Adagio Teas' venture into physical retail   learn more >
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Archive: Business Strategy


Social Media and Tea Retail

Discover proven methods to improve your social media strategy for your tea shop. more >

Motivating Sales Force

The single most important element to evolving your tea shop is incubating a winning attitude within your staff. Training them to be potent on the sales floor is crucial, but often overlooked is ensuring the job is fulfilling, and above all keeping the fire lit with motivational cues. more >

Customer Service

Great companies live and breathe great customer service. Itís often noted that itís much easier to keep an existing customer than gain a new one, and itís amazing how many companies wing it and hope for the best. Itís especially never a good idea if your small business is struggling to survive, and it may make the difference between red and black. But how is great customer service created and how do you make sure the customer returns? Breaking it down between in-store and out of store, Iíll explain how adagio attempts great customer service in our brick and mortar locations. more >

Changes to Our New Store

We've incorporated several changes into our new store, focusing on the amount of merchandise we offer, changes to blending, and our Cups2Go. Read more about why we made these changes and how we expect them to make customers happier. more >

How to Succeed in Tea

If I've learned one thing from seven years in the US Tea Industry opening stores and selling online, it's this: To be successful in tea you need to pick a customer and rock their world. It can be hard to tell the difference between a business strategy that will make you king of a niche, and one that will leave you floundering in a sea of competition, but it's those little differentiators that make all the difference to a company's long term success. more >

Connoisseurs vs. Novices

An ongoing debate as we've worked to refine Adagio's brand, model and retail strategy, is how much we should focus on existing tea connoisseurs vs. novices who may be converted into tea drinkers. This challenge is one of the more important aspects of our business strategy. more >

Tea appreciation: snobs and slobs

The greatest difference between the tea snob and the tea novice has less to do with palate and more to do with intellectual bent. Please let me be clear I am not comparing intellects! :) Rather, I am suggesting that for many, the flavor of of a thing defines oneís experience. For others, the experience is informed by many other outside factors including history, culture, tradition, perceived rarity, perceived quality and social or environmental impact. more >

The Long Bet: investing in the customer base

After two months of brick-and-mortar retail sales, Adagio has sold thousands of $2 sample packages of tea and not made a lot of money. This isn't good, but it IS great. It's all part of the Long Bet. more >

In defense of competition

Too many in the Specialty Tea industry are fighting a gentleman's battle, and losing as a result. Many tea shops are doing a rather poor job of appealing to all existing tea lovers, much less converting new ones. As I look at the market on a national scale, I see the need for more competition. The result will be far fewer casualties among independent shop owners than most expect, and a far healthier and faster growing industry in the long run. I'm about to test that theory. more >

The Role of Health in Selling Tea

I made a pretty controversial statement in a recent article. When discussing the health benefits of tea I wrote: "Yeah, I know, but honestly I donít really care." I heard from a few people who were a bit horrified by what they saw as a form of "tea blasphemy", so I wanted to elaborate a little on my opinion and how this topic plays into the growth of the Specialty Tea industry. more >

When to break the rules

In business you never deviate from your core business plan and value proposition, right? Wrong. I'm planning to break some of my key rules in opening our second retail store at Old Orchard Mall. more >

The wisdom of ignoring your customer

It seems that just about ever tea entrepreneur considering a brick-and-mortar tea shop is planning to open a cafe (including seating and some food). This is the default strategy for two reasons: Cafes are a proven, profitable business model in the US, and this is what almost all of the customers SAY that they want. So why is it that I am absolutely convinced that the customer is wrong? What hubris is it that I believe the customer doesn't know what they really want? more >

Pursuing your dreams: Next steps

The 2010 World Tea Expo was FILLED with excitement and buzz as a thousand starry eyed entrepreneurs rubbed shoulders with a couple thousand more industry insiders. This mix made for a lot of excitement and a little healthy strategic re-examination. The simple truth is that there is A LOT of money to be made in tea, but if it were easy to find the perfect path, everyone would be doing it. Over the next few days I will be write a series of articles sharing the "Start-Up" strategies that I've seen successfully employed to get a business off the ground as quickly, easily and inexpensively as possible without cutting corners that will jeopardize your long term success. more >

Deciding who NOT to be

One of the hardest lessons to learn in business is how to pass up on opportunity. We believe intellectually that you can't be all things to all people, can't make everyone happy, and can't land every sale. At the same time, we have a terrible time saying "no" to an opportunity to make a sale or grow our businesses. An entrepreneur goes into business because he/she believes they can do something better than it's being done currently. That same confidence becomes a critical liability for any entrepreneur or business that fails to draw a hard line and decide who NOT to be. more >

Getting into the tea business Pt. 2

On a regular basis I talk (or write) with people who have a dream of someday being "in the tea business". Today I'd like to take a few minutes to promote the single greatest opportunity to learn the inside scoop on the US Tea Industry and the best way to go from 0-60 in just a few days on understanding what it takes to be successful. more >

Getting started in the tea business

"How did you get into the tea business? And how can I get into the tea business?" I've heard these two question on a weekly basis for a little over five years now. Tea beckons many with its a rich history, diverse cultures, and image of a hip, healthy lifestyle. Most people expressing interest in the tea industry are attracted by one or more of the following opportunities: more >

Reality Check: Is there really opportunity in tea?

Is the US Tea Industry strong and growing or is it currently characterized by struggle and heartbreak where only a few survive? My answer isÖ BOTH! I believe without question that there is a ton of money to be made in tea, and a lot of fun to be had along the way. I also believe that most new tea businesses will fail. more >

It's about the TEA!

An environment that brings the customer closer to the leaf and delivers an experience that causes them to fall in love with tea will, by definition, be differentiated and "sticky". The customers will be come back, will tell their friends, and will give us their business if we can spark a passion for tea that mirrors our own. more >

Developing the Retail Model

Most new tea businesses fall into one or more of the following categories: Wholesale, E-Commerce, Retail, Cafť, or Restaurant. Allow me to start at the bottom and briefly share my opinion of the pros and cons of each. more >

Introduction to

In these pages you will find our theories, progress and experience of transferring the retail experience we've amassed online to the world of bricks-and-mortar. Rather than approach this project in the typical secretive corporate fashion, we've made the decision to embrace the input and participation of our customers and business partners. In doing so we hope to better align ourselves with the needs and desires of the market, and also provide valuable insights and strategies to the retailers that carry our products. more >