So, you want to run a cafe? That is brilliant news. Whatever you do however, don’t settle for second best. If you are going to do this, then give it your all. Have vision, have passion, add a little patience, along with some finance and some savvy decisions and you could just do it. You could come out on top with the best cafe in town. But don’t settle for second best or average. Those are the cafes that are half full or empty where no one seems to care.
You know the ones that work.They buzz with life. They are full of character and inventions. They have regulars. People who come every week. They may even have great reviews on Tripadvisor. People will always come to a great cafe if you do these three things. Have a clear vision and meet the market, open it in the right place, and make it fun to be there. Sounds simple. Can you do it? You bet.
What is your thing? What is your theme? Not as in horses or dolphins, but where exactly are you? If someone was to ask you to sum up your ethos in one sentence, what would it be? Great coffee in a funky setting? The best breakfast and brunch in town? A New York style deli that serves great lunch? The best place for afternoon tea? Or maybe all of the above!
Seriously, simplify your theme. Do what you do best and leave the rest to do whatever. Don’t worry about the competition, because if you do what you do best, then you will wipe the floor with them. And never forget you are only ever one cold cup of coffee away from losing a customer and one unforgettable muffin away from gaining one.
You are only as good as the food you just served. So get thinking what you do better and more consistently than anybody else. For clues look to your strengths and passions. Are you the world’s best baker? Tea maker, power smoothie producer. Italian Pizza Maker, Swiss pastry chef. You get it? Go for your passion.
Meet The Market
People are incredibly savvy. Sometimes. They might blow thousands on an overpriced car, but if you charge them 50 cents too much for a cup of coffee, they will walk away. On the other hand, if you reduce the price and make the best coffee in town, they’ll come back day after day. They will bring their friends and say things like, ‘I have to show you this incredible place with the best coffee.’ Maybe you could put it up 50 cents after that, and no one would care. But the point is, be competitive and play the game.
Give good value and you’ll get customers. Give good value and great quality and you’ll get regulars. There will always be people who come and complain you change too much or tell you they could get a cup of coffee down the road for less. Agree with them and wish them luck.
Find the right place
This may well be the most challenging part of the post. After all, everything until now has been down to you. Getting the right place or premises is going to involve other people. The closer you are to the crowds the more expensive it will be. Again be savvy. Are there other large businesses, say for example a furniture store that just might be open to a cafe addition? It could be a good place to start.
You might just find perfect premises that are ripe for your new venture. They could even have a kitchen already installed. Great. But why did the previous business struggle and fail? A small location tucked away might be difficult to draw people. Then again, people will come to you if they know where you are.
How about an upstairs location? Could be cheaper. You might have to install a few things. Think about wheelchair access for example. Lifts for public access are easy and quick to install. You can even get a lift to carry food or trolleys. A first-floor location has character. If it has access and character then people will like to hang out there. If they are buying coffee and food and doing that, then you have a business!
Curiosity is a great human trait. If people see you are opening they will want to try you out. If you create genuine curiosity and build up the tension, they will be pushing the door open to get inside. Make it fun, promote it on social media and print media. Follow the renovation on a Facebook page. Talk about your reasons for the venture, the passion you have and the things you want to share.
What sort of crowd are you after? The early morning breakfast brunch or the ladies who lunch? Do what you do and do it well and don’t compromise. People tell people. It doesn’t take long. Make it look good and taste even better. People eat with their eyes and drink with their noses. That is a cafe and catering fact.
Every business takes time to find its feet. You’ll have quiet days and busy days. Learn to roll with the flow. Don’t overcook or over order and be savvy with taking food down if the day is quiet. Always have the kettle on and the coffee machine ready to go. Offer specials and tasters and the all the little things that a good cafe does so well. Make it a place that people want to come and spend time in and you will do well.
Have a think about other services that you could offer. How about weddings, catering, or office parties? Could you hire your cafe out for night time classes and cooking demonstrations? Have a mobile outlet that will take you to galas and fetes in the summer. Never stop promoting, laughing, and being that place; the best cafe in town.
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