I can’t count the number of times I’ve said some version of the following: it’s the age of freelancers! In addition to that, it’s the age of small businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, and online businesses–all of which may require doing business without an actual, physical office. The coffee shop in the United States has become the work-base for many office-less workers because of the general accommodations of WiFi, affordable fare, and stimulating beverages. As a coffee shop owner, you should consider this niche market in your shop’s design so that you can attract these inevitably profitable business meetings.
Whether it’s a group of three or a group of ten, business people are most likely to patronize your business while utilizing your space because they completely understand the needs of your small business. Unlike idle teenagers or travel-weary tourists, business people want to patronize your business because they want people to patronize theirs!
How do you make your space, your menu and your brand attractive to just this type of clientele?
One of the main ways you can do this is through your interior design choices. Communal tables are much more attractive to a group of people than several small tables they’d have to push together. Additionally, having well-spaced tables will give these clients the sense that they can conduct a meeting with a semblance of privacy because the customers nearby aren’t too nearby. This will also benefit those other customers who will be less distracted by these gatherings the further away from them they can be. Booths are also a great feature to welcome business meetings because they offer the semblance of privacy, accommodate larger crowds, and can actually help with noise reduction if designed correctly.
If you have the means, you could also create a separate “meeting” room or a sectioned off space for these types of meetings. You could schedule the room or space in blocks, or merely leave it open for large groups or as a spillover space from the main room. Many cafes are catering to freelancers and other office-less workers by providing membership workspaces during certain hours/on certain days (or even just during the day each day before converting to a dining room at night). You can charge membership fees or one-time visit fees, determining your rates for a group or individual. The freelance spaces I’ve encountered offer limitless coffee and snacks to their paying members, with wall outlets at every table and the privacy guaranteed by exclusivity.
For the office-less customer, you’ll want to make sure you have reliable WiFi and readily available power outlets; they are less likely to stay or come back if they cannot utilize the necessary tools to conduct their meeting thoroughly and efficiently.
If you offer a separate room, you may consider equipping it with a large television, rentable laptops, chargers, an HDMI chord; depending on how far you want to go, you could even look into a projector with a computer hookup that can be rented or included in the rented space. This could also be a space where coffees and/or snacks are included in the rental of the room, perhaps. You do not have to charge for use of the room, specifically, you could merely put it up for reservations. Some businesses require a $25 gift card purchase for a space rental, which would be encouraging to the person running the meeting who may want to impress their employees by purchasing them beverages–you save them from having to rent the space and caffeinate their employees, which is paying it forward especially to small and startup companies!
Your menu, besides having the obvious caffeinated favorites, could also include heartier foodstuffs than mere pastries, thus inviting lunch meetings as well. Some business people who have the luxury of working in an actual office still have to (or like to) conduct business on their lunch break; you could provide them with the space to do both, saving them time and boosting your image in their mind. You could also attract business meetings and business people/groups with a corporate discount or group deal, like a free pastry with each beverage for groups of 6 or more.
One other way to attract business types is to take on the revenue-boosting strategy of selling alcohol; this way, you can offer a happy hour around 5 pm, perhaps beginning with a coffee happy hour earlier, to encourage work meetings that lead into blowing off work-stress-steam.
If you want to truly focus your brand on attracting business meetings, offer a clean space that is comfortable but not overly comfortable: business meeting attendees are least likely to enjoy the comfy armchair setup you may be envisioning. Solid, even surfaces for laptops and notebooks, supportive chairs, a not silent, but noise minimal space and sleek designs on everything from your ceramics to your to-go’s to your signage and logo. This will encourage the people who take themselves seriously to take your coffee shop seriously for their business meetings!
If you decide to go for sleek and businesslike for your brand, check out PBFY.com for customized packaging; there are innumerable designs to fit just those sorts of needs and they offer affordable, customizable label printing for all of their packaging! This way, those future business tycoons can take a bag of your best blend home after a successful business meeting in your space and remember your brand so as to encourage all of their fellow executives to bring their business to you!