Here’s what all businesses can learn from this convenience chain’s beloved cup of coffee

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If you live in the mid-Atlantic part of the country, or even the south of Florida, you know and love Wawa. It’s better than 7-Eleven, and certainly better than Sheetz, though there are very few who would argue that last point.

Wawa is a convenience store with more than 900 locations in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC and Florida. It sells everything from potato chips to Bandaids. At Wawa you can get hoagies, paninis and quesadillas. You can buy milk, beer, energy drinks, soups, salads and bowls. You can get Fruit Salad, Ice Cream and Tastycake Butterscotch Crimpets and if you don’t know what Butterscotch Crimpets are, you don’t know what you are missing. All these wares are sold at Wawa, but really everyone goes to Wawa for the coffee.

If you don’t believe me, just walk around any place between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., and you’ll see what I mean. The place always collides. The first crowd consists mostly of contractors and construction workers. As morning approaches, it’s office workers, school teachers, and the professional types. So what kind of coffee is his favorite?

Maybe it’s French Vanilla or Hazelnut. Or maybe peanut butter fudge (not kidding), 100% Colombian or plain old regular. Or decaf. I’m sure the number crunchers at Wawa know how much is being consumed. But all I know is that the coffee comes out of these self-serve urns at a rate that few can imagine, with the shop staff constantly replacing them with fresh ones.

Some people say they prefer Wawa Coffee over Dunkin’ Donuts or even (gasp!) Starbucks. It is definitely cheap. But none of this is important. In fact, whether one type of Vava coffee tastes better than another is not the point of this essay. Wawa’s coffee is good, but that’s not the reason the company sells so much coffee. It sells a lot of coffee because of its business model. And Wawa’s business model is built on three key pillars: price, choice and control.

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I’ve never heard anyone say that something in Wawa is “expensive”. I hear a lot of people complain about the price of a Starbucks latte, especially if you’re unlucky enough to not buy one in a hotel lobby. Prices for Wawa coffee range from $1.29 for 12 oz to $1.65 for 24 oz. Even in these inflationary times, all of its food is priced competitively. To be successful in such a competitive market, you need to find ways to keep your prices competitive. That is another topic for the second time.

However, the key to the success of Wawa’s coffee is based on two other pillars: choice and control. As mentioned above, there are many types of coffee to choose from. But the matter does not end here. Once you put your cup in, you can choose from any number of accompaniments. I counted five types of sweets and different milks and creams. There’s honey, cinnamon, cocoa and even lemon juice, which I hope is for tea drinkers. But basically, you can get your coffee fix either way.

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and the key word in my last sentence is you, This brings me to the pillar of control. In Wawa, the customer is in control. We choose the prepared foods we want to buy. We punch in your orders for our sandwiches, customizing them any way you want. And when it comes to coffee, we can make our cup exactly what we want. We can fill it up to the edge or halfway through. We can add any number of goodies. We can even mix regular French vanilla with decaf hazelnut if we’re damned too much, please!

Even though my business is in a completely different industry, I like to use Wawa as my model. My firm does not sell coffee. We provide technology and financial services. But, like Wawa, I work hard to keep my rates competitive. I offer a choice of a variety of services. I give my clients control over how many hours they want us to spend on projects. Price, choice, control. I realized I was not selling coffee. But aren’t most businesses created equal in the end?

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So if you’re running a small business or thinking of starting a small business, take my advice: go to Wawa. go to something. They are all alike. See how they run. Focus on pricing, choice and control that they pass on to their customers. Try your best to emulate him. And while you’re at it, try a cup of hazelnuts. This is definitely the best cup. Now you know