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The Two Pillars of Coffee Shop Success

Decrease expenses and Increase Revenue

In the realm of coffee shop business, or any business for that matter, success often boils down to two fundamental principles: decreasing expenses and increasing revenue.

It's a simple concept, yet its execution is where the art and science of business converge.

Decreasing Expenses: The Art of Pruning

First, let's talk about trimming the fat.

It's not just about cutting costs; it's about smart pruning to allow your business to grow and flourish.

This means scrutinizing your expenses with a fine-tooth comb.

  • Are there vendor contracts that can be renegotiated?

  • Can staffing hours be optimized without sacrificing customer experience?

  • Can you find a vendor with better prices and comparable

  • Can you make some items in house rather than buying or vice versa?

  • Can you reduce inventory a bit to decrease spoilage?

Maybe it's time to consider closing during those eerily quiet hours.

Perhaps coffee isn't so popular after 4pm in your area. Consider figuring your hourly expense rate; that is, the cost per hour of keeping your shop open. Then identify the hours of the day where revenue doesn't meet that cost. Is it possible to close or reduce expenses during these times?

Remember, every dollar saved is a dollar that can be reinvested into what truly matters.

Increasing Revenue: The Unlimited Horizon

Now, let's shift gears to the more exhilarating part – boosting your revenue.

This is where the boundaries are limited only by your creativity.

Start with the core: ensure your product is exceptional and your staff, remarkable.

They are not just selling coffee; they are ambassadors of your brand's story. Honestly, many other things can be forgiven, but not these.

Innovative Revenue Boosters

Then, engage your creative gears.

What can you offer that costs little but adds immense value?

Think happy hours, board game nights, events for moms, or enticing drink specials.

These are more than just promotions; they're experiences, community builders, reasons for people to choose your café as their 'third place' outside of home and work.

These events don't only serve as opportunities to get more customers in the door, but they create awareness and create new customers.

For instance, a board game night likely won't be a huge profit maker for you, but it's a chance for your customers to invite their friends and turn them into new customers. Next time they think coffee, they'll think about your cafe.

Three Paths to Revenue Growth

In the quest for increased revenue, there are three primary paths: acquiring more customers, enhancing the average transaction value, and encouraging frequent visits.

Each path requires a different strategy but converges on the same goal - a thriving, buzzing coffee shop. Here are four ways to put these paths into action.

1. Getting More Foot Traffic

It's not just about pulling people in; it's about pulling the right people in.

Who is your ideal customer, and what can you do to become irresistible to them?

Are people already walking by? Do they need to pull the car over? Do they have a reason to stop in? Can they see your business and what you sell?

2. Boosting Average Ticket Value

Upselling is an art.

Train your staff to do it subtly and effectively. Don't assume they'll do it on their own or that upselling won't work.

From suggesting a pastry with a coffee to introducing a higher-priced specialty drink, it's all about increasing the value of each transaction. It's as simple as asking "Would you like a pastry or breakfast sandwich with that?"

Calculate your average ticket value and make a goal to increase it 10% next month through upselling.

3. Fostering Repeat Visits

Turn first-timers into regulars.

Don't try to maximize the value you extract from a first-time visitor, but focus on providing them an amazing experience so they'll want to come back over and over.

Additionally, if you have contact with your customers, through email or text, give them some reasons to come back in.

4. Strategic Pricing

Sometimes, increasing prices is the most straightforward way to increase revenue.

But it's a move that must be made with caution and strategy, ensuring that the perceived value always matches or exceeds the price.

Those companies often have great deals on bulk pricing so their cost of goods is lower than you can expect to achieve.

Instead, provide a greater product and service and charge a premium for it.


In essence, running a successful coffee shop, or any business, is about mastering these two core principles. It's a balancing act between being frugal yet bold, traditional yet innovative.

Master these and your cafe will thrive.

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