How to Set Up a Coffee Shop

How to Set Up a Coffee Shop

James Martin-Harper |

When creating a coffee business, there are a variety of factors that have to be considered before implement or execute any ideas. Granted, this strategy or approach to business is evident in nearly all industries, not just coffee, due to the competitiveness of the industry itself it becomes more evident. Whether you are a current coffee business owner, or someone’s who’s interested in starting one, the below will be something you will want to read. Our leading industry experts, here at Scayl HQ, have compiled a 9-step instruction manual on how to create and establish your own coffee business.

Section 1: What should my idea behind the company be?

When it comes to establishing an original idea that will be the backbone of your business, it doesn’t have to be overly specific, even if your whole company concept is niche. This original idea isn’t only used to establish your company’s USP (Unique Selling Point), but your Value Proposition and arguably more. Taking this into consideration, some business has been successful for their idea being broad than what you might expect you needed. Businesses like “Starbucks” potentially lack the requirement of an “Original Idea” but reinforce their corporate dominance through a strong ideology and atmospheric feel, their chic urban style wins them many favours leading it to be more of the world’s biggest coffee companies. Granted, “Starbucks” is a perfect example of cohesion and global homogenization towards Americanisation, it’s an excellent example.

No matter what your “Original Idea” is, Matthew Algie states establishing a key USP is vital for any business’s survival. Perhaps the hardest part of the entire process, which though competitor and market analysis can relieve, Diana Stephania Patino in Perfectly Daily Grind says that this is the “core of your business”, and therefore once established, you’ll be flying.

It doesn’t matter if your USP is as simple as pulling top-notch espresso or backing great cakes. You need to establish it and put it at the heart of your business.

Section 2: How should I execute my design?

This section explains the importance of iconology, but more importantly, the incarnation of your Value Proposition and/or USP outlined in Section 1. The visual design of your coffee shop, or selling platform, must be tied with the broader concept driving the business. If “Starbucks” said they were city coffee, but their shop was designed as though it was a pub in the lake district, then their company may not have taken off. You must provide harmonisation between your “Original Idea” and your “Design Execution”. Where it’s important for physical stores, it’s also important for a digital store, if not more. When being an online coffee retailer, you must have your ducks in line, everything must function as one visual to a physical organ. Having a website designed as though it was for a garden centre is not going to sell you coffee, ensure that the website represents your core value as a company. For example, if your core value or USP is Charity, ensure you detail heavily how and what you do to demonstrate this. In an increasingly crowded marketplace, potential punters are likely to set a lot by first impressions. It’s something that can help you differentiate yourself, as UHS Group says in their blog:
"When choosing a coffee shop, most high streets present a number of options ranging from well-known chains to quirky independents. Because of this, there’s little room for dull furniture and lackluster design in such a competitive market – with 70 million cups of coffee consumed in the UK every day, it’s never been more important for your café to offer something different (perhaps an avocado latte – don’t do this!) and most definitely, show off a stylish interior."

Section 3: Does where I put my coffee shop matter?

A lot of people, when starting a business, will skip over this section but it remains to possess high levels of potency regarding the success of one’s business. Where you’re located determines which type of customer and clientele you allow yourself access to, for example, establishing a coffee shop in central London will not allow you access to “country-side folk”. An important thing to consider. Exploring areas that maintain traffic, via multiple forms of transport can be significantly beneficial and may lead to specific store adaptions to cater for this. A prime example of this is the “Starbucks” at the Metro-centre near Newcastle. Positioned not only just on the outskirts of one of the biggest cities in the UK, but it’s also the “go-to” shopping centre in the North East. This is done strategically as it allows them access to an extremely wide range of people, ranging from students to families to elderly people. In a further development, it’s nicely tucked away to provide a sense of peaceful tranquillity for those entering the store as it’s not near any “heavy” traffic routes, whilst being situated opposing “Krispy Kreme’s”.

Sometimes renovating and/or building your physical store can become financial stress, in light of this, you can explore buying stores that were previous café’s. Doing this will not only likely save you money but can remove the stress of determining a geographical location for your store as someone’s potentially already done it for you.

If we access location concerning a digital store, it’s all about strategic platform positioning. Take into consideration the ambience you wish to provide, and the ambience that platforms possess. For example, if you believe your coffee maintains a female-biased ambience, you will find more successful marketing and advertising on Instagram as that coincides with your desired ambience. To further develop this, in addition to selling on your website, you can convert your businesses Instagram account into a “Shopping Account” meaning you can fully utilise the benefits of the platform.

Section 4: What legal things should I be aware of?

Like everything in life, you must always ensure that you have legal coverage, and more importantly, legal accountability. Especially when having or starting a business you must ensure that you have everything covered, considered and above board. This section can take the longest whilst being the most draining, both mentally and financially, it’s a lot of work. You need to find the best legal structure for your business. You need to make sure that your location Is properly licenses, you need to find commercial insurance that covers your property, your staff, and your customers. You also need to make your health and safety paperwork is all present and correct.

One of the first things to do is to make sure you’re registered properly with HMRC and Companies House. Registering a limited company is probably the best way to go for a business like a café or coffee shop, as it lends your credibility when you come to sing leases and deal with banks.

This is not an accumulative list of all the legal requirements to establish your own business, you must do your research into all the specific requirements unique to you.

Section 5: How do I weigh up the benefit of purchasing machines?

Behind every great coffee company, there’s a great person with a great machine. This doesn’t mean that you should break the bank on some futuristic machine that, realistically, your product demand won’t compensate for. When viewing what types of machine, you need, you must always view it from a business perspective, more importantly, a machine that fits with your business. Look and assess the benefit and drawback of everything before progressing forward, what’s your ROI? Is it a solid financial investment? But similarly, don’t undercompensate and purchase equipment that cannot deal with your demand which will peak due to seasonal changes.

Section 6: What type of coffee beans should I roast?

The main ingredient, as obvious as it may be, is coffee beans. Making sure that you find the right supplier for your business is crucial! The connections that you make with your suppliers are among the most important that you’ll make. You need to be able to rely on your suppliers, and yours should be accustomed to going the extra mile to aid you and your business. Implementing a secure trading agreement is vital, buying the highest quality product for the cheapest price makes you more profile in the long run. Explore options of service exchange rather than one that’s materialistic. To see a breakdown of the 3 core ways you process coffee as well as how each affects flavour, click here.

Section 7: How do I market coffee uniquely?

Establishing a coffee business is one thing but increasing your purchase frequency or “getting people through the door”, is something completely different. This section requires the most devotion for the longest period. A business without marketing is like winking in the dark, you know you're doing it but no one else does.

"The visual side of marketing your coffee shop can’t be overlooked. People make assessments about businesses using their primary senses, and the vibe a coffee shop gives off is very important to customers, even at a subconscious level.” "
Creating a really great customer experience is key to everything because they are by far our best marketing tool,” said James Yoder, of Not Just Coffee.
“Everyone wants to be the one to tell their friends about a great spot they go to and we have so many customers who were referred by friends.”
"For most restaurants, local is the name of the game. Most folks are looking for good eats close to home, and you’ll get the most value out of your online marketing efforts by investing primarily in geo-targeted ads. Geo-targeting ads help you save money, ensuring that only users in certain cities or within a specific radius see your ads (eliminating non-relevant clicks, which can cost you big ad bucks). Many online advertising services, from Google AdWords to Facebook and Twitter, offer geo-targeting ad options (at no extra cost). Be sure to take advantage of these handy targeting features to get your best ads in front of your best customers."

Section 8: What makes for the best customer service?

Whether you are establishing a physical coffee shop or an online retailer, customer service is the first point of contact. Not only do they interact with your customers, but they also represent the company, and more importantly, should have a personal interest in the product and your USP. When it comes to creating a successful team that works effectively and synchronous is vital. Never forget, that a customer is a person and can pick up on any issues that may reside between team members behind the phone.

When assessing how to successfully create your team, we’d recommend familiarizing yourself with “Belbin’s Team Roles”, as well as the various types of leadership. A team is only as strong as its weakest member. Another imperatively important factor when looking for team members is experience within the field. If you're unable to find someone to fit a position, then create someone who will. Explore apprenticeship opportunities as you’ll often find if someone is willing to sacrifice to a lower income, and spend a long duration learning, they're very likely a member you want in your team. Mould them into who you need them to be, not who you want them to be.