Opening a café and making it successful is many people’s dream, and it’s easy to understand why. Seeing people at your café chatting with their friends, drinking coffee, having a snack, or simply relaxing from a long day at work or a busy day in the mall is certainly more satisfying than a full-time job that often implies being stuck in an office all day.
Cafés offer a feeling of familiarity and comfort, but in reality, running a café is far from easy. If you want to make your dream of running a café come true, you have to be ready to face the competition.
Statistics show that the majority of new cafés fail, 70% of them closing within their first year. Moreover, the average holding period of a café is two to three years before a new buyer is found.
However, even with all the risks that come with owning and running a café, the benefits of this challenge – both personal and financial – are numerous. So, what do you need to ensure your café’s success? What are the common mistakes you should avoid and strategies you should adopt?
We’ve come up with a list of 11 tips for running a café that will definitely set you off on the path to success.
1. Don’t set your standards too high – nobody is going to just give you a perfect café to run. Good deals are not easy to find, and they are definitely not cheap. If something seems too good to be true, the real reason will come up sooner or later. The best thing you can do is leave your emotions out of the picture and forget about the appearance – you can take care of everything later. Asking for too much and being too emotional can only be an obstacle to your dream.
2. Plan ahead – when it comes to being objective, it’s also important to come up with a good business plan before you actually buy a café. Think about marketing strategies and all the other responsibilities that will await you as the manager. Another important reason for having a good business plan is that you won’t be able to ask banks for a loan or get a decent funding without it.
3. Take care of the details – don’t forget to deal with all the legal matters beforehand. You need to have all the necessary insurances, business permits, and alcohol licences before opening your café.
4. Choose a theme – creating a place that is comfortable, safe and familiar-looking is not exactly hard, but truth be told, that sort of place is not going to draw much attention. Having a theme will help you stand out among all the other cafés. Also, apply the theme to the menu as well, not just to the appearance.
5. Stay professional – if you want your café to be successful, you should maintain a certain level of professionalism. Train your staff properly so they know how to handle all possible situations, make sure your presentation standards are high (including the look of your menu), and create a website that is both attractive and informative.
6. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – think about what your customers would expect from your café. Trying to see your place from their perspective could help you find any potential issues and fix them in time.
7. Provide clear instructions – never forget the importance of communication. There shouldn’t be any policy inconsistencies, especially since they can lead to customer dissatisfaction. So if you want your café to become successful, make sure everybody is on the same page.
8. Appreciate your suppliers – maintaining a positive relationship with your distributors and suppliers is essential. This means that they will be more likely to help you out in case of an emergency – and there will be emergencies if your café becomes successful.
9. Don’t be afraid of a change – experienced café owners will tell you that change is never a bad thing. Running a café is a flexible type of business, which means that you have to be able to adjust to the needs and desires of your customers.
10. Marketing is always important – staying popular is always a challenge, especially when it comes to running your own café. Regardless of how unique and amazing your offer is, the word-of-the mouth will simply not be enough. This is why you need to invest in good marketing, which includes both digital and traditional marketing strategies.
11. Retaining customers – as important as your relationship with your supplies is, developing a base of loyal customers should be your priority. In that sense, you should consider offering loyalty programmes. For example, rewarding your customers by giving them a free coffee after they punched out all the spots on a card can sometimes be more than enough to make them return.
Where Does Alsco Fit In?
Alsco provides convenient and economical solutions for maintaining the highest linen standards for your business. Our fully managed tea towel rental service is no exception: we provide quality fabrics, sizes and colours with no up-front capital outlay; regular pick-up and delivery; and a flexible inventory management system. Take advantage of our tea towel trial – one week free – and find out how it feels to have an endless supply of clean linen.