Good morning, where is my cup of coffee? That is the first thought that goes through most coffee drinker’s heads after they wake. The smell of a fresh brew, taste of the first sip, and alert reaction your mind and body has after the second cup keeps coffee drinkers coming back for more day after day. So let’s say you fell in love with coffee to the point that you decided to open your own coffee shop, how do you proceed with that dream? Here, we will cover some fundamental but essential aspects of opening your first coffee shop.
Ready? Grab a cup of Joe, and let’s go!
You Need a Plan
All businesses need a plan in some form or another. Traditional business plans have worked well for some, while others have gotten by with post-it notes and emails. Documenting your vision, goals, and end game is a great way to set the stage for success.
Coffee and Food Menu
You should have your bean source identified at this point. It would be best if you had brewed your perfect batch of coffee over and over at this point and truly mastered your craft. A restaurant owner doesn’t go into business before having recipes and some experience cooking, and you should not open a shop without some experience working in the industry at some capacity. You can always hire a professional chef to test roasts for you and design a menu. People like to eat, having desirable meal options on the menu will keep them coming back. Your options here are limited if you go the franchise route.
Coffee Shop Location
Unless you plan on only selling whole beans and grounds online, you will need a physical location to set up shop. This will require you to find a place where there isn’t already a coffee shop on the corner, and strategically get yourself situated where foot traffic is plentiful, and competition is minimal. You may want to jump into a franchise situation, more of a plug and play template where you will receive help athletes the corporate level, or you may want to go independent. We are fans of independent shops, like Bun Coffee Byron Bay, so this next bit is for those of you that want to roll solo. If you can get into a developing city before Starbucks and the rest of the coffee giants make their way in, you might gain a loyal fan base on a local level that will thrive well after the growth of the city and the arrival of the other guys. Another option is to buy out a small mom and pop operation; however, you go about it, location will always be a driving force behind your success.
Equipment, Layout, and Product
This can be a fun part of the development process. To see your project come to life is rewarding, and getting the equipment in and laying out the room is an exciting time. For the small mom and pop shop, this can become an opportunity to let your creativity shine. Put your stamp on it, make it yours, and take pride in your little coffee shop. For those buying into a franchise, you can expect that your furnishing options are limited by what is offered by the franchise. Locations need to look uniform, so keep your creative input to yourself and roll with the decor flow. For the independent folks, you need suppliers for everything, from food and beverage to cups and bathroom supplies. Find a few local options and go with the best fit. For most, that’s usually the cheapest offer, at least in the beginning.
Permits, Paperwork, and People
You need food and beverage permits to operate. You need licenses and insurance to keep your doors open. Make sure all of this is in order before opening the doors. Make sure your staff have food handlers permits and know how to keep surfaces clean and sanitary, as this is more important now than ever before. You do not want to become a hot-spot for COVID-19. Your barista and supporting crew need to have experience and make sure they can move quickly and think on their feet. You need bodies in your shop, take the time necessary to find the right group. The faces and attitudes behind the counter can impact your business for the good and the bad.
Create a Welcoming Environment
Your new shop may become the go-to spot for locals needing coffee in the morning. Make it a warm place and welcoming. Mornings can be tough, make the ordering process easy, menu easy to read, staff friendly, and interior comfortable enough that remote workers may spend a few hours in there on their laptops. Don’t forget the music, part of a warm environment is the subtle distraction of music. This should be ambient, instrumental, and not distracting. People may be there to study, work, or conduct a meeting. You want them to return, not get offended by loud, distracting music.
Your Business is Your Business
At the end of the day, this is your business. No matter who you put in charge to manage, this is your responsibility, so it needs to be treated as such. Keep close track of product and inventory and monitor employee attendance and behavior. Set up video cameras for the safety of the business and the people working there. Keep it clean and sanitized. Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions; keeping the doors open is the most important thing you can do. If the doors close, people lose jobs, and you lose your shop. So if you need to make a tough decision, like letting people go, or authoritatively dealing with a customer, then do what needs to be done to keep your business running. Your business is your business.