Coffee shop business planning – don’t be a mug

Coffee with milk pour shotOur customers in Wales usually ask us plenty of questions when we visit, many of them concerning tips to help their business.  We’re proud to have supported a number of businesspeople in building and growing their first coffee shops and cafés, and always happy to share any knowledge what we can.

That extends to this blog, as well as in person.

In the latest of our posts focusing on the business of coffee shops, we look at three key elements of ensuring your venture is heading along the right path.

1 – Mission

What’s the grand plan?  Having a vision of where you want to be eventually, or even where you want to be in three to five years, will be helpful. Even having a highly ambitious goal can focus the mind.

Of course it’s impossible to know exactly where you’ll end up.  Business is unpredictable, like life, and there’s no telling what’s around the corner.  But having a sense of where you want to go and what you want to build within a certain timeframe can be extremely helpful.

– Do you want to open more outlets, or will you be happy with the one?
– How much profit do you want to be making?
– How many seats do you want to have in your premises?
– How many people do you want to employ?
– What is important for you?

With certain objectives in mind, you need to structure the project with small and achievable goals for every stage.  You can’t know about every detail and every challenge, but having a greater oversight of where you want to get to will help you see the bigger picture.

Providing you’re enjoying the journey, remember to take a moment out and reflect on what you’ve learned along the way, and how far you’ve travelled already. It goes quickly, so remember to credit yourself on what you’ve done and process any lessons.


2 – Planning

The mission is your overarching goal, whereas planning contains short to medium term tactics required to move forward.

 Yearly goals –  Set out several big project goals you want to achieve for the year. This could involve building an extension, getting a new fleet of machines, having x number of steady staff, moving to new premises.

• Quarterly goals – This requires you taking each individual Yearly project and breaking it down into smaller actions.  With those in place, work out how long each will take and lace them into your diary across the relevant period.  Then you have a handy reminder of what you need to be working on over the next week.

• Weekly plan – the above will help to inform a weekly plan, best conducted on a Sunday evening. It needn’t swallow much of the evening at all, just take a quick look and make any necessary changes according to unforeseen work or activity.

 Daily plan – If you can, remember to review your calendar and list of actions every morning before work.  Review and amend that list, prioritising what is most urgent before getting started.

Planning gives you considerably better control over your workload, helping to avoid distractions and keeping you focused on the bigger goals.

3 – Systems

Solid businesses are run by systems, and staff operate those systems.  Consider yours.

Any element of randomness or inconsistency should be removed to create an agreed method of completing every single task. Within reason, process consistency through repetition achieves the best customer experience. It has also proved the most reliably profitable model.

Your coffee shop, restaurant or café will already have systems in place, but for a stronger and more comprehensive level of automation, systems need to be detailed for every single task.

It should be possible to break these tasks down by times or areas of operation: opening and closing, health and safety, kitchen, front of house, bar / coffee, service, finance reporting.  If you can, make it electronic and visual, incorporating photos or videos so any new staff can quickly understand what to do and how to do it.

This shouldn’t detract from the individuality of each customer interaction, because staff can still bring their personality to each transaction.

You might also be interested in our earlier post about customer loyalty.