How to Launch a Successful Café: A Practical Guide for Newbies
Considered one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world based on recent data, coffee remains a popular product for businesses globally. Statistics show that between 2020 and 2021, the international market used up approximately 166.63 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee. That’s just a single year.
Because of its potential, many entrepreneurs start café businesses in the hopes of gaining profit from people’s love for coffee.
But while not everyone succeeds in this kind of business, that is not due to lack of knowledge of the secret to a successful coffee shop. Even industry beginners can run a profitable endeavour by understanding the basics and most practical strategies in launching a successful café.
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Focus on a niche and unique concept.
Everyone can dream of competing with big players in the coffee industry, but believe it or not, you’ll have a better shot at success with a specialist independent coffee shop. By tapping on a niche and focusing on it, you’ll be able to get better sales and, ultimately, a healthier customer base.
When building a café, you need to make it unique. Sure, franchises offer standard fare because people already know what they can expect from it. However, coffee shops that provide a one-in-a-million experience always stand out.
Start the concept with what special thing you have to offer (e.g., feature artisanal foods). Then, make sure the themes, design, colours, and ambience in the store follow suit (sometimes, set the mood for a specific music genre).
Figure out your location
Before jumping into the café business, you need to know first what makes them quite famous in the market.
First, people go to coffee shops to socialise or pass the time. Second, a café serves as a neutral zone for business meetings and school group work. Finally, it is a place where people can enjoy delicious beverages and snacks while being productive or just enjoying life.
All this means that you need to find the perfect location to set up shop. Below are some tips for doing just that:
1. Consider your target market.
Always bear in mind who you’re going to serve when choosing a spot for your café. Ensure it is close and convenient to all types of customers you want to attract (e.g., students, office workers, etc.).
2. Weigh your options according to your bottom line.
Although they may be close to everything, central locations aren’t always the best spot for your café.
For instance, high-traffic areas like malls usually have the most competitive environment and the highest rents. On the other hand, storefronts have the highest visibility with significantly lower rent, not to mention they usually allow you to decide your own operating hours.
The key is to consider your bottom line when weighing your options.
3. Think about vehicle parking and traffic.
Coffee shops need to have a parking area while still staying accessible to customers. If customers have to turn in a difficult street or don’t have anywhere to park, they will most likely go somewhere else for their morning coffee.
Remember: Find a café space that is not only close to your customer base but is also convenient and highly visible, and has healthy pedestrian activity.
Factor in your product.
When opening a café, you’ll need more than just premium coffee beans to fill your shelves and serve customers.
You’ll also need to plan your café offerings carefully. Below are some tips to help you with that:
4. Keep your menu short and sweet.
Avoid long and complicated menus as it opens more potential for waste. Instead, keep it short and sweet, with mostly easy-to-prepare items.
Also, make sure that your staff are well-trained in their preparation and avoid offering too many items. Remember your concept and stick to it.
5. Study your ingredients well.
Select dishes that can be made with a few key ingredients for multiple dishes, especially those that expire quickly (e.g., dairy, fresh meat, and salad greens).
As much as possible, avoid using one ingredient for a single dish as it could only go to waste, especially if that particular item wasn’t popular for a certain period.
6. Look for suppliers.
When choosing a supplier, you need to figure out what is important for you. Consider what you want to have in a relationship with that supplier by talking to candidates about the following matters:
- Coffee – how it tastes, its quality, decaf options, espresso blend, popular roasts, when they roast, packaging, storage, and cold brew options.
- Delivery frequency – for steadiness of supply and freshness of goods.
- Reliability – how dependable and reputable they are.
- Flexibility – how they adjust or respond to coffee emergencies and issues.
- Farmer and trade relations – do source supplies from local traders and farmers.
- Unique offerings and benefits – whether they offer their expertise and provide training or menu advice, rent out equipment, etc.
- Communication and customer service – how they handle customer service, ease of communication, and willingness to support their clients.
- Price and volume discounts – how their products are priced (though you’ll want to focus more on their range and quality of products than the price of their offering).
Formulate a good restaurant management plan.
Coffee shops, like any business, need a well-crafted plan and careful implementation. This is where an excellent POS solutions company in Dubai can help.
POS (point-of-sale) solutions offer efficient restaurant management capabilities to lend a hand with everything from inventory to café seating.
A restaurant POS system helps you track what people order, allowing you to know which items sell best and which ones don’t. With this, you will identify what your customers’ favourites are and which ones need to be removed from the menu.
POS systems are also used to collect payments, pay employees, and even manage guest seating and inventory.
Find outstanding employees.
No café – or any other business, for that matter – can thrive and succeed without a good set of employees. They aid in your coffee shop’s operations and represent your brand while delivering excellent service.
Considering how much they affect your business, you need to look for people who are best suited for the job. Be very specific about what you’re looking for:
- Do you require people to work part time or full time?
- What do you expect from your staff?
You should also consider hiring people who are committed to working in the food and beverage industry, not those who are just looking for a quick gig. Passionate people are also great to have on board as they offer better customer service.
Of course, you should also do your part in providing excellent benefits for employees. After all, employee satisfaction directly affects customer satisfaction.
Here’s to a Successful Café
Success in the food and beverage sector lies in how well you plan and prepare. Start by picking out a niche and a unique selling point, then figure out your menu, restaurant management plan, and workforce situation, and you’ll be on your way towards success.
Ross Smith is the Managing Partner at iPad POS Middle East. Based in Dubai, covering the whole of the Middle East, the company is passionate about helping restaurateurs and retailers alike find the most suitable point of sale system to meet the needs of their business. They specialize in iPad-based point of sales systems and are resellers of Revel and Vend.