Starting a café is being considered a lucrative business right now as it provides a great option for consumers who like to eat out frequently and socialize as well and along with water and oil, coffee is one of the most often sold commodities of the world.
When a café is being opened the first thing that an entrepreneur needs to avoid is listening to consultants or experts who have very little or no experience in the industry.
It is advisable that they seek assistance only from professionals who have a proper track record of having started cafes. People who are passionate and honest about their business policies will be able to tell the entrepreneurs whether they have can be successful with their business or not.
How to start a café: importance of experience
It is important that the owners of a café have a minimum of 2-3 years’ experience in the business. It is important to have detailed knowledge of operations and functioning in various positions can help an entrepreneur significantly in this regard.
How to start a café: choosing a proper location
The basic requirement in choosing a good enough location for the café is discussing with the regional planning board about the quality of plans available and determining if in any way they can affect the business in a negative way. The café should be situated in an area that enjoys lot of traffic and has plenty of parking spaces. It should also be in the vicinity of the major offices in the area.
How to start a café: determining the viability of lease agreements
The main factor in coming to a decision about the terms of lease is the price. The agreement could also impose restrictions on expanding the business operations. It is better to talk with an attorney regarding these issues.
How to start a café: permits necessary
The entrepreneurs need to remember that several permits are necessary while opening a café:
- Construction permit
- Fire permit
- Health permit
- Sanitation permit
- Electrical permit
- Waste permit
- Plumbing permit
- Wine and beer license
How to start a café: financial requirements
The owners can use their own money to get the business started or ask family members or friends to become investors. They can also approach banks for loans for such purposes.
How to start a café: buying the equipment
The entrepreneurs need to start operations with basic equipment such as stoves, freezers, and refrigerators and these should ideally be new. Older equipment needs to be avoided as they run the risk of failing at any point in time.
This can also increase losses in revenue and food and dissatisfaction of customers. However, second-hand prep areas and sinks can be bought at the initial stages of the business. If used chairs and tables are in proper condition they can be used too.
How to start a café: deciding on the appropriate layout and size
To start with, the café should be opened on a small space and it can be expanded upon if the enterprise is successful. If the café starts with a large area to start with and the tables are not filled regularly then it becomes hard to maintain the entire structure.
It is also necessary to make sure that the tables are flexible enough to be rearranged for larger groups. Ideally the tables should be big enough to accommodate 4-6 people.
How to start a café: keeping track of dietary restrictions and changing the menu
Ideally the owners should be flexible enough to ask the customers if they want low fat or low sodium dishes or if they will prefer grilled food instead of fried. It is also better to have special dishes that are liked by children such as peanut butter and jelly, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
They should also be able to change the menu on a regular basis. For example, a café specializing in vegetarian and fish based dishes can later on include meat based dishes such as pastrami and burgers. They can also choose other exotic cuisines such as Middle Eastern dishes in order to expand their customer base.
How to start a café: recruitment process
It is better to hire waiters and cooks who have some previous experience in the industry so that they can be trained in the shortest time possible. This also enables the owners to determine if a particular recruit will suit the requirement or not. They also need to create a proper system and make sure that the workers adhere to it.
How to start a café: the major challenges
The major issues facing the successful operation of a café are varying prices of food, wastage, and changes in personnel. The owners need to keep changing their menu and minimize wastage to the least possible level.
Ideally, food expenses should be less than a fourth of the overhead expenses and labor expenses should be less than 30 percent. The owners should always have complete control over the various operations in their cafe.
How to start a café: managing a sales system
Cafe owners should have a credit card terminal and be able to accept Visa and Mastercard as nowadays customers are using these more often than not. If they do not have one, they will have to refuse such customers. They should also have proper steps for dealing with such customers like setting a minimum charge for using them.
Mechanical cash registers are also helpful when it comes to tracking the sales and cash statistics. It is better to have a point of sales software system for analyzing the sales and profitability of a café. It can also indicate the salability of different items so that the owners can remove ones that are not doing well and include new ones in their place.
How to start a café: maintenance and cleaning
The owners need to make sure that the restaurants should be cleaned on a regular basis. The cleaning can be scheduled on hourly, weekly or daily intervals depending on the equipment or area in question.
The seating area needs to be cleaned regularly so that the customers find visiting the café a good experience. The equipment should also be cleaned on a regular basis so as to avoid health and hygiene related problems. The owners should determine whether they will be cleaned during or after working hours.
How to start a café: customer services and recovery systems
Every café should have a regular way of greeting its customers. It is important that the staff be trained in these matters so that no two customers are greeted differently. Such training also helps workers who are not naturally skilled in these areas of business.
The common mistakes that have to be avoided while operating a cafe:
- Mixing up orders
- Spilling food or drinks
- Serving sub standard dishes
However, if these situations are properly handled then the customers will leave satisfied. The staff members also need to be trained in this regard. Some steps that can be taken in this regard are:
- Providing them an extra item for free
- Giving the miffed customers high priority
- Giving money back on orders to dissatisfied customers
Last Updated on 04 April 2012