Growth and Trust

All growth is due to an increase in trust.

This is something I tell the managers at Sunergos to keep in mind when they look at their store numbers and it is the message we want to send when we talk to them about how well the shops are doing.

This idea is something that has been on my mind especially in the last few years working full time in management. I see it as the main correlation between the numbers on the screen and the reality in the shops.

Thanks to robust back office analytics we can see our cafe’s history in neat and amazing detail. I have had my fair share of late night number binges obsessing over comparative dates and percentages. It’s actually really fun! We look at which days are busy and which are slow, average dollars spent per transaction, number of items purchased, and number of transactions per visit. We can track all types of things that give us valuable insight into our business’ financial performance and trajectory.

But there is one thing the numbers do not tell us outright that gets to the “Why” behind it all.  It is the hidden mover, the catalyst for all growth.


Trust is a feeling of comfort and certainty of intent and of outcome that is given to us by a customer to turn their time and money into something of value to them. Trust being placed in them by their own boss to turn their investment into something great for their company was how our customer got the money they use as a sign of trust in our shop.

Trust is not just given and then that’s it. It starts out small and grows. Trust is placed in a new employee in small amounts to perform a task they have been trained for without supervision. Trust increases the more that employee performs that task with excellence and consistency. The result being that you can look at those around you or those you manage and say there are those you trust more than others. The same is true for our customers.

Another way to look at it is like this: When the customer enters our store for the first time it’s like we are in the interview stage. There is a spot open in their life for the position of “coffee shop” and our resume looked good enough that they now want a face-to-face.

Their first interaction with us acts as the interview and represents the the small beginnings of trust. The second interview even more so.

Somewhere between the first and 3rd visit the seed of trust has been planted.

We’ve got the job!

As the customer continues to come in they will delegate to us the task of creating a great sensory experience in exchange for the wage of the menu price a little more each visit. This, after all, is in the “coffee shop” job description and now that we are hired we want to impress.

As we deliver and exceed our new boss’ expectations we see they are more at ease with delegating and entrusting tasks to us. Over time as trust grows we are promoted and there is a mutual trust between us and the customer that facilitates our success and theirs. Suffice to say that trust is the hidden mover of both parties and is represented by their actions and exchanges.

We tend to see the money as the focus but it is actually what the money represents that matters. It all shows how much people trust us to provide value when they make a purchase in our shops, how much they trust us and our teams to deliver on an implied or stated promise.

You’d be hard pressed to find a store manager looking at the stats who then draws a direct line back to what they are doing in the cafe that is making people trust them more than last year, yet that is exactly what is happening with each data point on the screen. We all have access to the same technologies, products, techniques so the thing that will really set you apart is how much a customer trusts you to turn their investment into a valuable experience day-by-day.

When we look at the numbers we should be thinking:  “This represents a sacred trust between the shop and this customer” Whether the numbers are down or up, that thought should be the starting point for all our practical changes. What is it that we have done to earn the honor of .50 more per transaction from the last year? What is it about the customer’s experience that made it so we see the number of purchases they make on their card is up 10%?

It is almost never because of our fancy equipment, beautiful space, awards, or menu.  It is all about the culture and consistency of the experience that those things facilitate in our hands over time that breaks or earns trust.

When we feel the weight of the community’s trust and support as something we must constantly earn and honor with our actions then we are living in a mentality that will infuse future decisions with lasting wisdom and keep our businesses on track and thriving. Trust is the cornerstone of it all.



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