If you’re thinking about expanding your drink or food menu, selling gift items or going beyond your shop to find new business, there a few things to look at before you leap.
Walking into a coffee shop for a pastry and a latte can be overwhelming. You might be confronted with 20 or more beverage options—or retail goods (candies, greeting cards, t-shirts, coffee mugs, kettle chips, tins of tea, etc.)
While a sparse, modern coffee shop with a minimalist menu looks great on the surface, let’s face it: It’s hard to pay the bills when you’re selling coffee and not much more. Starbucks sells much more than cups of brown liquid, including umpteen packaged snacks, grab-and-go meals and drinks, as well as plenty of point-of-sale impulse items to tempt your sweet tooth. Not to mention an impressive footprint showcasing brewing equipment, mugs and coffee gifts. This approach is fine, so long as your customers don’t feel cramped by retail displays—and that you know you can sell enough product to justify putting racks and displays where you could otherwise provide extra seating.
Diversification can help you get through slow hours or months, and also help you keep up with your competition and emerging trends. If you’ve had the exact same coffee menu and pastries for years, the new place down the street will naturally pique the interest of your customers. Don’t be overly reactionary, but don’t ever rest on your laurels or ignore changes in the market.
How to change up your coffee menu
When diversifying your coffee business, ask yourself: 1) Does it resonate with my brand and business model? and; 2) Will it make me money?
Offering breakfast sandwiches at your coffeehouse might go over well while fresh squeezed juices may not—or vice versa. Or, since not everyone will realize the allure of your amazing lattes, why not become experts in tea as well?
But how do you know which items to add? Do your research! Whatyou’re your customers asking for? How are your competitors attracting business? What trends is the industry loving—or hating?
Ask some of your customers if are drinks or food items they’d like to see on the menu. But take note: New products should complement your business, not stray from its mission. Additions should be profitable or proven to increase sales of already profitable coffee drinks.
More ways to diversify your coffee business
1. Take part in local events – Supplying coffee for charity 5ks, school fundraisers, monster-truck rallies, etc., will expose you to a new audience.
2. Provide coffee-at-home classes – Why not sell your talents outside the coffee shop? People who want to impress their friends with pourover skills, or do French press or espresso perfectly at home could use your help. Evening or weekend brewing classes for groups of 5-10 people can include basic brewing skills and some fun coffee-drink recipes. Have a plan and a structure for the class to guide your students through all of the basics.
But keep your original focus
Focus is critical in the specialty coffee business because it can be easy to neglect the quality of your coffee if you’re distracted by other offerings. This can cost you customers over time, as quality declines and people discover other shops where they can get consistency in a focused environment.
Other potential pitfalls to consider before adding new menu items or retail goods: customer confusion, increased inventory costs, and having one more thing to train employees on.
Yet, diversifying your business in smart ways can help grow your customer base while teaching you a thing or two about your community, inventory management and more. As always, consult trusted advisors, make sure your plans pencil out—and have fun bringing them to fruition.Our mission at Espresso Services is to be your one-stop supplier of goods that meet or exceed the needs and expectations of your customers. Contact us for advice on diversifying your coffee shop offerings.