Covid-19, is undeniable, one of the worst nightmares that we wish we never woke up to. The presence of this pandemic has negatively affected almost all sectors, certainly on health which is killing millions of lives, causing social disruption. Especially the downfall of local economies and global economies to almost every business. So how could coffee shops survive the pandemic?
Curfews, social distancing regulations are implemented strictly to prevent spreading or receiving the virus and to make citizens feel safe. Due to the restrictions, almost all kinds of businesses are forced to close doors, visibly, businesses operate in the service industry, mainly, hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops.
Hotels and restaurants have been seen to face a drastic phenomenon due to the almost non-existent part of tourism. However, cafes are seen to do just fine by reopening to a certain extent of customers, shifting to online orders, and even regular drive-throughs. This leads to the main focus of this article, exploring how coffee shops could get through this tremendous pandemic.
For years, coffee shops were a place where all types of people would go to, especially youth would go for a date, to do their assignment, chitchat all day long. However, the pandemic has come and been an obstacle for these activities to continue.
As the pandemic has been declared, many countries have restricted non-essential business, and the coffee industry is no exception. Most coffee shops are forced to close down temporarily until there’s a lift in restriction. When the situation has gotten a bit better, many coffee shops are opened to customers again but with a lot of restrictions and regulations, while many others are forced to take temporary leave due to financial shortages.
Shops that are able to remain open continuing their business need to adapt to new changes, for instance, reducing the number of customers indoors, finding new tactics to promote their coffee shops, swaying to online sales and delivery, altering working hours and staffs, reducing menu, and more in order to obtain an optimal budget.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are stuck at home staring at their computer screens all day long. Hence, drinking coffee is like a reward for their hard work, or to relieve stress and be refreshed. However, people can’t go to a coffee shop or coffee house like normal which leaves most consumers trying to recreate their favorite taste at home. Many consumers are focusing on homebrewing and learning brewing methods for their morning coffee or daily consumption. Moreover, coffee drinkers also take this opportunity to learn more about different types of coffee and taste as well.
As people are trying to maintain their caffeine fix, which leads more people to drink coffee at home, the sales of coffee machines or equipment started to grow stably. Each company started to see the increase in demand for coffee equipment as people are trying to find the top coffee roaster, espresso machine, for their daily caffeine intake. You can read more through our website on top equipment including espresso machines, coffee filters, and coffee makers.
It is apparent that the pandemic has negatively affected the operation of the industry, but we shall dive in deeper to the challenges behind the doors.
The main obstacle for business in this period is the lack of income due to the drop in sales because of the lockdown and restrictions. Hence, fewer orders are made. Most owners right now are in a survival mode, which only concerns making their business survive, meaning having enough finance to pay their employees and other bills, rather than having profitability.
While we thought that a lesser income could not be a bigger problem, shop owners need to spend more than normal, which causes another problem on the shoulders. Owners need to allocate some money into necessary medical equipment such as masks, hand sanitizers, alcohol, temperature checker, and more to provide a secure and safe environment for the employees and customers.
Like all consumers, workers, owners acknowledge and fear the presence of COVID-19 disease. However, business needs to be in operation to survive which requires a practical alternative according to the current situation.
One of the most necessary alterations is to have a rightful social distancing measure, which requires a precise distance from each customer to the workers. This procedure is necessary for social welfare, but it also imposes negative effects on service flow, longer queues, staff rotas, and table seating changes. This new process reduces the interaction between baristas and customers as speaking with masks on is uncomfortable or limited, and waiting in long queues makes the customer experience frustrating.
Below are some listed recommendations and tips for shops’ owners on ideas to take into account for survival in this period.
In this certain situation of COVID-19, clear, concise, and up-to-date communication is essential to operate your business. The customers might want to know what your shop is up to, whether your shop is open for service, reopen for indoor seating, or changing to drive-thru service, delivery service, any menu reduction, and more. This kind of information is crucial for them because it gives updates and what to expect, which can be informed through social media, emails, posters, and so on.
While customers are significant for businesses, employees are in the center of the operation. Hence, being thoughtful to the employees may be needed. Asking about their concerns, ideas, providing updates, training for the sudden change in operation.
The next step would be contacting financial sectors to secure liquidity, enough financial resources for the business. You may want to contact the bank, accountant, or any business advisors, to tell them about your plans in operating this coffee business, and at the same time ask for advice on how to obtain or get a financial loan.
You may also be interested to apply for the government program in your country as each government has different banks, ministries to support small businesses by providing financial loans during COVID-19 with the lowest interest and technical support if needed. Therefore, registration to the government program would bring plenty of assistance to your business.
In addition, if your coffee shop business hours have been reduced or your business is closed temporarily. Thus, paying the entire rent would affect your overall balance sheet, which needs talking to the landlord asking for some defer or forgive rent payment.
The pandemic has changed how people want their orders to be served. Waiting indoors is no longer an ideal option as people fear the virus. They now sway to online orders, drive-thru, which reduce the interaction between each customer. Hence, if your coffee shop doesn't offer any of these services, this is the right time to do so because customers might shift to other coffee brands with this kind of service rather than sticking to your shop. Moreover, you can offer other menus alongside coffee, for instance, milk, bread, cookies, or any that are in demand for customers.
After securing a certain financial resource and informing the existing and potential customers, the next thing to consider is whether to reopen your business or not. If the choice is to open, then it is a must to have a COVID-free environment. Firstly, employees or staff are needed to feel safe before anything else as they are the ones who will work behind bars. It is essential to train employees about the COVID knowledge, symptoms, methods to take care of themselves and provide them a safe environment.
This would link to the safety procedures of the coffee shop set by the government of each country or community. All equipment, tables, food preparation, and dining areas need to be sanitized frequently. Face masks, hand sanitizers, and alcohol are well equipped and in stock for usage.
Moreover, it is also vital to inform and educate the customers about the safety regulations, encouraging them to obey social distancing rules, refusing customers who do not wear masks or have high temperatures, and so on.
There is a quote that goes ‘When life gives us a lemon, you make lemonade'. And, this also applies to the current situation because it is apparent that all businesses around the world, especially, small businesses are struggling to survive. However, in this situation, there are new channels, new alternatives that need to be explored to go beyond survival.
Innovation of new products, new food, new drink, or even restyle an existing menu to a unique combination. For instance, as people are trying to drink coffee at home but there are also those who have no time or interest. Hence, an alternative is to bottle lattes in jugs or cans which is more convenient for the customers. Moreover, supplying other products such as milk, cookies, sandwiches, or baked goods alongside would make a great combination.
Furthermore, as mentioned about the rising coffee consumption at home. Thus, it is an ideal opportunity to sell brewing methods, recipes, books, and more.
The alteration can be seen through different coffee brands, ranging from large famous firms to small independent coffee shops. For instance, large and trending cafes around the world, especially in the country of United States, like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have all taken precautions and follow medical policies and rules to protect their consumers and staff from the virus, when reopening their business. The safety procedures include social distancing, require wearing masks or face coverings at all costs, providing alcohol, hand sanitizers, checking temperature before entering the shop.
A smaller chain business like Peets decided to prohibit their inner space from the customers when reopening 50 of its stores back last year to keep their staff and customers safe. If we look at some independent shops, some still keep their business open during the pandemic by allowing customers to call in their orders and pick up outside or curbside, and the drive-through service.
Some independent coffee shop owners choose to keep their door closed and find other alternatives because there is not enough space for practical social distancing, long queues, and mainly, afraid of risking law-breaking as there are different types of customers that employees will meet, some can be very rude which also known as ‘Karen, who would argue and fight just to not wear a mask.
As we never expect the pandemic to happen, we would never know when the pandemic will be lifted as well. Therefore, we must plan ahead about the future and tactics on how to gain back customers.
It is a must to have a mindset to be ready and prepared for a reopening or back to normality. To keep the momentum of your business to the customer, posting, connecting via social media can be very helpful to make yourself visible to the world.
As mentioned, we are currently in a very critical situation, but we can still take advantage of it as well. A good leader, a business person puts value on their time and uses it efficiently. We can take this time as a chance to learn and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the company, understanding the customers’ demands and see what can be added to fit their demand. By doing so, the business is expected to be sustainable and gain trust, love from the customers.
We all can say that all service industries, especially the coffee business, are about the experience of walking into the shop until we walk outside. Hence, we need to ensure that each customer has the best experience from how the baristas interact, to the taste of the drinks, the comfortable table seat, the music that is played, and so on.
To sum up, COVID-19 has indeed negatively affected all businesses, certainly, the coffee industry with the closure of business and sudden change in trend. Even though people are not willing to go to their favorite coffee shop like normal, the demand for coffee is still high, which creates an opportunity for owners to try other tactics like building connections, asking for loans, changing menus, adding new products, and more. These alternatives can keep customers in touch and gain their trust, even more, when reopening starts.
Check out: How Specialty Coffee Shops Fight With COVID-19 Crisis? By European Coffee Trip