As your coffee-starved guests get out of their cars and approach your doors, the introductions begin. They get to meet your store, the get to see your layout, and they get to form an initial assessment of what their entire conscious experience will be. Prior to walking through your door, all of their experience has been subconscious or subliminal. It is now up to you to enhance that experience!
The moment your customer walks through the door, they will have formed an opinion. Is it clean? Is it noisy? How does it smell? Is the décor cohesive? What is the feel of the atmosphere? Were they promptly and warmly greeted? All of these things are controllable, at least to some degree, and they should be fine-tuned to ensure maximum enjoyment.
You are serving up more than coffee and food, you are serving up entertainment. Look around your store every free moment that you have, and find something to clean. Organize a shelf, sweep the floor, wipe down tables and dust off lights. The most straightforward way to improve your space is to make sure that it is not cluttered, and that it is clean and presentable.
Odors should not be much of a problem in a coffee house, but careful attention is still necessary. Try not to use cleaners that have a strong odor, and be sure to promptly clean up spills and food messes. Strong cleaners can overpower the experience that the coffee will offer, and unclean messes can often spread and make deep cleaning more difficult if not impossible. Imagine leaving a milk spill for even 5 minutes and how far that milk can travel, especially if someone steps in it! Sour milk smell is not something you want hanging around your coffee house.
Although noise is a part of the coffee shop reality, those grinders, espresso machines, knock boxes and conversational din can be masked or muted. Make sure that music is playing to appropriate levels, and consider your audience when selecting your genre. Background noise is always present, but certain things can be done to lessen the effect. Consider making ‘acoustic boxes’ or ‘sound boxes.’ These can be made at home with some cheap pine 1x6’s and sound absorbing material.
Finally, greet your guests! They have come to relax, enjoy your coffee and get some great service. Start their experience off right and welcome them warmly to your café. You will be surprised how much of a difference a warm and friendly introduction can make for a first time, or even a regular customer.