We may have reached the middle of March and the official onset of spring, but the Beast from the East hasn’t quite retracted its claws from the UK yet. There’s more than just a nip in the air, and while we hope there’s no more snow to come, that wind is bitter and biting. While most of us would bunker down in the warmth if we could, the best we can do is hunker down against that chill factor. The best you can do as coffee shop owners is try to cash in on the desperate human urge for warmth! Let’s face it, it’s easier to lean into an icy wind when your hands are warmed by a takeaway cup of steaming latte and you feel that hot coffee in your throat, chest and belly.
Your regulars already think about you – they wouldn’t be regulars otherwise. But what about those cup-less passers-by, those frequenters of the big coffee chains, the eyes-down commuters and the like?
You need to grab their attention. Grab it once, and long after spring has truly arrived and the last blast of winter is gone, they could be coming back for more.
You’ve got to launch a full assault on the senses. The eyes, the ears and the nose. Taste will follow soon after… Here are a few suggestions to get your espresso machine working hard:
- The good old A-board. The best A-boards can be customised. Your branding across the top, a chalkboard or whiteboard below for your message. “Fight back against the Beast from the East with a piping-hot Americano” or “Warm your hands up with your favourite hot drink to take away – right now”. That sort of thing. If you also sell hot foods – like Cornish pasties or toasted bagels, work them into your messaging too. If you’re selling reusable takeaway coffee cups – which we think you should – then you can try lines like “Keep your takeaway coffee hot all the way to work – for just £8.99.” You could even fill that takeaway cup with a free coffee…
- A sign in the window – doing the same job as the A-board but with different messaging. If you’ve got comfortable seating inside, crank up the heating by a couple of degrees and advertise the temperature too!
- If the layout of your shop allows it, and the temperature indoors won’t suffer too much, make sure your door is open too and that you’re wafting the smell of fresh coffees, hot chocolate and any baked or toasted goods outside. Some people just can’t resist the smell. As a precursor to our fourth suggestion, stand outside from time to time, sipping your hot drink in a takeaway cup or cradling a Cornish pasty in your hand and look as satisfied and comfortable as you can without looking like a lunatic.
- Throw on some layers and step outside properly – with a tray of free coffees to go. And don’t be afraid to raise your voice to reach the people passing on the other side of the street. After all, you’re giving away free drinks, and nobody minds being told about that. It’s up to you whether you use taster-sized takeaway cups or full-sized cups. The important thing is that you look generous and caring, and new customers get to taste your delicious beverages. Try two or three varieties of coffee, or coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and be sure to tell the people you stop what else is on offer if they step indoors from the cold…
All of these tips can make a difference and raise the profile of your coffee shop at any time of the year – adapted accordingly - but while winter lingers, your espresso machine could have an extra magical appeal.