Starting a cafe takes much investment alone. Continuing to run it will take dedication to get the job done and creativity in thinking of ways to save money on operation costs.
Do these 4 things to save thousands for your cafe.
- Get your cafe employees fully trained.
- Save money on your cafe’s beverage cup costs by encouraging customers to bring their own travel coffee cup.
- Focus on your best selling cafe menu items.
- Shop around for cafe suppliers to get the best price.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Cafe?
According to ShopKeep, it can cost a minimum of $80,000 to start a cafe or restaurant depending on:
- Equipment costs.
- Building costs.
- Food supplies costs.
- Coffee beans.
- Ingredients for pastries.
- Packaging supplies for products
- Beverage cups, lids, and straws.
- Bags for pastries.
| Get Your Cafe Employees Fully Trained |
Fully training your cafe employees is the key way to save thousands for your cafe. By keeping up on employee training, you will save money as long as they all know how to properly run your cafe even when you are not present.
Train New Cafe Employees on Making the Different Coffee Drinks
This is especially true for new employees. Have the new employee shadow a seasoned employee of your choice, so that he or she learns all the correct techniques for making the different menu offerings of drip coffee, cappuccino, espresso, and lattes.
If the employee has never been a barista before, it can be confusing at first to remember how to make all those different types of coffee drinks. When the new employee is not shadowing a seasoned employee, have a recipe guide nearby, so that he or she can refer to how to make a specific coffee drink on the menu without fail.
For Seasoned Employees, Offer Refresher Training
No matter how long your employees have been with your cafe, it’s always good to offer refresher training every quarter. This will ensure that your employees are well-trained and knowledgeable about how to properly serve every item on the menu.
Even cashiers should also receive this training. There will be times that their job will call for multi-tasking with taking orders and then expediting others if there are no other customers in line waiting to place an order.
Have a Checklist for Closing Procedures
Remind your night employees what to do for closing procedures by having a checklist near the supervisor’s desk. To save money on utilities and to keep the equipment running efficiently, you should have your employees do the following at the closing time.
- Turn off all the lights in the business.
- Turn off all the equipment.
- Clean and wipe down the outside and inside of all cooking equipment for sanitation and health standards (cleaning up the grime will help equipment to run longer).
- Put away all perishable foods into their appropriate refrigerated unit.
- Throw away all pastries past their expiration date. If you allow night employees to take them home, then they can divide them amongst themselves.
Learn the best ways to train your employees HERE!
| Save Money on Your Cafe’s Beverage Cup Costs |
Encouraging customers to bring their own travel coffee cups will save money on the cost of your beverage cups.
If customers bring their own travel coffee cup from home, charge a reduced price amount than what you charge on your coffee inside throw-away cups.
For example, if your 12 oz coffee in a throw-away cup is $2.50, charge customers who bring in their own 12 oz cup 10-20 cents less based on your discretion.
Not only will you save money on throw-away beverage cups over time as more green-minded customers bring their own cups into your business, but you will also help the customer to save a little money on every cup of coffee. This will build customer loyalty and reinforce continuous recycling to help the planet Earth.
You can even offer different sized travel coffee cups at your cafe for your customers to buy. You can even take it a step further and offer customers even more of a reduced price by bringing in your reusable coffee cup when purchasing java.
Going with the example from earlier, your price points could look like this for a 12 oz coffee.
- 12 oz throw-away coffee cup: $2.50
- 12 oz coffee cup from home: $2.40
- 12 oz coffee cup from your cafe: $2.20
In this example, this means if people bring a travel coffee cup from home, they save 10 cents compared to the cost of coffee in a throw-away cup. If people purchase your travel coffee mug and bring that in to use for coffee, then they will get 30 cents off each cup for doing this.
| Focus on Your Best Selling Cafe Manu Items |
Take a look at your Point of Sale (POS) system to find out how many of each menu item you have sold in the past week, the past month, and over the past 6 months. Find out your 3-5 best sellers and identify your 3-5 worst sellers.
Promote Your Cafe’s Best Sellers
Once you find out your best sellers, promote them to your customers. On your most popular lunch item, consider running a lunch special where the item is a dollar or so less than its original price. You could take it a step further by offering an affordable build your own lunch meal option with the popular product.
For example, if your most popular lunch item is a Reuben sandwich, offer a lunch option where customers can pick 2 sides and a drink with it for $6 to $8 plus tax. The sides can be chips, cookies, steamed vegetables, or fruit cups. Offer different size options for the drink such as small, medium, and large.
Omit Your Cafe’s Worst Sellers
Once you identify your 3-5 worst sellers on your menu, consider removing them permanently. This will cut down on food supplies costs if it is a specialty item.
You can test run your worst seller for another couple of weeks to see how they do. Try to promote your worst sellers to your customers with a small sale. If the item is still not performing well, it’s time to remove it from your menu.
Test Run Seasonal Items
When new seasons roll around, test runs seasonal items to see how they perform at your cafe. Many customers crave pumpkin spice around Halloween and Thanksgiving. For Christmas time, peppermint mocha and hot chocolate take center stage.
See how well these seasonal items sell over a couple of weeks. If customers do not clamor after this seasonal selection, order fewer supplies to accommodate the special demand in your area. If you are constantly selling out, increase your supplies order by about a quarter more than what you usually order.
| Shop Around for Cafe Suppliers to Get the Best Price |
Yes, you may have been with your coffee beans supplier for the last year and a half since your cafe opened. But what happens if you found another supplier that gives you the same coffee beans for a reduced price?
Do not be afraid to shop around for cafe suppliers to get the best price on your food and food packaging supplies. Make sure that when/if you do switch suppliers that you maintain the high-quality of the supplies you are purchasing.
Keep these things in mind when looking for quality food and food packaging supplies amongst various suppliers.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables should be crisp and ripe.
- Coffee beans should have great taste when roasted.
- Teabags should be of high quality and taste.
- Coffee cups and lids should be sturdy and able to hold hot coffee and tea.
Save More on Cafe Operations!
While there are many ways to save money on your cafe operations, just try these 4 top ways to get started. See how much money you can save by thoroughly training your employees, encouraging customers to bring in reusable coffee cups, evaluating your best and worst sellers, and shopping around for suppliers.
Look for other ways to save money while operating your cafe by visiting Lavu India.
20 Cost-Saving Tricks for Your Restaurant (lavu.com)
Frequently Asked Question
Conduct a Google search with the search phrase “food suppliers near me” to get a full list of food suppliers in your area. To get more specific, you can use the phrase “coffee suppliers near me” for your coffee supplies.
How much you charge for your cafe’s reusable coffee cups will depend on how much you have to spend to get each unit properly manufactured and designed. If you have to spend $3 per unit to get one cup manufactured, you should charge double that to make a viable profit.
$6 for a reusable coffee cup is reasonable as long as it is high quality and withstands high-temperature coffee and tea.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!