How a local cafe turned lockdown closure into an opportunity to engage new customers — with mentoring help from Google
As the owner of an Italian cafe that’s a huge hit with the locals, Mahdis Talaee had perfected the combination of delicious food and friendly service, knowing many of the customers at her Piacere cafe in Temple Fortune, north London, by name. When the first lockdown forced her to close her doors, she pivoted to offer delivery and takeaway options, using Google My Business to keep customers updated.
“During the pandemic, like many other cafes and restaurants, it’s been very much about trying to survive as a business. For someone who had little experience or knowledge of advertising or online marketing this was very, very difficult,” explains Mahdis.
Looking for better ways to make regulars aware of the cafe’s new delivery options, and to find out how she could also attract new customers, Mahdis signed up to Google’s 1-to-1 Mentoring. Her Google mentor gave her advice on updating Piacere’s Google My Business account and the Piacere website — making the most of photographs of some of the cafe’s most popular dishes, including its famous smoothies and breakfasts.
Her mentor also helped her understand the importance of Google reviews, and Mahdis was soon asking her loyal customers to leave their comments online and rate the cafe’s food and service. As of May 2021,the business had nearly 100 positive reviews, with a rating of 4.3 stars — which has helped attract new customers. Mahdis has been proactive in replying to comments in order to build loyalty.
“We started getting so many Google reviews and five-star ratings, people commenting on how much they love our chicken club sandwiches, shakshuka and milkshakes,” says Mahdis, who has been able to use this insight when working on new dishes and tweaking existing plates. “Even now, almost a year on, I’m always encouraging people to leave a Google review — it’s important information for me, and also helps new customers find out what to expect.”
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Piacere was able to offer al fresco dining from April 2021, making customers aware by adding new opening hours and pictures of outdoor tables to its Google Maps profile.
“It’s been so useful to have Google My Business to keep customers informed of all the changes we’ve been through. I can’t thank my Google mentor enough for his time and effort in helping my cafe stay a success throughout the pandemic,” says Mahdis.