5 Golden Rules for Opening A Cafe Business

Author: Bliss Coffee Roasters  Date Posted:15 December 2020 

The café game is hard. It's a business with as many hard luck stories as culinary pioneers – but there are things you can do to improve your odds


Opening a café is something people dream about when they’re stuck in their cubicle at work, but often the reality of running a café doesn’t match the dreams they had.

Running any business is tough. Running a hospitality business means managing staff, and customer expectations, but also food wastage, multiple suppliers and high rents in shopping centres, high streets and ‘destinations’ (those with stunning views and enviable locations).

Here are our 5 rules to follow:

  1. Plan, analyse, assess  

This is an industry filled with ‘people-people’ and talented creatives that are great at creating something and being bubbly and fun with customers, but sometimes not so great at the spreadsheets and number crunching that comes with business.

Put together a spreadsheet with all your costs, run ‘mock-pay runs’ to see what it would cost to staff your potential venue, include GST expense, superannuation, advertising costs, the phone and internet bill and so on.

Detailed and through planning at the beginning will likely save you a lot of stress down the road.

Of course, having a great accountant, bookkeeper and business advisor will help you steer clear of common pitfalls, and these come at a cost too, but they are well worth it.

  1. Stand Out

Just doing great coffee isn’t good enough anymore. Not in Australia anyway. Australians expect a café to have great coffee as a minimum.

The café industry is competitive and crowded, so you’ll need to know exactly how you’re going to stand out where others don’t, won’t or can’t.

You’ve got to have something different, and better than the rest. Maybe it’s your location, décor, theme, or your menu.

  1. Efficient Menu

A good cook or chef will be able to take 10 ingredients and make 20 delicious dishes. The more complicated you make the menu, the more stock you need to keep and the more likely food items will spoil and be thrown out.

Menus that are too long, overwhelm customers. Try to stick to no more than 8-10 dishes for breakfast, and another 8-10 for lunch or dinner. This way you’ve got variety and options, without being overwhelming or needing to carry too much stock.
You can always run additional specials for dishes you want to trial or customers have been asking for.

  1. Know your numbers

How much does each dish cost you? How much does it cost to staff your venue for a day? Can you source cups or sugar packets at a lower price? How many items do you need to sell each day to cover all your costs and leave you some profit? How many staff do you need in quiet times to maintain service levels?

These are all important questions that every hospitality business owner or manager needs to know.

  1. Diversify

We all expect a little more from our local coffee shop now. And whilst the percentage margin on coffee may be good, it’s a $5 product and you’ll need to sell a lot to keep the lights on and draw an income yourself.

In-store made sauces and relishes, free range eggs, bags of coffee for home, catering, keep-cups, collapsible and reusable straws cooking classes, barista courses and more. The local coffee shop has become so much more than just coffee, embrace it with expending your retail offering or think outside the box to bring more services into the business. Doing this well, will also help you with point 3 – standing out!

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