Raglan Roast: A Short Case Study in Unhurried Productivity19th Nov 2021
One of my favourite local coffee places is Raglan Roast in Te Aro, Wellington. It’s a rustic, relaxed place that serves great coffee with a laid-back vibe.
Here’s an extract from their ‘About Us’ page:
“Offering you tasty, quality coffee with speed and at an honest price that will take you back in time.”
For the 12 months or so that I’ve been going there, I’ve developed a real liking for how they do things there. I can’t help but compare my experience with other coffee establishments around town. Raglan Roast just keeps coming up on top of my list.
Why’s that? I get my coffee hot, fast and with a smile. I’m never waiting more than a few minutes, even when it’s busy. Yet the staff never appear rushed. They greet me with a genuine smile, and they always seem to be enjoying themselves. It’s way cool. They’re unhurried, productive and happy. Unhurried productivity at its best.
I got curious about what might contribute to that. Here’s what I’ve observed, and since confirmed in a conversation with Jed, the manager of Raglan Roast:
- They keep it simple
- They have a system
- They create simpatico
Raglan Roast pretty much only serves coffee. Yes, you can get a biscuit out of the jar by the coffee machine, or grab a juice from the fridge. But they don’t do meals. I don’t even think they do tea! By keeping it simple and focusing on what they do best, they remove the clutter. They’ve said no to getting fancy and complicated. And that helps them to get into flow more easily and deliver the goods without too much fuss.
One of the coolest things about Raglan Roast is how you pay. They have a prepay system where you pay $20 for five coffees upfront. There’s an exercise book on the counter, with tabs from A-Z. You write your name in the relevant tab (‘D’ for me) and draw five squares against your name. Each time you get a coffee, you don’t need to use the eftpos machine (which takes time for the staff as well as for you). You just put a cross through one of the squares in the book. Most people seem to pay this way, which speeds things right up for everyone. They call it ‘The Book Deal’ and it works a treat.
Additionally, because they don’t offer many ‘products’, all the staff are easily able to do all jobs. It’s like they’re one unit, with each part of the unit moving where it needs to, without friction. They seem to get on well, which I suspect helps the flow too.
Simpatico means to be likeable. A simpatico relationship means a relationship based on shared interests. The crew at Raglan Roast ooze simpatico, and they help to create a simpatico relationship with their customers. You feel like you’re part of the family there, which leads to a co-operative, easy going vibe between staff and customers alike. It’s subtle, yet powerful, and it contributes to a sense of unhurriedness for everyone. And it keeps me coming back.
While Raglan Roast might be a small coffee shop, I think these insights are more broadly applicable.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself and your team:
- What is our core offering that we want people to come to us for?
- To deliver exceptionally on this, what do we choose to not offer?
- What would this look like if it were easy? (Thanks Tim Ferriss for this question)
- What can we remove to make this easier?
- What shared interests do we have with our customers?
- How are we creating / can we create simpatico with our customers?
Jed and staff member in the flow at Raglan Roast with ‘The Book Deal’ in the foreground.
Note: I’m not paid by Raglan Roast to write this post. I’m sharing it just because I think it’s good stuff 🙂
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