I’m blessed to have two coffee shops as clients on my books. When I started my business, I worried that this would be a clash and that each industry I entered into deserved exclusivity. I’ve proven myself wrong.
Three lessons for coffee shop owners that I’ve discovered along my journey (while sipping way too many chai lattes) is this:
1. The photos of restaurant dishes are your brand identity
Stored away in image repositories are hundreds of photographs for both coffee shops, yet I know from one split-second glance which dish belongs to which establishment. It’s a look, the way the food is prepared, the selection of ingredients and garnish that builds an image in people’s heads. Choices of where to dine are often made this way. We eat with our eyes and so what you’re “selling” on social media needs to be as visually appealing as possible.
Invest in good food photography. Notice that I didn’t say ‘photographer’. In my opinion, people have slowly taught themselves how to take the best cellphone pic which shows off their food and their moments of delight. The best feedback is seeing your coffee shop through their eyes. It’s also important to be authentic so that people know that what they see in glossy images splashed across your Instagram account, is also what they will receive when they order it.
2. Loyal customers are often built offline first
Both coffee shops have their loyal fans. It’s ‘the regulars’. The patrons who drop in every morning or weekend as part of their routine. Coffee shop owners need to be aware that it’s quicker and easier to build relationships in the real world than it is to do so via a Facebook or Instagram post, so make sure you’re nurturing those regulars. They often become your biggest fans online because you treat them like family. They are key to sharing your content to family & friends – word of mouth matters!
3. Keeping up with the latest fads is critical
South Africans are fickle. We like to chase the ‘next best thing’. As an example, we’ve moved swiftly from banting to carb clever and have now become fixated on plant-based meals.
It’s not about changing your menu but understanding your audiences and what they’re looking for. A tweak here and there to keep them coming back.
Regular monitoring of competitors and food trends matters. It’s as simple as introducing almond milk and adding in that little sugar-free biscotti with each coffee order because these little things make a big difference. For now 😉
My two clients are from different sides of the world, focused on completely different target audiences. Whenever I’ve had client meetings with them, I’ve tried to soak up as much of that real-world vibe as I can to try and imbue it back into their social media feeds… Never underestimate how important this is.
If you’re in the neighbourhoods, make sure you give them a try!
Park Café in Parkwood has some exciting changes coming up in the next few months; new management, new name, new menu, new layout – so watch this space! Find them at Park Café, Lower Level, The Parks Centre Cnr Wells & Jan Smuts Ave.
The Usual on Grant in Norwood is known for their generous portions and is dog-friendly with the best views of Grant Avenue. Find them on 66 Grant Avenue, Norwood.