How to improve customer retention in your cafe?
The number of cafes offering specialty coffee in the UAE has grown at an exponential rate, the latest data shows over 360 registered business licenses for roasting or serving specialty coffee and everyone is fighting for the same piece of pie. Most cafes have beautiful interiors, tattooed baristas, an introspective vibe, and the latest Instagram-capable gear for delivering both espresso and pour-over coffees. But what makes them specialized and what are the majority of people actually looking for and are they willing to pay consistently?
We don’t believe this is a Spanish latte, we believe it’s consistency. Consistency requires execution of particularly complex problems including green bean quality, roast profiles, espresso equipment, barista skills, water chemistry, protein content of dairy or plant milk , coffee knowledge for the whole team, workflow best practices, selecting the right supply partners, and then being ahead of the trends.
A common and justified observation might be that a bigger franchise offers at least the same thing every time, no matter who is on the machine or what day or time it is, you know what you pay for is what you get. Commercial cafes have definitely adopted our specialty language to try to capture or retain market share, and typically only offer one blend, but they have standardized SOPs, likely automation, likely unmotivated and unmotivated staff power, and their consumers are looking for this standardization and not a particular origin or processing method, and certainly not acidity! There’s nothing wrong with that, because you get what you paid for, what you want, and you walk away happy.
With specialty, the customer is often looking for a distinctive flavor profile, and small errors in grind size or water quality, for example, mean it’s impossible to ensure consistency. Sometimes less experienced operators have to sacrifice efficiency for speed of service and potentially compromise quality. Here, consistency becomes even more important because the consumer expects these nuanced flavors and is willing to pay for them, and better yet, cares about how far the coffee has traveled to reach your cup.
In the end, many hands cared about this coffee, most really good coffee being grown in poor third world countries where this export is hugely important, and many farmers struggle to maintain a livelihood. profitable. Valuing and sharing the story of this humble seed, which is roasted and drunk, has become both confusing and trendy but still incredibly relevant.
Some repeat customers want the exact same experience every time, ordering the same blend or origin, potentially at the same seat; while others are more experimental, seek out unique flavors and enjoy being guided by confident and knowledgeable staff. To understand this, you need to know your customer.
When you think about specialty and all that needs to go in the cup – weighing and weighing shots and calibrating the grinder are just a few of the more obvious issues. Consistency issues can be caused by one or more factors that, with more knowledge, become a real rabbit hole: brew ratios, extractions, temperature, timings, dosage, tamping, and even dispensing – I promise you that. is fun, and once you get in there – the rabbit hole doesn’t bother you, you just accept it as it attracts you, but what I’m trying to explain is that just having the latest equipment and tools does not guarantee consistency and saying that you are a specialty is not in the definition make sure.
Experience, training, best practices and workflows, the right equipment, the right water, the correct cleaning and maintenance procedures, managing peak hours, whether customers are waiting or queuing for takeout, operations of coffee and all that boring stuff that isn’t hip or trendy.
All of these factors individually need to be perfectly aligned for you to enjoy your cup of coffee and become a loyal consumer. A customer-centric approach is then the icing on the cupcake, we care about customer satisfaction, but all of this is not possible without first recognizing the real “humans” who are the interface between everything rabbit hole trick – consistency becomes the tool to achieve our ultimate goal, your customer satisfaction and the reason you keep coming back.
Kim Thompson is co-owner and managing director of RAW Coffee Company in Dubai