There is no one secret to a successful coffee shop; in fact, most secrets in business boil down to either hard work, extensive experience, or luck or a combination of all three. Coffee shops NY relies on success for this post to mean financially sustainable with an appropriate ROI for the owner, which means not necessarily giving the customer everything they would wish for.
Consistently serving the finest espresso – It is rare in business to discover a product where consistently offering 100% quality is the best commercial decision you can make. In fact, I am the greatest advocate for the 80% is perfect model. But espresso coffee is one of those rare products where consistent 100% quality matters. Customers will walk past ten other competitors to get the best espresso, which is why this factor alone means you don’t need the highly visible, most expensive location. So buy the best espresso coffee machine (3/4 group Italian made with e61 groupheads and set to the right pump and temperature levels), install it with a water purifier and demineralizer, use a conical grinder, and only buy top quality Arabica or Arabica 90%/Robusta 10% freshly roasted beans, and make sure every cup is made by a fully trained barista who is continually seeking the ‘god shot.’
Ergonomics is vital – Make sure the coffee workstation and layout is such that the barista hardly moves their feet in performing all their coffee making duties, and they are not competing for the space with other staff members. High volume coffee sales are the foundation stone of every coffee shop, so make sure this workstation is perfectly laid out with easy access to underneath bins, bean storage, and bar fridge milk, having the right height benchtop with easy access to cups, grinder, accessories, and reachable overhead storage of supplies. The best setups also have a small inbuilt sink to allow for quick and easy ongoing cleaning. Also, place the cash register on the front counter in close proximity to the barista’s workstation. This allows the barista to hear the customer orders and get a head start on making them in the busy times, while allowing the barista to work alone in an efficient way in the very slow times.
Use loyalty cards – I resisted using these for a long time … but they really do work. Make sure it is a quality card that will last the wear and tear and look good in a customer’s wallet. Nothing better than seeing a new customer’s face light up when you give them a buy seven get the eighth one free loyalty card, but tick off six of them so that on their very next purchase they get a free one. Cheapest customer acquisition ever.
Promote multiple sales – A coffee shop will never make enough money to pay the bills from coffee sales alone. Coffee may be the prime motivator for customers coming to the business, but they must leave with multiple sales if you are going to be successful. As a target, coffee should be no more than 40% of your weekly sales and two item sales per customer transaction means you are getting it about right. So make sure the traditional coffee accompaniments (muffins, cookies, cakes) are close by at the point of sale, and the coffee shop offers cold food, cold drinks, and hot food to ensure the best chance of multiple sales.