Love at first sight

You only get one chance to make a first impression they say, and it's never more important than when it's your own business.

Impressing customers on their very first visit is the most important transaction that you have in your coffee shop, get it wrong and you won't see them again, get it right and you will have another chance to get their loyalty.

Like any relationship, the one you have with your customers goes through stages and the first stage is the most important.

Getting new guests through your door is hard enough on its own, the bright lights and brand comfort that the chains have can be hard to overcome.

People are also creatures of habit. If they already have a favourite coffee place, it might prove difficult to get them to try you out.

This bias and routine is just as much an issue for the established independents as for the newbies by the way.

So when you get a new customer through your doors what do you do?

Have you got a way to identify them?

Obviously, you may not recognise them but they may be looking around and not sure where to stand to order, or not be sure if you do table service or not.

The first interaction with a new guest will be the defining one; you will never get an opportunity to make another first impression.

The time before the first eye contact and smile are indirectly proportional to the warmth of the welcome experienced, so the longer it is before that new guest is acknowledged with a smile, the worse your service is perceived.

Once you've made a good first impression, the actual service and quality of your product is excellent, and if all of this is deemed good value by the new guest then they are highly likely to make a second visit.

It takes on average five visits for a new customer to become a loyal guest, and then only three bad visits to lose them, so consistency and reliability of your service and quality are vital.

Do your team know how to recognise and treat new guests differently?

Have you got your processes and guidelines written in stone in your business so your customer's first visit won't be their last?

PS Here is an idea that a coffee shop in Italy has adopted to discourage rudeness from its guests, we don't recommend you try the same, though! Click here to read more

About the Authors

Andrew & Claire Bowen are the authors of 'The Daily Grind - how to open a coffee shop that makes money' Available on Amazon, and Founders of Cafe Success - the ultimate resource site for coffee shop, cafe and tea room owners worldwide.

To buy The Daily Grind on Amazon Click Here