Wednesday, April 11, 2007

State of the Fido Address

I'm at Fido right now. The place is less than half full, which means that it was easy to find a table. However, it's not a good feeling. Why so empty, Fido?

Perhaps it's because you took away the outlets. This will be an interesting study in how a business treats its customers. I'm assuming they made this decision because they believe that the Lingering Laptop Users (hereafter known as "LLU") don't yield as much of a return for the time they spend at the tables. If that is their reasoning, I believe their theory is wrong.

People come to Fido not only because they have great food and coffee, but because it's a scene. It's the same reason that all my friends in Nashville go to every Matt Wertz show -- not just because he's a great musician, but because they know that everyone else in town will be there, too, and they want to see those other people. I believe that if Fido loses its "social scene-ness" that it will compromise its longevity. But maybe I'm wrong; maybe they are making more money this way. I'd love to see the numbers.

I estimate that I spent about $20/day at Fido while writing Here's to Hindsight: Letters to My Former Self. I bought lots of coffee and I usually ate two meals a day there. That might only average out to about $2/hr, but I also brought a lot of other people to Fido. I would tell my friends to come meet me for lunch. People would show up just because they knew I'd be there, and they'd hang out with me for a while, I estimate that this brought in about another $40/day for Fido, bringing my table's average to $6/hr.

In addition to that, the same LLU were there everyday working alongside me. I see none of them here now. Fido had a slew of fantastic staple LLU customers, spending their money to work and hangout. But now, the place where I had to fight for a seat currently has SIXTEEN EMPTY TABLES. I just counted, and there are only 34 people here. It used to border on 80 at all times. If you multiply my table's average of $60/day by the 16 other tables that are empty, that's nearly $1000/day, even without turnover.

I wonder if it's working. If they drive away the LLU by revoking the outlets, will the greater turnover yield more income? Or will the scene gradually fade, leaving Fido with an inconsistent clientele who aren't at all enthusiastic about Fido and their brand? As it stands, they're alienating their most faithful customers by lowering their level of customer satisfaction. I happen to be sitting across from one of them right now, and he told me he's already started going to other places because of the outlet situation. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal but it could be in the long run.

I may just have to invest in one of these.

P.S. For the record, Frothy Monkey was packed today.


TexanNewYorker said...

I hope you present this case to Fido. Perhaps they'll listen to what seems to me like sound "business advice" from a loyal customer. Oh, and I think you ought to have the solar backpack anyway; not because I've used one and recommend the product, but because as an idea I think it's a good, um, idea. Solar power. Leaving less impact. That sort of thing.

Kym Rohman said...

outlet users unite! portland brew has lots and it's a taste of the pacific northwest.

Chris said...

That's disconcerting. Fido was always a stop for me when in Nashvegas. You'd figure that them, out of anyone, would understand the value of serving your community for greater return versus squeezing return out of your community.

Hope to catch you next time you're in Houston!

Joshua said...

Is the Fido scene really all about electrical outlets? For the record, there were three. Which serviced about 6 tables because one of the outlets had a power strip plugged into it. Maybe, instead of it being a "we don't want you here" to the LLU's, it's a hey, use the laptop for as long as your battery lasts, and then take it as a hint that it's time to quit staring at the screen and get face to face with some humanity. From this perspective, which is the one I prefer, the move to get rid of the outlets is actually a scene enhancer, not a scene killer. But just in case you are not convinced, there is still an active plug in the back room underneath the bench seat against the wall. And besides, Portland Brew sucks!