5 Tips to Opening a Successful Cafe

Are you considering giving away your day job and embarking on the exciting journey of opening your own café? It can be a rewarding to see you dream business take shape. However, many potential cafe owners find that the myriad unknowns of going into business for the first time combined with trying to juggle mounti­­­ng expenses against a limited budget take some of the joy out of this exciting time. Here are six simple tips to making your new Café a success.

1. Choose a great location

The very first thing to consider when looking for the new home for your Cafe is the type of customers you want to attract to your business. There are many ways to do this including;
·         Speak with a leasing agent or business broker about your business concept and which suburbs they recommend.
·         Walk the streets and talk to local business owners, ask them about when the busy and quiet times are and what product sells well. What does this say about the customer demographic?
·         Talk with a coffee roaster about which areas they would recommend for your type of business.
·         Sit outside a café close to your desired location at different times of the day and count the number of customers.
As café’s rely on passing pedestrians as well as business and homes located in the area, it pays to do your research thoroughly.

2. A little bit of paperwork

Once you have decided on the location of you Café there are a couple of little hurdles to get over before you can settle in and set up shop. The first involves a visit to your local council to get the required approvals. If the location you have selected used to be a warehouse, garage or other premises (not licensed for food) you may need to apply for a Design Assessment and a number of permits.
·         Change of use permit (if not existing food premises)
·         Trade waste permit
·         Building permit
·         Plumbing permit
·         Signage permit
·         Design Assessment and Licence Application Assessment

The list above is a guide, check which permits you need with your local council. You may choose to make this process easier for yourself by bringing on board an Architect to manage the assessment process and draw up your plans and a building surveyor to check them off. While this process is being approved, you have a little bit of time to work on your business and make sure you are set to start trading the day you open the door.

3. Creating a point of difference

Coming up with a strong brand that will make you stand out in a competitive market is about more than just the name over your front door. Your brand is the whole experience your customer associates with your business. The first question I ask when coming up with a brand strategy is “What is special about your business that makes your customers come to you rather than anywhere else?” Your point of difference may be anything, but it is important that you know what it is because this is the basis for all you decision related to the look and feel of your café. Before you work on the details for your table settings, make sure you decide on the overall vision for your café because this will mean you create a consistent brand message.

4. Look, Feel, Function

Once you have the overall vision about what makes your cafe unique and different, it is time to create that vision. The look and feel of the space should be relevant to your target demographic and flavoured by your brand message. The colours, materials and furniture you choose should create a Café that is inviting to your customer and makes them feel comfortable. Consider who will be sitting in your Café. Will they prefer bright colours or subdued pastels? Are they going to be happy perched on a milk crate or would they prefer to sink into an arm chair?

Key areas to consider include;
·         Layout of counters
·         Kitchen layout and staff service flow
·         Visibility and access from the street
·         Seating layout

5. But how much does that cost?

Everyone’s favourite question when they are starting their own business is “How much does that cost?” This is because we are juggling mounting expenses against a tight budget. Finance for Hospitality owners is notoriously difficult for the first couple of years, the exact time when most business owners need it the most. So what are the options?

The key is knowing in advance what expenses to look out for as well as educating yourself about what can be covered by financed. Specialist Hospitality Finance Brokers such as Silerchef and Relion Finance cover most equipment, kitchen fit-out, POS systems and furniture but will not cover your painting, signage and front counter expenses.

When it comes to interior fit out I always go with the rule; spend first where it is going to benefit your customers the most. Some things you may be able to build up over time but try not to scrimp on the elements that are going to make your Café appealing to your customer.

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