A lot of times, a business’ success comes down to luck; the stars align, God is in a good mood that year, or you win the economic lottery.
Businesses also succeed because of hard work, solid research and marketing, and lots of experience.
As a coffee roaster and/or coffee shop, your success is going to be dependent on the quality and affordability of your product, the appeal of your brand, your location in the community, even the speed (and friendliness of service). One tremendously successful coffee shop entrepreneur lists “ergonomics” as his number 2 reason for a coffee shop’s success. He says to set up the shop so that the barista can hear the orders being made at the register and they don’t have to move practically at all to get the orders completed; this means having accessible milk, beans, cups, machinery and so forth.
Some experts will tell you that the comfort and aesthetic of your space will be key to your success; others will say that too comfortable a space could be your very downfall.
As a freelance worker, I look for available seating that isn’t too crowded, with access to an outlet and wifi, without too much noise. My local coffee shop is my home office away from home. Coffee shops are also the gathering place for first dates, business meetings, collaborators of all kinds, tired tourists, reuniting friends. A lot of these people need places to sit; a lot of them are going to want to sit for more than 5 minutes. How you market to these needs is up to you, ultimately. Your community may not cater too much to the sit-down coffee crowd; maybe they’re just in and out.
One expert does warn that having more customers that are in and out is a surer road to success. I can’t say he’s entirely wrong, either, when he says that a customer who sits and nurses a coffee for hours while writing a thesis or novel is a better customer than the customer who gets the same coffee and immediately leave,s making room for the next customer. His argument is that the in-and-outters come in higher numbers and provide more money per hour than those that just sit.
Try to find the balance. Like I said, I frequent coffee shops for the ability to get work done. I will leave a coffee shop if there is no place to sit, or even if there is no place to plug in. Catering to both crowds will definitely benefit your business.
Bench and bar stools are ways to offer seating, while discouraging people from hanging out for too long; they’re uncomfortable after a while. I would recommend populating your space about halfway with these types of seats so that you experience the revolving door of customers while still catering to those hanger-outters. You should also offer comfortable chairs, with backs, close to the ground, preferably with outlets and wifi.
Something else to consider is communal seating; this encourages larger groups who may spend more money collectively. These could be tourists or business associates having a collaborative meeting.
When choosing your furniture, you also want to consider the space. Nothing kills your service more efficiently than having no space for your customers to form a line. It is the rare business that has people willing to line up out the door and around the block; especially for coffee. They exist, but, they are rare. You also don’t want to force people to line up where they’ll be invading the space of your seated customers. If you have unfixed seating, meaning seating that the customers can move, you need to be aware of just how far your customers might move them and accommodate the floor plan for all scenarios.
If you want to be cozy and encourage a hangout for collaboration, expression and relationship building, bring in the comfy chairs. An assortment of upholstered furniture people can sink into gives them a home away from home. Some research shows that a comfortable customer is a loyal one. I go back to the shops that made me feel comfortable, that I know I can rely on for the resources I need to work and where the chairs are just firm enough to keep me focused, but not so firm that I have to leave to work out the kinks in my lower back.
Your furniture reflects your brand. If you want edgy, business clientele, go with sleek stools and chairs, minimalistic designs, silver and marble and grays.
If you want artists and youth, go eclectic, rustic, weird, whimsical. Mix and match your chairs and tables like you had a bunch of Great Aunts die and leave you all their old armchairs.
You also want your furniture to be good for you and your employees. Look at the durability of your choices, will they stand up to being sat on by a variety of people day in and day out, will they stand up to being moved, sometimes aggressively. Your tables should be prepared for spills, and lots of them. They should be easy to wipe clean; there’s nothing more discouraging to a customer than a dirty table that takes the barista five minutes to get truly clean.
Your furniture should be easily accessible; being wedged in a corner, trapped on all sides by other customers or walls is not a way to make a customer comfortable or encourage them to come back.
Offer a variety of seating arrangements, from the communal, to the singular, to the couple, to the family.
If you’re going to clash, really clash. If you’re going to match, really match. Branding is about consistency, an easily understood aesthetic and vision. If customers get your brand and believe in its consistency, then they’ll trust your business.