Living up to the hype?
Last week, I finally got to visit two coffee shops in Manchester that I've had on my hit list for most of the year. Usually, I do not have time to get into the City centre, as my visits here are for work and my time already booked up, but this visit, I made extra time specifically to visit these two shops. I had heard great things and their social media game was strong.
I do not believe in leaving bad reviews, especially online. I feel it can do unnecessary damage to an independent shop or restaurant; everyone has a bad day and my experience could have been just that. If you've had a really bad experience, let them know at the time instead of reporting it online. That gives them time to try and fix the issue. Online reviews can be super helpful, but it seems now that a large amount can be chalked up to falsehoods - fake positives and negatives. Therefore, I won't say which shops I visited in this article. What I want to focus on was my experience at each and why I will be going back to one, but probably skip the other.
Creating an environment and a vibe in your coffee shop is vital. Making it your own is what will set you apart from the competition. This can be achieved through a multitude of different channels; style and artwork, colour theme, layout, products, lighting, furniture, music, communication and staff. All come together to create a space that different customers will love or hate for different reasons. Whoever loves it will become your customer base. Keeping this environment consistent and authentic creates your brand. This is what people will buy into and keep buying into.
Instagram allows you to showcase your shop to prospectus customers. As I mentioned at the beginning, I had wanted to visit these two shops for months; because of what they were posting and communicating to me on Instagram alongside local recommendations.
My coffee was good, and the cake was tasty, but the service and the environment were so different to what I expected. Rightly or wrongly, I expected it to be a warm and welcoming place, playing lively music with upbeat staff. What I got was a massive room, with stark furniture, music so quiet I felt I had to whisper to order and staff that looked bored, trying too hard to be cool, who just about managed to talk to me to take my order. I had planned to spend a little time there to do some work, but sadly, I just wanted to leave as soon as I had finished my coffee.
Thankfully, the other shop was close by and totally met my expectations. I was greeted by such a lovely guy working on the bar. This space was also big - but had a huge communal table in the middle, surrounded by smaller individual tables and a little nook area. The lighting was warm and cosy, the music set to a level that you could hear but not be interrupted by. My coffee was good, but not exceptional, but I will totally be going back.
Creating continuity across your online platforms and in your shops is so important. You sell a lie to customers that will often just deliver disappointment. Whether done deliberately or not, make sure you are representing your brand authentically and accurately. I was genuinely upset with the first experience. Maybe it was a bad day, but maybe there is just a lack of attention being given to the physical space and interaction versus online. As we all know and are complicit in, we project our best moments and our best selves online. As a coffee shop, you can't afford to do this. You are selling an experience as well as a product.
If you would like help finding your style and creating your cafe or coffee shop, get in touch to see how we can help support you; from pre-launch descision making through to open. Visit our contact page and drop us a message.