Every business dealing with takeaway items should have an iPhone app. Doing so now give you a strategic advantage, will boost sales and your customers experience.

You might have read the story I wrote last year about Tim Jones, proprietor of Cigana Cafe. Read it here. A David and Goliath story - it detailed how Cigana prospered from Tim's clever initiatives, even though the Goliath "Nosh" was one door down.

Tim's done it again. And it's a story for every business dealing with takeaways to read and take note of NOW.

Problem. Three coffee cafes. One on a busy road (St Johns) 12 years old, mature and steady at capacity. Lots of phone in orders from regulars. The other two had more upside capacity. Tim wanted to boost revenue and find a new point of difference for them.


Think about these facts concerning your customers now and in the future:
1. Smart phone costs are steadily declining.
2. The next time you're out look at the types of phones people carry.
Eight out of ten will be a smart phone.
3. They're mostly time poor
4. They love their coffee
5. They like, no need convenience
6. People like to be known, feel important
7. Most will have smart phones and/or computers handy

Putting these seven factors together Tim decided to institute a Cigana Smartphone app for pre-ordering and pickup.

How has it worked? Brilliantly. The app has been available in one cafe for three weeks, the other days. With nothing more than Tim, his crew and customers talking about the app, they now get 10% of business from it. Here is a sample of customer remarks.

"I would not drink coffee everyday it if wasn't for the ease of the Cigana app: I don't even need to have a card, I just hit send, walk in and pick up."

"This is great, I'm drinking more coffee than before."

"It's just so easy."

You must be interested? Are you thinking what goes into getting a smartphone app for your business? Here are a few considerations.

1) Develop or Buy
Personalised development would be a large cost - if you consider an average $165 of per hour code writing; it could run from say $3,000- $10,000 depending on complexity. However Tim searched Google and found a fabulous development company with a perfect app being used by cafes that was easily customised and inexpensive. He pays a flat $NZ 80 per month (with no transaction fees). By the way, he is now the NZ license holder- contact him if you're interested - tim@cigana.co.nz


2) Education
This is a point that should not be ignored. It needs to be trumpeted. LOUDLY! Here are a few of my thoughts and things that Tim has done

• External signage changed to advertise the new convenience ($350)
• Window signage that can be washed off ($60)
• Internal signage on countertops ($50)
• Staff competitions : who can sign up most customers ($200 for incentives)
• Cards to takeaway ($99)
• One additional iPad and security fixture for customers to sign up in store to get them while they're hot and get pre-pay accounts started. ($800)
• Flyers printed to deliver to businesses in the driveable area ($150)
• Counter staff only need to ask this simple question : 'What kind of mobile phone do you use?'

3) Return on Investment
If you don't take the fixed costs into account, Tim would only have to sell one 'new' coffee a day.
All costs amortised over one year, brings the monthly total to $340 ($80 app; $50 internet wireless bandwidth; $210 set up costs). At an average of $4.00 a coffee (not to mention muffins, sandwiches....) he needs to sell 3.5 new coffees a day to break even. Has he done it? Are there any other benefits?

• New customers. Tim's crew told me they've pulled in new local business because with all things equal (coffee taste and price) the app saves customers sometimes up to a 20 minute wait at other cafes. Invaluable.

• Cash in till. Like their pre-paid cards, Tim gets coffee money up front (most customers pre-load the app).

• More multiple orders. The biggest growth is in multiple purchases. Whereas people bought one before now they're sending through for office coffees. One customer upon getting the app promptly ordered seven for the office. Many that came in only once, twice a week now are coming in more frequently.


• Customer experience improved on both sides. Tim has found with the app they've got to know their customers by name and their requirements. It's been invaluable, on the customer side; it makes them feel important being known, walking in and being handed a coffee. Getting in front of the queue. Invaluable.

• Rewards as an electronic and data base driven- Tim can see who his top clients are. Email and even reward them.

• Not just orders. The iPad can replace a stereo .

When you think of the ease of implementation; the huge benefit to busy customers and the immediate success in three weeks and without advertising, you have to agree. This is one piece of technology that takeaway businesses must have.

* Written by international speaker and bestselling author Debbie Mayo-Smith. For more tips, over 500 how-to articles visit Debbie's article webpage.