Running a café is not easy…but we don’t need to tell you that! You can have great products, great service, and a great location AND you still need that ‘little bit extra’ to create a loyal and growing customer base. Keep reading to learn our tips for retaining and attracting a devoted customer base.
Educating your customers is a great way to foster trust and loyalty. Sharing your mastery shows confidence in your product and provides customers with the knowledge they need to better appreciate your coffee. There are many ways to educate your customers; our favorites include:
Offering demonstrations and coffee tastings / cuppings. Cuppings and / or coffee tastings can be very formal or extremely casual depending on your audience. The format is not important, what matters is that you communicate information that empowers your customer to better understand their coffee options and preferences.
Providing physical or e-learning materials, such as coffee profiles, a listing of low acid coffees, bean storage advice, and tips for home brewing. Handouts have the added benefit of being a physical reminder of your café.
Suggesting coffee and food pairings. As a product expert, you know which flavors compliment and offset each other best. Create a list of suggested coffee and food pairings or use a chalkboard to highlight a pairing of the week.
‘Variety is the spice of life’. Keep your customers on their toes by:
Introducing a weekly, monthly, or seasonal special. This special could take the form of a new coffee, a seasonal latte, or a featured coffee-basked drink — such as a guillermo in the summer and café miel in the winter. If you have an adventurous customer base, you could even do a trip around the world, featuring a unique coffee drink from a different country each month.
Adding seasonal elements to your offering of toppings. We all know that chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla are wonderful in coffee but so are cardamon, caramel, toasted coconut flakes, marshmallows, and a host of other common — but not to your coffee — pantry items.
Offering homemade flavored coffee or syrups. People love unique, one-of-a-kind items. If you are new to homemade syrups, start with a basic coffee syrup — it’s simple, delicious, and can be added to coffee, ice cream, or used as a substitute for maple syrup.
Positively engage your customers by creating an inclusive, participatory environment. Our suggestions:
Adding decaffeinated coffee. Expecting mothers, new mothers, individuals with high blood pressure, the caffeine sensitive — they all need decaf. Investing in a quality decaf gives you access to a significant, often abandoned (okay, that is a tad dramatic but I’m really trying to stress this point!) portion of the population.
Co-creating with your customers. Studies have shown that individuals experience numerous physiological and emotional benefits from lending a helping hand. Give your customers the opportunity to partner with you by sharing their favorite coffee and food pairings, coffee-based recipes, and … all other things coffee. This could be via posts on a corkboard or an open page on your café’s blog.
Naming drinks after regulars customers. Everyone loves a little recognition!
Encourage acceptance. You may enjoy the taste of pure, unadulterated coffee but there are many others who love their coffee with milk, sugar, and flavorings. It may not be to your taste but that’s okay!
We hope our successful café secrets inspire you to create a few of your own!