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  1. #1
    Jay
    Jay is offline
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    Nov 2006
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    Bussines Suggestions?

    Hello Everyone,

    I have a few question in regards to building a Café. I'm interested in investing into a Café; I’m currently employed as an Electrical Engineer in South Florida. I originally moved from Lake City, Florida which is on the boarder of Georgia, roughly three hours from where I'm located now.

    I think I have found the perfect opportunity to make an investment. Lake city is a very small community, however is growing quite rapidly, I would estimate demography of 10,000 people.

    I spent a few days back home over the holidays and realized they didn't have a Café; the only source of coffee was a drive through coffee "facility".

    So in regards to investing into a Café, here are my intentions.
    Stay in south Florida and continue to work at my current position. I would take one month to find a facility, find materials that would be needed, and to find a potential manger. Once that is completed I would need to take three weeks off to coordinate implementation of materials and setup structure. I know I make this all sound relatively yes and I’m quite sure it’s not, but I’m trying to give you a gist of future plans.

    My questions:

    1.) I don’t know much about the café industry, however I do see a great investment and would like to capitalize on it. I would like to know your thoughts of letting someone else manage your Café when you’re three hours away?

    2.) Have you or do you know of someone who has started a café in such a small town? (Population - 10,000) Any thoughts on, opening a café in such a small community?

    Thanks,

    -Jay.

  2. #2
    Member
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    Jul 2006
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    Bloomer, Wisconsin
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    73
    Jay,

    You may not like my responses, but I'll give them anyway, since you are asking.

    I'll hit #2 first. Yes, I think it is possible to open in a smaller community, because we did. Our town plus surrounding homes totals approximately 5,000 people. It will make it a (perhaps) longer struggle to finally make it to break-even, but I believe that it's doable.

    As for #1, I'm not a big fan of being an absentee business owner for a first-time business. There is too much to do and learn that would make it practical to be away from the business. How much are you going to leave to your Manager to do, and how much would you be doing yourself? How often would you drive the 3+hours to your business to check on things? What if the Manager is sick and can't come in, what happens to the business that day/those day(s)? For me, there are just too many variables that I can't control when I'm not there, so I better be there to deal with them.

    In your case, I would suggest perhaps partnering with someone else who would be there day-to-day and taking out your money with interest or something similar. Otherwise, I would say look to real estate as a buy-and-hold prospect for an investment; that way, you wouldn't need to be in the same city each day. Again, I realize that I don't have a rosy picture that I'm painting, and that mine is only one opinion. Perhaps others will give you their perspective and that its a good thing for you to do. No matter what you do, I wish you good luck. Cheers!
    Darren Kirby
    The Comfy Place Coffeehouse

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    576
    Quote Originally Posted by Comfy Place
    Jay,

    You may not like my responses, but I'll give them anyway, since you are asking.

    I'll hit #2 first. Yes, I think it is possible to open in a smaller community, because we did. Our town plus surrounding homes totals approximately 5,000 people. It will make it a (perhaps) longer struggle to finally make it to break-even, but I believe that it's doable.

    As for #1, I'm not a big fan of being an absentee business owner for a first-time business. There is too much to do and learn that would make it practical to be away from the business. How much are you going to leave to your Manager to do, and how much would you be doing yourself? How often would you drive the 3+hours to your business to check on things? What if the Manager is sick and can't come in, what happens to the business that day/those day(s)? For me, there are just too many variables that I can't control when I'm not there, so I better be there to deal with them.

    In your case, I would suggest perhaps partnering with someone else who would be there day-to-day and taking out your money with interest or something similar. Otherwise, I would say look to real estate as a buy-and-hold prospect for an investment; that way, you wouldn't need to be in the same city each day. Again, I realize that I don't have a rosy picture that I'm painting, and that mine is only one opinion. Perhaps others will give you their perspective and that its a good thing for you to do. No matter what you do, I wish you good luck. Cheers!
    We're in perfect agreement here; I made a similar recommendation back in September of 2005: http://www.coffeeforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=2573

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    162
    Jay,

    I know of someone who did just this recently. He and his wife started a small cafe in a small suburb outside of Dallas. He was a returning decorated Iraqi war veteran and knew little nothing of the cafe business but wasn't going to go back to being a stock broker. He opened Sep 29th of this year and is already beyond break even and last I heard in the $1000 a day range.

    Give him a call. I'm sure he'll share his "secrets" with you. The cafe is Texas Roast of Rockwall, Texas. You'll have to hunt down the contact info yourself as I don't have it handy... Ask for Jeff. Great guy, very friendly and loves to talk about coffee. You might enjoy talking to him. Tell him you heard about it here at coffee forums.

    Good luck Jay.

  5. #5
    kc1
    kc1 is offline
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    Aug 2006
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    Your business will not succeed unless you are 100% involved and committed to it. This is a competitive industry and there is no easy money to be made. Only you (not a salaried employee/manager) will care passionately enough about your business to make it work.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Minnesota
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    6
    I agree with Darren. I purchased an existing cafe in a small town in July of this year. It does require 100% of my attention and personal attendance.

    I have had great success as I started out with a very loyal customer base, even though I have not one, but two Caribou coffee shops within one block of me. During the election season, I hosted politicians to come in and meet and have coffee with my customers, which went over extremely well. One senator had a news crew follow him in and another senate candidate filmed a commerical at the shop. Talk about free advertising! I have followed that up by hosting various organizations which I thought my customers would enjoy, such as our area conservation board, historical society, the chief of police among others. I have also hosted a local artist who paints with coffee and am bringing in local theatre persons and various sports teams. Another thing I have done is to start a collection to send coffee to our troops (something that the large chains do not do). This has also been met by success from not only my customers, but my vendors too, who match the amount collected.

    One of the key points of this business is listening to your customers and providing the best customer service possible. It really hit home when I overheard a customer saying that our shop is run by our customers. These customers are so excited that they bring in their friends, who soon become loyal customers.

    I find that I must be at the shop also to ensure that my standards for quality and customer service remain the key focus of my employees; to say nothing about the shop appearance.

    Best of luck in your endeavor!

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2007
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    havelock, nc
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    1

    question for Norina

    How do you work the coffee donations for the troops? I live in a military town & I would love to offer something like this! Any info you can share would be greatly appreciated!

    Sheri Ann

  8. #8
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2007
    Location
    Texas
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    5
    Excellent responses from those of you who posted regarding the absenteeism. The only person who will care about the business is the guy whose financial neck is on the line if things go awry. In the beginning (a year or two) the successful owners work the business themselves. You can expand, but crawl before you walk and walk before you run, but above all else, make sure you have good people (not easy to find). And many of the independents in the Texas area that got lured into the perception that you coffee owners make a lot of money completely underestimated the work involved in building that loyal customer base which means they underestimated the capital needed to build the business. This forum is a good place based upon what I've seen to get fairly sound advice. Good luck in whatever you decide to do. Ken

 

 

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