Author: Kit Kilroy
Date Posted: 13 December 2019
Opening a cafe can be challenging, and with the age-old claim that 90% of restaurants fail within the first year, you might find yourself stressing if success is not immediate.
Never fear. Forbes reports that these statistics are simply untrue, but we get that operating a cafe can feel like a far cry from easy. It’s anything but.
Luckily, there is some crucial advice you can keep in the back of your mind to ensure the success of your cafe. Keep reading for the best tips on how to make sure your business is successful.
Upon opening, you want to be serving food and coffee to the highest calibre. More importantly, you should aim to meet this standard consistently. If you always provide the best product you can, you’ll naturally start to build up a loyal fanbase. It can be tempting to start with less expensive ingredients (like pastries and coffee beans), but the quality speaks for itself.
As far as cafes are concerned, Australian standards are quite high so making sure you have delicious and creative dishes is more of an expectation than an advantage. Excellent coffee is almost a must, so save yourself a bad review by investing in excellent products from the get-go. Start strong, and keep providing the creme de la creme to soar above competitors.
Though there might not seem to be a direct correlation beyond aesthetic, the layout of your cafe will directly impact the success of the business. For example, if you have your juicing station right behind a small 2-person table, chances are the people sitting there will get tired of hearing it while trying to enjoy their meal. The loud noise might cause them to pay the bill right away, rather than staying to enjoy another cup of coffee.
Back of house layout matters too. If you have a cramped kitchen, chefs will find it more difficult to work, resulting in slower turnaround times. Especially if you’re in a small space, slow turnaround means slower service, which leads to fewer customers throughout the day.
After opening, you will begin to get a sense of the type of people who come into your cafe. While you might be an avid fan of your mum’s famous banana bread recipe, it doesn’t do your cafe any good if all of your customers prefer a savoury brekkie. If you find that most people prefer takeaway, investing a considerable portion of the budget to comfy chairs might not be the best move. See what your customers want and adjust accordingly; after all, you are here to serve them, so as much as you might love your initial vision, being stubborn about making changings might hurt your business in the long run.
While stubbornness might be detrimental to your business, so too will having a mismatched vision. If you have no solid understanding of what your cafe is at its core, there is no chance you will be able to translate that to customers. If you’re trying to have a healthy cafe, maybe you should rethink the chocolate fudge brownie on the menu. Likewise, if you want a more modern feel, perhaps you should reconsider those second-hand dining tables. If you’re genuinely at a loss, it could be worth the worry to hire a consultant to help shape your dream into a realistic reality.
From the beginning, it is essential to have a strong and loyal team. Having a supportive group around you will not only make your life easier, but it will also make the operation stronger as a whole. It can be tempting to hire friends and family automatically or to do it all yourself, but never underestimate what an experienced manager, barista and chef can do for a venue. Even if you have a lot of experience in the industry, bringing new ideas to the table can never hurt.
Running a successful cafe doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes considerable attention to even the finest details to build a business that works well for years to come. While budgets might be low at the beginning, ignoring the essentials will only lead to a bad reputation and quicker downfall. Invest time, energy, and capital from the start into these things — which matter— and you’ll be ensuring your success while running a better cafe in general.
At Chef Works, we are driven by those who are inspired by all things culinary. Fueled by the belief that every culinary professional deserves the right apparel and tools to enhance the work they do. We understand that the recipe for excellence goes far beyond simple ingredients.
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