Did you know more people are visiting independent coffee shops than ever? According to research from Foursquare, the amount of people visiting independent coffee shops shot up 5% in 2017. That’s compared to less than 1% growth in visits to big chains.

Competing with the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts can be challenging, but there’s never been a better time to stand out. Make no mistake, these chains are huge, and command a massive market share. But unless you have dreams of starting a massive coffee empire, that shouldn’t be a problem for your independent shop.

Here’s five ways your coffee shop can compete with the biggest franchises in town.

Differentiate. Don’t just try to ape the competition. Be different. The Coffee Shop Owners Survey, which surveyed 232 coffee shop owners across the country, found that one of the biggest reasons coffee shops go out of business is by not having a unique customer experience or brand. (In fact, it was the second biggest reason surveyed, falling only behind unprepared owners.) Differentiate your coffee shop by focusing on atmosphere, serving a variety of unique flavors, and delivering an experience that can’t be matched elsewhere.

Prioritize quality. When it comes to coffee, quality is very important. This holds especially true for independent shops, where quality can be one of your biggest points of differentiation. Regardless of how good the coffee quality actually is at the big chains, customers won’t always perceive it that way. According to a report from Allegra, nearly 25% of customers say that coffee quality is the largest factor determining whether or not they’ll make a repeat visit.

Snack selections. Coffee may be the bread-and-butter of your business, but having food on offer helps make your shop a more attractive proposition. Having a selection of snacks can help keep customers who decide to stay for a while satisfied. Your menu doesn’t have to be expansive at all. A few pastries and sandwiches will go a long way. If they’re good enough, they can be a genuine difference maker.

Get sustainable. Many customers will actively go out of their way to support businesses with sustainable practices. This holds especially true for coffee shops, with many shops across the country (including even Starbucks) pledging to eliminate the use of plastic straws in support of reducing waste. Daily Coffee News reports that many independent stores are encouraging customers to bring in their own reusable coffee cups, going as far as to provide a discount for the practice.

Start a loyalty program. Leveraging repeat customers is important for any business. For independent coffee shops, it’s absolutely vital. A well-designed loyalty program is one of the best ways to incentivize repeat visits, and keep your customers constantly coming back for more. When customers are getting rewarded, it gives them just a little extra incentive to stop by for their morning cup of joe.

Compete With CoGoBuzz

For coffee shops, free WiFi isn’t just a good idea. It’s an absolute necessity. So why not make WiFi work for you?

That’s where CoGoBuzz comes in. With our state-of-the-art service, we’ll turn WiFi into one of your most valuable marketing assets. Through a one-time login to the HotSpot, customers are taken to an interactive landing page, where they can check out your menus, specials, events, and much more! With our SMS solution, you can send automated texts promoting your new coffee selections as soon as they’re available. Take advantage of an all-digital, text-based loyalty program, more repeat customers, and even automatic Facebook followers!

Click here to learn more about CoGoBuzz!

How does your coffee shop compete? Sound off in the comments!