How coffee shops can thrive in the world of social distancing

Worldwide, 98% of companies have gone to work from home due to Covid-19. Corporates like Barclays, Twitter, and Mondelez have announced a permanent transition to a hybrid model. This crisis has shown that companies can run in different ways and having offices with thousands of employees working day in and out could soon become a thing of the past.

With that in consideration, Work From Home could be the new normal for many employees as employers embrace remote working for all non-essential positions. While all this could bring a lot of benefits and savings for these businesses, there's one particular segment from the Restaurant Industry that’s worst affected by this shift - local coffee shops.

With the majority of workforce staying home, local coffee shops have seen a drop of as much as 40 percent in daily sales. Their regulars are no longer stopping by for their morning kick of the caffeine, and others are utilizing their spare time to improve their brewing skills.

Local coffee shop owners need to think about new strategies to get around the virus-laden communities. With social distancing in practice, the old “stand in a queue to get your coffee” will not work for them anymore.

They must do things differently to maintain relevancy, demand, and a good flow of income.

Let’s take a look at 5 things that coffee shop owners can do cater to the new demand while placing their business on the best possible path towards success.

Get Online!

Not all cafes were affected post the lockdown for a simple reason that they were already offering online delivery and takeaway services to their customers. Those who weren’t before the lockdown, quickly pivoted to online ordering to save their business from shutting down.

For example, Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters reported a whopping 250% increase in online sales post-lockdown, and Indonesian Coffee Chain, Due Coffee in Washington, is now getting 80% of its orders online.

So if you’re still contemplating whether or not you should invest in an online ordering system, this could be the right time to jump onto the bandwagon and save your business from failing.

Technology which was once thought to be a ‘good to have’ has become a ‘must-have’.

Prepare for Contactless Experience

Now that the states have orders reopening of the restaurants and cafes with limited capacity and safety protocols at high priority, you can begin preparing your restaurant to deliver your customers a safe, hygienic, and contactless experience.

While ensuring that all employees are healthy and safe, you need to make arrangements to minimize touchpoints. Mark the floors for people to maintain a safe distance, install glass barriers to prevent unnecessary contact between baristas and the customers, and encourage people to make online payments. Also, take into account the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) throughout the business supply chain to further reassure customers.

Make your cafe open and safe for remote workers

In the coming months, most work from home people, especially parents of infants and toddlers will be looking to work out from cafes. A home may be the most convenient place, but it’s also full of distractions. Coffee shops provide remote workers an opportunity to interact with their surroundings on their own terms. Also, a buzz of exciting ambiance, new sounds, and a fresh environment brings new stimulation and improve performance.

In the COVID-19 aftermath, experts estimate that nearly 60% of the employees ordered by employers to follow work from home routine will be heading to neighborhood cafes with their laptops and a to-do list. This shift in the culture will open a myriad of opportunities for cafes reopening their dining rooms.

Bust coffee shops need to gear up for this change. To begin with, start reducing the number of tables, or place them at least 1.5 m distance between the tables so guests can sit at a safe distance. Employees or serving staff will also need to be trained to serve table orders in the safest manner possible.

Add an extra layer of protection by providing your guests with a safety kit that includes items like sanitizers, thermometers, visor, gloves, face masks, and headgears.

Selling items other than coffee

This is nothing new but can be a really effective strategy to help your business ride the storm. Starbucks has been doing this for years, and if your coffee shop is yet to launch its own line of promotional products, this could be the best time to do so.

Most local coffee shops have come up with their own brewing kits to capture the market that’s spending a tremendous amount of time at home improving their brewing skills. Providing them with a handy kit to make their life easier can generate decent revenue for your business.

Apart from this, you can also think about launching your own line of expensive and exclusive coffees to capture the elite audience.

Those who can’t offer more than coffee can think about selling gift vouchers that customers can redeem in their next visit.

Stay connected with Social Media

Last but not least. Whatever you do, launch brewing kits, offer special discounts to regulars or reopen for dine-in with all safety protocols in the place, make sure you communicate them to your customers through different social media channels.

Your customers are waiting to hear from you, they want to know if your business is following all the safety measures to deliver their fresh and hot cup of cappuccino in the safest manner. They want to know if the employees are being kept safe and they definitely want to know if it would be safe to visit your store.

Help them fix all of their concerns with special social media posts. You can check out marketing ideas for the post-COVID world here.

This brings me back to my first thought - I see a coffee shop from my balcony and wonder how is the owner getting by? He’s definitely working hard to keep it open, but what’s the future like? The answer is important - it’s to pivot to meet the demands of the COVID-stricken world. It’s a different world. With the tips given above, you can make it. Without adapting, you will not!