Welcome to the Flying M Coffee House at the corner of Idaho and 5th!
“Unchained since 1992,” is Kent Collin’s favorite slogan from the Flying M. Kent is the owner of the downtown location and has been part of this coffee house for over fourteen years. He is as unique and funny as the store, and it was rather organic to conduct the interview on the floor amidst the freedom of the customer’s clamor. Sporting a Superman t-shirt his passion for DC Comics from the 70’s and 80’s are inked as well and a patron listening to our interview chimed in his support, “DC Comics rock!” His offering, as interrupting as it was for my naïve coffee shop normal, gave street cred to Flying M being a safe place. Ken laughed and responded encouragingly to him. It was a cool community vibe.
Kent’s background is in the hospitality/service industry and he recalls his first real customer service experience with the Flying M’s loyal customer base and what they had come to expect from Flying M’s baristas. He said with a smile, “My first time behind the counter and a regular who we all knew came up to the counter, did not look up and said, ‘I’ll have the usual.’ I had no idea what his usual was and did everything I could to make his drink without making him feel uncomfortable. I did and it was nerve racking and that’s what 75% of our customers have come to expect and you’ve got to deliver.”
As for Kent’s understanding of customer service since purchasing this location he spoke from a rich experience, “I will always work the counter, I never want to loose touch with our customers.” He rotates into ‘the front’ two days a week and wishes he could do more.
Flying M’s jam-packed popularity is due to their great music, fun store, excellent coffee and great customer service. Kent said with a teachable sprit and enthusiasm for learning all about being a coffee shop entrepreneur, “Great customer service goes hand in hand with how well employees are treated. If they are comfortable and happy they won’t ever want to leave. Look what happened to me!” Employee turnover is low and that contributes to an atmosphere of consistency for the customer. Kent said with candor, “It’s very nice when our customers know who is behind the counter" day after day week after week.
Responding thoughtfully about the best things of being a coffee shop owner Kent said, “It’s been good to be able to make managers.” One of the biggest surprises of ownership is shared with a frown, raised eyebrows, and a chuckle, “The amount of book work and taxes because I am super not a math guy!” He credits Kevin and Lisa Myers’ help in tutoring Kent How to be a Coffee Shop Owner graciously speaking of their mentorship and friendship, “If Kevin does it I can do it!” Grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime Kent spoke humbly, “They gave me two years advanced notice to buy it.” Kent celebrated two years of being Flying M’s downtown owner July 1st of this year.
With business steadily growing and twenty employees strong, Kent is nostalgic and present in asking this relevant question, “Flying M has the reputation for being fiercely independent and against big box stores. Our old slogan, ‘Unchained since 1992’ really tells our story and I think it really has something great to say for today, don’t you agree?”