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What Makes a Cafe Successful?

by Natasha Christopher

Managing a coffee shop isn’t an easy feat. Just like any other business, it has a number of its own unique challenges. Especially a concept cafe, from the extensive interior design down to the menu selection – you constantly face the high competition of many similar cafes in this trending business.

You can ask any expert, but the answer would be roughly the same: most secrets in business boil down to either hard work, extensive experience, or luck or a combination of all three.  We list down what you can do to strengthen your business.


Open Early On Weekdays 

The phrase “I just need my morning coffee” is exactly why you need to open your doors to the customers. Drinking coffee between 9.30am and 11.30am is the most productive time. Typically, working hours start at 9 am. In this case, early birds get the worms. Open shop early so customers can grab a coffee before heading to work. You may open later during weekends because that’s when people relax and take their time at home.


Serve the Finest Espresso

Customers will walk past ten other competitors to get the best espresso, which is why this factor alone means you don’t need the highly visible, most expensive location. Get the best espresso coffee machine, and use the top-quality Arabica and make sure every cup is made by a fully trained barista who is continually seeking the “God shot”. Most importantly, keep the quality consistent.


Space is Important 

Separate the coffee workstation with other work areas so the barista doesn’t have to compete for space with other staff members. The layout should have everything the barista could possibly need within arm’s reach from bean storage, bar fridge milk, to even underneath bins. High volume coffee sales are the cornerstone of every coffee shop, and it all depends on how quick and efficient the barista is.

Promote Multiple Sales 

Coffee may be the prime motivator for customers, but they must leave with multiple sales if you are going to be successful. Make sure the traditional coffee accompaniments (muffins, cookies, cakes) are close by at the point of sale, and the coffee shop offers cold food, cold drinks, and hot food to ensure the best chance of multiple sales.

Pre-Make As Much As Possible 

In a coffee shop context, it’s best to pre-make the food and leave the custom made with the coffee. Custom food is also a high-cost option for you because you can’t get the economies of scale making-to-order, and it limits your turnover in those peak periods where you should be busy pumping out the sales as quickly as possible, not spending the time making custom orders.


Loyalty Cards 

Invest in quality thus ensuring longer lasting cards as well as creating a perception of a good standard with your customers.  Play with psychology; give the new customers a buy 7 free 1 loyalty card, but tick off six of them so that on their very next purchase they get a free one. Cheapest customer acquisition ever!


Target Takeaways 

Takeaway customers pay the same price as the sit-down customer, but without any of the occupancy costs, and you will serve then of them by the time your sit-down customer has finished slipping on their first cup of coffee as they use your free Wi-Fi.

Positive Service Experience 

Cafes don’t just sell food and drinks, they sell stress relief, belonging, recognition, feel good, connection and many other intangible value-add benefits that only come from how you and your staff engage with the customers. Customers may soon forget what you sold them but they will never forget how you made them feel. It’s also very important to smile 🙂


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