Do you want to be your customers’ favorite coffee shop or just one that’s convenient on the way to work? If you want to be a place that customers make an effort to go to, it’s not enough to just provide high-quality coffee. In addition, you need to make sure that your café is welcoming, aesthetically pleasing, and that your customer service is excellent. You’re providing a service as well as a product.
Are you overwhelmed at where to start? Or maybe you could use a few handy tips to take your café to the next level. Read on to find out how to turn your coffee shop into a must-go destination.
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Busy coffee shop. Credit: Rod Long
Provide High-Quality Products
No business can be sustainable if it doesn’t offer great products. It may seem obvious, but this is arguably the most important part of owning a coffee shop. If your drinks and food menu aren’t appetizing, you won’t last long.
But product perspective has changed a lot in recent years. Consumers have access to more information than ever before and their expectations are high.
Today, customers want more than a delicious latte or pour over. They also want to know where the beans come from, how communities are treated across the whole supply chain, and the environmental impact of their choices. In specialty coffee shops, customers expect to be provided with flavor notes and other profile information.
So make sure that you provide high-quality products and that you’re well-informed on them. Do all of your baristas know about the beans on offer? Consider focusing on a small number of products and knowing them well, rather than offering an expansive menu that you can’t keep up with. Cards detailing coffee origin and profile can be a useful way to communicate a lot of product information to customers.
Coffee bar. Credit: Eric Parks
Make Customers Feel Good About Their Choice
You might be able to provide a coffee that is cheaper than your competitors, but is it at the expense of your barista or coffee producers? Can you choose to buy beans that have a transparent supply chain so you have more confidence that producers are well-compensated? Can you raise your barista’s wage to above the local average?
These factors may mean you have to raise your menu prices, but customers want to feel good about their purchases, so they can be a marketing too.
If you make your business choices well-known, they could attract new customers and encourage some to pay a little extra, knowing that their choices have a positive impact. Consumers are looking to make ethical, informed choices so don’t be afraid to spell out that you only buy from certain producers or support a higher minimum wage on your website or in-store materials.
Costumer enjoying a cup of coffee. Credit: Jacek
Offer An Experience
Similar to customer expectations of products, consumers are looking for unique experiences. To make a coffee shop a must-go destination, you need to build a reputation for excellent customer service and provide personal touches.
It’s important to understand that every customer has multiple reasons to visit. Some days they might grab a to-go coffee, on other occasions they may linger with a book, or work from the café. For each of these situations, we need to provide a valuable experience.
Let’s look at some factors that influence customer experience.
- Space & Layout
The furniture, decor, and design elements that we choose create an impression and directly impact the experience of our customers.
When creating your space, think about how to make it both comfortable and practical. The layout should allow both baristas and customers to move around easily and make service efficient.
If you’re providing a space to work, make sure you have tables at a comfortable working height and lots of power sockets. If you want customers to relax or catch up with family and friends, consider having a couch or some comfortable armchairs.
Open coffee shop in California, US. Credit: Nathan Dumlao
- Music & Lighting
Your focus may be on flavor, but don’t forget the other senses. Keep music appropriate in both content and volume. Loud music can prevent customers from staying to chat or work. Likewise, no-one wants to work or read in a dark room, so make sure you have good lighting.
- Crockery & Glassware
Every detail of your coffee shop sends a message. If you’re marketing the space as a high-end specialty café, consider investing in high-quality cups and glasses. If you have a specific theme, consider how it can extend to your crockery choices. For example, vintage mismatched cups and plates can promote a sense of warmth and independence. The design of your cup can also have a direct impact on your sensory experience, so make sure to try them out before investing.
Mugs and glasses staying warm on top of the espresso machine at Methodical Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina, US. Credit: Lee Campbell
Market Your Café In Less Obvious Ways
Marketing and promotion is a large topic and there are many strategies for using social media and other promotional techniques. But there are also some less obvious ways to promote your café.
Baristas play an important role. Every time a member of staff interacts with a customer, they should evaluate whether the customer is open to conversation. If the customer isn’t in a rush and is amenable, the barista has an opportunity to share knowledge. Through storytelling, whether about the coffee, the café, or the neighborhood, they can engage consumers and make them feel appreciated.
Similarly, those cards with information about the coffee should be branded with your logo and perhaps include information about the story of your business. Who are the owners? Do you have an interesting background or start-up experience? What is the history of the building or neighborhood? These details can help make you seem more approachable and less corporate.
Barista pouring coffee into a mug. Credit: Wade Austin Ellis
Owning and operating a coffee shop is no small feat and there are many elements to consider. Try to see your business through your customer’s eyes. Is the coffee delicious? Do baristas engage with customers in a genuine and interesting way? Is the space welcoming and well-organized?
By focusing on customer experience, you can take your café to the next level and become a must-go destination.
Enjoyed this? Check out Café Owners, How to Diversify Your Offerings & Increase Profits
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