OK, so I am sitting in a coffee shop, thinking about the shop I plan to open soon.  I start to think about the very successful shops out there -- you know who they are.  I started to wonder about what makes them so successful? What do they do that is different from the so-so shops and the shops that are not very successful.  Is there a common denominator?  Is it location? Quality of coffee? Barista skills? Financial Management? Sure all of that plays into a shop being successful, but is there one thing that really gives them the 'wow' factor?

 

Any thoughts?

 

Thanks,

 

John

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All very good and valid points! I agree with almost everyone, but it isn't just one thing or another, but a collection of all the above. And to be honest no one really knows for sure. Starbacks and their millions tried scoping out all the specialty shops in the Seattle area and tried copying them by opening a shop that they even renamed 15th Ave Coffee, added Beer and wine, ect..but it was a flop.

When we opened 2 years ago we were confident that we had a winning combination, but to be honest we had no idea how much success we would have. 2 years later our sales have steadily grown and we had our busiest day last Saturday of over $5000 in sales for a single day for a 1690 sq ft. shop. We will be going well over 1 mil in gross this year and even though we have a good location (inside a movie theater complex) the most important thing is our employees. Our staffs average age is 19-22 year olds. We prefer them to have no experiece so we can mold them. Latte art is required and investing in them personally is what makes us successful. Even though we are hands on owners we can not be there every moment. So they are what represents us when we are not there. It also helps to have employees that enjoy what they do.

We are a destination spot for sure. We have people from all over and they even take ferries across the water to come to our shop, but there is not one pin point magic formula that makes a successful shop, but a collection. Common business sense is a must, but usually its not so common. When I walk into other businesses I see so many small details that business owners don't pay attention to and they are usually why I don't come back. So to sum it up. Put yourself into a customers standpoint first, from the moment they get out of their cars to the moment that they leave.

I hope that helps?

 

I recently spent some time in Toronto and was beyond exctited by the sheer number of coffee shops / houses / bars / kitchens that lined the streets. Literally , one right after the other.

What impressed me....?  product, knowledge ,equipment, cleanliness and all around vibe.

Once experience:

During my visit I had read about a shop that was an insider hangout...the owner was an acclaimed barista and it was the only shop that offered siphon brew.

Once I finally found it, I could hardly wait for my husband to pullover before I hopped out of the car. I darted accross the street while shouting wait here ( kids in tow ).  I entered what looked like a small independent gallery from the outside. Inside it had one bench to the left of the entrance where three customers were seated and surrounded by four friends. The room smelled incredible. All eyes turned when I walked in. This excited me because i kind of felt like I was about to experience something amazing. One very focused Barista stood there extracting...one spro after the next. Since everyone in the place was drinking espresso ( including the Barista ) that is what I ordered. ..and yes, the delivered spro was perfect...I wanted more but had to go.

As I left I couldn't help but notice there were many used cups that lined the bar. Leading me to believe that the group seated and standing kept the orders coming...as if they couldn't get enough. I believed it.

Everything was spot on but the cleanliness.

The first few moments were outstanding but I tend to remember or I should say can't forget is how dirty the Barista station was. It was a complete and udder disaster. I wanted to remember the shot but somehow my memory is stained with visual of a war zone. The counters were encrusted with grounds.

I mean layers...and the towel...well, you could imagine.

Thanks R2G! As I get closer to opening, I have been fine-tuning the 'culture' our shop.  We do plan to be different, to stand-out, to be unique and to have some of the best, speciality coffee -- no fluff, out there.  

Will keep the folks at Barista Exchange in the loop.

In the years that I've been working in coffee, I would say a huge key (and one that many forget to follow up with) is marketing.  Right now, my main job in Boquete Mountain Coffee is to get our name out and really push the marketing.

Never forget how much the internet can help you.  It's something that ultimately doesn't have to cost a whole lot, but works to your advantage.  Pick up a few books on Social Media and SEO and really put some effort into marketing online.

Other than that, what has been mentioned in this thread already is great advice.  The better the quality, the better the following.  People will drive out of their way to have, not only a great cup of coffee, but a great experience.  If you can do something a bit out of the ordinary from your typical coffee shop, you'll get a more loyal following who will, in turn, tell others about you.

You can't gain customers without marketing, however, so make sure you don't forget about that aspect!

Really great replies so far. I would add just one thing that I haven't seen here yet: patience. Be true to your identity, even when business is slow. Don't make the cheap cup because it is cheap and draws in customers. They will end up going back to Starbucks. Offer your unique experience and stick to it so that each person who comes in has a reason to come back to your coffee shop.

serving unique and exotic coffee...it would be "wow" and "Cool"

Well said!

Benjamin Ripley said:

Really great replies so far. I would add just one thing that I haven't seen here yet: patience. Be true to your identity, even when business is slow. Don't make the cheap cup because it is cheap and draws in customers. They will end up going back to Starbucks. Offer your unique experience and stick to it so that each person who comes in has a reason to come back to your coffee shop.

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