Running a coffee shop can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting experience. However, this in no way means that it is an easy task. Rather, it comes with its own set of challenges that can make running a coffee shop a herculean task like no other.
Yes, running a coffee shop is quite difficult. That being said, there are four main reasons why running a coffee shop is such a tough task.
These reasons are:
- A high burnout rate: Running a coffee shop is a day in and day out task. There are very few days off and it requires a significant amount of attention. This leads to an unusually high risk of burnout.
- The difficulty of effective marketing: Marketing is not as easy as it may seem. It requires lots of experience and skill to perfect and simply isn’t something easily perfected.
- Hiring good employees can be a challenge: Working at a coffee shop is not a job that everyone is made out to do. Because of that, finding employees who can do the job effectively can be tremendously difficult.
- Designing an effective menu is not easy: When creating the menu for a coffee shop, an owner has to ensure that their menu fits well.
A high burnout rate
Burnout is a major factor when it comes to failing coffee shops, and is a major player as to why running a coffee shop is so difficult.
- What is burnout?
Burnout is essentially a feeling of exhaustion felt mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It’s caused by a period of excessive stress in which you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and unable to meet demands
It often leads the person suffering from it into a depressive and anxiety-ridden state.
- Why is burnout so common from running a coffee shop?
Running a coffee shop is a day in and day out objective. It requires early mornings and often late nights, long hours, and plenty of dedication.
This constant state of working and dedication that is required when running a coffee shop can very easily lead to a state of exhaustion.
It’s when this exhaustion is not handled properly, which requires taking time to rest and recover, that a person will experience burnout.
This is so incredibly common for those running a coffee shop because they are unable to stop and take a day to rest, instead deciding to continue their operation, only worsening their condition.
- How do you prevent burnout?
The best and most effective way to prevent burnout is to simply take some time for yourself.
Do something you love, whether that’s taking a walk through the park, playing your favorite game, or simply watching Netflix on your couch.
Whatever it is that helps you relax the most is what you should do periodically to prevent burnout from ever occurring.
The difficulty of running an effective marketing campaign
Effective marketing is crucial for the success of any coffee shop. This crucial aspect of running a coffee shop, however, can be an incredibly daunting and difficult task.
Effective marketing may even be considered the most difficult aspect of running a coffee shop.
It’s best handled by a professional in that field, but this may not be an option for every coffee shop owner, as the cost of hiring a professional to do so can be incredibly expensive.
- Why is operating an effective marketing campaign so difficult?
Operating an effective marketing campaign requires several moving parts and a significant amount of marketing knowledge.
This includes discovering a target audience, finding a way to effectively reach that target audience, creating effective advertisements, getting that target audience to spend money at your shop, and finding a way to make them return.
This can be an incredibly difficult task for anyone who has no experience in operating marketing campaigns.
For most coffee shops, it’s not feasible to hire an expert to perform these operations. Instead, the owner must try and do so themselves, which is often the most difficult aspect of their job.
- Is hiring a marketing expert an option?
While yes, hiring a marketing expert is an option, and arguably the best way to carry out a marketing campaign, it is often not an option for many coffee shops.
This is because of the expense that a marketing expert or marketing consultant will bring.
Most marketing consultants will cost between $1000 and $2000 a month to perform the operations necessary for a coffee shop!
Thus, while hiring a marketing expert may be an option, it is not feasible for most coffee shop owners.
- What are the best ways to overcome this problem?
One potential way to bypass this issue is to create multiple marketing campaigns and see what people think of each.
This will give a number of unbiased opinions, it will assure that you pick the most effective marketing that you can, and best of all, it’s free.
But the most effective way will always be to hire an experienced marketer.
While they can potentially be costly, their input may skyrocket your business far beyond what you could ever imagine possible!
So, all in all, a marketer is definitely worth the cost!
The challenge of hiring effective employees
There are thousands of people, mostly young adults, who dream of working in a coffee shop.
The truth is, however, working in a coffee shop is not an easy job by any means. It is a fast-paced, detail-oriented job, that requires employees to constantly be on their feet.
This is often not what most potential employees envision, however, as they instead have views and dreams of working in a coffee shop that have been blurred by vision looking through rose-colored glasses.
What do poor coffee shop employees look like?
Although all employees who are poor at their job are not the same, most of them do share a combination of certain traits.
These traits include:
Laziness is a trait that no employer wants to see. It’s one of the traits that can make any employee stick out like a sore thumb.
A lazy employee can make it difficult for a coffee shop to keep up with a rush. This often requires other employees to pick up their slack and even leads to several customer service complaints.
- Not understanding the menu
Coffee shops thrive on the ability of employees to help customers make decisions on what to order when they aren’t sure themselves.
But if an employee has been working at a coffee shop for a significant amount of time and still is unable to recommend menu products to customers, this can be an issue for business.
- Unable to perform well under stress
Working at a coffee shop is not a job for those who do not perform well under stress.
It’s an incredibly fast-paced and often stressful job, and if an employee can not handle the stress and continue to perform well, then they aren’t a good fit for the job at hand.
How can a coffee shop be sure it hires effective employees?
Arguably the most effective way for a coffee shop to be sure that they hire effective employees is to hire employees who already have experience working at a coffee shop.
By knowing they have experience working in a coffee shop previously, the personal hiring the employee can be sure they know what they are getting themselves into.
Another effective way to see whether or not an employee will be a good fit is to do a test run.
If a coffee shop throws a potential employee in a shift to see how they react, they will be able to gauge how well they may potentially handle the job at hand.
It’s also important for a coffee shop owner to remember to keep an open mind. You never know who might surprise you after you hire them.
Designing an effective menu is not easy
A menu for a coffee shop is a major aspect of a business plan. It decides what will and what won’t be offered at a coffee shop.
While this may seem like an easy enough task, it’s much more difficult than it may seem.
When making a menu, a coffee shop owner needs to only place items on the menu that will make a decent profit. This means that a menu needs to exclude items that are rarely if ever ordered.
The issue here is that oftentimes a coffee shop owner will not know what is and isn’t popular until after they have already opened.
This can lead to a loss of profit as resources are spent on products that are never going to be sold.
What are some common mistakes when creating a menu?
- Letting personal bias become an issue
Too often, coffee shop owners let personal bias affect what they are going to include onto their menu.
In other words, if there is an item that they don’t like, they won’t include it.
This can be an issue, especially if the product that they are leaving off is a top seller that can bring insufficient profits.
- Ignoring local favorites
Many local areas have favorite beverages or pastries that are a major aspect of the town’s culture.
It can be a major mistake, however, if a coffee shop menu does not include this town favorite.
Not only do coffee shops without these items on their menu lose money, but it can also create problems for these coffee shops when they try to enter the communities.
- Not including seasonal items
Coffee in itself is not seasonal. There are, however, several seasonal drinks and other products that every coffee shop should offer.
It can become a major issue if a coffee shop does not include seasonal items on its menu.
Not only is it going to cost a coffee shop money because customers are going to bring their business to other competitors who do offer these products, but it can also lead to a coffee shop missing out on a major advertising opportunity.
How can a coffee shop owner be sure that their menu is effective?
The most effective way to ensure that coffee shop’s menu design is effective is to take a sample poll.
See what random groups of people in the area think of the menu and ask what they would potentially change.
This way, a coffee shop owner is not only getting local feedback, but they’re also getting a wide range of different opinions to weigh in and ensure that the menu is as effective as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although the actual cost to start a coffee shop will vary depending on several factors, the average cost is between $200,000 and $375,000.
This encompasses the cost for licensing required to operate, the cost of a physical building to operate out of, the cost of the equipment you may need, as well as the cost of the products needed to effectively open.
There is always the option to open a coffee cart as well, which has a significantly lower start-up cost at around $20,000.
This includes the cost for the cart itself, all the licensing that is needed, as well as the equipment and necessary products.
The main difference is that a coffee shop has to operate out of a building which is the most expensive aspect and accounts for the price difference between the two.
To learn more about what it costs to start a coffee shop, click here.
This is a question that has an answer which varies from person to person.
While running a coffee shop may be difficult, it’s something that comes with plenty of advantages.
For one, you get to be your boss. This is a major plus for many people, especially those who enjoy the independence of working without wanting to have someone constantly looking over their shoulders.
It also allows you to be financially independent. When owning a coffee shop, you are no longer reliant on a boss for income. Instead, your income comes from the business that you built.
Finally, a coffee shop is perfect for those who love coffee. Doing what you love is perhaps one of the greatest aspects of being a business owner. If you happen to love coffee, owning a coffee shop may be just for you.
When deciding whether to run a coffee shop or not, it’s important to weigh the struggles that it will bring with the positives you will enjoy. Through doing this, you will find out whether running a coffee shop is worth it or not for you!
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!