There comes a time in every business when you take a look at your profit margins and try to find ways to bring in a bit more cash. If you’re just starting out, this is especially important because you are just beginning to build your customer base. If you’ve been in business a while it’s just as important: new businesses are always going to come in and target your customers.
The reality is simple: if you meet your customers’ needs, they will be loyal. Therefore it is imperative that you tailor your business to fit your customers’ wants and expectations. In order to meet the expectation of the customers, the use of the coffee roasters will be beneficial. It will provide a unique and different taste to the coffee of the person without additional efforts.
The easiest way of accomplishing this is to evaluate your customer. By answering the following seven questions, you will be able to better understand – and therefore meet – your customers’ needs.
- What do your customers buy, and when do they buy it?
Do most of your customers buy brewed coffee? If so, do they stop in first thing in the morning on their way to work?
Do they prefer lattes or even tea? Do you see the same people coming in every afternoon for a sweet little pick-me-up?
You need to analyze your sales to see which products your customers buy when. If you see that you have a product that does not typically sell in a given time period, consider running a special. Likewise, you can improve your business dramatically if you run specials during times when business is slow – provided you do everything you can to market the special and make sure that your customers know about it.
- What do your customers need from you?
Are your lines too long? Do you have staff members who aren’t aware of certain products that your customers want to know about?
Basically, by answering this question, you can evaluate what your customers need to keep them coming back (or, better yet, to get their friends and colleagues to come in to your shop too).
One way to evaluate your customers’ needs is to consider what you would want if you were on the other side of the counter. A second way is to conduct customer surveys to get direct answers from your customers about what they’re looking for (HINT: add a benefit to the customer filling out the survey such as a coupon for a free drink; if there is a perceived value to filling out the survey, a customer is more likely to take the time).
- What are you doing that does not benefit your customers?
Are you running specials that no one takes advantage of? Are you trying to sell products that they don’t need? Look at your inventory: is there something that you carry that you never seem to use?
For example, how many size options do you offer your customers? If you offer coffees in 8oz, 12oz, 16oz, 20oz and 32oz, and your customers typically buy only three of those sizes you should eliminate to two less popular sellers. This will increase your bottom line because you will not buy cups that you don’t need.
Similarly, if your customer base does not buy the t-shirts you are trying to sell them, why go through the expense of buying them and having them printed?
- What motivates your customers to buy?
Are your customers coming in and just looking for a caffeine buzz or do they approach their coffee with the passion many enthusiasts have for wine? If your customer wants a great cup of coffee and you are only out to get them the caffeine kick, you’re not going to be meeting their needs.
Do your customers need a little extra incentive to pick up a pastry along with their drink? If so, add a special combo deal.
- How frequently do you see your customers?
In a coffee shop, you should see your loyal customers at least once a day during the work week. Try to keep an idea of who you see when. If you know your customers and their habits, you’ll be better able to recognize the times that they don’t come in.
With an awareness of your customers’ patterns, you’ll be better able to see a change – such as a decrease in the frequency of their visits. And, if you notice that change early on, you should make it a point to ask why they aren’t coming in as much. That way, you’ll be able to figure out what your competition is doing that’s winning your customers over.
- What are your customers willing to pay more for?
Is it presentation that wins over your customers? Is it exceptional customer service? Is it a better product?
When your business is a coffee shop, you need to understand what makes your customer willing to pay $1.50 for a cup of your coffee rather than paying $0.69 for a cup from the local gas station.
By knowing what makes your customer willing to pay a higher price, you can be sure that you encourage their loyalty by giving it to them every time they come in the door.
- What do your customers think should cost less?
This is always a challenge in any business, but it’s important to know which items on your menu don’t meet the value your customer expects. Keep in mind that most people are willing to pay more for a great product that comes to them with great service. If no one is willing to pay $5.00 for a sandwich in your shop, take the time to look around and see what your competitors are offering; common sense tells you that your customers will go elsewhere for a better value.
However, don’t just jump to lower your price – doing so will likely undercut your profit, not help you to boost it.
Keep in mind that you should reflect on these questions often to make sure that you are aware of what your customers are looking for and whether or not you are providing it.