Are you planning on opening your own cafe? If so, congratulations. Owning a cafe can be a very rewarding experience.
That said, you’re more likely to succeed if you take certain essential steps first. This guide will help. If you’ve ever dreamed of opening a cafe, remember to complete the following key tasks ahead of time.
Create a Business Plan
This is an important step to take regardless of what type of business you plan on opening. Quite simply, a business plan is like a map. It tells you where you’re going (or what you want to achieve), and more importantly, it tells you what you plan to do to reach your destination.
The specific details of a business plan will vary on a case by case basis. That said, it’s crucial to include certain basic features, such as a budget, financial goals, and a mission statement.
Don’t worry if you’ve never written a business plan before. There are numerous templates available online. Additionally, you can coordinate with a business expert, be they someone you know or a consultant you found online, to better understand how to draft one.
It’s also important to remember that a business plan isn’t necessarily a static document. As you begin running your cafe, you may need to make adjustments.
Secure a Property
Obviously, you can’t open a cafe if you don’t have a property for it. You need to look into properties in the area where you intend to open your cafe to find the ideal spot.
Don’t make the mistake of simply choosing the first property you find that happens to be in your budget. Even the strongest cafe may fail if it’s in the wrong location. There needs to be sufficient foot traffic in the area for you to consistently attract customers. Additionally, there can’t be any substantial competition. If you choose a property that’s too close to a cafe that’s already beloved by people in the area, they’ll have little reason to abandon one of their favourite businesses to support yours instead.
A cafe can only succeed if it consistently provides its customers with the same menu. People won’t come to your cafe often if you frequently run out of key items.
That’s why it’s essential that you research food and drink suppliers, as well as suppliers for important items like plates and cups. You obviously want to identify suppliers with a strong reputation among their former and current customers.
However, it can also be helpful to find suppliers who are based in your general area or region. This boosts the odds that they’ll be able to consistently meet your needs without any unexpected problems.
Create a Unique Idea
Cafes aren’t particularly uncommon. If you open one, you’ll likely have a significant amount of competition. Thus, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself. Creating a unique idea is an effective way to achieve this goal.
Of course, the idea needs to be appealing to your potential customers. For example, you may have an interest in a particular historical period, and wish to open a cafe whose theme relates to that historical period.
This might not result in a successful business if customers don’t share your interest. Knowing this, you should perform some degree of market research when coming up with your unique idea.
It’s also worth noting that the overall theme of your cafe is by no means the only aspect of it that may be unique. You can also differentiate your business by serving specific types of items. For example, maybe you want to appeal to the community where your cafe will be based by serving food made with locally-sourced ingredients.
You can advertise this feature in sandwich displays and bakery display cases, ensuring customers know you prioritise supporting the local economy when designing your menu.
On that topic…
Design a Menu
You need to keep certain essential factors in mind when designing a cafe menu. Yes, your main goal is to sell food and drink that your customers will enjoy. However, you need to consider what your food and drink suppliers can provide. You don’t want to include items on your menu that you won’t be able to serve on a regular basis.
Additionally, you need to once again conduct market research to determine what type of menu would most appeal to your customers. For example, maybe you’re a vegan, and would thus like to open a cafe that only serves vegan menu items. This is completely understandable. Your choice to be vegan may be based in your ethical beliefs, and you don’t want to betray them by opening a business that serves items made with animal products.
The problem is, if your main customer base isn’t vegan, your menu might not appeal to many people in the area. Your business won’t thrive as a result.
The actual design and format of the menu is another important factor to consider during this stage of the process. What’s of course most important is that the menu be easy and pleasing to read. People may not frequent your cafe if the menu is confusing. That said, it’s also a good idea to study how successful cafes format their menus in order to highlight certain key items.
For instance, there will likely be certain items on your menu that are more profitable than others. These are the items you want to sell the most. You might choose to draw attention to these items by placing them in boxes or using other formatting elements to make them stand out.
Again, if you study the menu design of popular and successful cafes, you’ll start to understand what you can do to make yours as effective and attractive as possible.
Develop and Implement a Marketing Strategy
Even if you take all the necessary steps listed here, your cafe may still fail to attract customers if you don’t implement an effective marketing plan. If no one knows your cafe is open, they won’t visit.
A marketing plan may be relatively thorough and complex. There are simply a range of marketing channels you need to take advantage of.
In the digital age, it’s essential that your cafe has a website. The website should include your menu, information about your location, and an introduction to your business and vision. You might also include a blog to attract even more attention to your website.
If you have beautiful fixtures, such as appealing sandwich displays and bakery display cases, feature them on your website as well. Dynamic visuals can obviously make your cafe look more attractive to potential customers.
You should also develop a social media presence. Make sure you interact and engage with your customers on social media. Case studies routinely indicate that business owners who engage with their followers on social media are more likely to succeed than those who do not.
Other channels you may consider marketing through include radio, local publications, television, and more. Additionally, it’s becoming more and more common for business owners to host events for customers, such as opening day parties.
If these events are fun, those in attendance may post about them on social media, doing much of your marketing work for you.
Again, marketing can be complicated. This is another instance when you may wish to consult with an expert. Their advice will help you better understand what steps you must take to spread the word about your cafe.
Purchase the Essentials: Serving Counters, Chilled Display Cabinets, Patisserie Displays, and More
All the steps listed here are essential. That said, you also need to account for certain basic practicalities when planning to open a cafe. Your cafe can only succeed if you purchase reliable fixtures that serve their purpose while also looking attractive.
These include such fixtures as serving counters, bakery display cases, sandwich displays, and anything else you need to both store and showcase the items on your menu. You want customers who enter your cafe to be greeted by an attractive setting where delicious menu items are on full and clear display.
Fortunately, such fixtures are easy to find thanks to TFSE Products Ltd. We have over 25 years of experience providing such items to cafe owners throughout the UK. Our fixtures are also made with the most durable materials, ensuring they stay in good condition for as long as possible. To learn more, contact us online today.