Bourbon D'arsel: keeping a specialty coffee shop going strong through challenging times
"It's simple, last March, I came out of a meeting with our accountant, who told us that we were finally reaching profitability. The next day all the restaurants closed until further notice”. Like all business owners, Benoît and his partner Sébastien, based in Rennes, have suffered the consequences of COVID-19. The two friends opened Bourbon D'Arsel three years ago, with the desire to restore coffee to its former glory. Benoit explains, “We roast coffee beans ourselves, which we source according to their region of origin, altitude, producer and botanical variety. The difference is incomparable. People can either buy their ground coffee for home or enjoy it on site, with our sweet and savory menu. We also have offers for companies, to which we provide a subscription that includes a machine and our coffees to replace their capsule machines. "Cheaper, greener, more ethical and above all much better in taste, their coffee proposition is attracting more and more businesses in the region. The growth was increasing, until the beginning of 2020.
The pair took part in a training course on organic search and followed up with an individual tutorial meeting before lockdown, at the Google Digital Workshop in Rennes. “It changed our outlook, we understood the importance of SEO tags, we became familiar with Google My Business (a free tool that allows you to manage the way a local establishment is presented in Google products, such as Maps and Google search) and that allowed us to refine the structure of our site” he explains. But the epidemic reached France.
Benoît and Sébastien found themselves faced with uncertainty: forced to put their employees on part-time work and look into their online offerings, already available but not a focus for the team. Thanks to the training taken before the crisis, adjustments were made and allowed them to sell more online during the closure. “Our site, our Google My Business page and social networks have become our only means of contact with our customers and also our only financial windfall during these slow-moving months, in particular thanks to Click and Collect (a service allowing consumers to buy in line to then collect the order in a local store, editor's note)” explains the entrepreneur. “Fortunately, we were able to maintain distance selling despite everything,” he continues. Since the restart of activity, a few companies have contacted them through Google SEO. “We had to revise our forecasts downwards, but the machine is on again” rejoices Benoît. Which is rather good since the duo is looking for another point of sale, and especially a room to install a new roasting machine. Benoît is confident: "Specialty coffee only represents 1% of the coffee market, the room for maneuver is enormous. Once you've tasted it you can't go back."