how cafe soma used their customer as key

Everyone asks successful business owners their success mantras. Cafe Soma is giving away theirs for free-its focus on their customers.

A small venture started by four youngsters- Lagan Tamrakar, Bishal Gurung, Kala Gurung and Ravin Bajracharya, Café Soma is their dream of opening their own café ‘with a difference’ come true. Like they say, when you set your mind to do something, the Universe works to somehow make it happen. This is how Lagan and Bishal met each other – introduced by a common friend. The moment they realized their common dream of opening up a café, they started to create Café Soma along with Kala and Ravin.

Even after Soma opened, it took them almost three years to bring it to the level that it is at today. Although they have had their share of challenges over the years, today the owners are very confident of this venture. The mantra they follow is Food, Service and Ambience. These according to Lagan and Bishal, are the key factors to be focused on for a café.

As Lagan puts it, they are catering mostly to the expat crowd in the mornings and through midday as they prefer to come and finish their work here, and local youngsters in the evenings as they finish with their work and drop by to catch up with friends over coffee.

Bishal says that they have particularly focused on the food menu and the ambience of the café to make their expat customers feel at home, and he believes they have been successful in doing so. Many of his expat customers always tell him how close to home they feel as long as they are inside the café, only realizing they are away once they step out.

They believe in the concept of Zero advertising and marketing, and have also realized that it has done them more good then harm. Most of the promotion has been done by word of mouth and has worked out quite well for them.

Customer satisfaction is the main mantra that Café Soma is following, whether it be about quality of food, quality of service, or the cosy ambience. They have a select menu but they make sure that what they do have is great – like their popular burgers and their always changing menu of pastries. Even though the café is running well, they are convinced that they should not branch out as yet. This place is their ‘baby’ as Bishal describes it, and the idea of opening another branch is far from materializing in the near future. “We don’t want to shift our focus to another place by compromising on what we already have here,” he says.

The idea of tying up with United Books came to them while they were thinking of ways to focus on customer satisfaction. They didn’t want to just build a café where people came to just sip on coffee, grabed a bite and left. They wanted a place where their customers felt free to relax, pick up a good book from their small but varied bookshelf, and settle there for hours.

“A lot of our customers come here for breakfast, and end up spending the entire day here working from the café itself”, says Lagan. They always had high expectations from the place, but they are pleasantly surprised with the pace it is picking up. Lagan and Bishal seemed very excited with their renovation plans for Café Soma. They are looking to expanding the whole place, and will be renovating it during Dashain vacations. Again putting a customer focus to it, they want to create more space to avoid getting too congested, with the number of customers increasing by the day. Along with this they will also be setting up a terrace area.

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