Many coffee shop owners are asking themselves the same question: “Do I stay closed for now or am I ready to open shop again?” There are many things to consider when weighing these options, making the decision more complex and potentially daunting.
The good news is that more and more shops are opening their doors again; a sight for sore eyes for the coffee drinking community, where a visit to a local shop was only a little about a caffeine habit and almost entirely about routine and daily ritual. This is a small step back to some kind of normalcy that each one of us is craving.
As much as we all want to go back to normal, there are precautions and safety measures that need to be taken. The trick is finding the balance between being the welcoming coffee shop that you were pre-pandemic and protecting the well-being of your customers, employees and business.
Focus on customer service
It is a mix of emotions walking into this new version of a coffee shop, and a feeling of loneliness weighs heavy, with an odd twinge of guilt that closely follows. Now is a perfect time to take your customer service training and standards to the next level. A warm greeting goes a long way in connecting with your loyal customers, as well as taking the time to learn a name and check in, especially since the hustle is less of a bustle these days. Consider it a positive spin for our new normal.
Menu modifications and additions
It is likely a good idea to simplify your menu if your shop has more stations than just coffee. As an example, many have gone the route of not opening their kitchen for now. To alleviate any sad feelings your customers may have about not being able to order their favorite egg sandwich, it could be interesting to add something new and exciting to the menu! Now is a great time to try out that specialty drink recipe you’ve been thinking about. It’s an opportunity to wow your customers with your creativity and build excitement.
Rebuilding your team
A good place to start when considering your reopening is to figure out what your team is going to look like. It may be a good idea to spread the shifts out among a larger team of employees rather than just bringing back select members. This helps to eliminate any burn out from these heightened protocols and emotions and also allows for people to take the time they need if anything should come up. One idea might be to start with an A and B team that rotates out every other week, supplementing with unemployment benefits that may be applicable.
Deep cleaning vs. Safety cleaning
It is important to note that these are two different objectives in your cleaning. Deep cleaning is more of a consideration around the fact that your shop has been closed for an extended period of time. This means that the dust has likely settled in on your shelves and espresso machine. It may be helpful to schedule a cleaning day before your official reopen. When your customers walk in, they will unconsciously be looking for a squeaky clean space. Safety cleaning is a consideration around keeping infection out of your shop. You will need to have clearly written guidelines for your team to follow in regards to cleaning and sanitizing. Some small businesses are even adding in a professional service once per month, much like their extermination service.
Once you have your key decisions made, you can follow our step-by-step guide to reopening. This is a literal checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything in the process. As much as we all say “the new normal”, the fact is that this is not yet normal. It’s up to us to standardize parts of our business that we never thought we would have to consider.
We will get there; and the best part of that is that we will get there together.