As a resident and active Stonehouse community member, I was also a customer of the towns ‘2i’s Café’, and naturally got talking to owner and proprietor Deborah as a result. ‘Debs’ as she is more commonly known, was interested to hear about my business and asked what I might be able to do for her business given it was about to come under increased competition from two new establishments opening locally. The 2i’s already having an established and loyal customer-base of local people of all ages, coming to enjoy an extensive and reasonably priced menu of good quality food and beverages.
I made it very clear from the outset that I thought 2i’s and the two new competitors could coexist without taking trade from one another as there should be sufficient demand from the towns 7,500 population. The key to the 2i’s success, given the already established goodwill and quality offerings, would therefore be brand positioning, this was to be achieved through clear differentiation from the competition, in other words: “What was 2i’s proposition?”. “What were their core values and what made them different from the rest?”
The thing that I seized on right away were the Café’s links to the community, most of the clientele having lived in Stonehouse for all or most of their lives, and for them the 2i’s had become a meeting place and hub for a ‘cuppa and a chat’ or lunch with friends – ‘somewhere where everybody knows your name’. It was also a place where people could learn about community events, pass on and exchange important information about proposed changes to the town, and in some cases even help solve local crimes, reunite invalid carriages with their owners or stop runaway vehicles in the busy high-street – things that definitely don’t happen in a branch of your average lookalike corporate coffee chain.
I recommended a modernisation and refurbishment of the 2i’s, including a new logo, a paint refresh, new external signage and interior wall graphics, a new blackboard paint menu wall, tablecloths and other interior design accessories, along with a general de-clutter and the removal of some outdated decorative items. All of this was achieved within the modest allotted budget and without the Café having to close its doors during scheduled opening hours. The object being not to alienate existing customers by doing anything too radical, but at the same time hopefully appeal to new customers who may have previously passed by or have been tempted by the competition.
Judging by the extremely positive reaction of the overwhelming majority of 2i’s regular customers, and a generally increased footfall I certainly succeeded with what she set out to achieve and owner Debs was very happy with the result.
November 1, 2014