Are you thinking about purchasing a coffee shop but are unsure of what to expect?
We asked some of the most successful cafe owners in the UK what to expect/what advice they would give to someone who was just about to embark on their ownership journey. Read on the find out what they had to say.
First off – it’s a lot of work. Do you plan to employ anyone from the get go? If not, you might easily be working 6 days a week with 14 hour days. Secondly, are you passionate about great coffee and understand how to make it?
If you’re just looking for a business to jump into without really caring about the coffee you’re making or don’t have the knowledge, chances are it’s not going to end well. If you’re passionate and knowledgeable then you’ve always got a great chance of being successful.
Everything starts with the coffee but don’t be shy to look for other areas to profit from. I’ve got a cafe and rent a back room out for meetings etc which generates more sales. We’ve also bought a roaster and have a roaring side trade of roasting and selling different coffees.
Be prepared for it to take over your life and ere on the side of caution where past takings are concerned. In the town where I live (population 40,000) I have seen a dozen coffee shops close in five years, but I have also seen a few independent family cafes thrive. We ran our family coffee bar/cafe for over thirty years – it can work if you put the hours in, best wishes and good luck. P.S. beware of all kinds of salespeople who will target you once they see a new owner! Just show them the door!
We roast coffee down in Swanage, Dorset. Lots of cafes. Lots of rubbish coffee! Make sure you serve quality, locally roasted coffee, involve the community, be environmentally aware and use social media to build a following!
We run a cafe and have recently gone into making sandwiches and cakes etc – that is what takes up even more time and makes it harder work. More income, but early mornings and lots of supplies needed so learn to walk before you can run. Get the coffee nailed down first and then expand your offerings afterwards unless you can find a cheap supplier of fresh food right away.
I have owned a coffee shop for over 20 years. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life. My husband is a builder by trade and says he finds it harder working in the shop. The upside is I enjoy working everyday so if you’re passionate about coffee and have the initial funding, why not?
Before retiring, we had a small cafe that was turning over around £80k – at that level it’s more of a lifestyle business than anything else but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun way of life. It’s a very rewarding business, especially if you love coffee!
I’ve ran coffee shops for years – I currently run 4 stores alongside managing wholesale too. If I were just starting a coffee shop, I’d look at the potential turnover and see if it’s achievable for the business to grow in the location you plan to buy in.
For example, are there lots of competitors already based there? Can you offer a USP for them to choose you instead of your competitors? If there aren’t many coffee shops around, ask why? Lots of research is needed in my opinion but if you get it right, it might be the best thing you ever do.
If you’re looking to make lots of money – be prepared for the work. For the sort of money where you’re going to be living comfortably, two people can’t do it alone! It will take over your time, I love it it’s fun but it’s hard work! I bake everything myself, the shopping is a drag though…you will never work so hard but if you enjoy it you will make a good living.
Our coffee shop stocks a variety of beans that are ground and used in front of the customer. We also have big signs on the wall discussing flavour, provenance etc. For us, and hopefully our customers it really adds to the coffee experience. One other thing – maybe sound proof the grinders!
I own a coffee company as well as a roastery and let me tell you – retail is completely different. Be prepared for it to consume your entire life. Including weekends and such like. The MOST important thing is good coffee. The rest is just toppings on the cake.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this advice it’s too be prepared for the hard work! Owning a coffee shop is hard work and time consuming. Bear in mind that if you’re the owner, chances are you’re going to be in charge of everything at the very start. If that doesn’t phase you and you have a genuine passion for making great coffee then the pros might just outweigh the cons (the money will probably help!)
Many thanks to our contributors for their insightful and helpful advice!