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How to get your coffee shop to compete with large companies

By 2nd December 2022May 16th, 2023No Comments
How to get your coffee shop to compete with coffee giants | Tall Zebra Designs

Firstly, coffee shop owner, cool job. Go you. If you’re not a coffee shop owner but you’re having a nosey here anyway then that’s perfect because lots of these tips can be tweaked and practically applied to other business models too in order to help you compete with large companies.

We’re not going to name them and give them any more free marketing but I’m sure you are aware of the huge franchisees when it comes to coffee companies. It feels like they have unlimited marketing budgets, buy or rent out the best city centre locations, make themselves super convenient with drive-thru setups and have a huge cult following. There’s no denying that they are a force to be reconned with and many are too intimidated to even try. That’s why we work tremendously hard to support the businesses brave and bold enough to compete. Here are our tips on how to get your coffee shop to compete with large companies:


Don’t skip the website

You’d be surprised but, for many coffee shop owners, this isn’t a priority. We beg to differ and we can help. A website is a great place to provide your personal brand story and your intentions within the industry. It showcases your style and branding too. Not only this, it’s a super easy way for people to see your menu without having to trawl through social media. If you’ve got the budget and ambition you can also use the website as a separate entity for income, selling merchandise, and gift sets or as a means for people to place orders and make group bookings, especially if you have a food menu. If your coffee shop is big enough to host intimate events it’s the perfect place to showcase those and sell tickets too, this would be very unique and certainly, help you on your journey to compete with large companies.


Your location is everything 

This is a toughie because we have very little control over where our clients are located and we will always help ramp up the marketing regardless, however, if you’re just starting out and have not yet committed to premises please consider signing your lease or purchase agreement very carefully. Remember, we can work all the SEO magic in the world and litter your website content with location-based keywords to help you rank highly on Google for your location, however, if your coffee shop is not in an easily accessible location or appropriate area it’s always going to be a struggle with foot-fall. On the flip side, as you want to compete with large companies, you don’t want to be literally next door to them either, it’s a fine tentative balance.


Embrace your quirks

What do you have that they don’t? You need to look at all your quirks and really focus on your niche to compete with large companies. You’ll have lots of positive attributes, ideas and likely…ethics, which the coffee giants can lack. Whatever you know you do well, promote it. If you work with us, we will analyse your business strategy and set it up as a third party and offer our suggestions on what we feel are your strengths then help you play to them.


Second-to-none customer service  

We can help with making sure your website has lots of call-to-action buttons where people can ask questions, and help monitor your social inboxes to give customers prompt responses but the main element of customer service will be in your and your staff’s day-to-day interactions. Ensure you learn customers’ names! Get your best and most loyal customers Christmas cards, if someone spills their drink, make them a fresh one free of charge. Make sure you have enough staff in the shop to be on hand and super helpful to people, this is what will ensure you get those glowing reviews on Google, Trustpilot and Facebook to help compete with large companies! 


Be clever about marketing 

It’s going to take much more than a loyalty card scheme.  This is where we can help you get creative and excel of course compete with large companies. One thing we would certainly recommend is, having a loss leader. We know that your budget will be tight, especially during the current financially unstable times but, it’s not about spending more or even less, it’s about spending smartly. You need a stand for our product, something eye-catching, super instagramable or tasty and it also needs to be of great value to draw people in. We advise you to offer the product of your choice at a cost price or lower, so you either make £0 or lose slightly every time somebody buys one. This seems crazy, but there’s a method to the madness. Customers may flock to your shop as they have seen, heard about or previously purchased and sampled this particular product, then, whilst they’re in your shop they purchase are likely to purchase other items and potentially bring friends who also make purchases. 


Your branding needs to stand out 

In any competitive market, coffee shops certainly being one of them, you need originality and lots of it. Your unique brand is what people will buy into even before they have tasted your coffee. We are branding specialists and can help you perfect your colour scheme, design, and logo and orchestrate the creation of signage and physical marketing collateral i.e. flyers and loyalty cards. Think about the coffee giants, one in particular no longer needs its name within its logo as they’re so iconic. In order to compete with large companies your branding needs to be just as bold. 


Harness your social media power 

To compete with large companies you need a strategy, you need pre-made content, a batch of professional images ready to go and above all else, you need to be consistent. Heads up, we offer content creation, social media management and influencer marketing in three-month rolling packages. The beauty of social media is that with the right campaign and a dash of luck, overnight sensations can be made. It’s a great way to cement you into the industry and instantly help you compete with large companies, especially whilst you’re busy with the chaos of a new business during your first quarter.


Have an instagrammable interior  

We live in an extremely visual world. People don’t just want their outfits and homes to be aesthetically pleasing but they want the places they visit, their surroundings and accessories (like their coffee cups) to be perfectly aesthetic too. It’s crazy, but it’s true. You could pour two cups of the exact same coffee and place one in bland packaging against a stereotypical cafe backdrop and another in a uniquely branded, craft-fully graphic designed cup against a cool and contemporary backdrop and not only would you have more interest in the latter but people would expect to pay more for it too. There’s a huge popularity with artificial grass walls right now to create a botanical kind of look, neon signs containing motivational quotes and statement lighting are all trending too. Many of the larger chains have the budget but tend to keep their interiors rather same-y and uninspired, this is where you can really capture the attention of the public and compete with large companies.


Collect data!!! 

We’re talking emails, birthdays and even surveys to find out your customer’s favourite coffee! This way, we can help you use this information to create some fabulously personal re-marketing campaigns. By offering birthday discounts you will win the hearts of many, but where other companies fail, don’t limit it to just their birthday make the code valid all week long, it’s more realistic and they may visit more than once and are likely to bring a friend in with them too. Think about how often you see the coffee giants advertise, they’re already huge but still drop in your inbox weekly or follow you around the web, they have your data. Sometimes to compete with large companies you need to employ some of their tactics. 


The golden tip to help you compete with large companies… Influencer staff

You’re lucky because, your main staff are likely to be students, young, social media savvy students. Get them in meetings and pluck their brains because they know their stuff! Trust us. Listen to their raw unfiltered recommendations then act on them or if you don’t have the time send them to us to sift through. We can refine them then apply our business and marketing knowledge to them and use them. Let trusted members of staff have access to socials to post images, stock updates and take stories around the shop on their shift. Try and negotiate it into their contract that with every new season (i.e. when your seasonal special coffee comes out) they must post it on their personal socials and have in their bio or job title that they are a “brand ambassador” for your coffee shop. Create an incentive, give them their own unique 5% off discount code to email or offer as a QR code to friends, family and their followers. Track the data and whichever one of your staff brings in the most customers give them a bonus or a prize, reward them. This is definitely not a tactic that a huge chain could roll out or manage, so definitely worth a shot to help you compete with large companies.


If you’ve loved reading our blog and found it super helpful to help you, as a business owner compete with large companies and would like more info on our services, get in touch for a chat!