Opportunity in Unexpected Places

by Peter Doyle

These days when I get a call on my cell, more often than not I tell the caller that I am at one of my 13,000 office locations, better known as Starbucks. This is not just because I am addicted to Pikes Place, and refills that are a mere 54 cents, I am in my coffee house office because it is good for business.

Recently, I had a meeting with one of my clients, she took me out to dinner and drinks. Business has expanded for her since we first met. She remembers it well, so do I. It was a Sunday morning at 9am and I was in one of my 13,000 offices drinking coffee and finishing a paper I was writing for my Masters.  From behind came a voice asking, if the Rover car in the parking lot was mine. I looked up to see a tall elegant attractive woman, and replied “I am surprised you know what a Rover is?” I wasn’t being rude, Rover is a British make of car, what the Brits call a saloon, a family car. It is not sold in the United States. Its bigger brother the Land Rover is sold here and better known, but the leather seated Rover that looks like a mating between a squashed down Bentley and a Volvo is a very rare car to find in the US.

Well this inauspicious beginning led to a consulting and production contract, which took my client, a surgeon, to Peru and most recently Vietnam on a series of new business ventures.  Part of my deal with her is to connect her to services and people she needs to meet to branch out into her new venture. The question always arises, how did you meet her? Most expecting me to say at a company, convention or through a friend, I reply, actually, I met her at one of my 13,000 nationwide offices.  Her story is not unique.

A little after Christmas, to escape from the freezing weather, I headed to the coast, as the man on the television said the temperatures would be a few degrees warmer. So, one Saturday morning I was yet again in my office, drinking coffee and charging my cell-phone, when two men asked if they could take the stools next to me. After a while one left and his friend and I began a conversation. What we talked about I do not remember, but 2 days later I had a deal memo and a check.  Since then I have come to meet other prospective clients, sometimes munching on a Classic 500, a chocolate croissant or a lemon pound loaf.  There is something convivial and very civilized about this approach to finding new business.  The economics are very attractive, overhead is cheap, $1.91 and tax for the most part.

Reflecting back there are other unexpected places I have conducted business.  One deal was consummated on a Delta airlines flight to Colorado Springs. Airport lounges and airlines are good places to meet prospective clients, they are a captive audience and most airports have a coffee house.  Chamber of Commerce events have shown a good return too, gallery openings, farmers markets in big cities where it is easy to strike up a conversation on how tasty the blackberries are, and  have no chemicals on them.  Mind you it doesn’t sound as impressive when people ask the origins of the new business association as saying you closed the deal at one of your 13,000 offices nationwide.

image credit: the dailyviz.com

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Peter DoylePeter Doyle is an award winning media marketing, news and documentary producer using rich media to accelerate innovation and commercialization. Check me out at http://www.linkedin.com/in/peterjdoyle

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