When it comes to opening your own coffee shop, many of the decisions, including when to be open, can land solely on you. So how can you decide when your coffee shop will be open, and is it wise or not to open your coffee shop on holidays?
There are pros and cons to opening your coffee shop on holidays. While you can increase profits, pay overtime, serve your community, and stay consistent, if you close, your employees will feel appreciated, your customers will appreciate your focus on your staff, and you don’t have to pay overtime or create a schedule. Opening your coffee shop on holidays should depend on whether you can get the staff and make a profit during those hours.
Because there are pros and cons to opening your coffee shop on holidays, it’s important to consider each one thoroughly before making a decision. Read on to find out more about each advantage and disadvantage, what other challenges you may face, and how to decide whether to stay open or close for the holiday.
Benefits to Being Open on Holidays
There are definitive benefits to being open on the holidays, especially for your bottom line.
- Tips are much higher.
If your coffee shop is going to stay open during the holidays, you’ll find that tips coming in will be much higher than typical days. There are many reasons for this, but most of them come down to compassion. Whether your customers are tipping your employees for being there during their own holiday or feeling the holiday spirit, you can expect higher tips if you’re open during the holidays.
- Your employees can make overtime pay.
If you decide to stay open, your employees are going to expect the proper pay—and that could be time-and-a-half pay. If you’re willing to pay this overtime and have the profits projected to cover it and then some, you could be making additional profit for your business while still giving your employees the compensation they deserve for working a holiday.
- You can serve your community during a busy day.
Staying open means you are one of the few businesses that your customers can go to during the holidays. While many businesses do end up closing, you could be bringing in the benefits of being the only one open—which can mean serious profits. But it’s not just about the profit, either—you can be a meeting place for people, an easy place to find, or a break during a family-laden, stressful day for anyone stopping by.
- Customers love consistency.
Closing your business or reducing your hours for the holidays may seem like a good idea, but it can also cause confusion amid your customers. If you don’t have your normal hours, they may be trying to use your business when you’re not open, which is exactly that—missed business and missed profit.
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Benefits to Being Closed on Holidays
Just like being open, there are good reasons for you to stay closed during the holidays.
- Show your staff some appreciation.
Especially those with family, your staff does not want to have to work a holiday when they could be at home enjoying the off time. Closing for the holidays doesn’t just give them some time off, either—it shows them that you’re focused on their wellbeing and their happiness, as well.
- Show your customers you care about your staff.
Just like showing the appreciation to your staff, closing may actually have a better influence on your customers than you think. By announcing your hours and that you’re closing for a holiday, many customers will appreciate your focus on your staff and their families and will continue to appreciate your business not just for your products, but for your moral code.
- You don’t have to worry about paying overtime.
For holiday hours, you can expect to offer overtime or holiday pay to your employees. This could be any set number you have in your business plan, but for many, this is time-and-a-half pay. If you don’t have the money in your budget to cover for the holidays and don’t expect your profits to be high enough to cover the cost it would take to keep your business open, it’s much better to just close.
- You don’t have to stress about creating a schedule.
One of the hardest things for a coffee shop to do is to create that dreaded holiday schedule. If you’re closed or reducing your hours during that time, it causes less hassle and less stress on both you and your employees.
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Whether you’re opening or closing for your holiday season, note that there are some inherent challenges. Holidays mean that your employees are going to request for time off, regardless of whether you’re open or not. You will have to manage those hours, along with vacation time, possibly reduced schedules, and working with less employees at any given time.
You should also not assign anyone to work on the holiday, making it volunteer only. This can cause its own challenges, but it’s also one of the best ways to keep your employees happy while intending to stay open. You are not penalizing anyone for not wanting to work the holidays, but you’re also allowing your employees to take an extra shift if they want to. Make sure you plan this schedule in advance to keep things less stressful.
You also need to make sure your customers know about your hours. If you’re reducing your hours during a longer time frame, post that information on your website, social media, and at the shop itself. Set these hours ahead of time so you have enough time to market them and to help avoid confusion when the actual holidays arrive. You don’t need people calling your coffee shop during your busiest hours trying to find out if you’re actually open.
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How do I decide?
What it comes down to are two things: your employees and your profit. When you’re deciding on whether you should stay open on a holiday, first consider how many employees you would need to work to stay open and calculate the overtime pay required for those employees.
Next, project your profit. If you believe your profits will not only exceed a normal day of profits but will also cover the overtime for your employees, it may be wise to stay open for that day. If you don’t think the profits will cover, it’s not worth staying open.
When it comes to your employees, you should also consider whether they would want to work on a holiday. If you find that none of your employees are interested, you should not stay open—forcing them to work just depletes morale.
Consider your location as well. Are people asking whether you’re open on a holiday? If people in your area—your primary customer base—are all interested in visiting during a holiday, you can determine whether it’s a viable plan to stay open. If your customers expect you to be closed, they’re not going to visit—which means you’ll end up with a fully staffed coffee shop with no customers and no profit.
If you decide to stay open, consider adding incentives not just for your employees, but for the customers. Hold an employee party to show your appreciation. Consider working with the community to help serve the homeless or those in need. Getting involved not only helps show your customers that you’re focused on the community, but it gives you and your employees a better reason for opening your coffee shop that doesn’t completely revolve around the profit.
While it is ultimately your decision on whether you open or close your coffee shop for the holiday, remember that it comes down to your employees. If they’re ready and willing to work that day, it’s worth consideration. If none of them want to or simply can’t work that day, save your money, time, and effort by simply closing your doors for that holiday.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Overall, coffee shops experience the heaviest foot traffic on Fridays, while Sundays are when people are spending the most per ticket. During the day, you can expect the rush hours to land around the morning, lunch, and dinner times.
One of the best ways to increase your output at your coffee shop is optimizing your workflow. Your behind-the-counter set up may not be well placed and can cause your baristas to work slower. Consider how much time it takes to make a coffee and create a set up that makes it easiest for them to do so. You should also consider how long it takes for them to clean up after each cup and whether the equipment is working properly. Invest in good products, and you can speed up all of your baristas.
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!