From this case, you will learn how a small cafe had a complete business makeover.
Few facts about The Cantina
- It is an organic food cafe in a lively neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- When it was set up in 2016, it had 15 tables.
- First, The Cantina was the only organic fast food in the neighborhood, and its revenues were good. Two years into the launch, new healthy cafe and restaurants opened nearby, so it became harder for The Cantina to compete and earn profits. They needed to scale up.
- They had an additional place near Cantina to make a summer terrace and add more tables, but the owners hesitated to expand the cafe.
- Cantina tried an organized delivery service, but they had only occasional orders made by phone.
|WHAT THEY CAME WITH||WHAT THEY GOT|
|Small niche business with offline vector||Overall profits increased by 340%|
|An urgent need to scale up and increase profit||They got four times more clients every month|
|Weak background for online activities (poor website, lack of marketing strategy)||Income from food delivery rose up to $7k per month|
|Delivery and booking systems were disorganized and generated occasionally orders||1000+ online bookings every month|
By December 2017, because of smart management and marketing decisions, the Cantina’s profit rose by 340%.
We asked Tony and Ann, the owners, to share their story.
Tony Araya, the owner:
In spring 2016, my wife Ann and I decided to set up an organic food cafe for young people who wanted to hang out with friends and eat healthily.
I used to be an architect and Ann had spent three years in Florence as a junior cook. The Cantina was the first business project for both of us, and it set off well. We offer our visitors the atmosphere of a neighborhood pizzeria or a family cafe without serving them too much empty carbs or junk food.
It took us almost a year to make The Cantina popular in the neighborhood. Right after the launch, we could tell that we’d chosen the right niche: organic living and healthy food were in trend. People were telling us that they’d been long waiting for a place like ours, where they could make healthy food choices and have fun.
As a result, we had a group of loyal daily visitors and The Cantina’s Facebook page on had more than 3k followers. We thought that gaining an active audience on social media would give us a steady increase in revenue. But this didn’t happen. Our followers liked and shared, but the business stopped growing.
When a new vegan restaurant and an organic bakery opened a few blocks from us, we were expecting our revenues to drop.
There was enough space near our cafe to build a summer veranda and double the number of tables. We had been planning to do that for almost two years but wouldn't dare to do it. We were not sure that we would manage to get enough new clients and stay afloat after investing in the construction.
In 2017, we understood that it was time to scale our business. Our strategy was to build a beautiful summer veranda with 15 more tables so that The Cantina could host big parties and outdoor events.
The veranda was constructed in two months; it looked amazing and cost a small fortune. As the number of tables increased to 30, we needed to hire two more waiters and a junior cook.
In general, our business depended on two things:
- We needed to attract more visitors to fill new tables.
- We wanted to increase delivery orders.
So, the decision to get a new website came naturally.
Our cafe used to have a simple website that had been built with a popular builder.
I remember that at that time we were too low on money to order a website from a professional studio. Moreover, I had little idea of why we needed it. The old site displayed contact information and a couple of photos only. From our new one, we expected much more: nice design, online delivery, table booking functionality, and everything it could offer.
I contacted several web studios and talked to their managers. In general, if a studio was popular and received excellent feedback from clients, its prices were too high for us. Luckily, my friend who had made our first website told me that we didn’t have to pay the full price of developing everything from scratch - we could buy a website template. I was very relieved to hear that.
Alex Nemirov, web developer, creative team lead at TemplateMonster:
Tony contacted our support team through the online chat on templatemonster.com. Our managers speak to hundreds of entrepreneurs every day helping them choose the most suitable product. After Tony shared some information about their business and why they needed a website, it was clear that Monstroid2 theme would meet their needs best. Tony said that they didn’t want to hire other designers to do the personalization and setup, so my team had a chance to launch the website.
Tony Araya, the owner:
Together with the theme, we ordered the Ready-to-Use Website service to have the content from our old website moved to the Monstroid2. The new site was also responsive, loaded fast and offered beautiful UX. I was impressed.
We saw that Alex and his team set up the Contacts page and Google map, added the cafe name and logo, moved other content.
The team also added a big gallery with sliders to the website because we knew that many potential clients want to evaluate the interior and atmosphere before coming. We also added a few excellent shots of parties and our visitors having fun at The Cantina.
Designers also made a separate page that showed our photos as cafe owners. There we could write a few lines about the story behind The Cantina and invite new visitors to our cafe.
After we approved the first version of the website, Alex and his team set up online booking system. Finally!
Now all clients could book a table through the website without calling the administrator. We have only one administrator to take care of all the reservations and new booking service become helpful!
Next, we wanted food a delivery functionality on our website. The best news was that we could add a free plugin (MotoPress, Ed.) to our new template. I had been worried that adding e-commerce functions to the website would skyrocket its cost.
We add new dishes to the menu every few months, so I’ve been working with the admin panel quite a lot by now. It is friendly enough, and I can manage it without professional support. The new website version allowed us showing more details about the ingredients of every dish along and its net weight too. Perfect!
The new website has smart filters and better navigation. Now visitors can browse dishes not only by type but by ingredients also.
Alex told us that they could also add a pizza constructor to our website. A Healthy Pizza Constructor, as we call it now. We never thought about that. The idea to allow visitors to order pizzas of their own creation was terrific, and we didn’t have to pay additional money for the plugin (Pizza Builder, Ed.).
With the plugin, our site visitors choose the desired size of their pizza, pick ingredients, and proceed to the checkout. I think that without this feature we wouldn’t be getting so many delivery orders as we do today.
When the new website was ready, Ann and I were excited and inspired. We were finally ready for a big promotional campaign.
The Cantina needed new clients fast, so I launched a Google AdWords campaign. We’ve already been doing PPC advertising with the old website, and it didn’t work out well: we only got about ten orders for every $ 100. Now I understand that people didn’t like the idea of seeing a menu on our old website but having to call the manager by phone to make an order.
We tried PPC advertising again with a new website and got 20 orders from $100. Next month, we increased the ad budget to $1000 and got $7000 of monthly profit from online delivery alone. I know that many clients come back to our website and recommend us to their friends.
We also needed to spread the news about our new veranda across social media. I launched a Facebook ad campaign that targeted locals who were interested in organic food and healthy lifestyle. In a week after publishing the first ad about the summer veranda, we saw many new people coming to The Cantina. Now we run regular ads every time there’s an update on the menu.
Next, we started hosting events on our summer veranda and promoting them among the targeted audience. By now, we’ve had 15 healthy cooking master classes, five themed events (like the Big Guacamole Party), and countless events for children.
Ann also traced local Instagram bloggers who focus on healthy lifestyle, fitness, and organic cooking. We contacted five bloggers with over 100k followers, and the Cantina got mentioned in their posts and stories. As a result, we got 2k new followers in a month on our Instagram account, some of them did not hesitate to become our clients.
Other things we did
The Cantina has been receiving reviews on other platforms and social media since 2015. We added the testimonials to the new website, and they help to convert new visitors. Also, we paid more attention to reviews visitors wrote on Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and Google to improve our rating and work with negative feedback.
We also started a blog for the cafe to post the information about our news, events, and deals. Except this, we posted some recipes and actual articles about the healthy lifestyle. It makes our blog popular and gets additional free traffic to our website.
My wife insisted that we needed a newsletter, so we asked Alex to add a subscription form to the website. Now new visitors give us their emails, telephone numbers, and we keep them informed about the latest menu updates and our events.
The Cantina got four times more clients, and most of them were converted through the website.
The online delivery and booking functionality works seamlessly; we have minimum 1000 online bookings every month.
In December, our monthly profit from food delivery rose to $7000.
Now I think that we should have done all that immediately after the cafe was opened. I can only imagine how much more money we could have earned by now. We are also thinking about setting up a franchise, so I hope our next success story will be coming soon.”
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