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Small Town Tips?

This is a discussion on Small Town Tips? within the Coffee Shops, Espresso Bars & Cafes forums, part of the Coffee Addicts category; My wife and I aquired a small shop about 9 months ago. The previous owner ran another business and was doing a poor job of ...

  1. #1
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    Small Town Tips?

    My wife and I aquired a small shop about 9 months ago. The previous owner ran another business and was doing a poor job of running the coffee shop. He had originally started off well and ran the shop for about 10 years but lost interest. With the shop we got all the equipment which was quality coffee shop equipment. He is independently wealthy so just ran the shop kinda as a public service.
    In the first few months we doubled the daily profit. Since then it seems as if weve hit a glass ceiling. The shop is located in a small southern town of about 13,000. We do local art openings and try to support local events, artists, and authors as much as possible. Its just seems that most people in town dont value coffee and treat it more as a commodity. Thus we have a hard time selling coffee shop quality coffee. Giving away free samples seems to do nothing. The shop is located on Main St. in this town and I still get the "I never knew this was here" line.
    Anyway, sorry for some venting. My question is does anyone have experience running a shop in a smaller town? What advice do you have to get noticed and boost my profits? Thanks!

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  3. #2
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    If you are turning a profit and have doubled the profit in that short of time, you are already successful.
    - How about live acoustical music? Once a week have different local artists. Many will play for free if they can pass the hat and there is a large enough crowd.
    - Try promotions with other, non-competing shops. "Get a XXX there and get a free XXX here" sort of thing.
    - Have a monthly coffee education night and invite customers to come in and sample coffee and such. Teach them why your coffee is better. Good salesmanship is educating the customers.
    - Loyalty cards.
    - Viagra Ventis...? "GET ONE FREE" cards distributed at the local retirement homes...? OK.. just kidding.
    - Buy one, get one free morning once a month.

    If I recall correctly (and I was an art major, so don't quote me), it takes three times as much money to make a new customer than to keep an old one. Strive to make everyone feel like part of a family so they want to return. Coffee shops are about good coffee, but GREAT company.

  4. #3
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    Well my apologies. I miss worded my initial info there. What I was trying to say was that we doubled the daily intake of money not actually profit. Right now we are operating right at break even sometimes a little under. He was loosing a considerable amount of money when he ran it.

    Still good advice Randy. Thanks!

  5. #4
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    If you doubled the sales in 9 months, chances are you are on the right track. However, from what you wrote, I am guessing you are thinking better quality coffee is a hard sell in your market. I will suggest to you that having a excellent cup of coffee is the easiest and least costly way to improve business. Counterculture Coffee is a well known wholesale coffee roaster located in NC, perhaps you can ask them to take a look at what you are doing?
    You want cream and sugar?
    NO COFFEE FOR YOU! NEXT!

  6. #5
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    I grew up in a small town and there are a few things. 1. Your customer base isn't going to ever be great. There are likely many older people who are just as happy to get their cup of coffee at the local diner (Folgers anyone?). This means that you are going to have to reach your younger audience. I'd suggest maybe doing something for or with the local high-school to reach students. Most of them (if they're like my town) will end up staying after they graduate and will likely be great customers to have for many more years.

    2. Advertising in the local paper (if there is one) probably isn't very expensive so, why not take out an ad or maybe sponsor some local section of the paper?

    3. You need to be looking for products to add (if you don't already have them). If your town is like most small towns, there aren't many good places to eat. Why not add a breakfast menu, lunch menu, ice cream, and maybe baked goods. You could probably even find local people who are well known for their pies, cupcakes, preserves, etc. and have them sell at your shop (maybe charge them a small fee). If their products can be purchased at your coffee shop, you can bet they're going to be telling all of their customers.

    4. Try to make your shop a local community hot-spot. Reach out to local organizations (ladies organizations, churches, etc.) and offer them free space to have their meetings, or maybe offer a discount. Ultimately, if you can become a place where all of these groups want to meet, you'll do well.

    Best of luck!
    Roddy

    PS - If you're looking for a loyalty card (as mentioned in Randy's post), come check out MobileLoyal.net

  7. #6
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    How about educating your customers more. Try running a cupping class once or twice a month. When you take your local canned coffee from the grocer and have them cup that robusta they will be amazed at the difference by cupping your great coffee. Blew my mind the first time I did it.

  8. #7
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    First set your target group, then see if your company fits your target groups needs. And a customer satisfaction form would also be helpful for some feedback.

  9. #8
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    Teach your self and your wife some barista pouring tricks and techniques. I mean a bit of good looking coffee art to differ from the competition. If you sell a good quality coffee, surely it deserves to look amazing in a cup.

  10. #9
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    You have to sell what your customers want regardless of your market. If you are in New York City, you can sell higher priced erotic coffees. Being in a small southern town probably not. I would say stick to what the locals want and drink. Nothing fancy and not too pricey. And because your population is quite small, well, just don't expect to compete with StarBucks.

  11. #10
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    Well... This is the subject I am very interested on and just found it so here it goes....

    I own a small town coffee shop. I am located in downtown and we are the only shop in town.
    First of all, it is not a good sign when people say, " I didnt know you were here" It means you are not located where you should be. But that you can't change.
    You have all the equipment to service people so. I have few questions.

    1. Do you sell breakfast?
    2. If so, what are you selling?
    3. Do you have coffee club card or punch card for free coffee at the end?
    4. Does that work?
    5. Do you have music on weekend? I did but I don't anymore....
    6. Do you have high quality coffee? Like something you can be proud of?
    7. Do you see same people everyday or different people each day/
    8. What is average ticket sales and average daily cup sales...

    Thanks

 

 
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