Coffee is one of the most competitive industries in the country, and with corporate giants like Starbucks seemingly dominating the market, achieving success as a smaller café can seem like an insurmountable task. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get a leg up, and boosting customer loyalty is one of them.
One of the major advantages that small cafés have is the ability to engage with customers on a more personal, familiar level. And who are you more likely to trust—a huge, faceless company or a friendly neighbour? This is where loyalty comes in. Here are just a few of the techniques that coffee shop owners can use to retain customers and compete with the big boys.
Hold weekly promotions
Making customers aware of a weekly deal (a buy-one-get-one-free promotion on Thursdays, for instance) gives them a great reason to keep coming back consistently. You could even create a unique promotion for each day of the week to widen your appeal. Make sure that details about your promotions are displayed prominently, both in the store and within the café’s online presence.
Stay in touch
Maintaining constant contact with your clients is an excellent way to keep their loyalty high, and the best way to do that is to encourage them to sign up for an email or text message list. For this to work, your list has to provide them with something of value, such as coupons, updates on new special events or promotions, or details about your newest menu offerings. You may also want to provide a reward to people just for signing up, such as a discount on their next cup of coffee.
Offer loyalty cards
Card-based reward systems are still one of the most popular types of loyalty programs out there, largely because they’re so simple to set up—just design a card, assign point values to purchases, and offer discounts or gifts once certain milestones have been reached. To give your loyalty card a little extra gravitas, try putting it in a branded card holder before presenting it to a customer. Don’t just put your logo on it and call it a day; take this opportunity to select something with a unique, creative style. CompanyFolders.com offers over 20 unique card holders with a multitude of paper stocks, imprint methods, and other customizable options to choose from.
Create an app
If you have the resources available, an app-based reward system can be extremely efficient—especially since it can often double as a convenient mobile payment system that saves your customers time. The “gamified” nature of an app that allows customers to earn points in exchange for rewards encourages them to keep making purchases. This is particularly useful for attracting tech-savvy crowds, and depending on the location and atmosphere of your café, that might be your prime audience.
Offer a refillable coffee mug program
Eco-friendly initiatives have become increasingly popular in recent years, and you can capitalise on this with a program encouraging the use of reusable mugs. Consider providing a small discount to customers who opt to refill their own mug instead of using a disposable cup. To make this easier for them (and to make some extra cash), create customised travel mugs with your café’s branding and offer them up for sale. PrintOnMugs offers an incredible variety that includes travel mugs, so even customers who take their coffee on the go can participate.
Contribute to charitable causes
Forming a close, loyal relationship with your clients means showing them you’re the type of company worth having a relationship with in the first place—and that usually means getting involved in your local community. Making an occasional lip service donation to a charity won’t cut it. Instead, sponsor a charitable event or volunteer with local community service organisations. Think of this as more than just a photo opportunity; it’s a chance to get to know the people in your city and show them how much you care. When you make a commitment to service, you’re likely to see a great deal of customer loyalty in return.
Chances are that you’re not going to oust the titans of the coffee industry from their throne anytime soon. But by applying these techniques and appealing to the loyalty of your customers, you can definitely hold your own.