I’m putting pen to paper on the 7th September, the day after Daniel Andrews’ announcement that Stage 4 lockdown is to be extended and that the road map to a COVID normal is a slow and steady approach. As cafe owners we could spend our time complaining and getting bogged down in the ways this is hurting our business or we could put our energy into finding our way to a brighter future. I choose a pro-active approach. What can we do, as Melbourne cafe owners to re-invigorate our businesses?
First and foremost, cafes need to be found online. How do you choose to do this? The easiest and most cost-effective way is through social media. Don’t stop at one platform either! We find Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to be a fantastic means to connect with our customers; tell them of our endeavours, new products and other coffee knowledge (and sometimes jokes). A simple ecommerce website can also be a very effective tool and created in the comfort of your own home. You don’t need to employ a website builder if this is not in your budget. Shopify, for example, has instructions with every step of the way to assist you in creating your very own website and starts you with a free 14 day trial.
Video! When I’m looking up ‘how to change a washer’, I look for a video. When I’m trying to figure out how to do grade 5 Maths (thank you remote learning!), I head straight to YouTube. Creating video content is so easy to do these days. You don’t need fancy equipment, just a phone and some good lighting (a microphone does help too). Show people your latest offerings or how to put together a fantastic sandwich or perhaps an incredible coffee dessert. Who knows? Customers may find you; customers who have never heard of your brand before. Create a channel just for your brand and get filming. Subscribe to our channel here to see what we are creating.
Create product appropriate for our circumstances. How can you provide your customers with a product that they are comfortable with purchasing? Do sandwiches need to be individually wrapped? Do you need to rethink the menu to be able to offer food at a reasonable price? Spend time analysing what your customers want and need. Never be afraid to change or vary your product; now more than ever, we need to be adaptable.
Offload any product that is not making you money. This is not the time to keep stock on hand that doesn’t need to be there. Simplify your business to the products/services that are worth your time and effort and represent your brand. With a bit of luck, this may offer you a cash injection too.
Education is key. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses and speak with your team members about the same. Is your product world class but communication in need of improvement? Are you fantastic at marketing but have a difficult time understanding basic accounting? We all have elements of business that we enjoy and spend most of our time on, but with some enforced down-time, why not up skill? There are some fantastic free courses to get you going such as an Internet Marketing Tutorial from Udemy or Basic accounting for Business owners. Imagine heading into 2021 with an extra strength with which to help your business grow? Fantastic!
Melbourne cafe owners...we can do this. It will be challenging and force us to rethink our businesses and how we operate but WE CAN DO THIS. Remember why you started your beautiful business in the first place and fight for it with every part of you.
*Please reach out if you would like advice, need to chat or are looking for wholesale coffee for your cafe. We're here for you.
Jackie and Darren.
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