Business Tips for Small Cafes

Specialty cafes are popping up everywhere, targeting specific market segments with featured menu selections, themes, and services. The one thing all of these cafes have in common is competition from huge national chains, which seem to be on every corner.

Many cafes are developing increasingly creative ways to differentiate themselves from competitors by catering to niche customers who are more likely to remain loyal over time. A cafe catering to bike riders can be found just down the street from a small shop geared toward health conscience customers. Many of these cafes are finding the key to success is to focus on one thing and do it well.

Cafes are also battling the multi-location giants by expanding menu options. Small cafes that had only featured coffee and breakfast items are now adding sandwiches and salads at lunchtime, while others have added beer and wine to the menu to attract the after work crowd. The addition of alcoholic beverages isn’t the only avenue available to cafe owners who might find the licensing process prohibitive. Some are adding other beverages like smoothies or juice drinks to attract new customers. Using a POS system with in-depth, real-time reporting will give cafe owners the cutting edge when it comes to market trends and sales data.

In the past, small cafes had a limited customer base to draw from. Social media has changed that by offering a variety of methods cafe owners can use to reach new customers. Groupon reaches scores of potential customers, while Facebook and other social media outlets can provide thousands of impressions in just minutes. Consumer driven sites like Yelp can also contribute to a small cafe’s marketing strategies, as well as discoverability.

It’s also extremely easy for a cafe to establish a solid online presence with a dedicated website. Websites can be created and hosted for minimal costs and allow businesses to give customers a full overview of the facility. Websites can include pictures, driving directions, and reviews from other customers. An online reservation system can also provide additional convenience. Cafes can update menus and offer coupons or special deals assuring repeat website visits.

Providing free Wi-Fi is an option many business owners are debating, but this service has proven to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, customers tend to stay in the Cafe longer; but they also tend to spend less money while tying up tables that could be used for potential paying customers. Possible solutions include requiring customers to make purchases on an hourly basis, or limiting their Wi-Fi usage via a changeable password that allows access for a limited time. While these options aren’t great for customer service, many cafes are being forced into using these measures as customers take advantage of the free Wi-Fi service.

The cafe business is highly competitive as smaller shops try to carve out market share in a highly populated market. The increasing presence of the national chains makes this even more difficult, but many shops are meeting the challenges. Small cafes can still flourish in this environment by responding to the needs of its customers, channeling well thought out strategic marketing plans, and utilizing the latest tools available within the industry. Such tools include a cloud-based and secure POS system that offers an array of features, enabling small businesses to tailor their point of sale to their individual needs.