Starting a business in the hospitality industry is always a challenge, especially when it comes to owning a café. The peculiar thing about this concept is the fact that your performance will depend on the volume of visitors and return customers, rather than average order value. You see, your profit on the most expensive item on the menu will not make you rich but the ability to have a crowd that returns to you over and over again just might. Still, what makes people come to your café over and over again? What makes them recommend it to their friends? Well, the answers to these questions aren’t that easy to find. Nevertheless, here are the top seven tips that seasoned café owners tend to give to beginners.
Offer extra value
The first thing you need to do in order to attract more traffic through your enterprise is to offer extra value to your audience. Just remember that the concept of value tends to be highly subjective. This means that adding an inexpensive addition as an extra to their offer may have a disproportionately large psychological impact on their perception of the offer. It’s not just about the fact that they want that extra value, it’s about the special treatment that they get this way. You’re offering them something more, something extra and it makes them feel special, as well.
Keep in mind that running a café gives you an incredible chance for cross-selling and upselling. For instance, other than just coffee or tea, you can also offer them a bagel or something similar. Now, upselling in the hospitality industry requires a lot of finesse. First of all, you need to avoid annoying your audience with the offer in question. Second, you need to be enthusiastic about the offer in order to enhance its appeal. Lastly, mention a takeout option in order to give them one more reason to opt for it.
New areas offer high potential
The vast majority of cafes tend to spawn in a single area that is seen as optimal by potential café owners. After all, starting a café in a neighborhood surrounded by rental offices is a great idea, seeing as how people might drop in on their break or even go there after work. Having a café downtown is also a great idea, seeing as how it’s right in the middle of the daily itinerary for the vast majority of people. At least some of them might drop by as they are passing or even schedule a rendezvous there. On the other hand, playing it safe is not always the best course of action.
You see, while it is true that these areas are popular for the reason, the competition there is quite tough. By finding an area that lacks cafes and starting your venue there, you’ll quickly be on the right path towards having a micro-monopoly in the area. Locals will drop in out of sheer convenience, which is definitely a tool that you should use in order to gain a competitive edge. Keep in mind that doing this kind of research (on the number of cafes in the area) tends to be a walk in the park with modern platforms and digital tools available.
Cash flow makes all the difference
One of the biggest issues in successfully running a café lies in being properly prepared and having all the necessary logistics for the task at hands. Even though you’ll have some storage space, chances are that you won’t be able to foresee just how quickly these supplies are getting depleted and you’ll quickly have to make up for them. Either way, stocking up can help give you a much-needed edge. Another thing you need to understand is the fact that your inventory isn’t the only expense that you’ll have to settle on a regular basis. There are also turnovers, revenues, costs of materials and paychecks of your staff.
In order to get a grip on all of this, you need to figure out a way to improve your cash flow. First of all, you need to start with a sizable amount of money and have a fund specialized for covering your immediate expenses. A lot of entrepreneurs (not just in the hospitality industry), then to reinvest the majority of their profit. They do this because they believe that if their business is doing so well, by investing in it they’ll facilitate the process of growth. The truth is that consistency is far more important here, which is why you need to ensure that your business has a smooth run for as long as possible. Like always, survivability comes first.
Design can give you an edge
While a lot of people talk about a unique taste of the coffee and bagels that they can get at your café, the truth is that they are also highly impacted by the fit-out of the place, even though they do not mention it as often. After all, it’s something that affects the way they feel about the place, as well as the overall experience that they have there. Now, provided that you alone have a vision for the theme of the restaurant, you can pick some of the crucial structural elements on your own. Those who are looking for optimal results, however, look for services of companies like Impecca Build, which specialize in commercial fit-outs.
It’s not just the layout of the restaurant that has an impact on its successfulness. The lighting scheme, the use of colors, the spacing between tables and pathways across the room also impact the way in which your business is seen by your customers. For this reason alone, it’s vital that you carefully study this topic or at least converse with someone who possesses this knowledge.
Don’t ignore offline promotion
One of the most important tips that you, as a café owner, need to take into consideration is the importance of offline promotion of your business. Just think about all the interesting coffee shop signs that you’ve encountered (both in real life and online) and try to guess how many people went into the place just because of it. Flyers and word of mouth recommendations can do the same thing. So, if there’s anything that you can learn from this, it’s the fact that you should never underestimate the impact that the offline promotion has in this industry. After all, this is the place where people come to socialize with friends in the real world, which is something that you should never underestimate.
Make a website
There’s a study which claims that about 78 percent of local mobile visits result in offline purchases. It’s easy to see how this could translate into greater efficiency for your café. Sure, people walk by your café and decide to pay it a visit to the place or they hear about it from their friends (both of which we’ve already discussed). Nonetheless, there are also those who just want to drink a coffee someplace, so they whip out their phone and look up local cafes with great reviews. This alone should be a reason enough why you want to invest in your online presence.
You must also keep in mind that doing this half-hearted won’t give you the desired result. You need to ensure that your website is optimized, that it’s well-designed, as well as that it’s protected by copyright. Other than this, you also need to work on your social media presence, earn some good reviews and seriously invest in your SEO. Just making a website isn’t going to cut it, what you need to do is make a serious investment in the online presence of your brand as a whole. This is the only way that things are going to work out.
Optimize for telecommuters
The last thing you need to bear in mind is the fact that there’s a growing phenomenon in the café industry, that’s been growing over the last decade. You see, a lot of telecommuters find working from home to be counterproductive, which makes them pick up their laptop and go to the local café for work. While some café owners see this type of behavior as a nuisance, others see immense potential in this particular demographic. After all, they sit there all day and the chances that they’ll order a single thing for the entire duration is not likely. Moreover, they make your café always seem full, which has a strong psychological effect on people walking by. All in all, optimizing for these telecommuters might not be the worst of ideas.
The last thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that the above-listed seven tips are merely guidelines and that every situation and scenario is both unique and complex. Nonetheless, due to the nature of the tips given above, it would be safe to assume that every one of them has the potential to improve your organization, which is what makes them universally applicable.