The Cafe Life

Thu02222018

Last updateWed, 14 Feb 2018 10am

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Costa on Corrie

The news that a major brand is to open a coffee shop on the world-famous cobbles of Coronation Street has caused quite a stir. Quite apart from the commercial tie-up with the broadcaster the potential impact in the story-line for Roy’s Rolls has caused quite a stir. The fear being that a giant operator would squash the minnow and drive him out of business.

Picture the scene: a juggernaut is coming your way, you turn and run but the juggernaut keeps on coming – you run and run and run but it’s no good, you can’t out-run it and finally, you tire, it’s all too much and SPLAT!

But of course, the best way to avoid being splatted by the juggernaut is to do what cyclists do – Be Safe, Be Seen. Cyclists don’t have to go faster than the bigger traffic, they just do their own thing. Signal to those around them, be clear in the road and continue about their journey. So our advice to Roy: Just focus on yourself and let it go by. You don’t have to out-run, out-wit or defeat it. Focus on the qualities of your own business and be a very good independent café.

The new operator will be spending a lot of money on advertising, promotions and making it very well known locally that they’re coming. They’ll draw quite a crowd when they finally open and will create an increase in footfall to the area. Independents can benefit from this increased footfall, of course. Suddenly, more people are in the street, people are coming there for a drink, a sandwich, a cake which they didn’t before. It’s now a destination. That’s the opportunity.

You know what the new operation is going to bring, their menu is consistent across all its outlets – time to research. How are you different? Focus on that. Whether it’s portion size, price, the use of local produce – that’s your identity, your USP. That’s cool and it’s what people who already come to you love. Maybe you need to brush up on some things. Are all your staff well trained? Is your “Score on the Door” as good as it can be?  Does your local paper know you exist? All these things are easily and cheaply sorted.

The Café Life Association can help you but that’s not what this blog is about.

The real-world High Street is a big place. Fewer people are shopping there and cafés are capitalising, doing a wonderful job, creating a living space in our communities where people go to socialise and work. A new provider will boost the number of visitors and provide opportunities for others in the street, like the Rovers, too. Offering people a range of options is what the market is all about. “New” is not something to be feared. Give them a reason to chose you and they will.