By James Fell

Coffee franchises are some of the most successful businesses on the planet. Starbucks is the premier example of a brand that has exploded across the globe using its mix of reputation and a smart franchise strategy. The Seattle-grown brand has spread all over the world with over 29,000 branches.

Its success is not just measured by the growth of its branches — in the last quarter of 2018 alone, Starbucks saw net revenues grow 11% compared to the same period a year earlier, reaching a record $6.3 billion.

Other coffee brands have seen their stats rise too, and in the US alone the industry is worth over $18 billion and growing. In the UK, the popular chain cafe Costa Coffee saw its number of franchises grow from 170 to over 2,000 within a decade.

There are no hidden secrets to their success — coffee brands follow specific steps and adapt with the times to keep their businesses growing and thriving. You don’t have to own a huge corporation to use the same behavior to great effect.

As a small business owner, you can learn from the success of coffee franchises to power your initiatives forward.

Consider Diversifying Your Product or Service Offering

The most important thing to do first is to identify what is your key product or service. Once you have done this, you can hone in on your business’s talent and make sure you’re the best at what you do. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t branch out and explore other products or offerings.

Starbucks has been known as a coffee shop since it began in 1971, but that didn’t stop it from branching out into offering food and more. In a major deal in 2012, the coffee chain acquired Teavana, an American brand of tea, and incorporated another iconic hot drink into its offering. You don’t have to acquire another business to expand what you offer. The key to doing this successfully is to choose things that are close enough to your core product or service to complement and not undermine it.

Don’t Be Afraid to Collaborate with Other Businesses

Costa Coffee has had great success by teaming up with other businesses. By placing Costa Express self-service machines across the world in mini-market chains, as well as small cafes within branches of clothing store Primark and bookshop Waterstones, a brand benefits from even more customers. In return, Costa offers a revenue share scheme. These sorts of partnerships are win-win.

You can use some of this wisdom in your small business. Explore mutually beneficial deals or agreements with other small businesses in your local area. Whether you’re an independent restaurant with a physical location or a digital marketing company based online, you can forge relationships with other small enterprises that will benefit all parties through increased revenue.

Do More for Your Customers

Many of the big coffee chains are experts at making their customers come back for more. Services like free Wi-Fi — practically an expectation of most establishments these days — as well loyalty schemes go some way towards increasing footfall and the attraction of successful coffee businesses. Some even offer in-app ordering and payments, like Dunkin’ Donuts, which allow customers to get their coffees ahead of time and skip the line.

Exactly how you do this depends on what type of business you have, but it’s essential to think about what can be done to go above and beyond. What can your business offer as an advantage over your competitors that keeps customers returning?

Think about Franchising Your Business

If you want to grow your small business and bring in customers from a wider area, then opening it up to franchising could be the right choice. Starbucks didn’t get to 29,000 branches and worldwide recognition by directly opening every single branch on its own. Franchising will give you the ability to grow and spread while bringing on eager partners who are invested in succeeding with their branch. You don’t even have to be a brick and mortar business — many web-based businesses offer online franchising. You can charge a franchise fee, which means you won’t have to shoulder the full cost of opening each new premise or operation.

Those are some tips and tricks that big coffee brands use to power their success. I hope you find them useful and can put them into practice to take your business forward.