Why Coffee Shops Are Better Than Golf Courses for Small Business Deals

I’m admittedly not an avid golfer. I’ve never negotiated a deal on the green. But, I have closed many deals over a fresh cup of java. I personally find coffee houses to be the perfect neutral grounds for dialogue, be it business or personal. And you can switch it up a lot, especially if you’re not just relegated to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. I’m all about driving local economies and supporting small businesses. That’s why, specifically here in the city of Memphis, I only frequent coffee shops such as Republic Coffee, Avenue Coffee, or Cafe Eclectic. Aside from the convenient access to food and beverages, here’s why I say that coffee shops are better than golf courses for small business deals:

  • More Cost Effective – now, I know greens fees vary depending on the type of facility and the golf market where you live/play. But, even at the cheapest, you’re looking at about $10 per person for a 9-hole round of golf, and that’s without accounting for a cart, clubs, or food and drinks. That same $10 per person becomes a beverage or two and something to snack on at a coffee shop. As a small business owner, I’m always looking to maximize my dollars, and golfing just isn’t an optimum choice.

  • Not as Restricted by Weather Conditions – who’s going golfing when it rains? Maybe Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, but not many others. Inclement weather could delay negotiations on an urgent business matter, if you’re staging the talks at the golf course. With a few exceptions, coffee houses have roofs and walls. Come rain or shine, we can go get a deal done at a local coffee joint while also warming our souls with a couple hot cups of joe.

  • More Inclusive – coffee shops are usually very diverse, whereas golf courses are usually the opposite. Coffee shops are grounds for all to come, whether they’re a seven-figure-earning executive looking for a place to skim the New York Times while they enjoy their coffee, or whether they’re a just-over-broke college student looking for a place to get a last minute assignment done because they have no internet service in their apartment. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable in the coffee shop environment. Golf courses are more for the exclusivity crowd (which there are times when that is beneficial, too).

  • More Intimate Setting – the best coffee shops have environments that are welcoming and relaxing, yet simultaneously invigorating and help spark creativity and productivity. They make you as a customer feel connected to all within the facility, yet there’s space for a bit of privacy and discretionary conversation.

  • FREE WIFI – yes, I’m aware that most club houses on golf courses also have WIFI, but often to gain access you must first become a member. That’s not the case when strolling into a coffee shop.

  • Focus is on Collaboration versus Competing on the Golf Course – breaking bread together and having a tasty beverage brings about a more cooperative, collaborative energy than does golfing. I mean, out on the green you’re keeping score and vying to win. Even if you do so happen to break bread together at the golf course, it often occurs after the game’s been played, when egos are slightly bruised and pride is a distraction.

  • What’s ordered (and how) are key indicators for the business relationship moving forward – I use these opportunities to observe and take mental notes on the habits, customs and courtesies of my counterparts. How long did it take them to decide on what they wanted from the menu? Were they polite or slightly rude to the customer service representative? Do they keep it simple, or do they go all out on what they order? Do they substitute something due to allergies? (this is helpful when considering gifts later)

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