CUSTOMER Q&A

Three businesses, three countries, three stories.

We asked posed our quick-fire questions to three customers and this is what they told us:

Craigies Farm, Queensferry, Scotland

How has Covid-19 impacted your business?

We continued to trade throughout COVID-19 by adapting our business to counter the effects of lockdown. We focussed on takeaway service only for those that could come to the farm. We then took our fresh fruit & veg business online. Delivering pre-ordered Fruit and Veg boxes on a home delivery basis. As lockdown was relaxed we moved our Egro Choc into a food lorry and created a Take-Away food truck selling hot food & drinks in the car park to meet social distancing guidelines.

What measures have you put in place to adapt and thrive?

Simply we evolved the business, by taking away the “self-service” part of the business, we created a table service only restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating (all of which met Social Distancing requirements) to encourage more footfall into the Farm Shop food hall and continued with our online food sales which have proven highly successful. Digi Slots have been introduced into the Pick-Your-Own side of the business as well in order to promote our fruit sales.

How are you approaching seated dining (when permitted)?

Digi Slots can be booked online or over the phone for a maximum of 6 people per table. A £5 deposit per person is taken at the time of booking to secure the table, then deducted from the bill. This has guaranteed that people are turning up. As we allocate a time limit as well we are able to turn tables more frequently and increase the spend per table. We are now looking permanently to keep the table service element in place going forward. We have sanitation stations all over the shop & café with a strict hourly cleaning regime.

What interesting approaches have you seen from other businesses?

I haven’t really been out as we have been so busy.

What do you see as the short, medium and long term outlook for coffee shops?

Customers want to have a sense of normality, so if businesses evolve and adapt to the current regulations there are ways to keep businesses open and trading. We are continuing to invest in our new play area which will be open as of March 2021, all our staff are back full time and trade is getting stronger. Plans are in place for our usual Halloween and Christmas activities. Operators have to be more creative.

What social media channels and tools are you using?

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: Social media is important to the business, so we have a marketing team that is responsible for managing the platforms.

Wild Cafe, Tralee, Ireland

How has Covid-19 impacted your business?

Sadly we had to close for April May and June. We opened in late July with sales down 50% week to week on last year. August was very strong for takeaway but customers were slow to avail of a sit-down menu. Confidence starting to return to the market in September with customers making use of our upstairs seating area.

What measures are you using to help you adapt and thrive?

A screen was placed around the till area. We removed seats from downstairs to facilitate the growing take away market. All staff were trained to HSE covid guidelines and wearing masks onsite. Tables are sanitised after each use. We held a refresher training course on-site for coffee to improve the speed of service.

How are you approaching seated dining (when permitted)?

We removed all cutlery and condiments from tables. Tables are spaced apart to ensure social distancing. Contact trancing measures are in place as per guidelines. We undertake extra cleaning in all areas during the day.

What interesting approaches have you seen from other businesses?

A lot of cafes have tried to gain extra seats by placing outdoor seating options. We are not in a position to do this due to location but are lucky to have ample space upstairs as a dine-in option.

What do you see as the short, medium and long term outlook for coffee shops?

Short Term: I think the outlook is ok short term for cafes in Kerry due to the increase in footfall with people on staycation.

Medium. Is very uncertain as no one knows when or where the next lockdown will happen.

Long Term. Depending on how long the current restrictions stay in place long-term trading conditions could be very difficult. Many businesses both in our sector and others will feel the financial effects of covid for many years. As companies start to pull away from the high streets and with employees working from home the footfall on our streets will decrease leading to fewer customers for the remaining business in town.

What social media channels and tools are you using?

Our focus since the reopening has been to get our café back trading and train up staff. Social media posts will return soon.

Quick Crepes, Burnley, England

How has Covid-19 impacted your business?

We have been able to trade however when there is bad press over Covid the business suffers.

What measures are you using to help you adapt and thrive?

We have placed more emphasis on takeaway and deliveries. Our outdoor seating has been expanded and we are doing more sampling.

How are you approaching seated dining (when permitted)?

We have our own app for ordering and notices up advising customers to wear their masks when moving around the shop.

What interesting approaches have you seen from other businesses?

Not a lot really. When footfall is badly affected then it does not matter what we do because there is nobody around!

What do you see as the short, medium and long term outlook for coffee shops?

It's just so uncertain due to Covid. I expect it will be up and down. Long term cafes should do well because despite less money to spend there's always enough for coffee and cake.

What social media channels and tools are you using?

Instagram for pictures and Facebook for posting updates.