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Café Resolution - Part 2

by Jay Weller @ Barista Pro Shop

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In January, I outlined 12 ideas geared at taking a fresh look at your café. I've continued that list and have added a few more thoughts about running a better, more profitable specialty coffee business. Again, I recommend that you start by crossing off the items that don't apply to you, and then map out a plan to address the remainder. If it seems overwhelming, try focusing on one idea per month. I think that at the end of the year, you'll look back and be surprised how simple it seemed and how much a few small changes can improve your business.

  1. Sampling Program Manufacturers should support your efforts to show off their products to your customers. Put together a calendar for the next 6 months thinking about what products you'd like to sample out to your customers to drive sales. Check with your distributor or the manufacturers to find out what help they can offer to you. Some ideas to consider—Airpots with hot drinks—chai or hot chocolate works well. A platter by the cash register with small cups of smoothies or blended iced coffees. Portion cups with muffin or scones samples.
  2. Shake up your menu? Is your menu board accurate? Are the prices correct? Could you add pictures of products? Do you have value meals available?
  3. Should you consider a loyalty program? Loyalty programs (like frequent flier programs) can spur loyalty—if they're done right. You need to determine what's important to the customers whom you want to be loyal. Faster service? Discounts? Pre paid cards? Meeting space? The secret is to figure out what upgrades your customers want and will value highly, and then figure out a way to make those upgrades happen at the lowest cost. If you have a meeting room, consider making it available for free to your frequent customers. Offer a free drink coupon once a month via email to them. Offer a complimentary newspaper to regulars with purchase. You get the idea. Figure out what they want and then figure out a way to offer it.
  4. Check out the competition If I had a nickel for every time I hear “I don't go to Starbucks except when I'm travelling” I could retire. You have to go see what you're up against. Chains, bagel shops, fourth wave places—you need to know what they are doing if you are going to stay ahead. Plan once a month to meet someone (vendor, employee, friend) at one of your competitors. Take notes—heck, take pictures with your phone. Do whatever it takes to release your inner James Bond and learn more about the competition.
  5. Rate ‘em Each month, take a look at the different drink groups and make sure you're still offering the right product. In April, take a look at Smoothies—are you making the best tasting/most profitable drinks that your customers want? Get samples of competing products to make sure you and your baristas are convinced you're offering the best stuff going.
  6. Prepaid cards We've touched on this before, but it's important. Selling prepaid drink cards helps you with cash flow up front, and if you take a credit card, it means less “per transaction” fees. Properly book the revenue, but use this tool! (People tend to spend more when they're using a gift card too).
  7. Put out a Suggestion Box Pretty self-explanatory. Put a bulletin board in the hallway with your commentary on the suggestions—let your customers buy in to your business by showing them that their opinions matter and that their ideas are appreciated. You don't have to do everything that's suggested, but I'm sure some of your customers have some great ideas for you!

Hopefully you can find a couple of ideas that will work for you! If you missed the first installment of Café Resolution, check it out here. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments Jay@BaristaProShop.com