Broadway and Benihana
Kinko’s management style draws on both the restaurant business and the stage. Fast copies are like fast food, say the managers. It’s not just that every Big Mac is a copy of every other one. Images of eating come up again and again as they try to explain what keeps their customers coming back “Making copies is addictive,” says Windsor, and points to her clientele of “regulars,” who “have made this their office. They will spend four or five hours here although they don’t spend more than $5 or $6. People have suggested we open a bar in here.” “Instant gratification is what Kinko’s is offering,” says another manager. The last time managers from around the country huddled in Santa Barbara for the company “picnic,” they studied looseleaf binders crammed full of floor plans for McDonald’s and Benihana of Tokyo–a variation on the acclaimed art of Japanese management. “You’d find it hard to believe,” says Odell, “but Benihana is a lot like Kinko’s. They’re masters of efficiency. We’ll try to set up the floor to get one person operating two copiers,just like Benihana puts one cook between two tables. Our paper is centrally located, just as they have all the chopping prepared ahead of time. Then there’s the floater, who floats around and pops in wherever he’s needed.” Both Kinko’s and Benihana’s use theater to attract clients. charging their employees with putting on a good show as well as putting out good service. At the Japanese restaurant. the show is the cook. who sizzles a suki;. aki right in front of your table. At Kinko ‘s. it’s the clatter of copy machines and the Charlie Chaplinlike spectacle of operators running back and forth between them.They do it right in front of you and you get in tant quality control,” say Odell,’ “There’ no way you’re going to drop that document with the customer watching you.” be deliberately displays all her machines and personnel in one big room “We work out with the public. That’s why it’s fun,” says Odell, “The other guys are behind closed doors Vindsor enjoys working in a fishbowl “My personality change he says I’ll be a little more dramatic and louder than I would be in a closed group. I walk quickly. I’ll wad up and throw papers a lot he believes customers unconsciously get into the act “Some of the mildest-mannered people get aggressive in here. I’ve seen a little old lady elbow her way in ahead of people, where if she were in a bank she’d stand in line neatly.” Kinko’s does no broadcast and little print advertising, counting on price and word-ofmouth to draw customers, and ambience doesn’t hurt. Each Kinko’s has its regular who get friendly with particular operators and who favor particular machines. The area in front of the counter is strewn with typewriters, lettering machines, and light tables, all the better to hook people into making themselves comfortable and coming back. A recent addition to that melange is the customer comment form. The customer mails the po rage-paid form straight to headquarters in Santa Barbara, wh re enior management review it and send a thank-you note to the author before routing it back to the shop manager for action. Odell has several inches of form on file, along with note on the follow-up calls she made to the customers Ve don’t choose our market so much as our market chooses us she says. Each shop keep a different mix of machines, depending on the need of its patrons. An operator learns. quickly that the Xerox 1000 series picks up blue but not yellow, while the 9000 series picks up yellow and black but not blue. Thus. the store adjoining the Tulane campus does Dot have a 9000 because students tend to bring in notes and books highlighted with yellow markers. Another adaptation to the market is “Professor Publishing,” a ervice that let professors excerpt chapters from several books and print them up together as a single textbook. During the first two weeks of every semester, the Broadway office works virtually aroundthe-
clock on this specialty Odell maintain that her managers clear all material with publi her before printing a profe rs anthology Indeed, Kinko’s says it is one of the most scrupulous of the copy chains about observing copyright laws. .