September 19, 2013

Guest Post – Getting Your Coffee Shop Off The Ground

coffeeshopIn this day and age, a large number of people are starting up their own businesses and making names for themselves in the market of their choice. Here is my advice for anyone looking to get a café of their very own up and running.

Know Your Location

Like other eateries, the location of a coffee shop has a direct influence on the amount of customers it receives. Aim for a location in the heart of a city or close to a large road juncture. If a person opening their café is trying to open a store location without a drive thru, it’s better to aim for suburban areas or urban areas with heavy foot traffic. Otherwise, opening a location near busy roads will net the most customers. Since coffee is the staple food of the business world, it’s also wise to keep an eye on locations with large clusters of offices or other businesses around them. These places will undoubtedly yield a high flow of customer traffic.

Set the Atmosphere for Your Store

What kind of coffee store is the best kind for a new up and coming business? In my day, I have seen the success of many different types of stores and it all depends on how the store is presented. It’s always wise to decide what kind of store is being aimed for first and foremost. If the intent is to create a homey, welcoming environment that will entice guests to spend hours chatting the afternoon away with a piping hot cup of coffee, the store space should reflect that. Go for comfortable, overstuffed chairs with soft fabrics. Invest in a fire place if you can, so it will keep customers warm in the chilly days of winter when hot beverages are most appreciated and traffic to coffee shops increases. The colors of any coffee shop are completely up to the owner, but I suggest neutral colors that are earthy and warm in tone. These are the colors that make customers feel comfortable. For those aiming for a more upbeat environment, I would still suggest keeping the cozy décor. Just spruce it up with brighter colors and a more modern appliance selection.

Have Your Supplies Ready to Go

Before opening a store for business, it’s important that everything is well stocked and ready to go before the doors are unlocked to the public for the first time. This means that cups, coffee beans, different types of milk and pastries and any necessary equipment should all be present at the time of the grand opening. Another thing to keep in mind is a menu. While most coffee shops have a board hanging from the ceiling with the drinks available written on it, it can also be beneficial to have smaller paper menus available for customers to look at. This will eliminate the “awkward gawker” problem that a lot of coffee shop lines suffer from. With everyone craning their necks to look at the same board, it can be a bit of a hassle to try figuring out an order. To help eliminate this problem, keep small menus at the register for customers to select and browse through.

Menus can also be customized in any imaginable way so they will never clash with décor. Finding a menu that suits a coffee shop’s atmosphere is a slice of cake. It’s a cute and relatively inexpensive way to add another personal touch to a store front, and of course it also aids the customers in being able to select their drinks and snacks with greater ease.

Keep Your Ears Open

Once a business is off the ground, the fastest way it can shoot itself back out of the sky is by not listening to its customer base. It’s important to make sure that suggestions, comments and concerns from customers are taken into consideration in every decision that is made. Keep in mind that the more frequently a complaint is brought up, the more likely it is that the object of complaint will have to be changed or removed even if it may not be seen as necessary or agreeable by the staff. Being receptive to customer criticism and showing flexibility in running the business will always be a good way to gain and keep a solid customer base.

Ensuring success before the doors are opened is one of the best ways to start out on any business journey and cafés are no exception. By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, starting up a successful coffee shop won’t be a daunting task.

Lauren Hill writes for Menu Shoppe, an online source for menu covers, table flip menus and serving items.

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