High-end coffee shops are on the rise. The National Coffee Drinking Trends 2017 report states that “62% of consumers reached for a coffee within the past day… a level that hasn’t been seen since 2014”. The same report also points to 39% of younger customers who are drinking gourmet coffee.
If you own a coffee shop, that is good news. Demand is on the rise. People want not just the caffeine but also the connected warmth of humanity and creativity that coffee shops offer. And as Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America told Yahoo, coffee is a remarkably recession-proof product—people will continue to rely on their morning jolt of caffeine no matter what the market does. But with an increasing number of coffee stores now appearing on street corners, comes fierce competition. Here are four steps you can take to cultivate a strong fan-base:
Sustain first class-service
It’s a given that a great coffee shop must first of all have amazing coffee on hand, so we won’t dwell there. But how is your team of baristas faring with the daily workflow? Are they smiling and looking relaxed and enjoying their time? The best service today is a mixture of warmth and personal attention, with the seamless power of technology powering things behind the scenes. Are you still making your customers sign pieces of paper each time they come in and buy something with a credit card? By introducing smart tools like mPOS systems into your space, you’ll be able to build precise customer lists that will help your baristas recognize regulars in an instant, and your technology will also treat them as friends by recognizing them. This builds a deeper sense of connection—particularly for millennials who have come to expect it.
Launch a loyalty program
Habits are formed by repeating the same action a few times. So you need to incentivize people to return. By launching a quality loyalty program, you’re giving people logical reasons to return and spend more time in your shop. There are many reports showing the extraordinary value of loyalty programs, so embrace this strategic practice.
Be brilliant on social media
Because it’s a way to remind them again. Ask one of your baristas to snap occasional photos and videos of their coffee creations, and unleash them on your Instagram account and other social platforms. Remind your customers to follow you on social media for offers and specials. Track the important hashtags in your space—so that new fans will easily stumble into your virtual lattes. Upload images of gorgeous baked goods and frothy mochaccinos at exactly the right time of day to draw in the local fans who need help battling their mid-afternoon office slumps. Have fun.
Make sure your inventory is up-to-the-minute
The National Coffee Association interviewed Donald Moy, the man behind New York City’s 12 Corners Coffee and he pointed to “overspending” as being one of the leading mistakes that small business owners make. He urged coffee shop owners to set up careful inventory steps. This has been documented extensively; you can increase profits by 20-50% or more simply through careful inventory management. Bring on board an mPOS solution that will seamlessly align your sales with your inventory lists, so that your data is consistently accurate.
Creating a hub of a coffee shop in today’s world is the practice of blending the ancient practices of architecture, sound, lighting, vibe and space—with the tech tools of speed, automation, data analytics and personalized marketing. It’s all about the experience. If you manage to pull both of these together, with a state-of-the-art ability to make espressos and out of this world lattes, you’re well on your way to growing your fanbase.
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