As we get to know businesses and their stories, they often tell us what they’ve learned along the way. We’ve been sharing some of their most sage pieces of business advice in our weekly series, Wise Words. For this week’s edition, we spoke to Young Han, the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee, and Bonnie Boon, Philz’s social media manager, to get their thoughts on how to stay true to your brand.
Here are some highlights from our conversation.
“When you’re just starting out, find as many creative opportunities as you can to serve your product in the community. It’s not so much about marketing as it is about being organic and authentic.”
“Never lose track of quality, especially as your brand grows. We make every cup of coffee one cup at a time. It’s more labor intensive, and might not make sense, but we never want to sacrifice quality. Every cup should be perfect.”
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“When you get feedback, positive or negative, always ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this?’ Drilling down into the reasons why someone wasn’t satisfied will help you figure out what to improve. It will make you a better business.”
“It’s important to stay small and local even as you grow, so never forget why you started out. Always circle back to that. Stay true to your core.”
“Focus on one customer at a time. Build relationships and rapport with your regulars. It’s all about human interaction and connections.”
“Ask for help and guidance. You forget that people have gone through this already. No matter how great you think you are, you can always make time to learn and develop yourself.”
“Immerse yourself in the community. Find local vendors and source locally as best you can. Even as we expand, we treat every store differently. We bring in local pastries and local milk, and try to stay grassroots. We make every single store unique. Sometimes we don’t even finish the interior, because we want the community to help dictate those final touches. Do they want an Amazon locker? A kids’ station? A bike rack outside? We talk to customers to see what would serve them best.”
“Support other local businesses. The more successful mom-and-pop businesses we have, the better our neighborhoods.”
About Philz Coffee
Phil Jaber started serving hand-crafted coffee out of a grocery store in San Francisco’s Mission district over 10 years ago. Since he started a coffee shop, Philz Coffee has grown to 26 locations across California (and two coming in Washington, D.C), all the while staying true to its mission of bettering people’s days by serving one cup of coffee at a time.