I went for walk yesterday with a friend and we passed by a coffee shop that has had it’s ups and down in success. My friend casually commented on how the owners could give lessons on ” How to Drive a Business Into the Ground”. This coffee has been popular in the past and it’s location has a great deal going for it, and my friend and I have seen it busy busy, but the new owners did everything wrong, and customers can and will go elsewhere.
The local hangout kind of coffee shop is looking for a different kind of customer than Starbucks, Tim Hortons or McDonalds. Lots of competition for this business but if done right, loyal customers can make a coffee hangout profitable and busy.
What did they do wrong?
- They didn’t have always have coffee hot, and ready and the staff didn’t know how to use the machines according to my friend. (mind boggling for a coffee shop)
- They were oblivious to regulars, with no recognition so they lost them.
- No papers to read.
- They discouraged regulars from hanging out.
What could they have done?
- Hire, and train staff to treat customers great! Customers are potential REGULARS. Regulars are there every day, sometimes more than once a day, and usually will bring customers with them, so? So treat each customer like Gold, the staff are not selling a $2 coffee, they should be thinking about the coffee shop as the customer’s coffee shop and ask the customer name and thank them by name. It cost nothing to take that extra step. One successful coffee shop owner here in town quickly could name 200 of his regulars when they came into his shop, and he made sure he made them welcome, and feel appreciated. It was his business, but it was their coffee shop was the attitude that he gave. If a coffee shop hires someone to just take the money and hand over some hot liquid, then there is no connection, and the coffee shop has blown the chance to develop customer loyalty. The customer can go anywhere, staff have to get that they are there for the customers and NOT vice versa.
- Spend some money showing the regulars you appreciate them. So many businesses spend money on coupons and advertising, and so on but they would never think of doing something for the guy who already does business with them, so they miss out on the word of mouth recommendations. If a coffee shop gave away a few cinnamon buns, or muffins to the regulars it would go a long way. (For that matter any business, tire shop or banks should be spending half their marketing budget on regular customers and not just on trying to attract new ones.)
- Spend some money on newspapers, so regulars come in every day to read and relax. I see some coffee shops skimp on this, and it makes no sense. If other coffee shops have newspapers and wi-fi – you better get on board, in fact you should be trying to raise the ante.
- Be Quirky! A great coffee shop used to have a chalkboard and write a trivia question up there twice a day – it gets people talking, and they will come back to see what the question will be the next day.
- Coffee shop staff when not selling – go around and talk to customers!
- Welcome suggestions and feedback and back that up by your actions.
- When something happens not right, go the extra mile to keep your customer. My wife had burnt soup at a hotel once. The hotel was super smart, the waiter apologized to my wife, brought her a big shrimp salad for free and made sure she was happy. We ate there all weekend because of that waiter.
I guess any business will drive itself into the ground when it takes it’s eyes off the customers, or is penny-wise and pound-foolish.