Have you ever dreamed of putting up your own coffee shop? Have you wondered about what it takes to set up one?
Chase the worries away. Here’s a cheat sheet on everything you need to do to — from choosing a concept, deciding on food distribution companies, and up to promoting your shop – to be the proud owner of a charming café.
The Shop Around the Corner
The tantalizing smell of freshly brewed coffee, the crisp aroma of butter croissants, and the hushed voices of diners simply enjoying a relaxed time is a setting that some people dream of. If you have been picturing this scenario in your mind, then you should start making this dream come true.
Whether it is a cozy café in a quiet corner or a full-scale coffee shop in a busy urban center, setting one up is not something to scoff at. It requires careful planning and precise execution to come up with the shop that you have always dreamed of. Some are blessed with the business acumen to seemingly turn things into gold. However, there are those who have the passion but not necessarily the technical know-how to get things rolling.
If getting into the intricacies of setting up a coffee shop is not really your cup of tea, then here’s a simple guide to make it a little bit more palatable. Here’s your cheat sheet on how to put up a café of your own:
1. Do research.
As with any endeavor, you need to do your homework. You cannot go into a business blindfolded. It is crucial that you find out the basics of running a coffee shop before delving into setting up one.
Those who do not have a background in business management enroll in a business course to help them know the theories and techniques of running a profitable business. Others even enrol in coffee appreciation classes or attend coffee bartending seminars and events just to learn more about the craft of making coffee.
Aside from taking formal education, you can also learn from coffee business veterans or entrepreneurs in the food industry. Learn from their experiences and see what you can take or add to make it on your own.
Of course, it also involves going to a lot of cafés to sample their coffee and check out their service. You can actually learn from your competitors by checking what you want or don’t want to happen in your own yard.
2. Build a Business Plan
Armed with information from your research, you can then proceed to your business plan. Use your newfound knowledge to create a vision and mission. Who are you and what do you want to be in the next so or so years? Be clear about your goals.
You should then put together your business plan. You need to have actionable steps to realize your vision and mission. Writing a business plan may seem like a tedious endeavor but put it in writing will help you organize and process your thoughts. Questions like what is the core of your business, who are your target market, what’s your marketing plan, how are your financials, where will you set up, and who will your team be should be clearly defined in the plan.
3. Choose a Location
Location is the key to profitability. You should take time to go and observe where there is much foot traffic. Check out places where people will likely hang out for coffee and pastries. Keep your target market in mind and see if the place you’re considering also fit the demographics and psychographics of your customers.
You also might want to consider how you personally feel about the area. Remember that you will be spending most of your time there, (if you plan to be a hands-on owner) so see if the place is to your liking as well.
If you fancy a place, check the documentation and legalities. Will you be renting or leasing? What are the costs involved? What permits are needed? If you can, consult a lawyer who is an expert about retail businesses.
4. Choose the Best Suppliers
Finding a good supplier is key to your business. Suppliers can be those that equipment that you need, furniture, or even the technology needed to serve your customers. Make sure that you research the best one who can provide quality goods and services. Don’t forget to ask about their aftersales support especially for your coffee machines.
Most importantly, you should also choose a reliable and reputable food supplier. Go for food and beverage companies who have a vast network and wide range of products to choose from. This way, you can save on time, money, and effort because you only need to talk to a one-stop-shop that can provide most of your food and beverage needs.
5. Create your Menu
Your café menu need not be so elaborate. You just have to ensure that it will carry the theme and concept of your café. Carefully curate the menu to include options that will suit your clients’ palates. Around ten to twelve top-notch items will be enough although you should also consider adding vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Keep the design simple and uncluttered. Images that make your food look more appetizing is a plus. You can even consider a digital menu to make it look cool for your customers and easy for your staff.
Don’t forget to think of your bottom line. Calculate the costs of ingredients and your margins to check if you are still going to reap a profit.
6. Hire the Right Team
Hiring the right people will make it easier for you to work together. Do not just base your decision on the experience or achievements they have on their resumé. Assess their attitude as well. Skills can be learned but finding the right attitude is hard.
Supplement their current skills with barista seminars, workflow trainings, and other career development courses. Regular team workshops can also help build rapport and camaraderie among team members. A healthy working environment is a productive environment, so do not scrimp on investing in people.
7. Market your Café
A huge chunk of your business plan is how to market your café. Invest time and effort in this because this is your way to reach your customers.
Look for the most cost-effective marketing mix that will “talk” to your clients. It does not have to be costly TV placements, huge billboards, or magazine spreads. Depending on who your target is, you can invest in promotions that are engaging and relatable.
You can try online and social media marketing, for starters. Make your café Instagram-worthy and for sure, your clients will be walking, talking, and posting advertisements of your coffee shop. Special promotions, freebies, or in-store events can also be huge come-ons that will generate noise for your business.
The Buzz around Town
With the simple tips enumerated above, you can take your first steps towards realizing your dream. The abovementioned nuggets of information are some of the key ingredients in putting up your café. Add a dash of imagination and sprinkle with passion and you can serve up a winning café in no time.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.