Getting up early every morning, brewing that first fresh pot of coffee, anxiously waiting for the customers to pour through the door, these are the greatest desires of owners of coffee shops across the country.
As a new coffee shop owner there are several mistakes you should avoid. Some of these include, not doing enough research, this includes researching coffee as well as locations, not properly using marketing platforms such as Facebook, and not having a business plan.
Mistake #1 Assume that “Coffee is Coffee”
As a Coffee Shop owner, this is one thing that is absolutely absurd to think, let alone plan your business around. There are thousands of different types, brews, specialty blends, half and half mixtures, techniques, growers, flavors, and more to consider when you are serving coffee in a coffee shop.
The first thing you need to make sure you are is fluent in coffee!
- How many different coffee species are there?
Did you know that there are over 100 different species of coffee, but only a couple of them are widely known and sold?
- How many different types of coffee are there?
Did you know that there are over 30 different types of coffee?
- What is considered a coffee drink?
Did you know that any drink that has coffee in it is considered a coffee drink? They may have different names like espresso or cappuccino, but if the drink you are preparing is made with coffee it will often be asked for at a coffee shop.
- What is the difference then between coffee and espresso?
Coffee is a slow-brewed drink, while espresso is a steamed drink using coffee.
These were just a few of the questions you should be familiar with the answers on if you are planning on opening a coffee shop.
Knowing coffee will help you to know and understand the different types, brands, and techniques of coffee that you should be offering in your coffee shop. Make sure you do your research, it is vital in the development of your business plan and marketing strategies.
Mistake #2 Assuming that the Diner Down the Street Does Just Fine you will be too.
Yes, they might do just fine. However, they are not serving just coffee, they are Not telling their customers to come into their diner for only coffee they could get that morning or evening or whenever. They are offering their customers, food, and other beverages, they are not existing solely on their coffee, or they too would be a coffee shop, not a diner. It is important to understand that just because one business does well in an area does not mean yours will as well.
Mistake #3 Not taking enough time to look for the right location.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
It is great that you have big dreams of opening a small coffee shop and one day branching it out to a larger one, or even multiple locations. On the contrary however if your first location does not fruit you the rewards of customers and money, then creating an empire will be difficult.
Remember, location is vital to the success of a new business. If you open a new shop in the same area there are already two coffee shops, a diner, and three restaurants, you may not have the continued success you would hope for. The grand opening and a few months thereafter may be extremely busy and profitable, but you are looking for sustainability.
Take your time to find the right location. You will want to find a place that needs the service you are offering. A place that you can take full advantage of the customer base, which means you also will want to look into the area. This means the median income level, the age range of the residents, the professions you will be offering your service too. This will help you when deciding, what types of coffee to offer, flavors, techniques to be used, as well as much more.
Mistake #4 Not doing enough research
There is almost a coffee shop on every street corner in America and most of them are used daily. The ones that fail have a lot to do with the lack of research.
Opening a coffee shop is not as easy as it may sound. Just open the door one day and pour a cup of coffee and look you’re a coffee shop right? NO!
To be successful you have to have a niche, you have to have the right inventory and you have to have the right staff. Every successful coffee shop in America has a niche, the perfect place for the location they have selected. Some offer a quiet place to read, with bookshelves full of books and others are full of potential authors or tech geeks. But each of these offers what the cliental will want, use, and need.
So as you can see research is AS important as location.
Mistake #5 Assuming the customer is always right
We have all heard this saying and there are so many times that you would be correct using this statement. There are also many times as a business owner that allowing yourself to depend on this saying and strictly abide by it will cause you more harm than good.
Customers are just people, and as with all people, they make mistakes. Yes, you should take input from your customers when it makes sense however allowing your customers to run your business and business motto for you will bankrupt you faster than you could imagine.
Mistake #6 Not sticking to your motto
Always have a good business motto in place and when you are put in the situation of having a disagreement with a customer. When you are in the wrong, be sure to convey that politely to the customer, apologize and do what you can to make them happy. A happy customer is a customer for life. If you find yourself on the other side of the disagreement, do not let yourself get upset and heated, remember why you started your business and follow you motto. Whether it is “My business will be successful because of the patient and care I will provide everyday” or even “My business will be successful and valuable to each and every customer and employee. I will strive to be fair and honest in every aspect of my business dealings.”
Mistake #7 Not having a good business plan and marketing strategy
It is important to have a business plan as well as a good marketing strategy, without these two key components, you are sure to fail.
Your business plan will lay out the details of what you want out of your business, how to successfully develop it, and how much it will cost you to start and run the business.
Your marketing strategies will help you to develop your cliental, product base, and more. This is important especially in the beginning stages of opening a coffee shop; it is essential and fundamental to reach the community you will be serving.
For a sample business proposal, click here.
Mistake #8 Not making use of social media.
In this day and age using social media to advertise the arrival of your new business is priceless. Seriously PRICELESS! There is no cost to you and you will get your business viewed by thousands of more people than just putting a sign on your front door that announces “Coming Soon”.
Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn whatever platforms you can to provide the information prospective future customers are going to need. Such as, the name of the business, the location of the business, what your business provides “in your case coffee”. Now let them know when the grand opening will be, what specials you will be offering and what different brands, styles, and techniques of coffee you will be offering and using.
This article has included several items to avoid making basic mistakes of new coffee shop owners. The items included are not all comprehensive by any means, however, they are fundamentally important and some are often overlooked.
Moving onto the next step is up to you as an individual business owner.
Research your coffees, find the right location, reach out on social media entertain your social groups on Facebook and Instagram, and such with questionnaires on what types of coffee they like, what type of coffee shop they would like to see in the area. These different types of things used as a marketing tool, will not only give them the idea of a new shop coming to town, it will help you to learn more about what types of coffee are being sought after in the area you are opening,
Develop your business plan and your business motto. Making sure that everything you want to do is feasible before jumping in headfirst.
Find the PERFECT location!
Research other coffee shops in the area; see what types of coffee they are offering, what their niche is, and what types of clients they have. This will also help you to determine what your niche should be and what types of coffee are already easy to sell in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
The simple answer is yes. It is important that you as the business owner create a niche for your business. A quick example of why. You know that bar down the street that you pass by, and cringe, the bikers, the mayhem the nightly bloody knuckles. Do you think when the owner of that bar started that this was his intention? I would suspect not, but by not having created a niche for his business himself, he let the cliental create the niche for him.
There is no right or wrong type, brand, flavor, or technique of coffee. What coffee is the “right” coffee will depend on your clients and what they are looking for.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
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!