Over the past 10 years, the coffee business has become one of the most profitable in the food world but contrary to what you might assume, many coffee house owners are struggling to make a profit. This may be due to lack of business finance or poor management techniques, or it may be down to poor marketing strategies in a crowded market.
For a business to thrive, it’s clear that customers must play a pivotal role. To be able to attract more customers to your coffee shop, you need to market your business as somewhere people want to be. With competing advice on how to do this seemingly everywhere, it’s hard to know which ideas will work and which ones will waste time, energy and money.
So we’ve sifted through a few of the best ideas, so you don’t have to. If you own a struggling coffee shop, and want to increase your customer base and turnover, help is at hand. It’s not an impossible situation.
Is it really profitable?
Starting a coffee shop is a great option when it comes to investing your money, since profits are achievable within a shorter time frame than many other businesses. Furthermore, owning your own coffee shop, rather than a franchise, allows you to take decisions which can guarantee you a lifetime of profit and creative freedom.
The profitability of a coffee business is based on the fact that a cup of espresso is one of the most profitable products on the high street and with a higher profit than almost any other prepared food, owning your own coffee house can mean big profits, if certain aspects of the business are run correctly.
Tips to make your coffee shop successful
There are many little things you can do to get profits up and success growing. Here are a few simple ideas that may really work for your business:
Offer free Wi-Fi and USB ports.
You may wonder why providing a free Wi-Fi service and accessible USB ports is considered a marketing idea. Well, you can use this service to benefit you in many ways.
If you provide Wi-Fi and sockets or charging points in your coffee shop, your customers will spend more time with you, and the more they stay, the more they are likely to consume. So, at the most basic level, offering free Internet is a fantastic way to keep your existing customers longer and encourage them to come back regularly.
There are also many things you can do besides with the free Wi-Fi you offer, to really make this investment profitable. You can make your Wi-Fi service open on your Facebook page when your customers connect. You can even open a pop-up window asking them to leave a review, a ‘check-in’ or a ‘like’ for your business page in return for the Wi-Fi.
But do not skimp on the investment. Do not take a basic package with low internet speed. Opt instead for a professional business package with high broadband speeds that customers will appreciate and know they can rely on, designed for multiple devices. Cutting corners and costs on this can backfire. Annoying your customers with super-slow loading speeds will definitely put them off staying, returning or recommending you to their friends. They will feel as though they have been conned, rather than given something for free.
Use your coffee supplier.
How can you use your coffee supplier in terms of marketing? It’s highly likely that you are not his only client. He is most likely serving other people in your neighbourhood, including many individuals who prefer other cafes. Give your supplier pamphlets or vouchers, and ask him if he wants to distribute them to his own customers in the neighbourhood. He can spread the word about the great coffee that is served and you get some free advertising.
Use social networks
Social networks are the biggest marketing tool of the century and you are missing a trick if you are not utilising them. You may already have a Facebook page, but do you post about your business?
Your posts can cover different topics. You can share videos of your servers in action, photos of your products, or seasonal menus. You can share news related to the sector but even better, you could share blog posts from your own website, and ask customers to leave reviews.
Up your customer service
If you are lagging behind due to poor quality service, look for ways to improve your services.
You can opt for business finance to boost your business if it needs investment and upgrades. With business finance, you could invest in higher quality coffee, new decor and design, or a larger range of products and services.
Organising activities and events in your coffee shop is a fantastic way to spread the word and increase the number of customers who come through the door. Ideas for such events could include; poetry readings, spoken word gatherings, book clubs, music events, even barista training! Offer your space free to local groups and clubs. You will be bringing people who have never visited the shop before to your door and if you do a good while they’re there, you have a whole new returning customer base.
When visitors attend the event, give them 20% off coupons or two product offers for the price of one; you will also increase the likelihood that they will return regularly and bring friends.
What other means do you have to encourage your customers to return regularly to your coffee shop?
- Professionalism is key in this industry! Ensure your baristas and waiting staff have specialised training. Make them experts in coffee and encourage them to talk to the customers and show off their knowledge about their products.
- Location, location, location. Setting up your coffee house in the right spot is the difference between success and failure.
- Be Innovative. The success of any business depends on constant innovation. Offer new food and drinks options that push the experimental envelope and encourage people to venture to your shop to try something different and innovative. And when they get there, ensure you offer an innovative and cutting edge decor design to make their stay comfortable, cosy and pleasant.
Don’t be afraid to try something different, or even to make mistakes. Not all big changes need to cost a lot of money. But they do require you to wake up and smell the coffee if things aren’t going your way.