Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Industry consultant and former DIY Week publisher, Colin Petty ponders garden centre cafes and their seating arrangements

Sitting in the coffee shop of a small independent garden centre in the midlands, I found myself counting tables and chairs. Sad, I know, but bear with me – there’s a point to be made here.

As a generalisation, garden centre coffee shop customers are most likely to be couples, rather than single individuals or family groups. Second generalisation: we British are not a naturally gregarious people – we don’t like sharing tables with strangers. We definitely don’t like it when strangers assume they can share ‘our’ table. So when we go into a coffee shop, we look for a vacant table, rather than for vacant seats at a table already occupied.

Obviously the sensible way to furnish a garden centre coffee shop, therefore, is with two-seater tables. And they should be square two-seater tables because they can easily be pushed together to accommodate larger groups – which round tables can’t.

But in the coffee shop where I was counting tables, there was one rectangular six-seater, two rectangular four-seaters, and eight round tables of varying sizes and with a total of 25 seats. Total: 11 tables and 39 seats. Nearly every table was occupied – by a couple, naturally – but only one table was set up as a two-seater, therefore only one table was actually full. In theory, the coffee shop could seat 39 people, but with a couple at each table it would be perceived as full, because there wouldn’t be a vacant table. 22 seats occupied, 17 seats vacant, and running at only 56% of capacity.

And that was pretty much the situation while I was there. At lunchtime on a Wednesday in August, the garden centre itself and the plant area were pretty much deserted. The only part of the business where business was being done was the coffee shop; nearly every customer in the place was heading there, only to find it ‘full’, although some 40% of the seats were unoccupied. What would it cost to replace the current collection of 11 unsuitable tables with around 20 smaller ones? And how long would a take to recoup that modest investment in the centre’s most popular department? A few weeks, maybe?

Posted by Colin Petty | 15 September 2017 | 13:24 | More from: Talking Point

Comments


(Your email address will not be published)
*

What do you think?


Has the trend for more outdoor heating and lighting products helped extend the window for selling outdoor lines?



Latest reader comments

re: £1billion VAT bombshell for building supplies

VAT Bombshell
I do not understand the problem?You just need to organise VAT deferment facilities with your Bank, the same as non-EU country imports now....

re: B&Q and Valspar partnership to "transform the paint market in the UK"

Muriel
Have to agree that this paint is expensive and poor .Went to Valspar for a colour match which granted is correct .But the eggshell wood ...

re: Tesco plans alliance with French giant Carrefour

Glenn Phillips
Does this mean Carrefour will return to our shores again? i do hope so, sadley missed by many...

re: B&Q overhauls kitchen and bathroom sales process

H D Fawx
B&Q's latest overhaul to its design and installation service is all about profit for shareholders. I'm not fooled into thinking your ...

re: Acana tackles carpet moths with carpet & fabric moth killer and freshener

Stephanie Ferrante
Hello, could someone from customer service call me - I am located in the US and we have a moth/ carpet issue. I am going to purchase this ...

Most read stories

Blog and Comment

Dawn of a new age in customer service

Customer service used to be about answering telephones and responding to written requests, but our fast paced, social media driven society ... Read More >>