Lessons That Coffee Shops Teach Us About College Student Retention



Coffee could also be called the miracle drink, as it literally breathes new life into our dull and grey mornings. Whether they are the biggest names in the game or a small and simple patisserie round the corner, we all have our favourite coffee shops. Each coffee shop has its unique way of making its customers feel special and unique, whether it is by knowing their regular customers by name, or by remembering their orders perfectly and taking great care to make them.

In many ways, coffee shops can teach us a thing or two about college student retention. The basic factors remain the same- the students make their choice according to the treatment they receive at the institution, the involvement opportunities, and of course, the quality of Wi-Fi. The competition faced by different coffee shops is in many ways similar to that faced by different colleges.

Of course, there are certain tricks that both coffee shops and universities can implement to create a solid consumer base- in this case, students.

  1. Little acts of kindness can go a long way

When a ‘regular’ walks in with a long face, asking them about their day could be a nice act of kindness. If they don’t wish to respond, you could do something else for them- like put a smiley on their coffee cup, or give them one of their favourite sandwiches for free. These little acts of kindness can create a deep impact on the student’s mind, and can completely turn their day around. The more memorable the experience is, the more likely the student is to come back to the coffee shop.

As a student, if you were treated kindly by any of the officials on the campus, it would stay with you forever. You would be interested in continuing your term in the particular university because of that one time when the Dean clapped you on the back and said that you’re doing a great job. These simple nice things play a major role in determining the student’s choice of university.

  1. An atmosphere of comfort and acknowledgment is always helpful

Most students have their favourite coffee shop, where they go on a daily basis and order the same thing every day. The atmosphere, customer service and product quality all chime in to bring a student to the same coffee shop each day. With customers like that, doing small things like remembering their name, asking them about their day, or even referring to a previous conversation that the two may have shared creates a special impact on the student’s mind. Like colleges, coffee shops intend to seek out student engagement first, before acknowledging their needs to win their loyalty.

You could also win customer satisfaction by keeping personalized options. A right coffee shop POS will help you conveniently manage modified recipes and serve people who ask for non-dairy, vegan, or gluten-free versions of popular drinks or desserts. This can ensure that you attract a loyal customer base by catering to their personal needs. This is similar to the way in which colleges and universities provide increased opportunities and courses to students to attract their attention.

A lot of college students choose to study in their favourite coffee shops. It is probably because they see it as a safe space. This is also why you should work towards creating a more comfortable atmosphere for the students who walk through your door. You should do your best to meet their needs, and if they are confused about what they want, you can guide them with your own ideas about what would work for them.

Both college administrations and coffee shops should keep in mind that engaging with the students is the primary step towards ensuring their welfare. It is more important than researching what the students want and demand.

  1. Connectivity – both online and offline- is essential

It would be wrong to assume that college students drink coffee to simply stay awake for their morning classes. Coffee is also a great conversation starter. It is a way in which students can connect and reconnect. When a student goes to college, he or she is looking forward to making new friends and meeting new people.

A great way to start and sustain a conversation between individuals is by starting out over coffee at a quiet corner. The presence of the drink and the cosy atmosphere create a suitable space for a conversation to flourish. Drinking coffee together can also be a great way to establish a more personal relationship, outside the confines of a classroom or office cabin.

Having a space on the premises where students can let down their guard and be themselves for a while is important to their own mental health. This is why most colleges and offices insist on having a cafeteria or a break room, where students can engage with others and build interpersonal relationships. It is a place where students can let their guard down, and let go of their professional, business-like attitude to breathe easy for a while.

That being said, it would also help if your coffee shop had a free Wi-Fi service. It has been proven that students gravitate more towards a coffee shop that has Wi-Fi because it allows them to connect to their social media or friends online.


Creating a better experience for students should be the primary inventive of both coffee shops and universities, and adopting some of these methods should help them achieve the same.


BYLINE: Sophia Thomas is a media professional with over 6 years of experience, I like telling people stories on Student development, Women’s Empowerment & Entrepreneurship


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