New Zealand is famous for its wide variety of coffee and unique hotspots in the hospitality industry. From long blacks to flat whites and all that lies in between, Kiwis love indulging in coffee and often make an effort to source the best coffee shop around.
Coffee shops have evolved into much more than places we simply go to ‘have a coffee’. They host multitudes of different people, whom are there for different purposes, which means you need to find ways to cut through the noise and turn your coffee shop into a must-go-to destination. You don’t need to be a Jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none. Work with what you have and develop what you know. Here are some ideas to help you stand out.
Decipher your intentions and clientele
Some coffee shops are great for business people, boasting meeting spaces designed for breakfast meetings. Others attract older people, hipsters, or students… then there are ‘cat cafes’ which attract a very niche group of people. If someone asked who you tend to cater to or are hoping to draw in, could you describe your standard customer and those you hope to attract in the future?
If you’re located in the middle of a busy city, you’re automatically in the prime place to lure in business people, shoppers, parents, university students and remote workers. If you’re located out in the countryside or a smaller suburb, you’re more likely to attract families, grandparents, small business owners, tourists and perhaps farmers or outdoor workers. This would be a great opportunity to create a more family-friendly, comfortable and quaint space, perhaps with a children’s corner and tables with newspapers and magazines. Whatever vibe you’re going for, being sure about what you want to achieve will help you go a long way and stand out.
Create a great coffee shop menu
Once you’ve established who you’re catering for, think about whether your menu aligns with your intentions. For example, if you know that many of your customers will be coming to you for breakfast, look into ways you can dress up standard dishes, and perhaps create combo deals. People love a good package deal!
Raise your Instagram game
These days, many social media savvy customers go to platforms such as Instagram to suss out whether a menu draws them in. If you can plate up meals or nibbles alongside your coffee, or perhaps try some new patterns with the foam, invest in getting some beautiful shots that capture the essence of your coffee shop and then sit back and watch as you draw in new crowds.
Use ethically sourced coffee
New Zealand is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, which means people have much more global outlooks and like to consider the sources of their consumables. Selling the story behind the origins of your coffee can help gain new customers, and make them feel connected to the system and processes.
Hire amazing people and invest in staff training
New Zealanders are known to be a very friendly people, so your hospitality should reflect this. Your staff members are the face of your coffee shop, so if you can hire people who are enthusiastic about their role, and invest time and a bit of money developing their skills, they’ll no doubt reward you and your business.
Consider the space
Think about your coffee shop as your second home. Does it seem cluttered? Is the furniture laid out as best as it can be? Is it easy for customers to access the counter? Are the tables spacious enough for multiple people?
If you know your customers will be turning up with their laptops, it’s a no-brainer that they should have access to plug sockets that aren’t in a place that will cause others to trip over wires. If you know your customers are teenagers who love having group catch-ups and posting photos, invest in some quirky and comfortable couches that invite them in. If you often welcome mums and babies, they’ll need highchairs, comfortable seating and higher tables. Don’t overlook the basics – it could be the make or break of your coffee shop.
Set the mood in your coffee shop
Music and lighting are important. If you’re a chic, modern and classy coffee shop with expensive coffee and food, it’s obvious that playing rock music is going to welcome some complaints. Similarly, a rustic, hippie-ish coffee shop should really aim to be playing more indie-style music that will reflect the customers’ usual interests. Lighting should complement the tone you have set with the colour palettes and seating plans.
Brand right across from storefront to crockery
There is a magnetic power that comes with visual branding. Of course, your signage and outdoor appearance are important for attracting crowds, but once they step inside your coffee shop, that is where you need to keep them on the hook. Your logo can play a huge role in making customers feel involved in your products and services.
There’s nothing more annoying than being force-sold something, but every conversation you and your staff have with customers is an opportunity to market your coffee shop. Welcome them with a smile, perhaps introduce yourselves if the moment is right, and let them know you’re there if they need anything. Get people involved in your coffee community and make them feel as if their contribution is valued. When those customers leave, they will be more inclined to share their experience with their friends and family and bring them along next time.
Loyalty and rewards programs
Customers love free stuff and working towards rewards. Loyalty cards and rewards points are and always have been popular, and the greatest part is that those cards are a great way to spread your brand. They are almost like a season ticket to your coffee shop and will motivate customers to keep coming back when they might be tossing up between your place and somewhere closer to home one day. Over time, more people will want to join in with your coffee community, too!
So, if you’re looking for ways to ensure your coffee shop is a must-go-to destination, pay attention to details when creating a unique vibe, invest in quality furniture and utensils, ensure your staff are positive and work well in a team, invest in rewarding customers, and most of all, source amazing coffee. If you build solid foundations, your coffee shop will sell itself through word-of-mouth and social platforms.