Bean counting, pushing and training

Beans2Our latest post on the business of coffee shops turns to finance and marketing: a widely-considered critical aspect, and a widely-considered less critical aspect of the trade. How do you ensure you’re achieving the perfect blend?

Getting the knowledge

Having a strong knowledge of how your business is performing every week and every month is critical to running a tight ship.  With that knowledge comes an improved ability to make intelligent, well-informed decisions.

Modern till systems report everything from sales figures, individual staff sales statistics and they can even track successful marketing through the vouchers used. This affords great business transparency, and a powerful level of confidence when it comes to justifying any changes.

As someone clever once said, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you can build about your operation and its accounts – whatever its size – the more confidently you can run an efficient and profitable business.  No detail is too small or unimportant or irrelevant.  Get everything you possibly can, and try to work out how you can get, measure and record more.

Modern till systems report everything from sales figures, individual staff sales statistics and they can even track successful marketing through the vouchers used. This affords great business transparency, and a powerful level of confidence when it comes to justifying any changes.

As someone clever once said, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you can build about your operation and its accounts – whatever its size – the more confidently you can run an efficient and profitable business.  No detail is too small or unimportant or irrelevant.  Get everything you possibly can, and try to work out how you can get, measure and record more.

Marketing

For many café owners marketing is considered unnecessary as “word of mouth” prevails as the best form of marketing, or it’s the last thing done because there are so many other jobs to be done.

But it’s dangerous to be too casual.  Simply because your café is in a prominent position with regular footfall, that doesn’t mean it is noticed or even registered by all the busy passers-by.  Cafés and coffee shops are everywhere these days.  In a town of any size, if you pass one, there’s a good chance you’ll see another before too long.  Fervent loyalty is rare, whatever your customers might tell you.

But it’s dangerous to be too casual.  Simply because your café is in a prominent position with regular footfall, that doesn’t mean it is noticed or even registered by all the busy passers-by.  Cafés and coffee shops are everywhere these days.  In a town of any size, if you pass one, there’s a good chance you’ll see another before too long.  Fervent loyalty is rare, whatever your customers might tell you.

Marketing can help to encourage customer loyalty

Marketing can help to encourage customer loyalty

So you have to give them more.

Marketing doesn’t have to take up much of your time, but you should be disciplined enough to allocate some time to it, preferably every day.

This will help you to incrementally grow the reach of your café.  Don’t expect overnight miracles, or to quickly develop a huge social media audience like your competitor down the street.  It needs time and commitment.

Remember that marketing does not always have to feel like traditional marketing. With a coffee shop or café it should make customers and prospective customers feel like part of a club.

Think about what your customers might want to know, or what you might want to know if you were them.  They will have different interests to which you need to cater, the technical elements of coffee and the not so technical.  Consider how you want to go about informing them, educating them and entertaining them.

A newsletter or Facebook page might contain a short piece by your chef or new waiting staff member.  You might want to push a promotional discount, remembering to measure its success.  You could run a competition on Twitter, encouraging customers to post pictures from inside the premises, using a dedicated hashtag and incentivised by a great prize.  There are plenty of options.

 

Education & training

However much knowledge it’s possible to collect and use, you are unlikely to have all of the answers. The truth is that nobody ever does, despite what you might sense from others, and you should be comfortable accepting that.

But a lack of knowledge can be frightening. Combined with miscommunication or no communication, it’s almost deadly and a key reason why many coffee businesses fail.

Networking can give new ideas and a broader perspective.

Networking can give new ideas and a broader perspective.

This is where knowledge transfer and continued education comes in.

Educate yourself by attending business conferences and networking online. You might join a local business club to get a different perspective on things, develop relationships with other businesspeople and use the input of others to make changes in your business.

Another method of defending your business against going stale is staff training.  These might run at least monthly, and can be run internally or externally.  The idea is to approach common issues openly and afresh, possibly in a different setting where everyone is more relaxed about airing their views.  The objective of this is for everyone to improve at their job, which improves your business in the process.

And that keeps everyone full of beans.

Our related coffee business posts

Coffee shop business planning
Bringing customers closer