How to Successfully Run a Cafe

 

You’ve secured the perfect location for your coffee shop, have a knack for getting people through the door, and developed a product that keeps your customers coming back for more. Now it’s just a matter of keeping everything running smoothly, without losing your passion – or your mind – in the process.

Oftentimes, the real magic comes from owning a cafe that not only makes it past the tumultuous first year, but continues to be a success year in and year out, growing in popularity along the way.

We’ve seen how starting a cafe is only half the battle. The real challenge becomes how to run a successful cafe. Let’s first set some parameters on what success really means in terms of cafe ownership.

Success can be measured in many ways, but the most commonly agreed yardstick for a cafe is whether it is profitable or not.

Generally, more profit equals more success. Profit is an important factor, but it should not be the only litmus test of success. For example, if your store is profitable but you are putting in 80 hours a week in order to make it profitable, it becomes harder to call it a success.

>Ultimately, the top coffee shops across the world can earn up to 85 percent in gross margins, but smaller venues tend to hover at around 2.5 percent. This is where realistic expectations and tangible measurements come into play.

Instead, the real measure of success for running a cafe should be a combination of profit, your own personal happiness level from owning the venue, and how much satisfaction you bring to your customers. With that in mind, let’s look at the top three things you can do to ensure your venue is a total success.

Hire a quality manager 

The larger vision of how your cafe will operate is up to you and your dream, but the on-the-ground, day-to-day tasks should be delegated to a competent and committed manager.

It would be great to find someone that already knows how to run a cafe successfully, but there is a great deal of value in promoting an in-house superstar to the ranks of management.

If you’re just getting started, you might not have the budget to hire a full-time manager, which means those duties will fall on your shoulders. This is the perfect time to clearly lay out how you want your store to operate so that one day you can train someone else to take over.

On the other hand, if you’ve held the dual role of owner/manager for a while now, it may be time to step aside and pass the reigns to a promising barista who’s shown an interest in the behind-the-scenes operation of the business.

It’s wise to invest time training your new manager the right way, as this will be the person who trains future staff and future managers for you.

Deliver a consistent experience to your customers 

Consistency is key, and is the secret to some of the most successful businesses in the world. Your customers should know what they’re going to get the second, third, and fourth time they come in.

Research has shown that if your customers have even just one bad coffee from your café, 50% will feel angry as a result, 17% will feel regretful of buying it, and 6% will feel that it totally ruined there day. That’s hardly going to encourage repeat business.

Know your target clients and do your best to meet their expectations each and every time they choose your cafe.

Having a loyalty program is also pretty standard these days, but go the extra step to make sure that your cafe has something worth being loyal to.

Whether it’s the distinct vibe created by the ambiance, decor, staff demeanour, or the deliciousness of your product, it must provide the same reliable feeling every day.

 

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Invest in quality equipment

Just like you wouldn’t cut corners to hire staff for your venue, you shouldn’t opt for sub equipment, either. Your business needs to run as efficiently as possible, so investing in the right type of appliances and gadgets that can keep[ up with the demand, is crucial.

From the outset, we recommend creating a list of all the necessities you’ll need before you get started, and allow yourself plenty of budget to choose models that will last the long-run. This might include:

  • Coffee machines
  • Grinders
  • Water filtration systems
  • Ice makers
  • Ovens, cooktops and other appliances
  • Food preparation spaces, tables and surfaces
  • A toaster or grill, and more.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can read our full checklist on cafe startup equipment here – use this as a guide to shape your venue and tick off each box as you go.

 

Choose the right POS system 

impos-in-use-at-popular-melbourne-restaurant-movida

The right POS system can be the difference between your cafe running trouble-free, with each staff member able to function effectively and efficiently, or not. Go with a system that is designed as a dedicated cafe POS system, with features and options that are unique to the industry.

Not only will your employees benefit from being able to easily enter in customer orders, you or your manager will benefit on the back end by being able to track your inventory and know at a glance when it’s time to reorder stock.

What does a POS system do?

Ultimately, a point of sale system streamlines your operations from start to finish – no matter the kind of hospitality venue you’re running. For example, Impos acts as an end-to-end solution to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, orders, transactions, marketing and payments. Backed by several terminals across your venue, POS systems are the perfect way to bring an agile approach to a busy cafe environment.

Additional benefits include:

  • Back your business with a suite of integrations that are specifically designed to suit the hospitality industry;
  • Utilise smart features that support your business growth;
  • Manage inventory quickly and efficiently, eliminating wastage;
  • Roster employees and staff without any hassles;
  • Gain peace of mind in knowing you’re backed by expert support staff 24/7;
  • Access reporting and analytics on your most important business data.

>> Starting up a new cafe? Grab your FREE guide to  getting started here. <<

 

Putting it all together 

Getting these three points right will put you on the path to cafe success, and should work out most of the smaller details. Of course, there’s much more to consider when it comes to running an amazing cafe, so be sure to follow our blog for more tips and ideas.

Like what you’ve read? Check out some of our other insights and advice on running a café on the Impos blog today!