Adapting Your Business Model In Response To Covid-19

Like many small businesses, cafes are being hit hard with the Coronavirus pandemic.  The question every café owner is asking now is ‘how long will this last and how will my business survive with possibly months of limited customers?’  The unknown is the biggest problem facing everybody at the moment and it is undoubtedly causing great stress for everyone involved.

Below are our top tips on how you can keep your café business alive and come out stronger when restrictions allow:

Invest More Resources Into Marketing Whilst in Lockdown

To keep in contact with your customers during the Coronavirus pandemic, use digital channels like email and social media:

Social media campaigns. Use social media to stay top-of-mind for your followers. If you’re open make sure your most loyal customers know you are, can see your sanitisation efforts, and know about any events you’re planning.

Email campaigns. If you own your customer data, you’ll be able to pull the email addresses of your customers and send them messages to update them on your cafe’s status and promotions. The more personal the email, the better. Let them know if you’re open, that you’re safe, and that their business is welcomed now more than ever. It’s a great way to reach people stuck inside, and there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate the invitation to come out of their houses for a safe experience when restrictions allow.  If you’ve not already got one, a Mailchimp account will allow you to easily send HTML emails and is free for up to 2,000 contacts.

Gift cards. Help your customers start to make plans for a return to normal by selling gift cards for future coffee experiences. You can market this as a community-minded purchase for customers who want to help your cafe survive the crisis with a bit of cash flow. Get creative, appeal to your community of loyal customers, and help them help you.

Get Creative With Promotions Once Restrictions are Lifted

Here here are a few ideas for how to drive people into your café once restrictions allow:

Mini cafe week. Partner with a few nearby cafes to create a week-long promotion for your area. Don’t be afraid to make it fun: print up mock passports and offer a loyalty reward to people who get a stamp from each cafe. It might be the only travelling they’re able to do.

Work-from-home lunch specials and co-working. For the locals around your cafe stuck getting cabin fever all day, turn your cafe into a (thoroughly sanitised) co-working space during lunch hours.

Market your cafe as a safe place to gather. Reach out to your local customers and encourage them to come in for a promotion; make it a genuine place of social gathering and you’ll probably end up making them into long-term customers. As businesses continue to discourage travel and more employees work from home over the coming weeks, people are going to want to connect and help one another out, and they’ll need a venue to do that.

Consider delivery or take-away. Not every cafe is going to be able to remain open during this time. Consider following the lead of Wrecking Ball Coffee, which turned into a walk-up window café.  


We hope these tips have helped, above all stay safe, stay connected, and let’s all get through this together.


Further reading:

Tips from Wrecking Ball Coffee on how to covert into a walk-up window cafe

Government guidance for food businesses on Covid-19

Main photo by Wrecking Ball coffee

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