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There’s nothing more satisfying than having a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning, afternoon, evening or whenever the craving hits you. You may love it so much that you decide to open up a small cafe in your neighborhood. It’s almost guaranteed that you will see a few customers coming in through the cafe doors. Yet you want to have a steady queue of people standing in line as they are eager to try all the different types of coffee flavours available.

Making your coffee shop dream a successful reality

Your cafe has to engage in the right business strategies to set your business apart from the other coffee shops located in town. Yet to reach success, you have to know what your customers want while avoiding the pitfalls that could lead to disaster. Here are some common mistakes that early cafe owners can make.

  • Not knowing their beans: Coffee is more than what is placed in a bag at the grocery store. You should know everything there is to the products that you are selling including where the coffee beans come from, how the roasters create the interesting blends, and the best methods in brewing a favourite cup of coffee. Become an expert that your customers expect you to be so you can satisfy their thirsts.
  • Not communicating with your roasters: You will want to understand everything you can about the roasters you hire, the services they provide and their delivery schedules. By finding out information about your roasters, you can choose the right varieties for your customers as well as learn about discounts that can cut down on your business expenses.
  • Offering too much to your customers: Some cafes go overboard with the type of coffee and food selection they offer. While you want to please the tastes of every person that comes through the doors, you also want to keep things simple so you can have good table turnover times with customers. You don’t want customers so confused over a large menu that they take too long to order.

Once you are able to source the right coffee beans for your cafe, create a menu that is simple and inviting, and establishing your roaster vendors so you can get the coffee varieties you want to sell, you can now focus on making the best cafe that runs efficiently. Take a step back and look at your present operations setup. Then make the modifications that will benefit your cafe. Here are several tips to use in your cafe.

  • Create an efficient workstation layout: Having your one or two employees run from one end of the counter to the other just to make one cup of coffee for a customer is inefficient. Think about the right layout and floor plan so they can reach grinders, bean storage containers, milk dispensers and other equipment quickly so they can please customers. Check out Clover, the new point of sale system from AIBMS. It’s integrated with Big Red Cloud’s accounting software and  is perfectly suited to the small independent coffee shop.
  • Make it more than just the coffee: It’s true that you are selling coffee. Yet you can sell other products at the same time to bring in multiple sales. Pairing coffee with light snacks that are portable can ensure that you are bringing in enough profits to make that first year a success.

A cafe will be as much of a success or failure based on the amount of time, work and resources you place into you. Do the most that you can by developing a relationship with vendors, understanding the coffee you are selling, and creating streamlined operations so you have return customers who will tell their friends about the great coffee shop in the neighborhood.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of specialty coffee shops and as a result there is a dedicated event called the Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival. Over in London there is the London Coffee Festival. If you are really keen on making your coffee shop dream a successful reality then you should attend both these events.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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