Making money from a small café is not easy. Typically, owners only clear around 2.5%. But those that pay close attention to the details and their marketing can match the 15% that the large chains generate. Café owners that make that their aim, from the start, set themselves up for long-term success. Here are some tips to help you to do exactly that.
Start with research
Making sure that there will be sufficient demand is vital. An awful lot of coffee shop owners make the mistake of opening up in an area that does not yet have many cafes. They assume that the demand will be high, as a result of this. In reality, that is not always the case. Sometimes people in the area simply do not use cafes much. Use this article to help you to do your initial market research.
Once you have done this you will know where to locate your café and what the demographic of your potential customers is likely to be. As well as have some idea of what their tastes and budget are. This is important because it will impact the facilities needed to serve them.
Make sure it will be financially viable
Use this guide to determine whether the type of café you are planning will break even.
Design your café carefully
The design and layout of your café will have a big impact on whether people will be drawn to your establishment and what you have to offer. You also need to make sure that the layout is practical and meets all of the necessary safety standards etc. This short video explains what you need to consider.
Make the most of your digital screens
Digital display screens are extremely powerful marketing tools, so be sure to include them in your design. People really notice them. They can be set up in your window or on a sandwich board frame as a way to attract passing foot traffic. You can tailor the offers you use to fit in with the kinds of people who are in the area, at certain times of the day.
For example, to sell milkshakes to kids walking past on their way home from school. Kids have access to a surprising amount of pocket money and according to the Halifax Pocket Money Survey, in the UK, they spend around 42% of it on drinks.
Displaying your menu through digital signage is always worth doing. They are extremely attractive to look at and catch the eye. Plus, using them gives you the flexibility to change the prices quickly.
So, if the cost of some of your sandwich or light meal ingredients goes up you can pass some of that on to the customer. Or do the reverse when the price goes down. It also means that if you have sold out of something you can take it off the menu temporarily to avoid disappointment.
Have an eye on the future
Initially, you will want to focus on your core business of simply offering food and drink. But you should always have your eye on the future and be thinking about ways to expand your operation.
For example, if you have the choice of two units that are similar choose the one with the bigger prep area. This will make things easier when you want to do something like offering catering service for local offices or small parties.
You also need to make sure that you have enough space out front to expand. That might mean more tables or having sufficient room to host live musicians. Or a space where groups of people can meet up.
For many people, their local café is a bit of a lifeline. It is where they meet friends. Often, they also become attached to the people who serve them. They want to know how they are keeping and look forward to having a short conversation while ordering their coffee. Hiring the right staff is vital to your success.
When you find someone who is good, be prepared to pay a bit more and take care of them. They are worth their weight in gold. This guide will help you to make the right staffing choices.
Track your metrics from day one
Understanding the finances of your business from day one is vital. Get into the habit of reviewing what is selling, what is going in the bin, and how the cost of ingredients is impacting the profit margins on your biggest lines. Doing this will enable you to act quickly to reprice or change the menu the moment you start to lose rather than make money on an item.
Of course, the above is just an overview. You can learn a great deal from other café owners in your area. Spend time in their establishments to see what is working for them.