Opening up the cafe and roastery

The journey begins...

So we decided to put a cafe front to our roastery operation in January this year. We needed a place to help us refine our coffee offering and also understand the in's and out's of running a cafe/

Overall it's been a good start.  We can see a break-even position at the end of year 1 (minus initial investment).  It can only get better??!

I thought I'd share my top ten tips for starting a coffee business / cafe that I feel an urge to share:

1) Staffing - find people who have a passion for your business OR are just plain hard working people.  Ideally both.

2) Control your start up costs - there's nothing wrong with second hand.  Keep a track of everything you spend especially in a partnership.  

3) Budgeting - create a budget, then add 50%.  

4) Strive for perfection but settle a little less - I never thought I was a control freak or perfectionist.  I surprised myself.  I basically had to learn to be 'good enough'.

5) Products - aim for consistency at a certain quality point.  Be consistent.

6) Mark-up - I was really surprised about the range of margin that different suppliers offer.   Coffee is obviously great but there's a coffee machine to buy!  We really like to use local suppliers but as they often sell themselves locally expect only 10-20% discount off trade prices.

7) Till system - we use Shopify on an ipad and a money box.  And a chip and pin reader.  Total cost?  Less than £200.  You don't need to spend a lot!  And it's better to rough it for a bit then use your experience to buy the right till for the job.

8) Change - we operate in a small village and change is a nightmare.  Price your products ending in 10p or 5p increments.  We'd like to lose the 5p's but that will come over time.  If you're running short of change then it's ok to ask a customer for the right change!  More often or not they have it.

9) Opening hours - experiment for a bit then be consistent.  Customers get really annoyed about turning up somewhere only for it to be unexpectedly closed!  We learned this the hard way.

10) Talk to people - you can spend a bunch of money on marketing OR you can just talk to your local market (e.g. local people) to get ideas about what THEY want.  I love talking to people so this is easy but if you don't then maybe get someone else you trust to get some 'user' feedback on what they want in your shop.

Just a brain dump!  Feel free to ask some questions.....


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