Remember the day that you launched your cafe? It was probably quite exciting. I can imagine a long line of curious customers looking to experience all you have to offer. For the first couple of weeks, lots of people came through the doors. Over time, the lines became shorter, and you start to panic. With a perfect cafe, what is going wrong? Then you’d start struggling to maintain customers that are loyal to your cafe as well as find new ones.
Take a quick look at your perfect cafe checklist. Location – Check, you are easily accessible by all your potential customers. Brand – Check, excellent visuals, and a well thought out theme touch on every aspect of your shop. Product – Check, deliciousness in both the coffee and the food items you have on offer. Customers – No Check, a blank, and that is where the problem begins. There are some key reasons that your cafe could be struggling to find new customers, and here they are.
The Customer’s Inner Need is not Being Met
Customers will visit your cafe for great food and coffee. They will go to another cafe with substandard food offerings if this cafe delivers greater value for them. Value is all the things that they can find in the cafe, apart from beverages and food.
Wi-Fi could be the simple ingredient you need to get more feet through the door. Today, coffee culture centers around being able to share a picture on social media of a delectable treat or even sending a quick email. Offering free Wi-Fi gives you the chance to capture the contact details of your customers. This way, you can reach out to them later with offers or gifts.
In addition to free Wi-Fi, make sure that you have plenty of power points in your cafe. This will cater to those who come in with their laptops looking for a place to work for a short time. Do not worry if it seems as though people are staying in your cafe for long periods without adequately spending. The busier your cafe looks to customers on the outside, the more likely they are to come into your cafe to find out what you have to offer.
Check out “6 Amazing Ideas for Business Holiday Promotions” to see fun ideas for these holidays to promote things around your shop.
Your Customers Cannot See You
This may not make sense at first, because you are visible at your location. However, the decision to purchase is often made when customers are not close to you. This means that your cafe needs to have visibility outside of the premises. The simple solution would be using social media. This needs a strategy, too, and great pictures should be at the forefront. This will require you to use the services of a professional food photographer. Then the pictures will be clear and attractive enough for others to share.
Your social media posting will also require a strategy rather than just posting each day. Identify the times that people engage most with your posts and make sure that is when you target your customers. Also, always ensure that you have some visibility during busy holidays. That is when people are looking for a place that they can meet up, hang out, and relax.
In addition to social media marketing, you can also use email marketing. This is a great platform when you want to give out coupons for those who open and read your emails. Emails can be tied to other promotions, as well. With an email, you can create a newsletter that lets your customers know about any new offerings that you have or events that may be held in the cafe. Sending out a message once a week is ideal for keeping them posted and excited about what you have to offer.
Your Brand is Meh
Although you may have created a brand for your cafe, it may be lackluster. This would mean that it lacks in overall creativity and does not have any unique features to attract customers. Customers associate coffee with a pick me up, and everything about your brand needs to reflect what the customer is looking for. The use of color and coffee-based elements is essential to ensure that customers can relate to what you have to offer. Also, your brand has to be robust both in the messaging and the look and feel of the brand. Remember, your brand is not limited to the logo that you have on your window front. It trickles down to every element that you have within your space.
You Do Not Deliver On Convenience
The world is incredibly fast-paced, and this means there are times when your customers may not be able to make it to your cafe. Have a delivery option for them. The easiest way is a website where people can place their orders and state the time that they want their coffee to be delivered. Then, ensure that the payments can be made conveniently online so that the orders are delivered on time. If you have a small cafe, you can limit the distance that you deliver to avoid letting down the customer with a late order. Start small, perfect your process, and then expand to reach anyone interested in your coffee in the morning.
Also, to allow for the placement of orders, you can learn your customers, especially those who come in every day. When it comes to a cafe, most people are predictable when it comes to placing their orders. For your regular customers, you can start preparing their orders when they walk through the doors so that by the time they get to you, all they must do is pick it up. This personalization will have them telling others about the benefits of coming to your cafe.
Another convenience is saving time during busy hours. Consider having more staff on duty in the morning hours when people are rushing to get a cup of coffee on their way to work. This will reduce their waiting time, and also enable you to serve more people during this limited busy period. Have all that you need on hand to avoid situations like stock-outs.
Lack of Exciting Experiences
Your struggling cafe should entertain to attract a crowd, especially when you want to find new customers. This could be by having a band entertaining one night each week. This will get your customers staying longer, and also trying different items on your menu. You can also focus on specific themes for these band nights that tie in with what makes your cafe stand out from the rest.
Something else that is wildly popular with cafes is cooking classes, where customers can come and learn how to create a few treats. With a cooking class, you can showcase some of your most popular menu items, and customers can try to figure out the secrets of making it. This would also be a great idea to drive a kind of date night, bringing people together to bond, or opening avenues to meet new people.
Be sure to check out “8 Ways To Generate Buzz For New Customers To Your Cafe” to see our helpful guide to marketing your business and build your image.
Check Your Customer Service
Sometimes, you could be a problem, particularly when it comes to offering customer service. Customers want to form deep relationships with their coffee shops, from the start to the end of their cafe experience. This means that you need to make sure each touchpoint they experience will deliver on this need for relationships.
Examine your seating arrangements, and whether they are conducive to customers having a private and comfortable experience, even when your shop is busy. When seated, customers should not worry that others will bump into them in an attempt to walk around the shop. Furthermore, tables should be far enough apart that customers can have a conversation without worrying that someone from the neighboring table can easily chime in. Ideally, when one comes in through the entrance, they should be able to walk in a straight line to the counter to place an order without anything in their path. Clutter is discouraging and gives the impression that one needs to rush through their cup of coffee.
Then, look at the process of ordering a coffee and snack or making a reservation. How much time does a customer have to wait to receive their order, and how easy is it to make the order? Preferably, the process needs to be seamless, with the customer being updated on what to expect in terms of timing and even the temperature of the serving. There is so much technology today that can make this possible. Consider investing in iPads or other POS systems that can deliver an order from the table to the preparation area instantly. If you have serving or waitstaff, it makes it easier for them to get several orders and then fulfill them rapidly.
Finally, leaving your cafe is also a part of their experience, especially how they make their payments. They should be able to pay with ease, so as many payment options as is viable should be available. A goodbye, come again, a message will have them leaving feeling warm, well-fed, and taken care of.
For more guide on customer service be sure you check out “4 Tips to Improve Customer Service at Your Cafe“. Check out our full guide!
Your Menu is Rigid
Season’s change, holidays come up, and new ingredients are always being discovered. You should have a signature item that identifies well with your cafe. Also, plan to have special items that you introduce to fit with holidays such as Halloween or Christmas. The types of ingredients that you use will vary depending on the seasons too.
During the hot months, light ingredients that are fresh like seasonal tropical fruits are the preferred option. Also, iced drinks may be ideal for summer months, and a few options will meet the need of the customer who is trying to stay hydrated. In the winter months, the preferred options may be more filling ingredients for comfort foods, including pies and rich hot drinks.
To cater to the tastes and needs of all your customers, you may find that you have a long menu over time and that each item seems essential. Avoid this. Keep your menu short and ensure that each item on the menu is excellent. If you need to create room for seasonal items, have a special offer for a limited time. This can be displayed outside your shop and would also be ideal for updating your customers through email and social media.
Limited Word of Mouth
The best marketing is word of mouth, and this happens when you have highly satisfied customers. Take the time to connect with your customers on a personal level. For example, you can find out when they have birthdays and offer them a special treat these days. You could also start your loyalty program, giving them back something the more that they order from you. By doing this, customers will be more inclined to let others know about the benefits of visiting your coffee shop.
Another way that customers get word of mouth is through reviews. Ask your customers, especially the happy ones, to leave as many reviews as possible. A great place to have your reviews is on Google. In addition to elevating you on the search engine, people trust the reviews that they read on this platform. They will decide to try out your establishment because it does not pose a high risk for them.
What happens when you notice a bad review online? Do not ignore it. Instead, address it. The best way is to apologize for the negative experience that a person has had, appreciate them for sharing their comments, and let them know you are dealing with the issue. Being taken seriously when making a complaint makes a customer want to give you a second chance.
Make your ideas stand out and check out “How to Make Your Coffee Stand Unique” to see other ways to promote your coffee brand.
Finding new customers is possible once you have put your cafe in order. Make sure that your customers know where they can find you and what you have to offer. Consider that you can reach your customers in several ways; they do not all need to walk in through the door. Being flexible to things as they change is the secret to find new customers for your struggling cafe.
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