There are plenty of reasons for Americans to be excited about flipping the calendar to 2021.
Business owners, in particular, have as much motivation as any to put the wide array of 2020 stressors in the rearview mirror. As the COVID-19 pandemic altered life as everyone knew it, health concerns and the resulting economic impacts changed the prospects for millions of businesses and their employees.
Those concerns are not yet lifted, but the start of a new year does offer a small refresh for both longtime business owners and prospective entrepreneurs.
For those in the coffee industry, opportunities may exist for a strong start to 2021 — assuming there’s a bit of creativity and hustle at play. Let’s look at 10 coffee shop business ideas to meet the moment and reinvigorate sales — broken down into categories of brand building, customer loyalty, and post-pandemic positioning.
Though customer traffic took an industry-wide hit in 2020, the power of branding can outlast short term issues for many kinds of businesses. Coffee businesses are no exception.
Building a brand in a local community is essential for small coffee businesses. Here are some ways to get recognition from the customer base around your city or town.
While this may be tough to build right away — likely depending on the duration of our current health crisis — it is no secret that people will be looking for ways to gather when it’s deemed safe. Hosting tastings provide people a great day or night out of the house and also create a welcoming environment for those that attend and find a new favorite coffee.
Along the same lines as hosting tastings, hosting classes for those wanting to make coffee at home can create an experience, allowing more customers to get to know your business. While in-person gatherings will likely still be limited early in 2021, it’s possible to provide a virtual option with the added benefit of cost-efficiency.
One of the biggest branding efforts a coffee business can make is to network with other businesses inside and outside the industry. That’s no secret. Media is one of the easiest networking opportunities, given the vast number of options at your disposal.
Podcasting has become one of the fastest-growing media opportunities. Creating one that puts a spotlight on local businesses and other coffee shops may be an easy way to build awareness for the local industry along with your own brand.
Writing a blog or a newsletter are two other media options that could build interest in your local coffee scene and raise your own customer base by showcasing your own personality.
While building a business gets much of the focus from prospective entrepreneurs, the tougher part is creating a model that sustains the growth seen at the start. When brainstorming coffee shop business ideas, it is especially important to foster customer loyalty as regulars may not have the chance to visit in person.
Creating coffee subscriptions is one way that businesses are staying relevant to customers whose habits have shifted more towards at-home brewing. This isn’t reserved for the biggest brands, though. It’s possible for smaller coffee shops to utilize this practice with some creativity, and maybe combine it with other ideas, such as using monthly subscriptions for those tastings and classes we suggested earlier!
One proven way to build customer loyalty is also one of the simplest — adhering to the behaviors your customers value. But in this case, behavior is not merely limited to customer service.
Studies have shown that consumers are much more likely to support a business or brand whose values align with their own. Depending on the business’s surrounding community, this could mean supporting social causes, doing business in an environmentally friendly fashion, or simply creating an inclusive atmosphere.
Of course, the key is being genuine.
Of course, none of these ideas for 2021 can be implemented without accounting for the effects of the current health crisis. COVID-19 has not only forced Americans into a life of social distancing. It also forced businesses to pivot towards safer business practices for employees and customers alike.
While these changes provided plenty of fear and stress in the early days, there have been signs that forming new business ideas has been an opportunity for long term growth.
For newer coffee shop business owners, it’s possible to fill the demand for coffee by creating a mobile option. That could mean a small coffee cart, a food truck, or simply delivery services. These are already proven methods of building a customer base while keeping costs low. Now they have the added benefit of meeting consumer needs.
For proven brands, these changes may provide an opportunity to upgrade their online presence for orders or, for the more technologically advanced, creating a user-friendly app.
Finally, brick and mortar shops have likely been hit the hardest. But despite the changes in consumer behaviors for in-person dining in 2020, the industry did see a rise in drive-thru traffic. Already an essential tool for the biggest names in food and beverage, it may be possible for small businesses to add this option for their local customers.
Many of these coffee shop business ideas could be advanced through franchising as well. Growing franchise brands like Scooter’s Coffee remain one of the top opportunities in the coffee and breakfast space.
Contact Scooter’s Coffee to learn more about its pandemic-proof business model with its drive-thru kiosk franchises.