According to the National Coffee Association, seven in ten Americans drink coffee every week, while 62 percent drink coffee every day—and while you may find yourself in that category, owning your own coffee shop can be profitable in this day and age of specialized, gourmet coffee drinkers. But how can you get new customers into your coffee shop as you continue to grow your business?
To attract new customers to your coffee shop:
1. Change your menu.
2. Add takeaway items.
3. Offer discounts or promotions.
4. Broaden your generational appeal.
5. Create a social media campaign.
6. Create a physical marketing campaign.
7. Update your website.
8. Work with an online delivery platform.
9. Make your physical space stand out.
10. Give back to the community.
There are many versions of coffee shops that you could be running, but for the purposes of this information, the standard independent coffee shop will be the main consideration—a brick-and-mortar location with trained staff, an established menu, and enough capital to run a marketing campaign. But don’t think you have to spend thousands of dollars to do the things on this list—some of them can be close to free. Read on to find out more.
Change your menu.
While this seems to be some sort of nuclear option for some franchise coffee shops, if you’re an independently owned business, you have the ability to do whatever you want, as long as you can make your profit margins for the month.
Changing up your menu doesn’t have to mean sweeping changes to your offerings. You can get people excited by rebranding already existing drinks into something more for the holidays or the seasons (think the peppermint latte or the pumpkin spice latte) with a new name or artwork on your menu or social media.
Add takeaway items.
If you’re looking to both boost your sales and increase interest in your shop, try selling takeaway items like bagged beans, cups, etc. for people to take home. Even shirts are a great option, and they’re a way for you to make money while having organic marketing out in your community. Takeaway and branded items can take your name and logo out across more than just your community and could bring people in from anywhere. Still deciding on a logo or a name? Check out our articles on both of those topics at the links above.
Offer discounts or promotions.
Keeping your prices as low as possible will only draw more people into your shop—and keep them coming back for more.
Making some sort of loyalty program can not only keep your existing customers but can bring in new ones. If they know they can receive deals or money off if they stay loyal to you, some customers will jump ship from their typical coffee shop and shift over to yours. You can do this through a physical card or focus on something online—everyone is on their laptop or mobile devices these days, so focusing on getting them off those devices and into your store to get their deals will bring more customers inside.
While a customer appreciation campaign can also help retain returning customers, you can also offer introductory discounts to new customers to get them to come back, like a card giving them a percentage off after their first three purchases.
Broaden your generational appeal.
Depending on your location, you know best the kind of people coming into your coffee shop, whether they’re older businesspeople or the younger college crowd. If you know the demographics of your typical visitors, try to focus on bringing more of them in, whether it’s broadening your word-of-mouth networking to other businesses in the area or promoting your business on social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok.
Create a social media campaign.
So many people are on social media these days, but it doesn’t mean you have to get lost. By looking at the demographics of your typical customer base, you can cater your social media presence to the people who come in the most—whether it’s Facebook or TikTok, you can garner an audience.
You can get creative with your posts as well! Don’t be afraid to go along with certain trends to get on the For You Page of local social media users. Showing that you’re human and not just a business behind a logo can go a long way with all sorts of new customers.
Create a physical marketing campaign.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good flyer campaign, especially in a smaller community. There are demographics of people who still get their information from newspapers, flyers in their favorite shopping locations, or even postcards—while they may seem antiquated to some, you never know who you might attract through a physical marketing campaign. They can also be more personal than social media—you’ve taken the time to send or give someone a new part of your shop, and that focus on personalization can go a long way.
Update your website.
In our media-focused age, it’s imperative to have both a social media presence and a web presence. While social media pages are easy to set up, you don’t have control over how it looks or how people find that information. You can control your complete image with a custom website, whether you do it yourself through a website like WordPress or Wix or whether you hire a professional.
Work with an online delivery platform.
Online delivery platforms only continue to grow as more and more people work from home. Consider joining with a company such as UberEats, DoorDash, or GrubHub, allowing you to do more takeaway business.
Make your physical space stand out.
Because most of us actually do judge a location by the way it looks, make your coffee shop more inviting from the outside to bring people in. That curb appeal will only benefit you in the long run and could help with the maintenance of your building—and finally bring in those people who have walked past your building countless times. Get more design ideas for your coffee shop here.
Give back to the community.
Many people consider businesses that give back to their community a better place to spend their money. Look into charities or non-profits that align with your business model and ethics and try donating monthly or volunteering. That kind of community focus can go a long way with bringing in customers.
Attracting new customers can be easy if you have the means and the energy to enact some of the strategies on this list. Whether you’re focusing on the community or looking to broaden your social media presence, any of these options should be bringing those new customers back through your door.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you consider the average coffee shop receipt being $7 and serving about 250 customers per day, six days a week, for an entire year, a standalone, independently owned coffee shop can make an average annual gross revenue of about $500,000. When taking out expenses, it could vary between $10,000 annual profit per year to $60,000.
Anyone can start a coffee shop with any level of education. Experience in the field is encouraged, but not required.
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!