Why Your Salon Staff Should Try the Coffee Shop Challenge
The coffee shop challenge is how Michael Van Clarke teaches his apprentices the difference between price and value. He asks them to embark on an annual coffee tasting mission across London. He conducts the annual coffee shop challenge to give his apprentices a clear illustration of the difference between price and value and to show them that they are not the same.
“We attract many apprentices from challenging backgrounds and employ them to work in luxury surroundings with discerning clients. Most haven’t yet had the life experience to understand that something with a higher price may be much better value than the cheaper version,” explains Michael.
The benefit of the exercise is to teach the apprentices how a core product, in this case a coffee, can be built on in terms of experience and quality to be worth much more.
In teams of two or three apprentices, the exercise involves having a coffee at a high street department store coffee shop, at a three-star or four-star hotel and at Claridge’s Hotel. The price of the coffees usually range from £2 to £8.
The teams must take photos and judge the service, coffee, presentation, ambience, toilets and make a judgment on the price and value of each coffee. The teams fill in a questionnaire and prepare a mood board, so they can present their findings at the next general staff meeting.
Every year Claridge’s has always come out as being the best value and the place the apprentices would most like to return to, even though it is by far the most expensive.
The team that gives the best and most informed presentation wins dinner at a top London restaurant. Apprentices can apply the learnings from the challenge to everyday life because the the premium experience at Claridge’s correlates with the experience created at Michael Van Clarke’s salon.
“We are a premium salon and it can be hard for our novice apprentices to relate a charge of up to £395 for a haircut as being good value if they are only judging on price and relating it to their own present earnings,” explains Michael.
He would advise other salons to create a similar challenge for apprentices. “It’s something that sticks in the mind of our employees for years. Every apprentice so far has found an £8 coffee at Claridge’s to be the best value and it’s the only experience they would choose to repeat with their own money.”
What did the team learn?
“It was so good to see the different levels of service during the coffee shop challenge. The differences really stood out once we had been to all three places and I hadn’t really thought about the service element before, but I can now see the difference. Plus, it felt like a real treat to go to Claridge’s and I would definitely go back.” Louis McGeehan, apprentice
“I feel the coffee shop challenge was a great way to show us examples of service and value for money. Even though Claridge’s was more expensive than the others it was clearly the best and all of our favourites. I can see now why we have particular systems and procedures in place and why we all have our responsibilities in the salon. We are all contributing to the client experience, and this should be the same experience as we received at Claridge’s.” Millie Burdett, apprentice