I’m Martin, a Business Specialist here at P&R. 

Are you a cafe owner, manager, or looking to purchase a cafe? This blog is for you. I hope it provides help, ideas, or a way to start a discussion so that we can address the everyday problems we face running cafes and better the industry as a whole.

Cafe staff

Staffing challenges

Finding and retaining skilled and great team members can be a persistent issue for cafes.  How do we invest in our team to help increase their skill, provide greater personal value and joy, and as a result give our customers a better experience?

The answer may be creating a team culture that attracts and retains great people. Hiring team members that get joy out of hospitality. Empowering team members to make a real difference. Inspiring them with a vision of creating something great. As well as utilising modern apps, shift fillers for busy times and automation to continue to create a great experience for team members and customers alike.

Rising costs

Fluctuating costs of products, produce, electricity, water and rent can create financial impacts. Rising costs often mean reduced profit margins. Trusted and value-adding relationships with business partners can make a difference. Only focusing on lowering costs may work against you primarily if you are focused on providing a great specialty coffee experience. Instead, lean into initiatives such as great training, smart equipment, and look towards value-aligned partners for potential ideas.

Using fresh produce that is local and in season makes sure you're using produce with great flavour and lower carbon footprint and often lower cost too.

To better understand and articulate your value proposition, we recommend this article.

Coffee suppliesCompetition

Some locations may feel saturated with cafes. What is your difference from your neighbours? 

High-level specialty coffee (batch brew, filter coffee, single origin coffee program), niche food, and memorable service? 

Lean into what you do well and become excellent at it to provide a distinct choice to your customers. Be ‘The’ place to visit, not one of many places.

This article about expanding your coffee offering, as well as ten questions that every cafe should ask, are great places to start.

P&R Cafe

Changing consumer trends

How do become connected to evolving customer preferences such as dietary trends, online ordering and social media? 

Do any of these newer trends provide value to the business or are they simply a distraction?

Ultimately, hospitality is about the customer. So understanding changing trends and preferences is a must for all of us.

This article about critical trends for 2024 is a must-read.

P&R Marketing

Marketing and visibility

Are you standing out and have a clear message of who you are / what you do or are you lost in the sea of voices? Clear and well composed marketing doesn't have to be costly.

Post interesting, distinct and relevant content often. This will also make sure that you are always thinking about how food and coffee looks (and tastes) as your team is always thinking about instagram worthy presentations. And you will see many of your customers posting about you. 

Other ideas you can explore are having a mailing list, letting offices and residents around your area know about your cafe and what you offer (especially if you offer catering) and geo-targeted ads for potential customers that live or work around your cafe area.

Customer reviews and feedback 

Interacting with online reviews and addressing customer feedback in a non-emotional constructive manner, both positive and negative, is crucial in maintaining a positive public image. Own it, grow from it and celebrate the wins.

We all make mistakes. These are opportunities for improvement. Reviews are also a good indication of how customers are finding your coffee, food and overall experience.

Coffee customer reviews and feedback

What's not working

Sometimes a bit of pain shows it's time to change. Having a critical evaluation of your own venue to turn a weakness into a strength can make a huge impact. Is the layout of your coffee bar creating delays or poor experience? Are you a cafe with a coffee machine hidden from street view? thus not giving you free marketing that says 'specialty coffee' to potential customers? Is your venue cold or hot during weather extremes thus limiting customers' visit during these days. Not all issues can be fixed but an honest look at these issues can be a positive exercise.

P&R Cafe

Shift the mindset to change reality

There has been a lot of talk recently about coffee prices being too low and cafes doing it tough. Challenges are also opportunities with the right mindset.

We think the old model of specialty cafes no longer works. We need to look at things with fresh eyes. From prices, to equipment, to value proposition, to marketing and image. The silver lining is that there is no choice but to change for the better. We are often too afraid to change (read more here). But, we should be more afraid of not changing. Every time you find yourself thinking or doing something because this is what everyone else does, this is how it’s always been or this is impossible, that should be a sign that it’s time to change.

Thank you, cafes

We know that running a cafe can be hard. Thank you for choosing this as your passion in life. We know how much joy and value you add to your amazing teams and the customers, when you get it right. So, don’t be daunted by the challenges, we can together create an even better future.

 If you want to discuss this or other challenges more, feel free to get in touch.

Yours in coffee