Today I attended a seminar about creating valuable content (another story for another time) where I met a recruitment specialist who holds a lot of her interviews in cafes.
She reminded me of the important role of cafes as third spaces, outside of home and office, and making those utilising your cafe for work or business related purposes feel at home, welcome, and not rushed. In my experience I’ve found most people conducting work related tasks in cafes are conscious of not taking up a big table for a long time and often order more than one coffee, as well as food, in consideration of their use of the space.
The rise in digital nomadism, the gig economy and the home office means that this is not going to change, and more and more people will be using cafes as their “coffice” (coffee/office) for things like holding meetings, conducting interviews in a neutral space and breaking the routine if they work from home. This is especially true in cafes located in their city’s CBD area, which is 26% of all cafes in Australia according to the latest Cafe Culture survey.
You also have to remember that, as in the instance of our recruiter for example, she might go to the same cafe a couple of times a week, often staying on for food, and recommending the place to her colleagues, clients or employees. If she gets an uncomfortable ‘hurry on’ vibe from the staff at a cafe, she simply won’t go back there, and as we all know there are a more than enough cafes around to accommodate her, so why not let it be yours. You may also find that when it comes the time for them to organise a function or they need catering, you just might be the first one they call.
What can we all learn from this?
Communicate to your staff your policy around this area, train your staff in ways to interact with this type of customer, and don’t be afraid to simply talk to the customer if you need to move them to a smaller table during a busy time. You might also be able to recommend a small item as a snack if they’ve been there a while, but in a friendly, non-selly way.
Always have free WiFi available and promote the fact both online and in-store. Many cafes are also making power points & USB hubs easily accessible for charging laptops and phones. How about encouraging those customers to share a table to work from or even set up a workhub space, particularly if you are a CBD cafe.
The biggest thing is – treat every customer as valuable both now and in the future and you’ll be right every time.