4 Things You Must Do in Your Café to Keep Customers Happy and Coming Back


4 Things You Must Do in Your Café to Keep Customers Happy and Coming Back

The other week I decided to go and check out a new funky café that had opened in our town. From the outside it looked inviting, clean and crisp with cool little chairs and tables and décor that spoke to my style.

However upon entering the café, my excited nature turned to disappointment. I noticed a few things that were off putting not only as a business owner but also as a customer. It’s extremely frustrating when I see these little mistakes as they are very easy to change and when addressed can have a massive impact on the customer experience.

So here’s a breakdown of what not to do – and how to turn that around into a better experience for your customers in any retail setting.


If you have food on display, and especially if it’s on a front counter. Please make sure it is covered. Not only is this a legal requirement from your local health and safety officer, it also means as a customer you aren’t left wondering how many people have sneezed all over those delicious buttery croissants that line the counter.


One thing I found very difficult was deciding what to eat when I entered this cafe. There were no signs near the food that indicated what it was OR the cost. The only place they had any sign of a menu was on the wall behind the counter. But even then it was a matter of detective work trying to match the description on the wall with the food in the display cabinet. Not only will this make it a lot longer for your customers to decide what to eat (therefore increasing wait times), but it creates an emotion of annoyance that may have customers not wanting to come back. And that’s not good.


One thing that people normally come to a café for is a drink right? Whether it be a coffee, smoothie or juice. I don’t drink coffee (I know, shock horror) so when I asked about the other drinks on offer, I had to turn my body around – look about 5 metres away up the wall to the left on top of the electricity box, to see the drink selection. I guess I have to state the obvious here just in case and that is – please don’t do that!

Position your food and drink in a location where it’s easy to see. Maybe on the display cabinet at the front counter above the food. And not too far away so people can actually see what you have. This way you aren’t wasting time rattling off all the drinks that are available when you could be doing more important things.

Ideally you should have a display fridge where people can grab their own drink and also see the prices clearly – but if you don’t have the space for that make sure they are displayed clearly.


It’s all very well to have signs indicating what product is which and writing on the wall, but a compact little menu listing what you have can be a great tool to help customers with their purchasing decisions. Not everyone likes to stand staring at display cabinets and walls. A menu is great for new customers too as quite often people feel uncomfortable in new environments and don’t always know how to fit into the way of ‘how things are done’. A menu allows you to put a few words about your business on there to explain to newbies what you’re all about.

Or perhaps you only want to have a set amount of things on your menu – maybe a drinks menu. If you do this, make sure you are clear with communicating to the customer that they need to see the ‘display cabinet’ for meal options etc.

It all comes down to creating clear and easy to understand messages. I suggest you go and visit similar shops to your own, and take note of things that made you feel comfortable, happy or confused. This way you will get a better understating of how your customers feel when they walk through the doors, and you’ll be better equipped to implement the above suggestions in an effective way that’s going to see results immediately.

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  • Sharon Chisholm

    Couldn’t agree more Bibi. They have to make it easy for people to buy or they won’t go back. I don’t need a huge great list of food and drink options, but I do want a list to be readily available with prices. I want them to bring me a jug of water and some glasses, or at least have some available that I can help myself to. I want the cafe to be clean, hygenic and with enough space that I can sit without feeling crowded or having my seat knocked constantly by people walking past. They are not big things as you say, but they can make all the difference.

  • Bibi Lafleur

    Sharon – I love your insights on this – where were you when I wrote the article! 😉 You are spot on – it’s just simple things that done right can make a big difference.

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