Opening your own coffee shop is one of those dream jobs so many of us have had. I was torn between a coffee shop with mostly outside seating, a drive though little spot, or a larger location with laundry and lots of Internet access for hanging out.
The outside spot was limited in that I was in Oregon at the time. The Drive through was being done on every street corner… almost all with B-A-D coffee. The larger spot seemed perfect. So, I set out to find the little corner I could call mine… and my wife’s… and a close friend so we could have a few hours off a week.
My belief was that it just can’t be that hard. I owned several different businesses in the customer service arena so this should be a matter of tuning my current business model. After meeting with the coffee suppliers (not an approachable group since there are so many fly-by-night spots around), landlords and equipment manufactures, red flags were flying. There seemed to be more to this than being really nice, making a great cup of coffee (hopefully, over and over again) and supplying s soft seat to sit in. There was variables that played in such as water and electricity whose usage changed dramatically depending on what you were serving as well the price of product seemed to move around monthly.
In the end, I helped several friends get their locations going… one of the three made it through the first year. Not because they had a great cup of coffee, because they were conveniently located for quick access on the ‘going to work’ side of the road.
At the time there wasn’t any ‘good’ books on the subject of hitting it big in service coffee. Recently I was asked to pen a book on the hoops we had to jump to get the locations we did open, open. And the ongoing fun. Fun can be the happy customers and great word of mouth followings. Also, ‘fun’ can be sarcastic like issues of quality if your equipment isn’t kept in tune to the barometric changes of the day.
After working through several early drafts, I came across Debbie and Skip’s eBook on the same subject. They say it best with “In our book, Espresso Business Mistakes, we hand over to you, in writing, 49 significant mistakes we made in our coffee shop & espresso café business.” They provide examples of lessons learned so you wont get into the traps they did. Included is a bunch of additional items on putting a menu together, handling employees, cleaning schedules, secrets of coffee beans, marketing, and what the profitable products are.
Till I get done with writing my expieriances, theirs will do very well to keep future Coffee Shop Owners in the right frame of mind. Learn and practice what you read, it might just keep you afloat through the first year on the road to a long term fun place to be at.