How to Start a Coffee Shop -- DEFINITIVE GUIDE

Posted by THOMAS STARKS on

How to Start a Coffee Shop.  Your definitive guide to getting your cafe started.

Coffee is one the most lucrative beverages in existence, and there are millions of people that don’t consider their day in motion until their first or second cup is done. In fact, it’s estimated that 400 million cups of coffee per year get consumed in the United States alone.

This fact makes it a good business to be in, especially if you’re a lover of the bean-brew yourself and have had dreams of getting a coffee shop with your own unique touch off the ground.

Here’s how to start your own coffee shop, and more about the essential coffee shop supplies you’ll need to set up shop.

Location Matters

Location matters, especially when we’re talking about the food and beverage business. Do the right research on your possible location and just how much people pass through – then ask the right questions to establish how many of these people can be viewed as potential buyers for your product.

Market research goes a long way. Ideally, choose a place on main travel routes that sees a lot of foot traffic throughout the week, and note the busiest days and times to get a better idea of your future clientele.

Business Licenses & Food Licenses

One of the most important things when you want to start a business in the food or beverage industry is the need for the appropriate food and business licenses that apply to your industry. For the production of food and beverages on location, you’ll need to go-ahead from the state’s health department – and if you go ahead without this very important clearance, you can risk a lot of issues and even closure in the future.

Coffee Shop Supplies

Coffee shop supplies are going to be the number one thing on your list when opening a coffee shop, and it’ll come before everything else – even staff or location. Why? Your coffee shop’s supplies include the coffee machines, the disposable coffee cups, the tables, the coffee sleeves, the commercial refrigeration, and the thing that foams the milk – which, once you’re in the business, you’ll discover there’s a special name for.

Your coffee shop supplies, along with your choice of coffee bean and dairy products, will define the unique taste of your coffee blend – and this alone can turn your shop into the most popular coffee business in town.

The right coffee shop supplies can even help your staff to make their job a whole lot easier – and they’ll really love you for it!

Banking & Funding

Funding is often one of the hardest things for the new business owner to get a proper grip on, and difficulty securing funding is the reason many businesses never get of the ground – but there are many possible options available for the business owner who wants to start their own coffee shop, and all it takes is s winning business pitch and the right investor.

These days, angel investors are one of the most popular potential funding options, and many people even look towards crowd funding their concepts. If this doesn’t grab your attention or interest, funding can also be secured through the right partnerships, and sometimes by taking out either a business loan or business equipment loan from your bank.

Funding doesn’t have to be the biggest battle to start your business. All you have to do is make the right amount of preparation beforehand.

Getting Customers

Getting customers seems like one of the hardest battles for a new business, but it doesn’t have to be the mission that you imagine it to be. When figuring out which marketing campaigns will work best to draw customers, an introspective approach is usually best and you should ask yourself what marketing techniques would convince you if you were in the customer’s position.

Just in case you’re finding getting customers hard, here are a few tried, tested tips on how your business can get customers before you’ve even fired up the coffee machine.

  • Advertise the Grand Opening: By advertising the start of your business a few months or weeks before the actual opening helps to build up hype and make it seem like a “big thing” - especially with an interesting event like a once-off dinner or a coffee tasting that’s advertised a long time before it happens.

  • Start Your Website Early: If there’s anything you want to know about anything, the first thing you’ll do is type it into your search engine and head to the website, right? Give your potential customers the opportunity to do this and read more about your business straight away even before you’ve opened your doors.

  • Word of Mouth Matters: Word of mouth matters when promoting your business, and the best way of promotion that money can’t buy is to get people to talk about your business venture – and there are many ways to do this, from mailing lists to unique promotions that catch and hold people’s attention.

  • Use Unique Promotion: So, what’s unique promotion? It’s the kind of promotion that gets people talking, and the kind of things that are fresh and original – what this is for your business is entirely up to you. Free coffee mugs, free coffees for the holidays, unique samplers of coffee, the only coffee shop in town that serves roasted coffee beans covered in marshmallows, chocolate and cheese. Well, maybe not that last one – but you get the idea, right?

Keeping Customers

Once you have set up your customer base, it becomes vital to keep these customers loyal to your brand – and there are a few excellent ways to ensure this.

First, you have to offer something that’s consistent – there will always be customers who come back to the same business for the same thing, and consistency is why they do it.

The second thing that’ll keep customers coming back is consistently good customer service: Keep them happy, respond to questions and complaints to the best of your abilities and customers will stay happy.

The third thing that helps you to gain customers is trust and innovation. A mixture of the two tells your loyal customers, “Hey, you can trust me – and I’ve got something new you can try.” Customers who bite can be hooked, and you can even get many new customers this way.

Stand out from the competition

Standing out from the competition in the coffee shop business can be done through most of the ways we’ve mentioned in this article – even when your strongest competitor is a huge coffee chain just in the same area.

If you want to stand out from your competitors, there’s only real way to do it in this industry – and that’s to make the best damn cup of coffee in town using the best coffee shop equipment that you can get.

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