How can I boost my café sales?
To increase café sales, you can be unique, hire great staff, launch a website, upgrade to digital menu boards, use social media, try upselling, expand your menu, start a loyalty program, form commercial partnerships or host events.
We get it, that’s a long list, and it’s easier said than done. But in this article, we’ll show you exactly how to work through our best tips and marketing ideas so you can start growing sales in your café business today. Let’s get started.
So, you’re a café owner looking to boost your sales and attract more customers.
Here are some of the most effective tactics you can try.
It’s not true to say that coffee is coffee. Different blends and baristas can make a big difference, and people will go out of their way for their favorite coffee. But sometimes it takes more than just the brand of your coffee or the skills of your barista to draw customers into your café in preference to other local establishments. That’s why it pays to make the experience you offer unique. Give your café a recognizable personality. Turn it into a place where people don’t simply enjoy good coffee but also value the extras like the surroundings, service, music, facilities or anything else that makes you stand out. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, know your target audience inside out and do everything just how they like it. Are you running a busy city café? Perhaps you need a walk-up window with lightning-fast service. If your café is in a family-friendly neighborhood, offer a kid's menu, high chairs and coloring pencils at each table. Delivering what your customers want and making them feel at ease makes them more likely to stay longer, spend more money, tell their friends and visit again.
Invest in staff
Your employees will make or break the success of your café business. They’re the face of your business and will have a huge impact on customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. When customers feel valued, they’re more likely to return and recommend your café to others. To build a gun team, put time and effort into your recruitment process. Make sure the people you hire fit the culture of your café. Be good to them, and they will return the favor. Offer regular opportunities for training. Teaching them how to greet customers, take orders, upsell, make great food and coffee, and handle complaints will ultimately boost sales.
Have a website
According to Google, 80% of people research businesses in their local area, and half of those people will visit that business within 24 hours. In today's digital age, having a website for your café is essential. If someone searches for ‘café near me’ or ‘best coffee shop in (your location),’ Google will provide a list of businesses, and you want yours to be on it. If you have a website and ensure your Google My Business details are up to date, your chances of being listed are much higher.
Your website helps customers find information about your café, including your menu, location, hours, and events. It can help show customers what sort of café you are, gives you credibility, and encourages new customers to choose your café over competitors. By including online ordering and delivery options on your website, you can boost sales with customers looking for that convenience. You can also use your website as a powerful marketing tool, promoting your events, specials, and promotions.
Upgrade to a Digital Menu Board
Digital menu boards are a game changer for café businesses. They’re the perfect way to capture attention and showcase tasty menu items with tantalizing high-definition videos and images on crystal-clear screens. You can update prices and menu items in a few clicks rather than getting staff or signage companies to update your menu manually. You can automate switching from breakfast to lunch menus and test specials and promotions.
Expand Your Menu
People are spending more time in coffee shops and cafés than ever before. 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, with millennials spending on average $2,008 per annum and 35-44 year olds spending $1,410. The likelihood is that if your café broadened its range of food, these customers would stay longer and spend more. Subs, sandwiches and salads as well as a wider choice of snacks and baked goods could significantly increase each customer’s spend. And with the healthy mark-ups these foods represent, profit margins will grow.
Start a Loyalty Program
This isn’t a new idea. Coffee drinkers have been earning stamps on loyalty cards for years. That’s now switched to apps. However, many loyalty schemes are unambitious and extend no further than simple mathematical benefits like ‘buy 10 and get the 11th free’. Be imaginative, without getting complicated. Broaden the range of benefits so that it feels like a genuine reward system rather than just a perfunctory replication of what every competitor does.
Form Commercial Partnerships
The sale of coffee is a highly portable service so it’s ideal for concessions in department stores, at sporting events and festivals, in pop-up stores and even at community occasions like swap meets. These are all great places for raising your profile and gaining visibility because people are there expecting to spend money. A delicious coffee will be welcome at the time and then the brand of the company serving it will be remembered, generating traffic to your café.
Book launches, community meetings, neighborhood events of all kinds – these are great ways to get people through the door. They don’t in themselves directly boost sales, but simply in the increased numbers of potential customers they attract, it’s likely you’ll experience a welcome sales spike.
This might sound less exciting than the other ideas, but it’s no less worthwhile for that. Although your biggest costs are probably your staff, there are usually savings to be made. The elimination of slow-selling lines and more efficient inventory management are good places to start. Always keep an eye on costs and be alert to ways of minimizing them.
“Our digital menus have helped increase weekly sales by over 10%. They act as a virtual staff member that encourages a customer to buy more.”
Make it easy to get a digital menu board up and running in your café by choosing adigital signage company that offers simple drag and drop café templates with food images and videos built-in.
Create window displays
Capturing more foot traffic with window displays is an excellent strategy for boosting sales in your café. Digital signs are perfect because they are the most attention-grabbing form of signage available. Plus, they can display multiple messages over the day to appeal to hungry passersby. You can advertise specials and promotions that appeal to your target audience. Try to have promotions that add value rather than just drop prices. You want people coming in for the best coffee in town, not the cheapest
Create window displays
The power of digital and social media marketing is huge. It’s more than just advertising. It’s a way to stimulate conversations, engage with customers and encourage loyalty. It’s also demographically ideal for millennial and Gen Z coffee lovers. You have the chance to interact with them when they’re not in your café, and it’s a cost-effective way to remind customers to come back in to see you.
Make sure you have a profile on the platforms where your target audience likes to hang out, such as Facebook,Instagram,Twitter or TikTok. Post a few times a week and make sure your photos and videos are engaging and enticing. You can encourage engagement by asking questions like, ‘What new menu item should we introduce?’ You can also stream your social media feed onto the digital signs in your café. Customers love seeing their content pop up, encouraging them to post and promote your café in their networks.
Upsell and cross-sell
While we might feel it's necessary, coffee is an entirely discretionary purchase. When customers crave caffeine, they’re in the buying mood, and it’s easy to persuade them to spend a little more. Upselling is where you encourage customers to buy a larger serve or a premium version, like if someone orders a regular coffee and you offer a jumbo size for just $1 more. Cross-selling is about persuading people to buy complementary items, like getting a cookie with your coffee for an extra buck. Just do your maths to make sure that it makes sense financially. You can ask your staff to promote the upsells and cross-sells, but they’re busy and will often forget. That’s why it’s good to have digital menu boards that can do that work for you.
Expand your menu
People are spending more time and money in coffee shops and cafés than ever before. 62% of Americans drink coffee daily, with millennials spending on average $2,008 per year while 35-44 year olds spend $1,410. The likelihood is that if your café broadened its range of food, these customers would stay longer and spend more. Subs, sandwiches, salads, and a wider choice of snacks and baked goods could significantly increase each customer’s spending. You could also consider expanding your offering to cater to people with dietary requirements, like vegan, gluten-free or keto options. To promote your expanded menu you could offer free tastings, plus display tempting images in full color on your digital signs.
Start a loyalty program
This isn’t a new idea. Coffee drinkers have been earning stamps on loyalty cards for years, and now great apps are available to manage loyalty programs. Some POS systems offer the feature too. However, many loyalty schemes are unambitious and don’t extend beyond simple mathematical benefits like ‘buy 10 and get the 11th free.’ Yawn. Be imaginative without getting complicated. Broaden the range of benefits so that it feels like a genuine reward system rather than just a bland copy of what every café does. You could offer member-only discounts or a points system with exciting prizes. Don’t forget to offer a birthday deal. It might even encourage people to celebrate their special day in your café.
Form commercial partnerships
Selling coffee is a highly mobile service so try to build partnerships that expand your reach to department stores, sporting events, festivals, pop-up stores and even at community occasions like swap meets. These are all great places for raising your profile and boosting sales because people are there expecting to spend money. A delicious coffee will be welcome at the time, and then the brand of the company serving it will be remembered, generating future traffic to your café.
Book launches, community meetings, and neighborhood events are great ways to get people through the door. By simply increasing the number of potential customers, you’ll likely experience a welcome sales spike. You can also host events to celebrate your customers’ favorite holidays. You could have a Father’s Day lunch menu with a giant-sized coffee and sandwich for the guest of honor, a Christmas costume contest with candy cane prizes or romantic candle-lit breakfasts for Valentine’s Day. Ensure the event is tied closely to the interests of your target customers. Promote your events through social media, letterbox drops, email marketing and digital signage.
Inspired? Time to get started.
We hope our tips have given you plenty of ideas for boosting sales in your café. Many of our suggested tactics are free or very affordable and save you money in the long run, so there are no excuses. Good luck!