What is it that customers are really looking for? This is the question that has kept many cafe owners up at night. Is it the lowest price? Starbucks disproved that one years ago. Is it good food? Well, it certainly couldn't hurt. The truth is that the things that are essential to a successful cafe are the things that aren't talked about so often; components that sync together to create a comprehensive experience that is enjoyable, unforgettable, and habit-forming.
It all begins with the first face the customer encounters. A good barista is more than just a catalogue of drinks with fast fingers. It is an art form similar to a skilled bartender, including the soft skills required to make customers feel like making themselves at home. Your barista should be able to respond to even the most complex concoction requests with a lack of incredulity, but they must also have a few tricks up their sleeves to show off when the occasion calls for it.
Coffee drinkers may be paying for stimulation, but what they are really seeking is relaxation. This is the essential paradox that makes up the atmosphere of the cafe. The ambiance that the cafe creates must lend itself both to stimulation of the senses and a comforting space. This is why many venues use large windows to flood the cafe with natural light and use mirrors on interior walls to create and the illusion of additional space. Music in rotation must be considered carefully and selected on the basis of how well it matches the ambiance you want to create.
An Efficient Queue
Just like the barista, a queue is often the first impression that a cafe gives to its customers. Many big chain cafes make the fatal error of making this ordering area sterile and utilitarian. Waiting is almost never a pleasant experience, but wait times are unavoidable given that no cafe has unlimited manpower or space for it to work in. Attempt to make the queue as efficient as possible, even if it means holding customers to a limit of orders taken at one time or automating some essential processes in the ordering system. If possible, distribute numbers so that customers who chose to drink or dine in can comfortably take their seats and await service while having a dedicated line designated for the grab-and-go customer.
Many cafes, when considering their furnishings, are thinking first of how easy they will be to clean at the end of the night. This is why the large majority of your competition will be sporting metal-pipe chairs with hardwood seats. Dare to be different. Select your furniture based on the comfort of your customer. Many customers have just had a hard day, and they really need a place that encourages them to have a good, long sit. While your competition is encouraging their customers to rotate through quickly and free up room for more customers, make yours more welcoming and maintain customer loyalty.
Really Good Coffee
You knew that this one was going to be here, right? Having a good blend, a little variety, and the right coffee machine can make all the difference in the world when it comes to pleasing your customers.
Knowing what will contribute to a crowd-pleasing coffee drinking experience can go a long way toward creating the kind of environment that will bring the customers back time after time.