While it depends on the location in the country, there are peak times for your coffee shop and there are lulls in your business during your regular day. While most coffee shops find themselves less busy in the mid-afternoon, how do you combat that decrease of a customer base? How can you bring in more people during your slow times?
8 incredible happy hour ideas for your coffee shop are:
- Serve specialty drinks to promote the community.
- Turn your coffee shop into an art gallery.
- Host a drink and paint event.
- Host a Holiday Happy Hour.
- Host a contest.
- Host an open mic or have a musician stop by.
- Provide healthy options for the post-workout crowd.
- Host a calming late-night event for your night owls.
Promoting your business through a happy hour doesn’t have to be complicated, whether it’s holding a contest or reducing your prices during that time. Read on to find out more about what you can do to bring people into your coffee shop—and get some ideas on what works best for you!
Serve specialty drinks to promote the community.
No one can resist a discount, and there are many people who won’t miss a sale or special. When you host your happy hour, consider taking your drinks and making them community-focused. You don’t have to change your recipes—change the names to reflect other businesses, landmarks, or people in your community. Some people will get a laugh, others will be curious how you came up with the recipe for each one, but the goal is the same—people are coming in to get your drinks and they’re talking about it when they leave.
Turn your coffee shop into an art gallery.
If you’re having trouble bringing people into your shop at a certain time in the afternoon, give them a reason to show up. Host an art show at your coffee shop! Use your wall space for up-and-coming community artists to display and sell their art and can also use that time to tout your wares. People love being able to sip on coffee while perusing art, and you can capitalize on that with your art show happy hour. Consider making this a monthly event by partnering with a local arts council, or even see if they have events they would like catered—working with other businesses will always get you noticed.
Host a drink and paint event.
While you’re working with those local artists, consider hosting an event where people can create their own art. Adding the creative event to your roster can excite people and get them involved in your coffee shop, all while providing a non-alcoholic event, as wine and paint events have become extremely popular. Consider opening it up to kids with your non-caffeinated drinks! You can provide a creative, safe environment for parents and children to come and create something that they can then take home and enjoy.
Host a Holiday Happy Hour.
Our holiday plans may be insanely busy the closer they get, but you can still use that time to promote your business and get people inside your doors. Serving specialty drinks help during this time, but decorating your coffee shop to reflect your chosen holiday—or more than one—can make it seem more inviting and calm to those already stressed out about their holiday plans.
Host a contest.
People can’t resist a contest, and when it comes to coffee shop happy hours, there is no exception. You can not only bring in new customers this way but keep old ones while promoting your business. Choose your winner in person during your happy hour time to make sure people are coming in, and use that time to give them a free drink, a t-shirt, a mug, or something for them to take home that they may not purchase for themselves. And make sure you have more on hand—even those who don’t win may want to purchase the item before they leave.
Host an open mic or have a musician stop by.
Increasing your foot traffic is great for your coffee shop, but increasing your overall attendance can be helpful, too. Get people in the door and get them to stay by bringing in a live musician to play during your happy hour. You could also set up an open mic night, inviting up-and-coming artists as you did for your art show. This not only gives them a space to play in public, but you could also reap the benefits of their fans, friends, and family stopping by to see them perform. Give them something to sing about with themed drinks!
Provide healthy options for the post-workout crowd.
Many people don’t drink coffee after a certain time in the afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be selling products. When you hit that happy hour time frame, provide drinks for those coming out of work or out of a long workout by providing antioxidant teas, juices, or smoothies for that post-workout crowd. You could even partner with a health food store somewhere in your community to get the supplies you need to make the switch over.
Host a calming late-night event for your night owls.
Coffee drinkers don’t discriminate on when they stop in, and people live on many different schedules. Don’t leave your night owls in the dark with your happy hours—schedule one just for them and provide specialty drinks for discounts, provide music, or give them some games and encourage a calming environment. If you want to bring in those who aren’t such night owls, consider marketing your sleep-inducing teas or create a less caffeinated version of your best sellers. Making your shop a safe, easy place to relax may make your business boom after dark.
Remember, a happy hour doesn’t actually have to be an hour-long event—you can extend those activities for several hours in the afternoon. Figure out what works best for your shop and you can cater exactly to the needs of your customer base, so it not only increases your profit margins but your visibility in your community. Word-of-mouth advertising is still one of the best and most trusted forms of marketing—get your customers talking through an incredible happy hour!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many ways to attract new customers to your coffee shop, including updating your menu and adding takeaway items, offering discounts or promotions, and making your physical shop stand out. You can broaden your generational appeal through marketing, like a physical marketing campaign and a social media campaign, along with updating your website. Work with an online delivery platform to get your drinks into the hands of people not in your shop, and work with a local non-profit to show that you’re focused on community.
Due to the initial investment in your shop, you can expect to make a profit margin of about $10,000 per year. Once you pay off your investment, though, with standard costs and hours open, you could start to make an annual profit of $60,000 or more. More details on expected income can be found here.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!