There aren’t too many companies that don’t welcome a bit more footfall and a bit more turnover. But as the high street becomes more competitive for independent eateries and coffee shops, it’s a challenge to lift your numbers. You’ll have to lift your game…
So what’s your competition? At least one of the big four coffee chains is going to be nearby – that’s a given. Perhaps you have other independent shops with a similar offering too. But don’t be disheartened – our high streets are becoming service and experience-oriented, whether we really like that or not, and that means there’s a demand for somewhere to sit and something tasty to get inside us.
We’ve come up with a simple list to get you thinking about ways to increase your customer base.
- Look at your pricing. Is it competitive? Perhaps you’re under-pricing, which could send the wrong message about the quality of your coffee and other offers.
- Start a loyalty card scheme. Simple matt-finish business cards with boxes to stamp aren’t expensive. Of course, when you’re giving away free drinks or food, you’re reducing your profit margin a touch, but would the extra custom make all the difference? Invest in a custom-made ink stamp or distinctively shaped hole-punch to sidestep cheaters!
- Get active on social media. A really successful social media strategy probably requires professional input, but there’s a lot you can do on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get customers building your brand awareness. You can find out more about social media here.
- The good old A-board. Best put to use with the help of a skilled artist. Make sure you place it somewhere highly visible, but in a way it won’t obstruct passers-by.
- Run a competition – particularly if you can get the local press to give you coverage.
- Tap up your suppliers for marketing materials. If you’re supplied by big-name brands, you may find all sorts of options available for minimal cost or even for free.
- Consider branded takeaway cups. There’s a bigger cost associated, but you’ve got walking advertising right there.
- Look at your layout. Where do customers tend to sit, and which areas get least use? Work out why, and a reconfiguration might attract more people to stay.
- Look at your furniture. Is it comfortable? You don’t want someone nursing a single Americano for three hours, but if your seats are too rigid, people won’t return.
- Refresh the look. It could be said that the vintage and industrial looks are too commonplace, and that a new trend is just around the corner…but unless you’ve already got the next big thing, you might benefit from some changes. Take inspiration from design and furnishing mags, and go looking for top-ten lists in your industry online. You’ll find photos galore to get you thinking.
- Revisit your brand. Tired? Dated? A new logo and colours may attract attention where you previously blended into the background. Certainly worth considering if you’re investing in a refurbishment – now’s the time.
But be guided by your budget. And think about the process logically – lots of these ideas tie in together. There’s no point printing up loyalty cards now if you’re going to redo your branding in three months’ time, and running a competition could be just the right way to attract attention immediately after you’ve changed the layout or refurbished your premises.