How to Launch a Coffee Shop
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
About 100 million Americans can’t envisage a day without coffee. More than a half of all the US adult population drink this invigorating beverage every day. And for most, it’s something of a ritual. And a great fortune to be able to combine passion and an entrepreneurial streak in your own business.
Coffee is a great business, and it always has been. Demand continues to grow even in developed coffee markets.
So we’ve outlined the major steps for prospective business owners.
A business plan is a guideline. It helps you stick to the course of your new business’ launch and prevents distraction.
The very first question is whether a business is ready-made, franchise, or starts from the very beginning. Each version has its advantages and complications. Chain coffee shops have goodwill and a well-known name. Each new place usually doesn’t need so much marketing. But when you build your own business from scratch — you’re the boss. Everything is under one control, including area design and menu.
Business plan paragraphs are much the same for all startups. But each industry has its specifics, so it wouldn’t go amiss to have a look at a business plan tailored for a coffee shop, for instance at bplans.com.
Other essential points to think over at once are legal documents and profit and loss.
Key audience & location
These two items are dependent on each other. Crowded business centers, colleges and shopping malls demand lots of coffee, beverages, and meals. On the other hand, the chosen location could be a quiet garden or a small street for those who want to relax and enjoy their time switching off from the city’s bustle. The aim is to choose a profitable place and align with the tastes of prospective customers.
Unfortunately, choosing the desired location doesn’t guarantee an appropriate building. The main advice here is to be patient. A great example is the success story of Marc Renson, owner of Ambition Coffee & Eatery. He and his team combed several cities, looking for the place of their dreams. They even compared locations by human traffic at different hours of the day. Finally, they found a bar for sale that turned out to be the right spot.
So take your time to find a place that feels good for a new coffee shop.
Interior & outward
A well-and properly-equipped workspace should be convenient for the employees to reach all materials and vessels fast. It also needs a powerful ventilation system. It’s better to have a sound-proof inner working room.
Everything matters when it comes to the appearance of the café. Entrance, decoration, furniture, light, and even music, comply with the concept of the place. Customers need enough space to form a line and to feel snug while having their coffee.
However, Matt Milletto — an expert in the coffee industry and vice-president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup, which provides consulting, training and barista education courses — warns new business owners against being too attached to the initial idea of the place. A business needs to develop. If loyal clients ask for menu changes or a takeaway option, there’s no need to be hard-headed. The changes will be rewarded.
A place’s image depends on beverage quality. A business owner should be demanding and exacting while choosing a supplier. Part of his responsibilities is to try taste, flavor and roast of beans. Several coffee varieties for each beverage provide clients with options of a stronger or lighter coffee. CoffeeAM offers a vast choice of coffee brands and varieties and has an option of free shipping. Peerless Coffee & Tea has a long story and goodwill as one of the oldest coffee purveyors. Nuts.com imports coffee beans directly from the best coffee-growing regions all over the world and also offers a number of complement products.
Would you like a dessert?
Muffins, croissants or cookies — classic coffee complements. A few syrups for coffee are always in favor. No need to make a menu too diverse. It can be expanded with time when loyal customers note their preferences. However, combos make an apparent profit. Morning coffee and a croissant are a traditional couple. It’s cheaper than both items separately, but together make more money than individually. As a target, desserts should be about 50% of weekly sales.
Run an early marketing program. A few months would not be an overestimated period. The audience should be inspired to come into a new place, to try the local coffee and to enjoy the interior and a view.
Some ideas for marketing strategy include:
- A catchy sign with teaser headline outside the place.
- Discount flyers distribution.
- Free coffee sample giveaways.
- Drop advertisements, discounts and samples at nearby places.
- A social media proactive attitude.
- Direct advertising focused on residents and local businesses, for example, coupon mailing.
Never stop marketing after an opening day. Within an advertising campaign, the coffee shop could have a “give us a call — get your coffee for free” contest. The idea is to hold a light-hearted contest with a calling client. After their “always-correct” answer, provide them with a code number to come and pick up a free cup of coffee. For such promos, burnt-into-mind phone numbers are the best.
Bargain from loyalty cards is proven client acquisition. It could be either a permanent or progressive discount or a free item offer after several purchases. A card’s quality guarantees its long usage so it will always be in a client’s wallet. The market is full of professionals of cards printing business that can implement ideas for a diverse range of prices.
As in any business, a coffee shop’s professional image frequently determines clients’ choice. A business phone number is one piece of the puzzle. It’s appealing to have an easy-to-remember number, or even a number presenting the idea of the café in a slogan or a name.
A coffee shop space rarely allows the allocation of a back office. But why bother? Having a business number can bind all team members: manager, accountant, technologist, marketing specialist and others. Everyone has his/her extension phone number. And conference call is an effective way to discuss business issues staying inside own places.
MightyCall provides all the above-mentioned phone number services and many more features.
For example, WebPhone is handy for accountants. They can look through the books while delivering a report to the management. The multichannel activity dashboard allows remote business management. It keeps all team actions and to-dos together, so nothing is missed.
Any mention about a new coffee shop in social networks can be caught using MightyCall Social Media Tracker. Statistics based on this information shows achievements of popularity and forms room for improvement. While using a public profile with a prompt answer to direct questions demonstrates the client-oriented approach.
Starting a coffee shop requires time and effort. But for most café owners, all the difficulties form part of the path to a great dream. We hope our small tips will encourage the first step on that path.