Picture the perfect coffeehouse. It probably includes comfortable seating, free wi-fi, and even a patio or small soundstage for live music.
But if you can’t afford or accommodate all of these accouterments (with the exception of wi-fi, which is practically mandatory), you don’t have to suffer. In fact, you may even be more profitable than your full-service competitors.
Some of the most profitable coffee shops have a limited number of bench seats and bar stools to make the place look lived in and loved, so they can concentrate on takeaway business. Your takeaway customers pay the same price as the sit-down crowd without any of the occupancy costs—which means you can serve 10 of them by the time one couch surfer is halfway through their first cup of coffee.
How to encourage takeaway business:
- Set up a couple of vacuum pots and to-go cups in a prominent location, away from the crowded queue area. Place a jar alongside them with a sign that says, “Self-serve coffee to go: $1.50. Provide exact change here and get your caffeine without having to wait in line.” You’ll shorten your lines and increase your takeaway business.
- Keep you queue moving quickly. Schedule adequate staff for the morning rush and provide the most ergonomic workspace possible. (More on this in an upcoming article.)
A word on wi-fi
Customers who camp out and Facebook chat won’t pay your rent. Of course, you want your café to be inviting with good lighting and quality furniture. But if you’re having a real problem with limited seating during your rush hours, consider setting up the kind of wifi that requires a new purchase every two hours in order to stay connected. (Do it only during peak hours, if you want to continue to be perceived as hospitable.) Your regulars will still appreciate your coffee and level of surface. They should understand that you can’t stay in business if your tables are turning over every four hours.
Check out What’s Your Wi-Fi Policy for more tips on managing your neighborhood’s near-constant need for broadband.