There’s plenty of bad news if you want it, and plenty of small, pro-active steps you can take to boost sales and arouse customer interest.

They’re having a hard time too – your fresh ideas will cheer them and create first-time and return visits…

Here are 10 simple, low cost ways to increase sales and interest:

Rearrange the Counter: when was it last done, and how much is just clutter? Look at it from the customer’s perspective, and make sure it’s promoting your products, and designed for efficient delivery of drinks and food. If you sell products, are they being properly promoted? Are the signs really selling, or just giving a price?

Rearrange the Furniture: is it perfect the way it is, or would a change freshen things up? Do you have the right number of 2-tops and 4-tops for your market? It the layout designed for cosiness and comfort? Is there broken furniture that should be tossed, or chair legs that need cleaning? Does the layout make it easy for staff when you’re busy?

Update some Tableware: boring, worn white plates and the same old serving platters don’t do justice to your food. Find some quirky designs at a discount store – red, green, or black. Plates in the shape of a leaf or unusual wooden boards. What about bright plastic glasses for a fun cocktail – plastic is safer too.

Update Staff Product Knowledge: even if they’re shy or a little unwilling, once they know more about foreign beers, pinot gris or how a dish is cooked, they can’t help but sell more of it. Don’t assume – their knowledge is usually way less than you think. One product a day, five minutes at a time – start with these training forms, quizzes and checklists…

Promote Deals within the venue: they could be on a board, a screen, on the menu or on the docket. The fact is, most staff will forget to share the latest news and specials – it needs visual reminders.

Promote your Facebook Page: it’s now so mainstream it deserves a sign, with the Facebook logo and correct address eg ‘Join us on Facebook at facebook.com/cafetops’ – some people will do it from their smartphone right there. There should be new content on your Page at least every second day, even just a photo…

Refresh the Menu: remove items that don’t sell and add several more seasonal offers. Are you using the ‘local’ word in descriptions? It needs to be there! Is the menu easy to reprint, or big and clunky? There’s also a lot that can be done with clever menu pricing.

Take a tough look at Sales by Department: sure, everyone has a meal, a coffee or a drink, depending on your category. But how many items do they order – are the eaters also buying mineral water and a coffee? Do the drinkers order bar snacks? Are your coffee addicts ordering up on muffins and sandwiches? It all becomes clear when you look at sales per head figures.

Take a fresh look at the POS Data: there are probably 300 reports available, and you use…3? Or 2? If you’re mystified by the power of this mini-computer, ask the supplier to give some tuition, or track down the manual (it will also be online) to unleash more of its power. Here’s one: how does hourly sales volume line up with the roster?

Strengthen Community Connections: it’s more than just an occasional voucher for the local school. Offer to speak to the hospitality students, or invite them over for a tour. Make your space available for get-togethers and small meetings – in a spare room or off-times (a recent example is a knitting group in a café). Often the groups loved by your customers are not the ones who approach you – ask around.