There’s nothing better than the caffeine rush you get after your morning cup of coffee. For many consumers, it’s an essential part of their morning. For café owners, there’s a different type of morning rush. From the hours of roughly 6 to 10 AM, it can seem tough to keep up with the constant flow of customers flocking to your coffee shop.
However, once that morning rush ends, many cafés struggle to keep business flowing in or to keep their baristas busy. If you don’t have a game plan to supplement the late morning or early afternoon hours, you’re missing out on huge amounts of revenue, and putting yourself at risk of being financially unstable. Afterall, you’re paying rent every minute of the day whether you’re selling coffee or not.
Luckily, there’s a few ways you can turn these lulls into strategic initiatives that help your shop thrive.
THE FITNESS CROWD
You need to understand the psychological side of your consumers. They buy coffee because they need that morning jolt to get them through work. However, their mentalities change as AM turns to PM. A large number of American’s make a habit out of hitting the gym on their way home from work. Swing by your local gym at 5 PM, and you’ll see it’s absolutely swamped.
This presents two different opportunities for your afternoon menu: Drinks meant for consumption pre-workout, and protein-based drinks for after. Since you’ve already got the blender and water/milk, adding protein shakes to the menu is as easy as buying the powder.
SELLING WINE, CRAFT BEER, AND CHEESE
Not all of us are fitness nuts (no judgements passed). Some of us have a different way of winding down after a stressful day at the office. If you can get your hands on a license to sell alcohol, selling wine by the glass or craft beers are a great way to supplement income in the afternoon.
Many coffee shops already have the bohemian vibe that is so sought after in pubs these days, making the interiors hardly distinguishable. Don’t worry about spending top dollar on installing taps. Simply keeping bottled beer in a fridge, and a few bottles of wine on the countertop is enough to get you started.
You can also try adding a charcuterie board or cheese plate to your menu. This pairs well with the wine you’re serving and can turn a $4 sale into a $10 one.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to be priced competitively if you’re going to compete with the sports bar down the street. Keep it cheap and keep it simple. Remember that first and foremost, you’re a coffee shop not a bar. Even if you only sell a few alcoholic drinks in the afternoon, you’ll be helping cushion the low-sales lull.
Live music is a great way to get people hanging out in your café, and ultimately making purchases. This task might sound difficult but is actually fairly easy. There’s no shortage of musicians out there who enjoy playing for just exposure or tips.
Post on Craigslist, your social media channels, or any other online forum that you’re looking for an acoustic guitarist to play occasional afternoons. Let them setup in a corner of your shop and allow them to accept tips. Be sure to let your social media followers know that you’ll be having live music.
GRAB & GO SNACKS
Most cafés are equipped with grab-and-go food options for the morning hours, such as bagels, muffins, and bananas. If you can expand your menu offerings to include more variety, as well as lunch hour food items you’ll see an uptick in revenue.
Take a hint from the world’s largest coffee chain (they who must not be named). They always have a refrigerated section with pre-made sandwiches, vegetable platters and more. If you’re currently purchasing items from a distributor, getting similar products into your own shop should be a breeze. Don’t forget to use your countertop space as well to cross-sell your customers.
Our sister company, Modern Oats produces single-serving oatmeal cups. Put a variety pack on your counter next to the register and turn $3 coffee purchases into $6 food and drink purchases.
Remember that if you’re looking to increase your afternoon business, providing foods that can be eaten for lunch is essential. Oatmeals and sandwiches will sell better in the afternoon than bagels and donuts.
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO STAY OPEN IN THE AFTERNOON HOURS?
In short, most likely. As a business strategy, a storefront should stay open for as long as they can cover operational costs, after the COGS (cost of goods sold) have been deducted. So long as you’re remaining in the black, it is strategic to remain open. If you don’t believe you can cover electricity, cost of goods, and personnel expenses in the afternoon, then close up early.
For as long as you’re open, you need to find ways to maximize revenue. You might be highly profitable in the morning hours, but if sales are stagnating in the PM then you’re burning money. By utilizing some (or all) of the methods above, you should be able to see some improvements in your balance sheet.