Most Americans are coffee drinkers and need a cup of coffee within an hour after waking up. With close to a hundred million people who drink coffee in the USA, it comes as no surprise that the coffee industry is thriving. With this kind of boom in the coffee industry, there could not have been better than now, to start a coffee shop. Let’s go over the top tips to get you started and flourishing in the coffee shop business.
Create a business plan
First things first, create a good plan to execute. This means, you will need to document what the business is about, what kind of profits are you expecting the business to make over the next three / six months or a year, what sets you apart from your competitors, what kind of customer base will you be catering to (also depends on the location), how do you plan to grow the business, what kind of troubleshooting strategies do you have in place should there be an obstacle in achieving your goals.
Find a great location
One cannot stress enough on how important the location is for businesses like coffee shops. You will want to look for a lace that is close to an office. Most people want to grab a coffee before they begin their work. Locations such as near an office will give you guaranteed footfalls as well as assured sales. Alternatively, you can look for a space that has formerly been a restaurant. This way you will not need to remodel the kitchen and seating areas from scratch. Thus saving yourself from a lot of renovation expenses.
Floor plan design
One of the most important initial steps for setting up a coffee shop is to plan the layout of the space. You need to keep vital points in mind such as, when patrons line up in the morning, is there sufficient space for them to form lines? Is there sufficient seating area? If you have natural light coming in, do you want to designate the naturally lit up area to the baristas or the seating area?
Put yourself in each scenario that you can imagine – If you are the barista who is making coffee, what items would you need in close proximity? If you are a patron, what would you expect in the seating area? If you are the server, what kind of gap would you expect between tables to move around comfortably?
If all these questions confuse you, it would be a great idea to hire the services of an interior designer. Don’t have the budget for such services / would rather save that money and plan a DIY layout? You may want to look up free tools available online, that will help make the layout planning process easier. Autodesk homestyler is one of the free tools where you can design the floor plan from scratch. Or, if you prefer, you can select from a collection of designs, then personalize those designs to suit your taste and budget. You can also use another such tool – Floorplanner. The benefit of using online tools is that it lets you play around with a lot of ideas until you find the perfect one to settle on
Bonus tip: Once you have the floor plan design for the coffee shop finalized, you may also want to take a look outside. If your coffee shop is on the ground level, then pay attention to the landscaping and exterior appearance. Things the patrons see leading up to your coffee shop (cleanliness and good maintenance) will determine if they will come back again. Make sure you opt for a catchy signage as well. Something that has a good recall value and something that people can associate with coffee even if they are having coffee at home.
Begin marketing before the coffee shop opens
Have a great marketing strategy in place and begin marketing months in advance. This will help you get more customers once you open. You can opt for affordable options such as – create a social media presence. Host a coffee related quiz competition on your social media and offer a free coffee for the winner and their friend. This is literally free advertising for your coffee shop. Offer free giveaways of coffee samples before opening, at local events. Drop free coffee at local businesses, along with a leaflet that promotes the opening day of your coffee shop.
Bonus tip: The marketing done prior to opening and serving great coffee can only last for so long. To keep your build your brand and ensure it has a great recall value for the patrons, you need to continually engage in various events or host them at your coffee shop. You can host an open mic event or a poetry reading in order to bring in new customers. You can sell coffee-related merchandise such as coffee mugs, coffee thermoses or tumblers with your logo on it. You can offer a pack of eco-friendly straws with your logo on the carton of straws. This way patrons will think of your coffee shop even whilst they are away.
Plan your menu strategically
A number of surveys that have been conducted on this subject, have all yielded the same results – patrons seldom go through the whole menu. Offer more espresso coffee drinks. The profit you can make on an espresso drink can be nearly five times more than the profit on drip-coffee. Place espresso-based drinks and other expensive coffees at the top in the menu. Suggest that the patrons receive a flavor shot each time they place an order for a drink. This will help boost the overall price for the patron as well as shoot up your profits. You can introduce flavors based on the season. For instance, offer pumpkin spice flavor around Thanksgiving or peppermint flavor around Christmas.
Bonus tip: We live in an era of Instagram and Snapchat. Most people will order a certain drink because they saw it trending on social media. Putting attractive pictures of the coffee you want to promote more (higher priced ones) on the menu, increases the chances of sales of that particular item. You can also use your social media to generate a buzz about new flavor launches or hype a certain item on the menu.
Guest Author: Olivia Moore
Olivia is an avid traveler, has a quest for music, adventure and is a coffee junkie. She co-owns and writes at Fourth Estate Coffee & Pretty Home. She lives to travel and explore and can never say no to a well-made cup of coffee.