Posted: Tue 22nd Aug 2017
Thinking about opening a café? Jazz Gakhal from Direct Line for Business talks you through the cafe opening process.
Opening a café is an exciting way to fulfil one's dreams of serving quality food and beverages in a local community or elsewhere. If you're a 'people person' and passionate about coffee, potentially starting a café may be ideal for you. There is however a few checks you need to do before opening a cafe.
Have a plan
Create a business plan outlining your spend and potential return on investment so you're always on top of your cash flow. A business plan will also inform you if you require a business loan. You can find plenty of examples of business plan templates online.
If you don't have any experience running a cafe it's important to spend time in a similar environment to get some experience and knowledge before setting up your own café.
It's also worth checking out the latest café trends online or even in person. Browsing ideas online and visiting great cafés may mean you could spot a trend that could give your new business a greater chance for success.
However, knowing your community and what café is likely to work is a vital. Potentially a trendy or novelty café may be not suitable for a location where older clientele is a core part of the community.
You should get every detail about what makes your shop special sorted before opening. It helps to go to trade shows where you can go to get ideas and meet coffee beans suppliers as well as find out the prices of quality products.
Location, location, location…
Your café's location is one of the most important factors in deciding its success. Therefore, thorough research of the location and prices as well as rental price is a must.
Busy areas with lots of foot traffic passing through may be an ideal spot for a café setup. Looking at the locations of the biggest coffee chains can give you an idea where in the city is particularly desirable for opening a café.
For a small café covering from 10 to 50 customers, you would need at least between 500 and 1000sq ft. The space should include room for a kitchen, storage, and a retail section.
Before committing to a space, always check if the shop layout would meet your café arrangements and if the place can be commercially rented and insured.
If your café is going to be serving food you need to comply with the regulations from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is the government appointed body responsible for all food safety standards. The FSA website will help you understand the food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations you need to follow as a catering business.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website will keep you up to date with health and safety law for your catering business. It's your responsibility to ensure health and safety is in place in your café for both your employees and customers, so that there's as little risk to people coming in and out as possible.
Hiring staff and insuring your business
Your business is only as good as your staff. There are no necessary qualifications your café employees must get before working for you, but getting as experienced and efficient employees with great social skills as possible will help your business succeed.
Before you start your cafe, you need to ensure you get suitable small business insurance, business insurance for public liability, stock, contents and employers' liability insurance amongst a number of other covers that you may require for your business.
Marketing and loyalty
At the beginning you should make sure you promote your business online and offline.
Get your business on Google Maps. Listing the business on Google will make it visible to customers who aren't regulars in your area.
Promote your café shop offline as well, such as handing out fliers at the opening day, organising reoccurring food deals and coffee loyalty offers. Delivering top quality service should help inspire loyalty and encourage customers to come back again.
Starting a café can be challenging and will require lots of work beforehand. However, with the thorough planning and preparation, your cafe will have the best chance of success.
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