There is no one secret to opening a successful coffee business and in today’s competitive and growing coffee market there is a lot to consider. However, there are some things we feel every coffee business should be thinking about and we’ve boiled them down to 8 tips on opening a coffee business:
1. SERVE QUALITY CONSISTENTLY
Always offering the best quality is not always the right option in business. For any new coffee business in today’s market, however, it matters. So source professional equipment, use an espresso machine with temperature stability technology grind fresh coffee ‘on demand’ and only use quality freshly roasted Arabica beans!
2. UTILISE SOCIAL MEDIA
This is without a doubt an important element to your marketing and brand awareness strategies but it requires time and care to be used to best effect. It’s not enough to set-up a Facebook page and get all your friends and all their friends to like it. Document your fit out from day one on Instagram and Twitter to build awareness and anticipation of your opening. Anytime you have a positive interaction with a customer ask them to review you on Tripadvisor and/or Facebook. Seek interaction with customers through competitions and offer 10% discounts for retweets, and post likes. Link all your social media accounts for promotional posts from one device so you can promote your daily offer across all your accounts easily and be ubiquitous – post daily.
3. USE LOYALTY CARDS
They work. Handing a customer a fully stamped up or nearly fully stamped up card, so on their second or third visit they get a free coffee is a great way to acquire customers and periodically giving loyal customers something for free builds loyalty and repeat business.
The average transaction is one of the most important sales figures to focus on. Upselling in a polite and engaging way can improve the customer experience and generate maximum value from every transaction which is key for a successful coffee business. Keep up with food trends and offer quality coffee accompaniments. Patisserie-style bakery items, cakes, muffins, bagels etc are a given but also think about hot and cold food options and display all your products with care in and around your counter area and point of sale.
5. DON’T OFFER TOO MUCH CHOICE
You need to have options in each area to give the best chance for multi-item sales but lots of choice leads to indecision and hesitation and makes a multi-item sale less likely. You have to tick the box for each area – hot food, cold food cakes etc but it’s better to offer 2 or 3 really good quality options in each area and positively sell them. Every additional product you stock needs to be QC’d and stock rotated and the more options you have the more chance there is for waste which is not just lost revenue its cost.
6. GET MARKET TRACTION
The coffee industry is super competitive and new business owners often make the mistake of not investing in a clear marketing strategy. Getting customers to try you out is the first and maybe the most important step, so put up “Opening soon” or “Coming soon” signage as far in advance of opening that you can. Network – join the local chamber of commerce, be visible in the community – provide catering for high profile events in the area free of charge or at a cost neutral rate – have a launch day where every single item is £1 – budget for this in your setup costs, don’t just rely on funds from your ongoing sales to do it.
7. PROMOTE MARGIN
Take care when deciding what to charge – don’t apply a flat markup to everything you sell. Think about how your customers value your products and how much extra value you can put into making and presenting items at no additional cost. With known brands, you’re limited by average market price and can’t overcharge but on food items that are Artisan , or exclusive, or on items that are popular either because they’re genuinely very good or because their perceived value can absorb that higher cost you can apply bigger margins.
8. VALUE ERGONOMICS
20 seconds per transaction can make a difference to customer satisfaction and repeat business. Across a busy day it also adds up to a sizeable chunk of time – so it’s vital to build an efficient workstation with a layout that allows staff to move freely to complete tasks without getting in each other’s way. It’s also a really good idea to put your till on the counter close to the main barista workstation so staff can hear customer orders and get making them quickly. This is hugely beneficial in busy periods. Lastly, make sure you have contactless card payment and even apple pay as options – don’t give potential customers any excuse not to choose your coffee business and keep them coming back for more.