Small Business BC on How to Reopen Your Cafe

Small Business BC on How to Reopen Your Cafe

I was recently invited to be on a panel hosted by Small Business BC to discuss how to reopen your cafe after the mandated closures from the province and the City of Vancouver.

Reopening a coffee shop is still, at the time of writing of this article, a bit of a grey area. What the hell are the rules? How do I do it safely? What things do I consider?

I was looking at this from more of the consumer perspective. At Siply, we’re very in touch with what customers (like yours) want and expect from coffee shops. Luckily, we also had Jess from Nemesis Coffee on the panel to help answer questions relating to the coffee shop processes themselves. 

Read our top three takeaways on how to reopen your cafe below, or watch the full webinar on the Small Business BC website here.

Screen capture of Zoom call

Takeaway 1: Develop Your Online Selling Presence

If you don’t already have a webshop, webstore or at least some sort of rudimentary online ordering system, now is the time to set that up.

Many point of sale systems allow you to set up a basic webpage and inventory that will provide your customers with a portal to buy your products. 

Often this is free. 

I’m not even talking about delivery services here. This can be as simple as ordering online and picking up in person. 

The main point is that you get to have a store window that people can use to see your products and services online, from the safety of their own home.

How can we at Siply help Setup your Online Presence?

We offer a free service where we’ll help you set your webshop up. There are no catches here and you don’t even need to be a coffee shop on the Siply network. We’ll advise you on how to get your shop online and accept payments through it.

If you’re interested in booking a chat with us about this (or how to reopen your cafe), you can contact us here.

Takeaway 2: Build Your Community

Be honest with yourself – do you ever go onto Instagram and think, “I really want to just kick back and look at loads of ads for coffee today.” Hell no, of course you don’t.

You usually want to do one of two things: 

  1. Be entertained
  2. Learn something

This is a prime opportunity for you to spend a bit of time working out what makes your shop amazing, what makes your staff amazing and what makes your food and drink amazing, then scream that from the rooftops.

When I look at an Instagram account, I want to see people, emotion, enjoyment and fun. I want to learn about the things that make me love them as people and I want to learn about the things they have to offer. 

However, I don’t want to be sold to. If you post about your drinks every day (unless they’re changing every day) I get bored quickly. Real talk: so does everyone else.

Example 1

Pull out that little device in your pocket. It’s got a camera on it. Turn it on, point it at your face and start talking. Tell people about what it’s like to work for your cafe. Show them what you did today. Enthrall them with what you’re excited about… or even what you’re worried about. Keep it coffee-related of course, no one wants to hear about your athlete’s foot, but just talk.

I promise you that it’s more interesting than you think. Also, everyone hates the sound of their own voice, get over it. 

Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters have been doing an amazing job of this recently.


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Siply’s tips for social videos

Be honest, friendly, transparent and empathetic. Let your personality shine through to engage your viewers: this will help you build and strengthen your relationships with your audience. Prioritize vertical video over horizontal video as the vast majority of video viewing on social media takes place on mobile phones. When it comes to the content itself, ensure that your content is timely, relevant and adds some kind of value for the viewer.

Example 2

Share pictures of your employees working (with their permission, of course). They don’t have to be perfect. Grab your camera phone, play with the settings a bit so you get that blurry background and start snapping. Tell people what’s going on in the captions. Share insights into what you’ve been discussing inside your cafe and ask for their thoughts in the comments. Make it so when they come through your door they feel like they already know you.

Pallet Coffee Roasters have been doing an incredible job of this recently.


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Takeaway 3: Plan for the New Normal

I know, I also hate that term, but trust me – it’s relevant. 

The “New Normal” might mean that it’s months before you can have all your seats occupied. What are you going to do with the empty ones? Does it fit the vibe of your shop to have half of them empty when we’re allowed to socially distance inside your venue?

How about the masks you wear? Do you want clinical white and blue with white gloves to match? Or would you prefer custom brand colour masks and black gloves?


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What about the food you serve? In the webinar, Jess from Nemesis talks about how they have revamped their menu to cater to the fact that people are taking the food away rather than dining in. So their focus is on handheld food. Similarly, Winston Coffee in North Van are focusing on takeaway dinners. (We’re talking about full chickens with sides for four people.) Modus Coffee Roasters are collaborating with several food producers to create a box of goodies that you can buy and take home. 

Get creative.

How to Reopen Your Cafe: In Conclusion

The above are just a few of the amazing ideas that came up in the webinar. I highly encourage you to watch the whole thing as it’s only 45 minutes (you can even speed the whole thing up by watching at double speed. Protip: don’t.).

One final tip: I didn’t really mention Siply in the webinar because it was not the time, nor the place. But for those that are interested, Siply is set up purely to assist with sales and marketing for coffee shops.

We drive customers to shops and we’re damn good at it. There are some criteria you need to meet in order for your coffee shop to be on the Siply network (for example, you need to be a great coffee shop), but if you think that you fit in that box we’d love to chat to you about joining the Siply family alongside other coffee shops like Nemesis, Prado, Pallet Coffee Roasters, Prototype, Kafkas and many more. 

Fill in the form below and I’ll personally reach out to you for a chat on how to join Siply or reopen your cafe.

That’s it from me. Stay safe and if I can do anything to help (whether your coffee shop is a Siply member or not), drop me a line at [email protected].

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