Cafés bring people together to enjoy a moment in time. Since everyone loves coffee, a simple snack, or a place to catch up with a friend, it’s no surprise there are so many cafés to choose from. Every café owner knows there are challenges in running a successful shop, particularly identifying and understanding customer expectations. Since customers come from varying demographics, finding commonalities become more complicated.
Since your café was built on a thought process of selecting specific coffee and items to sell, it will not appeal to the masses. That is exactly the way it should be. There are plenty of big box cafés to take care of general expectations. In order to turn a profit and stay open for decades to come, you will need a plan. This article will describe how to focus on three important factors in creating your plan by focusing on understanding your customer base and provide some ideas to boost your coffee sales.
As defined by the Balance, “a consumer profile is a way of describing a consumer categorically so that they can be grouped for marketing and advertising purposes.” These profiles can be used for a multitude of purposes including marketing, menu planning, floor plan, music, and loyalty programs. There are three basic concepts to keep in mind when crafting consumer (customer) profiles: intention, preference, and lifestyle.
First, it will be important to spend one to two weeks observing your customers. Take notes of basic demographics, time of day, time spent, and what is purchased. For example, you might have students buying coffee in the morning, single mothers visiting the café in the early afternoon, and professionals popping in throughout the day for a caffeine fix. At first glance, you will find you have a mix of personalities, lifestyles, and demographically diverse customers.
Here are ways to capture the concepts mentioned previously:
Intention will answer why people come to your café and how they will spend their time. This information can be used to create the ideal environment and engages customers to be loyal, regular visitors. People generally fall into the following categories of intention:
- To-gos. These customers will come in, individually or as a group, and leave immediately after receiving their cup of caffeinated bliss. The key to keeping to-goers the key is quick and accurate baristas.
- Short timers. This group of customers will want to sit down and linger while they enjoy their coffee, and perhaps a snack on the side. The purpose here is to ‘stop and smell the roses’ in the form of a work break, to visit with a friend, or simply watch people.
- Long haulers. These are the customers who come with a laptop, bag of schoolbooks, or the latest on their reading list. They may drink one or more cups of coffee and are looking for a Wi-Fi signal, outlet, or a comfy chair. Sometimes long haulers come as a couple or small group for a long chat, or to play card or board games.
What is it about your café that draws people in, and what draws them back? Perhaps it is obvious such as your café’s theme, a music genre, location, or relaxing ambiance. Regardless of what it is, you will pull in customers who naturally gravitate towards the “draw” of your café. If you’re unsure what “draws” customers, be bold and ask them, especially your regular customers.
This will relate to the primary lifestyle of your customers and what makes them happy. A great example of this is a dog-friendly café with patio seating. You might consider stocking up on pet water bowls or selling dog biscuits. If this gets a good reaction, you know you have accurately identified a customer lifestyle. The lifestyle can become a core concept, driving marketing and future growth opportunities from special menu items to partnering with a local pet shop.
Consider the types of other businesses nearby, and institutions such as hospitals, churches, schools or universities. These can also provide insight into the lifestyles of your current and potential customer profiles, for example:
- f you have an elementary school nearby, you could run early morning specials for customers who drop by shortly after the school bell rings, or an hour prior to the end of the school day.
- Financial city centers would bring professionals that need a quick coffee or a sophisticated place to have a meeting.
- A more rural area often indicates that customers enjoy the outdoors and lead active lifestyles. Healthier options and booster shots to coffee may help maintain your customer base.
- A university neighborhood or town would attract young students with a limited budget in search of a comfortable place to pass the time. Electrical outlets, room for a laptop and books, and a custom loyalty app will keep them coming back.
Boosting Café Sales
Once you have a better idea of intention, preference, and lifestyle, you can start thinking of ways to boost sales, think about the following questions:
Café Layout & Environment
Are there any obstacles in the pathway from the door to the cash register? If so, change the path and table layout. Customers should be able to easily walk in and out without bumping into tables, chairs, counters, waste bins, or people.
Create a floor plan that optimizes sales opportunities such as placing a bookcase in awkward wall spaces with goods and brand-identity items for sale. For customers intent on reading a book or relaxing, choose more comfortable tables and chairs.
Select appealing music (such as soothing jazz for the quiet study groups or energetic mixes for the social crowds in the morning and afternoon).
Staffing & Customer Service
Do you schedule enough people behind the counter? Don’t make the mistake of understaffing. The more hands on deck, the faster orders can be taken, and coffee made. There are many ways of giving good, fast service. Make changes, ask customers for feedback, and performs test runs to get your service up to speed.
Do you have an optimal point-of-sale system? If not, upgrade to a coffee shop POS system that accepts multiple payment types, processes credit cards quickly, splits checks, and can pull up real-time sales reports.
Using intentions, preferences, and lifestyles along with smart business strategies, you can create accurate customer profiles and make changes to your coffee shop according to your customers. By giving current customers what they want and need, long-lasting success is imminent and sure to bring in new customers as time passes.