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How to Service Customers in a Cafe Business

  • 6 min read

Have you asked yourself this question?

“Are you in a Restaurant/Cafe Business to Service Customers or Guests?”

Your answer could mean a world of difference to your profitability and whether you really have great cafe business customer service or not!

Let’s look at the difference between the two. The word Customer implies a once off transaction. And a Guest in your café or restaurant, just like in your home, implies someone you want to see again and again, creating a pleasant and ongoing relationship.

Your ability to create and nurture a continuing and profitable relationship with your guests is a HUGE competitive advantage. Cafe business customer service is the way you build and grow a cafe business, by building relationships with your customers.

A lot of café owners underestimate the value of the relationships they have with their existing guests. Remember, you will always make more money from a continuing relationship than you will from a one- time transaction. This is the key to why your customers buy more and come back more often.

Here are a couple of fantastic and easy tips to make your Guests feel right at home:

Cafe Coach Hot Tip 1: Know Your Regulars By Their First Names

Don’t wait weeks and months to introduce yourself and ask for their names. There is no “x factor” secrets to customer loyalty. A handshake and first name go a long way. Get yourself a little name pad and jot down some details on each new client. Eg. John Smith newsagent – Tall flat white with one sugar. Put this list behind the counter and amaze your new customers on your memory powers.

Now imagine this…

John comes in for his morning coffee. You greet him with “Hi John, how are you this morning?” John says “Good, I need a coffee.” Which you reply “ same as yesterday: Tall flat white with one sugar?” Now watch John’s expression: he is really impressed that you took note to remember how he likes his coffee from yesterday.

Let’s look at what you’ve done:

  1. You’ve just made John feel important;
  2. You’ve shown him you cared;
  3. You treated him like a Guest not as a customer.

These are the 3 important reasons John will come back again and happily refer others to your cafe business – customer service.

Before we go any further, here’s some statistics about why customers leave that may startle you.

They are:

  • 68% because of perceived indifference (this should surprise you!)
  • 14% due to products or prices
  • 9% because they were sold by a competitor
  • 5% because they buy from a friend
  • 3% because they move away from the area
  • 1% because they die.

Now there is not much you can do about the last 4 reasons that make up 18%. We will talk about reason 2 (due to products or prices) at another time. The 68% of cafe customers (the majority) leave because they perceive your cafe business to be indifferent to their needs. They feel you just don’t care.

Working on this 68% is to make your customers feel special; make them feel like guests at your home; or the buzzwords “Customer service”.

It is one of the most important skills in running a cafe business – customer service excellence. And it has to start with you – The cafe owners. Who pass it throughout your entire team. Leading by example and constant training are essential to be good at this skill.

As a cafe owner, it is very important for you to be out the front as much as possible. This will personalise your cafe business and make people feel important meeting the owners.

Cafe Coach Hot Tip 2: Coffee loyalty program – Corporate clients/Retailers

Portrait of two girls having cheesecakes with coffee

Corporate customers or Retailers are your neighbouring business owners such as bank staff, office workers, retail staff, video shop staff, chemist, doctors etc. They often too are busy running their businesses and don’t have time in the day to make small decisions – even where to get the best coffee. This tip will take the guesswork out of their daily busy life.

Remember every new corporate client that has one coffee a day Monday to Friday is worth $15 per week, or $750 per year to your café. Make sure you create a great coffee every time to go into that mug. A good quality coffee is the best form of advertisement for your cafe business.

Here is what you do:

  • Step 1:
    Purchase 200 recognisable Mugs, negotiate price on wholesale buy. Print up a sticker to go on the Mug if you want better branding of your Name.
  • Step 2:
    Give them out with the following letter to all your corporate customers and retailers. Make sure you enclose a catering menu so you can up sell/cross sell your food items.
  • Step 3:
    Give them a discounted refill (say $2.50 instead of $3.00) every time they bring back their mug; remember this is the best time to start collecting their names. Get yourself a little name pad and jot down their names or collecting their business cards. Put this list behind the counter and amaze your new customers on your memory powers.

This is an example of the letter:

Café Name, address, phone number and Logo

Dear coffee lover,

Let me introduce you to one of the oldest pleasures known to civilised men. COFFEE.

Café (name) has let you in on a little secret and are giving you a recognisable drinking vessel to help you experience this magic beverage. Our qualified Coffee Barista will make the coffee of your choice and give you a discount off our regular price.

For your patronage we can offer you a ($2.50) refill every time you bring that mug in to our Café. All our staff are accredited Coffee Baristas and understand the presentation of this popular beverage. Our café also boasts excellent fresh meals, lush cakes, and iced beverages. We also cater for our corporate customers and have enclosed a catering menu.

We look forward to serving you as our guests.

Owner (your name), our barista (name) and other team members first names (this creates a personal feel and encourages ongoing relationship building)

Recession-proof Your Cafe Business by Cafe Coach

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