Starting a coffee shop can still be a profitable venture. There are plenty of "local" shops opening every day that go on to experience great success. There are plenty that fail, as well. The difference between the two is the successful shops follow the basic game plan we are about to layout.
There are about 31,000 of the aforementioned mega-chain coffee shops around the globe. While yours may not be able to leap to such worldwide success, you need not reinvent the wheel. This guide will walk you through the keys to success shared by every great coffee shop (even the BIG ones) and we'll throw in a little idea that might just draw in customers you might not have reached before.
Location, Location, Location
This is a business tip as old as time and it will forever ring true. The importance of a good spot on the block cannot be overstated. Location is almost more important when it comes to starting a local coffee shop.
Much of the essence of a good coffee spot is its local, friendly vibe. Your typical customer is either popping in to grab something and go or intending to hang out with friends, a good book, or a colleague. Finding a location convenient for a diverse group of people is ideal but there are other factors to consider.
Rent makes up a good portion of brick and mortar business budgets. A mall might seem most sensical, given its high traffic and per-person spending. However, the rent is usually exorbitant, and traffic can be driven by the calendar (holidays and such). A storefront in a solid neighborhood popular with millennials, for example, will feature less expensive rents than a mall and provide a more consistent customer base.
Parking should also play a role in your search for a good location. Remember, many of your future customers will hope to run in and out. If you are inaccessible, people will pass right by.
Serve Good Coffee
Duh! If people want standard coffee, they will visit the green mermaid or one of her corporate friends. Local shops need to offer something unique and…good. A local coffee shop is seen as a haven where we can hide for hours on end sipping until the troubles pass us by. Great coffee and teas are key to keeping people interested.
Speaking of keeping people, consistency is important. No one wants to have to guess whether the "good" barista will be working today. Your customers should be able to expect a great latte or americano every time they visit.
Serve Good Service
Service with a smile is hard to come by. Companies like Nordstrom and Chick-fil-A have been able to hang their hat on high-quality staff providing the service that makes people want to come back. While it may not be a necessity to insist your staff reply to every request with, "My pleasure," it will behoove you to encourage a going out of the way to please mentality.
With that said, who provides better service – a human with a smile or a robot with no flaws? Why, you ask? Because introducing a robot barista might be a way to accomplish several goals. First, customers love when the order is always right. Second, people love something unique. I can assure you that outfitting your coffee shop with a robot barista will be considered cutting-edge.
There is currently plenty of back-and-forth discussion over the perception of robots in society. Creating a blend of man, woman, and machine might solve this issue. Having a robot barista making your cappuccinos and americanos while a trained barista makes your more complicated beverages might be a good mix of novelty and comfort.
Offer Some Variety
While a robot barista might draw customers in a few times, they are unlikely to return if that is all you have to offer. We discussed the importance of high-quality, consistent products earlier. An addition to that thought is offering variety. Seasonal goods, varying food items, and regular specials can keep customers interested in your "next big thing."
Be Present and Confident
Successful businesses are built on confidence and quality. Plenty of people try to start something they simply are not good at or have no idea how to run. Focus on the aspects of a good coffee shop above – location, quality, and (unique) good service to ensure a strong base for a successful business.