By Joshua Clifton
Are you entertaining?
It may be a simple question to answer but there’s a fine line between how entertaining you think you are and how entertaining people actually perceive you.
Instead, enter the entertainment industry. The reality is you were never in the hospitality scene – it was and will always be the entertainment industry. How well you connect and entertain your customers will determine your survival in hospitality.
Having worked in this industry my entire life – from management to consultancy – the common thread I have seen in successful operations, is the ability to attract and entertain customers.
Now remove the idea of a Ringmaster from the 1960s Circus Spectacular and think more connection entertainment.
Cafes are popping up faster than any other business in the hospitality sector, so what does that mean? It means customers have choice and more choice means more options – and more options mean customers get picky – whoever can tailor to those needs the best, wins.
Everyone does coffee and there’s also speciality coffee, so how do you compete? It all comes down to how you connect with your customers. If you entertain them long enough, you’ll force out any alternatives in their mind.
Today’s customer is starved for attention and craves stimulation. We are all wired in, monitoring everything and everyone around us. Unless a situation can be snapped, grammed or shared on our phones, it will struggle to achieve its full potential.
So am I telling you that creating a great coffee isn’t enough? Yes and no.
There is still plenty of room for great tasting coffee and food to draw a solid following. But the reality is, everyone else is close on your tail. Having operational efficiency, low wages and strong supplier relationships are very important, especially as you grow and expand.
But it’s secondary – all of it.
It all hinges on getting customers through the door and having them unload their wallets for your experience. It’s not just about a Facebook post or how you remember a few of your regular’s names – it’s much more.
How well you entertain, falls into three categories for your café.
1) Your Core Business
What makes you, you? Why should I pick you and not the other café down the road? How is your business different and why would it be appealing to me? Think of your business as a personality – how would it entertain your customer personalities? It could simply be your location or a new exciting method to deliver your coffee.
Make it about you, because customers want to get to know you.
2) Your Internal Strategy
This relates to your team, from recruitment and training to upper management. Your team should be a reflection of your core product and embody your café’s personality. Consistent meetings and key management catch-ups, business transparency and empowering your team must become the norm.
People are attracted to fun and exciting things. If your team are engaging and prompt, you will run rings around your closest competitors.
3) Your External Strategy
Social media, strategic alliances, partnerships – all of it increases your ability to entertain more people. No more excuses and no more saying ‘I don’t need it.’ Facebook and Instagram work wonders and are mediums perfectly aligned with this industry. Share, target and advertise as much as possible.
Team up with businesses around you, whether it’s a coffee deal with customers at a nearby hotel or latte art competition sponsored by one of your suppliers. It all makes noise and is highly entertaining. Invite local food bloggers and hospitality related resources to share your story and tap into their audience.
Being successful in this industry requires hard work combined with smart work. I often see operators get burnt out working constantly on one particular category and not spreading their efforts across all three. When you work on all three, you actually work less and start working on building pipelines to bring customers in.
Remember, you can’t entertain the same people forever. They will eventually move on, so having a constant flow system is paramount and the only way to build that flow is by constantly reviewing these three categories.
We all have the ability to be great entertainers. Visually amazing cafes are attractive, smiles are infectious and screaming to the world why your team and café is the source of good emotion will catapult you to the top in this industry.
Just please make a good coffee first – after all, that is your business.