 14, indeed there are several hundred and each adds to the brand “essence” of truly caring about the quality of the food served and the way in which it’s presented.
One of our speakers told one of our Mastermind Groups a story about how Pret recruit people. Before they actually start their role a prospective team member must spend a week in a Pret outlet serving food and drinks to customers to truly understand the business from the frontline perspective. Apparently, there is another reason for doing this – the team members at the Pret get to assess whether the individual is made of the right stuff and I’m told that a prospect Chief Finance Officer had their job offer rescinded as the team felt he wasn’t right, he wasn’t a Pret person.
Some years ago when I ran a marketing agency we created a campaign titled “Little details, Big difference” and I believe this is the “secret” to many companies success. Rather than searching for one big knock out punch of an idea, instead have as Sir Clive Woodward puts it so well, 100×1% improvements – or in Pret’s case several hundred.