Who wouldn’t like to start a cafe? The joy from smiling customers who you get to serve your masterpieces is way better than pushing pencils on an 8-hour job.
While you’re already drooling and your creative think tank is overflowing, let me first burst your bubble.
As this is a very popular venture, starting a cafe requires not only your desire but a lot of strategic planning.
Consider the fact that you are not the first to set up shop – competition can be tough and compelling. There is more to just the aroma of the coffee you serve than meets the eye.
Check out these facts:
- The average “life” of a café is between 2 and 3 years, then they are “adopted” by a different owner.
- 70% of cafes shut down its operation within the first 12 months.
Be that as it may, every business venture has its own corresponding risk and impending challenges. You have to be battle-ready to move forward. This is no fairy tale land but a success story is inevitable if you acquire the right attitude and motivation.
What direction should you be headed? What should be avoided and whose advice should I heed? Questions will overflow but here are 11 practical tips to step up your game in starting a cafe.
Let’s go through some tips on how to start up your cafe
1. Make that Dream Come True
It doesn’t come easy, you may want to overlook the settings. The general appearance of your café can be built from the bottom up. Never let your emotions get the better of you in making a decision. Knowing the right people will help you realize the amount of investment you need to put it. Negotiations can be very tedious and may entail a lot of drawbacks, be prepared.
2. Go to the Drawing Board
With your emotions checked, it is now time to foresee realistic business goals before buying a café. Marketing and Operations are the key to success and should be the focal points of the business. Entice investors and banks with a well-planned business proposal.
3. Secure the Permits
Everything should be legally taken cared of. Setting up any business for that matter necessitates all the required permits. Manage your time well to spend enough time in acquiring insurances, permits, and licenses.
4. This is When Creativity Kicks In
Look around you, almost every business venture has a theme, from a rock concert to zen. Make your think tank work and come up with a motif, it pays a lot to make a random feasibility check of the business area. Make your café stand out!
5. Be Professional
It may come to you as a hobby but you always have to consider that running a business involves customers. You have to be consistent in dealing with all aspects of operations. It has to reflect on how you conduct yourself as an owner and a leader to your staff. By professionalism, we mean that standards have to be met – like presentable catchy menus and an engaging website.
6. Be Your Own Customer
I am pretty sure you are a critic of some of the cafes you have visited before. What can you do differently? How will others react? Fill in the shoe of a customer to find ways and means to continuously improve your craft.
7. Communication is Key
As with any other relationship, open communication not only with your staff but most importantly with your customers will substantially improve your service and your revenue subsequently. Make sure that policies are consistent and attainable. Do away with line items that you foresee will cause confusion.
8. Never be a Snob
Suppliers are your friends. Develop a lasting relationship with suppliers and distributors because if you take care of them, they will surely take care of you. You will never know when an emergency will strike and having them as your best buds can actually mean a lot.
9. Learn to Embrace the Concept of Change
What is trending now may not have the same impact the next week, or month. Our fast-paced lives continuously evolve in a surprisingly short amount of time. Your great concept for a menu may be the talk of the town this month but never expect it to be eternal. You need to learn to adapt and innovate. Take some time to be on top of what’s hot and what’s not.
Marketing and Promotion
10. Marketing is the Lifeblood of the Business
You may have the most lucrative shiny shimmery shop but if no one knows about it, it’s as good as a nothing. There is a variety of marketing channels that you may want to juggle – although it is advisable that you strategically plan these marketing plans.
Traditional marketing includes flyers, word of mouth, and old-fashioned ads. Digital marketing is the fad nowadays, utilize the many avenues of the world wide web and make good use of social media.
11. Establish Relationships
As mentioned earlier, word of mouth is a very good marketing opportunity. As with taking care of your suppliers and distributors, it is best to establish a fanbase. These “regulars” will give you a stable audience so provide them with perks like loyalty discounts and incentive programs.
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Sources and Recommended Reading
1. ‘How To Start A Café’, Wikihow (website)
2. ‘How To Run A Café’, Businesses For Sale (website)
3. ‘Attributes Of A Successful Café Owner’, Craig Reid, The Café Ninja (blog)
4. ‘My Top 5 Tips For Café Success’, Craig Reid, The Café Ninja (blog)
5. ‘A Passion for Caffeine: How To Start A Coffee Shop’, Sydney Morning Herald
6. ‘The 11 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Buying a Café That Could Cost You Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars’ (pdf), Rita Srblin, The Café Coach (website)