Imagine this. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m riding along the coast with some great buddies. One of them casually mentions a great café he visited with his wife the previous weekend.
It’s got outdoor seating in the car park of an old timber mill with the café located in an old shipping container. In the timber mill there is a florist, Potter, and other quirky stores.
“Sounds perfect!” I said.
I took my wife there, and it was everything it was pumped up to be. On top of everything, the food was fantastic.
The owner/chef was also very accommodating of my dietary pickiness.
I asked for a Rueben sandwich without bread. Hey, at least I didn’t ask for a decaf soy latte.
I wrote a good Trip Advisor review and decided to take my cycling friends. I mentioned this to the owner as I left and he beamed a big smile.
“I’d love to have you all come by” he said unsurprisingly.
Though the café is slightly out of our way, the crew were more than happy to try somewhere new.
A couple of weeks later I rolled in with a dozen cycling friends. Our typical breakfast stop involves a big feed and at least two rounds of coffee.
I had a chat with the owner as we entered to ensure he remembered me.
“Of course I do, and thanks for the TripAdvisor review man!”
I didn’t expect streamers like the ones thrown as people left on ships after World War II, but I was expecting a little more acknowledgement.
The crew loved the place and the breakfast, although the coffee was a little ordinary. But here’s the problem.
The café is relatively new. If you get the opportunity to get potentially 12 ravenous guests come to your cafe every week, you might make a little special effort.
Here are some simple steps the café owner could have taken to grab the market.
Acknowledge the entrance.
Make a big deal about a new group of people coming into the cafe for the first time. Make them feel welcome and appreciated.
Check on the table
Get someone to come to the table regularly to make sure that everything is okay. But get that person to come and have a real and engaging conversation. Not just a throwaway line like “everything ok?”
Clear the table
The group ordered a round of coffees before breakfast. Come and clear the table so they have a clean environment upon which to enjoy their breakfast.
Make more money
Nowadays, café owners have a portable point of sale machine. Get someone to walk to the table after breakfast and ask if anyone would like an extra coffee. Although the café is walk-up service they would sell coffees as they clear the breakfast plates. It’s literally money being left on the table because most people will say:
”Oh, why not”.
You may even sell a small sweet desert.
Make it free.
If you don’t want to pester people with an upsell, consider giving away some free coffees especially for the first visit. Imagine if the owner walked up to the table and said:
“thanks very much for coming to the cafe, let me get a free coffee for anyone who is interested.”
I can’t imagine any situation in which that would be a bad idea. At worst, it might cost $.40 a coffee but it’s almost guarantees return purchases.
Business acumen and customer service
It’s not rocket science. The problem is that the owner is so obsessed with the food and its presentation that he’s lost sight of the human touch.
Simple business acumen can get some of that money that is being left on the table, and the customers will be more than happy to give it to you.
Indeed, they will thank you for taking the money.
Business smart and customer service I’m not incompatible, in fact they feed each other.