Don’t you just love a hot baked croissant or a big breakfast set that comes with a cup of freshly brewed coffee? It’s safe to say that everyone is in love with cafés!
If your dream is to own the trendiest café in town, you came to the right avenue. Here, we often spill some helpful tips for young aspiring entrepreneurs to help them succeed in their ventures! In this article, we’re going to give you a guide on how you can start and run your business, if you’re looking to set up a great café. So, grab your pen and paper or bookmark this article so you can reference it whenever you want to.
While it’s great to be excited, make sure you don’t dwell too long behind the rose-tinted glass as starting a café business is no small feat! It requires a great amount of time and money. You’ll soon realise that when it’s time for execution, things might start to get a little tough. However, when these times come, don’t feel defeated as it’s all part of the learning process and we believe that if you take one step at a time, there’s nothing you cannot achieve! So, with that being said, let’s begin with the first step – doing your research.
It’s no secret that the café industry is very saturated and that comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The downside to this is, that you might need to try harder to stand out from the rest because chances are, most of the ideas you have might have already been executed. On the brighter side, you can take this opportunity to visit different cafés and study how they run their business. Therefore research is a high priority before execution. You can separate your research into two parts: online and on-ground research. It’s crucial to do both if you want to to find a unique way for your business to stand out.
It’s no surprise that every industry in this era is dominated by the internet. No matter what you’re searching for, you’d always look for reviews and recommendations online. The same behaviour happens when people are looking for cafés, from checking out what’s served on the menu to where a café is located. With that being said, it is therefore important to look at how other cafés appear online. What information do they provide for their customers online? Do they include their menu? Do they provide customer ratings? Take a look at the overall of each café you’re researching on and analyse what’s great about your competitors and what needs to be improved.
Here are a few more things you can look at:
Asking yourself these questions and noting down what you’ve found on your competitor’s website could give you a better direction for your business. It also gives you a window to look for a gap that you can fill in the market! For instance, if you’ve realised that there’s a common issue from all the reviews you’ve read like poor service, or food pricing is too high, perhaps that’s a gap you want to fill. Once you know what is needed from customers, you can start thinking about what you can do to fill that gap!
Now, out of all the cafés you’ve researched online, pick a few to visit because there’s only so much you can discover out of your online research. Your research on-ground is going to give you the opportunity to experience the services and the atmosphere of these cafés. Remember to take note of how you feel when you pay your visit. This will help you realise some of the things you like and dislike from architecture to food, menu, services, and more. Ultimately, the idea here is to observe so that you can get an idea of how you want your café to look and feel.
Great! Now that you’ve got an idea of how you want to begin, start by putting the materials and references you’ve collected together on a Powerpoint slide or a physical moodboard – whichever floats your boat. This includes menu, flyers, photos you’ve taken, notes you’ve written down, etc. Don’t underestimate this step as compiling all your thoughts together will not only help you visualise your business direction better, it can also keep you on track when the execution takes place. Besides, having a defined vision can also assist you with the following:
It’s normal to get excited when things are starting to fall in place. We know we would! Now that you’ve come so far, the next step would be to set your café for success by writing a comprehensive business plan. This is a vital way for you to understand your finances better and determine whether your business plan is viable or not. Consider what your business finances will look like such as an income statement (revenues, costs, profits), balance sheet (assets & liabilities), and how you will obtain your financing to kick-start your business. If all of these seem foreign to you, don’t worry! We’ve simplified these terms so that you can understand it better here.
This is one of the most crucial and stressful parts of the process. Keep in mind that the location of your café is influential to the overall success of your business. You wouldn’t want your café to be located in some place unknown or where there isn’t much foot traffic or hard to access. Remember, the key thing that drives your business are people visiting your café. So, spend some time in areas you’re interested in before you decide on a location. Also, these are some key aspects that you should pay attention to while you’re visiting different areas:
Additionally, there’s one more thing most people tend to forget – if you’re the owner of the café, you’re most likely going to spend a lot of time in-store, so make sure you consider that too when you’re scouting areas! Once you’re 101% set on the location, your obvious next step is to find out the details of the rental prices in the area and start thinking about financing. Are you capable of self-financing? Are you looking into the different types of business loan you’re eligible for? No matter what, make sure to consider all these financial notes as these costs are important to know when coming up with your business plan.
Before you look for a supplier, always make sure that you have a list of everything you need. From items that you must have in the kitchen, to the bar. You name it, syrups, different types of meat, coffee beans, even napkins, tea cups, and the list goes on. You can break these items and categorise them so that you’re 100% clear of what’s needed in every section of your café.
Take a look at the example below:
Things for the kitchen
Things for the bar
Things for the floor, etc.
Even better, if there’s an app you can download for your compiled lists, we say do it! That way, you can bring them with you wherever you go. Besides, having everything in an app can come in handy especially if out of the blue, something pops up, you can immediately add the item on the app. The purpose behind creating these lists is so that you can find out the rough cost-per-product which will then help you gauge how much in total you’ll need for all those items alone.
Now that we’ve covered the easy part. It’s time to look for suppliers. This process may take a longer time because you want to find and work with somebody who can provide you with quality items without having to compromise your budget. A good tip to keep in mind is to always weigh out the quality, reliability, and cost of each supplier before making the final decision.
The overall look and feel of your café is going to be the most important element when it comes to drawing the attention of your customers. Everyone wants to visit someplace pretty that exudes a great atmosphere. Remember the moodboard you’ve created? It’s time to whip it out and start bringing it to life!
Let’s take a look at some of the most crucial elements.
If you must know, lighting is an important aspect of interior design as it enhances the aesthetic appeal and creates the mood and ambience of a space. When you choose your lighting, make sure its blends well with your furniture and the desired overall colour scheme as it can make or break the look and feel of your café.
Your menu is the one source that can entice people to order your food. Make sure you take your time to plan this. While it can be exciting to think about all the food you want to serve, a good thing to keep in mind is that you’ll never be able to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds. Keep it simple. For instance, you may include a few common dishes and one or two that can be considered special items on the menu. The thing is this, when you have an overly large menu, you’ll need to order a lot of ingredients to accommodate to it. However, these may be the items that people hardly ever order, which can increase unnecessary cost. Don’t forget that your menu needs to be profitable, so calculate the ingredient costs and the margin of each item. As a rule of thumb, the ingredient costs should make up 30% – 35% of the retail price.
Next, one way you can stand out is by providing excellent service. Nobody likes to have their food served late or being forced to wait for 30 minutes to get a seat. You can avoid all this by planning beforehand. Take your time and evaluate the space around your café. Think about how you can create an efficient workflow. For instance, can your staff easily access from the kitchen to each table in your café? Is there a space for take-out customers to wait and order without blocking the main entrance? Don’t underestimate the combination of both efficient workflow and great atmosphere as these are the elements that will leave your customers with a great dining experience.
Great marketing is key to success as it allows businesses to maintain a long-lasting and ever-present relationship with their audience. Lucky for you, with the various marketing platforms available such as Facebook and Instagram, you’re able to use them to build your social media presence. If you’re not looking to run ads just yet, you can always take advantage of organic posts. Not only are they free, but if you know how to use them properly, they can actually bring traffic to your café. To do this, you first need to create relevant contents and post them up at an optimal time. For instance, you could even run a trivia contest where winners get to enjoy a free cup of coffee! Or, it could be a promo post where the first 100 customers get to enjoy $5 dollars off anything they order during the café’s launch date. Marketing ideas and strategies are endless. However, keep in mind that this is not the fairy godmother from Cinderella, and it’s definitely not a one-time fix. Instead, it is an ongoing process. Keep trying different marketing stategies! As all businesses are unique, some strategies might work for others, but may not work for you. But hey, that’s okay because it is all part of the learning process. We promise that eventually, you’ll find a strategy that suits your business best.
There you have it. All the tips to start and run the trendiest café in town! Launching your café is going to be an exciting journey and no doubt that it is an incredible achievement. As always, we wish you the absolute best!
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