Welcome back to Part Two of ‘Pollards Guide to opening a coffee shop’. Click to see Part One of the guide if you missed it. This blog post is part of a series of blog posts designed to help guide any new coffee shop owner’s in the first stages of setting up. Covering everything from choosing a location to business strategy. Let us know if you can think of anything we have missed off and get in touch for more information or advise.
Now lets get back to it..
The coffee in your coffee shop
Hiring good staff and talented baristas alone doesn’t guarantee great tasting coffee for your customers. You also need to purchase good quality coffee beans. Pollards always recommend to only sell coffee that you would happily drink yourself. If you have high standards, then you should sell good quality specialist coffee. That way you are selling a product that you are passionate about. Passion sells! If you love your coffee, then your customers will too. As a coffee lover you know the value of customer service and providing great coffee to customers. Opening a coffee shop takes both dedication, skill and good coffee.
Take your time deciding on a wholesale coffee supplier, ask for samples and taste as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advise or about the latest blends or techniques available. Your coffee supplier needs to be a partner who you can work with, communicate with, and rely upon. Luckily, the coffee community is very forthcoming with advise and we are all seeking that great tasting coffee, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions directly or to the community in general.
Pollards Tip: Try new things, there are constant developments and new blends of coffee available on the market all of the time, so embrace change. Allow yourself and your baristas to experiment and have fun, it could turn into the next avocado-latte trend we have seen recently.
A good sales trick is to have a guest coffee each month on promotion in the coffee shop. All you would need to enable you to do this, is a spare machine to accommodate. A guest coffee on supply gives your customers something different to get excited about. This also has a bonus of helping you keep up-to-date and trial new coffees to add to your range more permanently. Allowing you to test how your customers react to the new flavour and measure profitability.
Food & Refreshments
To accompany your coffee, you might decide that you want to serve food at your cafe. Customers often make impulse purchases at the counter, so choosing the right products is important. If you decide to sell food then you’ll need to consider things like:
- What licenses you will need
- Think about hygiene standards
- Food standards should conform with the Food Standards Agency
- What size space you will require
- Will your cafe serve pastries, cakes, or sandwiches
- What does your target market prefer
- Will the products sell
- What will make you stand out from the other local competitors
- Do you want to make the food in house
- Will you source ethically and locally
- Would you prefer to use brands to promote your cafe
- Additionally, factor in what the costs involved in this will be and if that is sustainable with your financial projections.
If you’re cafe sells refreshments or baked goods, a Pollard’s top tip is to make sure that the food you serve compliments the range of coffee on offer. Remember that the taste of a coffee changes when accompanied with something else, so it is vital to sell products that go well together. Attend some training courses and taste, taste, taste. You’re coffee shop should focus on the coffee first and foremost, so the choice of food is determined afterwards. Customers are there for the coffee after all – as a coffee lover, who can argue with that!
Make time for the business not just the coffee shop
Making time to work on the business, not just in the business, is crucial to your cafes’ success. You might be a passionate and talented barista, but this doesn’t automatically mean that you would make a good cafe owner unfortunetly. You are only half way there! Yes, you get to make all of the decisions and be your own boss, but before you can enjoy the benefits, the hard work must start. Invest in yourself and learn how to run a business, this will take up a lot of your time during the week so it is worth taking some time and focusing on building those skills now.
You need to get to know your numbers, set yourself goals and meet those deadlines. You are your own boss now, you need to treat your coffee shop as more than just a passion, but as a business. As a cafe owner you hold the responsibility for things like meeting industry standards, recruiting and training staff, submitting the annual accounts, budgeting, banking and innovation to name just a few! A coffee shop or any catering business is restricted by guidelines in the UK, educate yourself and meet those targets of hygiene and standards, this will help your business succeed.
You will be required to get to grips with things such as balance sheets, VAT, HMRC, National Insurance, rates etc.
The back office is just as important as the front of house, so make sure that you allocate plenty of time in your work week to get all of those jobs done, before you step out into the cafe. You will enjoy it a lot more in the end knowing everything in the back is done.
Go the extra mile
In order to compete in this tough coffee market, you need to come up with something unique about your coffee shop to help attract your customers. Think about possible displays or information to decorate your cafe, this will help educate your customers and add value. You could focus on the ‘feel’ of the cafe or the skills of the baristas. Advantage could be something as simple as making you’re cafe appeal to Instagram users.
Good customer service often brings a customer back time and time again, a well informed barista with a passion could recommend a new coffee to make that impact on a new customer, or simply remembering a returning customer can create significant loyalty.
Have a marketing strategy. Will you invest in a website, or promote on social media platforms – or both! Your cafe could rely completely on word of mouth and you can even consider walking around your local area and handing out vouchers for free coffee to encourage people to stop by. This would cost money in the short term, but long term it could be what encourages customers to switch from their current coffee shop. The marketing can start anywhere so plan how you want to approach this, in line with your defining brand features you outlined earlier.
What happens without you
When opening a cafe, it is important to think about what happens to the business if you are not there. If you are out meeting suppliers, do you trust that your staff know how to handle things. What plans are in place if you were due to go on holiday. Similarly, what happens if you get called away in an emergency? Pollards recommend that you set up some operational procedures, and train staff on how you would like these situations to be handled.
If you are not in work one day the cafe needs to open without you. Ensure someone else has a key and has access to everything they need. We suggest that stock is ordered in good time and a written plan is available just incase.
Pollards Tip: write an operational systems and processes manual. Include a detailed checklist for how you like things done, and make sure somebody you trust knows where to find this. We trust that standards should remain consistent in your absence and staff be trustworthy and reliable. Everyone deserves a few days off every now and again, so after this tip you can rest easy and put your feet up every once in a while.
Thats our top tips for now..
Finally, remember to enjoy it! This is your passion and you’re now in control.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion”