Coffee Shop Influence

I got another stamp on my coffee shop loyalty card yesterday.

As I took it from my wallet, I momentarily brought out the wrong one and I compared the two cards.

imageOne had nine boxes when I got it: the other had ten.  Both schemes work the same way: Collect a stamp with each tea, coffee or juice, and when the card is full, trade it in for a free drink.

One card had ten stamps to collect and the other had only nine…

Until I looked carefully, because then I noticed a difference – which makes a big difference to the psychology.


imageOn the card with ten boxes, the first box was pre-stamped.  So, when I got my first paid stamp, I already had 2 out of 10 – or one fifth of the stamps.  With the other, when I first got a stamp, I had one out of nine – a far smaller proportion.

With both cards, one paid stamp leaves eight to get and two paid stamps leaves seven…  But the second card is the more effective.

Advice for Coffee Shops – How to make this more effective

It is tempting to say “have twelve boxed with three pre-stamped”.  The proportions are even better – your fisrt paid stamp takes you to one third collected.  But take this too far – and you’d need research to know how far is too far – and people will see through the ruse, negating its value.

… but this will work

Rather than have the first space pre-stamped, leave it blank, but instruct the baristas or waiting staff to “do you a favour when you get your first stamp: “I’ll tell you what – I’ll give you an extra stamp because you smiled at me”.  Not only will this personal approach trump the pre-printed stamp, but it will probably earn your staff a bigger tip too!


About Mike Clayton

Mike is an author and speaker, specialising in personal effectiveness, project management and the management of change. When we try to make change work for us, things don't always go as planned: Shift happens! Over the years, Mike has developed personal and professional strategies to anticipate and deal with shift. You can contact Mike at
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