Starbucks just recently opened their first store in our city. There are mixed feelings — a lot of people said that it will stifle local business. Others were excited to see the major chain here so they could get their Venti Caramel Latte fix. I was mixed. I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee, and have always frequented a locally owned coffee shop.

When Starbucks first opened several weeks ago I didn’t even stop by, instead opting to support local business. But then, local business dried up and withered away. Slowly, as I went into the locally owned coffee shop, I found shelves and drink cases empty. Then one day I went by to find them closed at 2PM on a Saturday afternoon.

Instead of pumping up marketing prior to Starbuck’s opening, they did nothing. So many small business owners chastise chains for putting them out of business. Starbucks’ brand recognition may have had a small effect on the local business, but it didn’t drive the nail in the coffin. So what killed the local coffee shop? They should’ve taken a class in Business 101.

Never get comfortable – being the only substantial coffee shop in town, they were always afforded the luxury of not having to advertise to get business. They were never really busy, but they “made ends meet” as some business owners would put it. Instead of spending money on marketing and promoting their business, and building their own brand, they chose to hire help to man the store and do other things.

Unfortunately, all it took to knock them off their pedestal was a company that knows how it’s done. Starbucks didn’t start out taking all the business away from the local shop, but when people did try Starbucks they never went back. Why?

Easy. Starbucks masters personal service and delivers the perfect experience every single time you walk in. Within days they knew me by name, knew what drink I ordered and every time it was consistent – perfect temperature and perfect flavor. The store is always clean (impeccably so most of the time) and the staff is always courteous and helpful.

You might say that all businesses should be consistent and friendly. You’re right, but that doesn’t mean they are. Starbucks drives it home to employees again and again that the customer experience is all that matters. Make them happy, period.

Had the locally owned coffee shop had this attitude they might still be open today, because none of the customers would have dared to try another shop.

Unfortunately between the Starbucks opening and other factors (poor management of years past, possibly) the local coffee shop is closed for good, and I’ve converted into another Starbucks fanatic.