Running a cafe can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time. The hours are long and you’ll be working around the clock.
Although it is a tough business it can also be super rewarding.
You’ll get to meet a variety of customers and have an opportunity to make a genuine impact on their day by giving them a positive experience.
In this guide, we will be discussing how to run a successful cafe business as well as sharing some insights on how you can stand out from your competition.
We’re a wholesale tea supplier so we have worked with many cafes that are stockists of our products.
Our experience within this industry has allowed us to put this comprehensive overview together which talks about running a cafe.
Those who want to open a cafe or learn how to start a cafe will also find great value in this guide.
How to Run a Cafe
Running a cafe can be a rewarding but challenging experience. Here are some tips to help you set up and run a successful cafe business:
Cafes are places where people not only love to come and enjoy a hot cup of freshly brewed loose leaf tea or coffee but also somewhere to get some great tasting food.
You’ll need to decide what type of food you’re going to serve and how varied the menu will be.
Where you source your ingredients is vitally important as quality ingredients can make a difference in terms of taste and presentation.
Some cafes will also offer food that is suited to people with dietary requirements. Meaning they will have vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
There is no right or wrong way when it comes to developing a menu but there should be some thought about your customer type.
That way you can base the menu as close to their tastes as possible.
Suppliers and Equipment
Running a successful cafe will require good relationships with quality suppliers. These suppliers will give you all of the goods and services required to run your business including:
- Loose-leaf tea.
- Kitchen appliances.
- Coffee machine.
- Cooking utensils.
- Food ingredients.
This is just a sample of what your suppliers will be able to supply you with. If you have capital to spend then you can go for higher tier suppliers.
This makes a huge difference, especially when it comes to food.
The better your relationship is with suppliers the higher chance of getting a better deal for your cafe.
Suppliers want consistent relationships with their clients so that they can secure long-term business deals.
If you can show your consistency and effort with them, this can stand you in good stead when it comes to renegotiating terms and conditions.
We have supplied many cafes with our premium loose-leaf tea products and we can not only supply you with a quality product but also give you help and advice about being a stockist for our products.
We help businesses understand all aspects of tea, from selling it, right through to storing tea for your business correctly.
Your staff are the heart and soul of your business. In a cafe having the right staff is what separates average cafes from exceptional ones.
Yes, you’ll still need to have quality food and drink options as well as price points that hit your target audience.
But if your staff are underperforming and leaving a bad impression on your customers then the rest won’t matter.
Your front-of-house staff will be the face of your cafe. They should be warm and welcoming and be very attentive.
Your back-of-the-house staff such as your chefs and kitchen porters help maintain the quality of your cafe produce. Without them, the front-of-house staff would have nothing to serve your customers.
Each staff member is important and plays their part in making the business run smoothly.
You’ll need an efficient recruitment and training process for all of your staff members so that when one person leaves, another one can come in their place in no time at all.
It’s also a great idea to constantly be looking at ways to improve your staff with up-to-date training and standards.
And with customer service being at the heart of your cafe, it’s always prudent to send staff on refresher training so they may learn new insights into how they can maximise their hospitality skills.
Marketing and Branding
What’s the point of having the best cafe in your area if nobody knows about it?
Any business needs a good marketing strategy to succeed in today’s digital world.
The marketing landscape has changed significantly in the past decade. There are so many avenues for small businesses to exploit for their marketing efforts.
Social media accounts cost nothing to make so make sure you’re on these platforms building your brand and creating a community.
Cafes thrive on aesthetics and presentation. Make sure that you’re showing off your beautiful decor as well as your quality food and drink selection.
You can even run seasonal menus that will be available for a limited time only. Share these on social media and create a buzz around your cafe.
Self-promotion is huge in the cafe industry. It’s a highly competitive market so you need to find ways of standing out.
A well-thought-out and planned marketing strategy will let you do this. Look out for gaps in the market and implement them as soon as you spot them.
You can do this by asking questions such as:
- Are other cafes showing behind-the-scenes content?
- Do they focus more on video or imagery?
Over time you’ll get better at spotting these gaps and implementing them into your strategy.
The main thing is to be consistent and try new content so you know what works and what doesn’t.
You need to stay on top of your finances when running a cafe. Physical location businesses come with overheads so you will need to have consistent cash flow.
Otherwise, you could end up disrupting your internal processes that keep the business running smoothly.
An example of this is payment to suppliers.
If you miss a payment due to bad financial planning, you could risk upsetting your supplier and causing the relationship to break down.
Resorting to find another supplier that may not have the same quality, not to mention it will take time to find one.
Good financial planning is a skill so if it isn’t your strong point you can learn about it and get more competent or delegate it to one of your staff.
Always monitor where your money is going and look to see if you can put things in place to minimise costs.
The more you do this the better at spotting these cost-saving opportunities you’ll be.
Adapt and Innovate
Always be on the lookout for new ways to improve your cafe.
Even when everything is running smoothly, it’s good to look out for new and emerging trends so that you can implement them early and benefit.
Ask your customers for feedback constantly, so that you find out what you’re doing well, but more importantly what you can improve on.
Finding out what you can improve on means you can implement changes to tackle these issues and foster a better customer experience.
If you don’t adapt and innovate your competitors will.
Use technology to your advantage and find ways to integrate it into your cafe. Doing so can help make things easier for you and your staff members.
Technology ideas for your cafe include:
- Self-order kiosks – let your customers browse the menu when they walk in and order from digital kiosks when ready. They can pay at these kiosks as well then sit down and wait until their order comes to them. This helps reduce queues by speeding up the ordering process.
- Kitchen display screens – instead of using paper a customer order will come up on screen for the kitchen staff to view. This allows them to manage orders better and eliminates the chance of the order getting lost.
- Touchscreen POS (point of sale) terminals – Touchscreen POS terminals replace traditional cash registers and allow staff to input orders, process payments, and manage transactions using a digital interface. This helps minimise any manual ordering errors and the data it provides can be analysed also.
- QR code ordering system – this system allows customers to access the menu, place orders, and make payments using their smartphones by scanning QR codes placed on tables or in the cafe. Customers can pay without needing assistance from your staff allowing them to leave easily once they’re finished.
Premium Loose Leaf Tea for your Cafe
Running a cafe involves a combination of passion, business acumen, and adaptability.
If you can stay attuned to your customers’ preferences and market trends you’ll have a pretty good shot at long-term success for your cafe.
You’ll also need to sell quality produce.
This is why when it comes to selling tea you won’t want to look anywhere else other than us.
We sell high-quality loose-leaf tea on a wholesale basis to a variety of stockists.
If you’re interested in becoming one of our sellers then please reach out to us.
We’ll offer full training either on-site or remotely depending on your location so you can get to know our products and sell them confidently.