When reading about the coffee business while I start my own adventure into this field, I read about overhead expenses and I find myself with a completely different viewpoint than many current authors.
If you think your biggest expenses are food costs, rent or staffing then please read on for a different perspective...
What is the largest expense for your coffee shop? Food costs, staffing, rent & utility overhead? I don't believe that to be the case; I have a different perspective.
The biggest expense in your coffee shop is an Empty Seat.
Any seat that is empty is a complete waste of valuable resources. All of the overhead in its entirety associated with your business (the staffing, the rent, the utilities, license, taxes) is represented in its own fraction entirely every time a chair remains empty.
Every time a customer makes a purchase and fills a chair you have offset a fraction of your your overhead in its entirety. The restaurant and cafe business has an extremely high failure rate; and while owners go looking for answers on their profit & loss statements (overhead costs? food costs? staffing costs?), we all know that it's a hospitality business at heart.
And within that concept, you have customers coming into your space, wanting to spend time in it and enjoy their coffee break and deciding their future visits there at the same time, either consciously or unconsciously. If their experience is good to great, there is an excellent chance that they will return - and fill that empty seat. This is one of the largest factors predicting whether your business is declining or growing.
So my advice: increase the odds and stack them in your favor. Take advantage of your current visitors and find ways to encourage more future visits. Always plan on recapturing your existing market and growing your business exponentially.
To that end it is imperative to incorporate new reasons for your customers to visit. And while most coffee shops don't believe they have the resources to offer anything other than pastries or products delivered by a third party, I think there are simple options available that will add personality to the traditional coffee shop menu while attracting in customers who love your shop but haven't seen beautiful simple lunches or savory snacks with a bit of protein. When customers start seeing these new treats offered on the menu they will start to think of your shop as perhaps a potential lunch spot if they want something light, especially if they already love the space.
So while you may have thought that simple meals were too complicated to add to your offerings, please stay tuned to my blog; I'm here to inspire coffee shop owners towards filling those empty seats with simple & delicious menu additions.
And I do think there’s a sweet spot where café owners can maintain their focus on fine coffee while still offering extremely simple lunch and afternoon options that increase patronage, take advantage of offsetting all of the costs associated with your existing overhead, and ensure continuous investment from your existing customer base.
I'm new to the coffee business but I own a lunch catering company - Lunchbox - that has been successful for the last 20 years so I know I can add a bit more to the conversation about business success and hopefully encourage my fellow cafe owners to consider a new perspective on their business's future success.
Please stay tuned & we'll delve more into simple options that are delicious and doable.