eval please

Aug 5, 2013
Visit site
Happy New Year! :razz:
Love this site, have been stalking since the summer. Ahead of time, please forgive my laziness in writing etiquettes as I'm working on 3 business plans and am tired of moving my fingers as fast as I'm thinking. Also, for confidentiality, state location is not included.
Our project = working with our state in a blight restoration project that was a train depot and we are transforming it into residential 2B apartment, gift shop, office space and taa daa...our most awesome coffee shop cafe. I've got the proforma on the property nearly fini, the state matches our $ 3 X ie we put in 100,000, they put in 300,000 for a total of 400,00 AND our match can go to the start up of the coffee shop AND the gift shop featuring local artisans and crafters and upcycled furniture and decor.....first a little info for you then for some coffee questions.
small town 2200 but it's hoppin, a throughway central to a large city approx 40miles away and 2 smaller cities approx 20 miles away, main street location, highly visible sight close to our beautiful park, alot of town activities, festivals, townspeople wanting, praying for business growth, supportive city and state in our project, NO SPECIALTY COFFEE in over 20 miles and we are very plugged into our town and hear the desire for it. only restaraunts in town are pizza, greasy diner, and tasty freeze. Our branding will be all natural baked goods, local produce and hormone free meats/poultry, local bean roaster :)coffeecup:and we've tasted numerous espressos in the state and we LOVE the one that happens to be 20 miles away and we've had sit down discussions with them already!) Offering 4-5 breakfast choices(best ever cinnamon rolls, bagels, muffins, easy carry egg,meat cheese pastry) pretty much handheld foods; lunch is salad and paninis (mostly premade fresh that morning, not made to order unless special request) and soups for lunch, closing at 6pm except for jazz or open mic night and also HS football/basketball night. Sundays open from 6-10am drive thru only. To increase avg sales, we will have fresh baked goods along the counter for selection, roasted coffee bags with our name and blends, teas, agave soda, mugs, and other typical add ons.
Draws....our unique branding; :heart:love triangle of coffee shop, 3 season farmer market on our property, and gift shop; support HS with monthly fundraisers earmarked for band boosters, computer, etc., monthly bake off with winners baked item being offered for that month; cupping events vs brew education nights and additional brew method offerings at our counter: open mic and jazz nights; marketing for the whole picture as a gathering place. 3 year plan includes the farmers market, 5 year plan involves a band shell. Our city is hoping for this to be a destination spot. They'v already suggested art fairs and children's beauty and talent pageant at our property rather than the public park!

We are working with a SBTDC loan counselor. Already have EIN for property as well as purchase option in to seller.
business plan audience for property=the bank, business plan audience for the state=all 3 businesses.

??? are...
*can I use average traffic counts to use toward my customer base? if so, what is a typical percentage.
*what are my most useful demographics to get from our database to apply like radius populations, age breakdowns of customer base?
*to save in time is it advised to use wholesale all natural bakery as a supplement until we grow enough to do all the baking ourselves...ie bagels are time consuming...or should we just invest in the handy dandy bagel/steam oven $$$ used?
*is it ok to let our roaster train my husband and myself to be baristas (latte art and all!!) or should we pay the $ for the cool schools out there.
*We'd like to work toward a 40000 income for my husband and a 20000 income for each of my ft daughters. I will have 0 income as my focus is the gift shop. are we being realistic even though we are well planned and well supported

p.s. FYI, yes, we are insanely planning on working these business full-time plus, in addition to my ft job and my husbands per diem job. :decaf: He, I and our 2 full grown daughters (whom have both been baristas) will be primary employees. We are empty nesters and want to build this into our ft committment and passion......wisely.

Thank you for your time in reading this and for your consideration,
1. No, many people try, but it's not a realistic data point unless you know the percentage of coffee drinkers that pass by. And even then, it's sketchy.
2. There are none. That's fallacious. I thought that way too twelve years ago before I opened up. If you create something worthwhile, people will come. If they don't come it's only because of 3 things (in this order) 1) poor quality 2) poor service 3) poor marketing
which should be obvious if you do those three things correctly, you'll be good. (easier said than done though! :) )
3. Bagels are a lot of work. Unless you want that to be a featured item you are known for, find a good supplier... at least for the first year.
4. I would say No without knowing more information. They are a roaster, doesn't mean they are qualified to train barista. It's a starting point, but I'd opt for real training if you need it. The return on professional training is immeasurable... provided you use and AND continue to learn and improve daily.
5. Not familiar with the business specifics of the non-coffee pieces of this puzzle. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched!

** Skip the open mic night and the jazz night too. A cautionary warning.. epic mistakes done by far too many. If people's draw to the coffee shop is for something other than the coffee/drinks, then you're headed for a short run, especially when your population is so low. I would make certain that each entity of this venture is designed to be profitable on it's own, not all being profitable collectively.

Good luck!
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #3
Thank you John P for the quick response.
I agree that the demos and traffic counts are unreliable and like asking a magic 8 ball for an answer. I wish those who demanded business plans felt the same way.
Simply as consumers we've seen the decline across the board in customer service and will strive to be top notch...fortunately, my daughters excel at this.
No joke, this roaster is great! I used to only like desert coffees but his espresso is smoooooooth and beautiful looking. Wierd but 2 of the 7 espressos we tasted around the state were salty! 4 were burned! and one was only ok. But this roasters was perfect....hope my customers agree. Bonus is that he's no pressure...sure he'll sell me a machine, sure he'll train, help with business plan etc......if we'd like him to. Nice.
While we have alot of ideas on marketing, I'd say it's our weakest link. Text birthday clubs, newspaper, road signs, bake offs, church function gatherings, free weekly random deliveries to area businesses of product, 1/2 way done party, open house, blog/website, flyers.....considering it all but there's so many variables to know what will be most effective. Most effective is small town WOM.......which is one of the reasons for open mic...just to get a new customer inside to taste and see that it is good. Maybe if we only do it during hours already open then we won't have additional costs of staff. It'd only be acoustic (yay, no screamos) (minimal equipment) and family friendly. My husband is all musician and knows his way around the amp volume ;) Not much to do around these here parts...if I had a place to go, I'd go plug in my laptop, have a yummy peppermint mocha and chocolate flan cake and listen to some cutie on a guitar....get addicted to my peppermint mocha and chocolate flan cake and get it drive thru next time. I know, I'm an optimist.

uuuggghhh, I hate giving up the bagels, but the more I bake them to test recipies the more I see how time consuming they are but with all the other responsibilities I'll have, I'd be stretching myself too thin...maybe after everything else is tweaked and running smoothly (that will happen eventually, right??? ;) Wanted to hear someone with experience say it's ok to outsource them, thanks for your permission :)

The roaster also has run a successful coffee shop for 10 years (WITHOUT A DRIVE THRU...WHAT!) and I trust their training but I really do agree we'd get more out of a pro school.

each entity being profitable on their own.......absolutely! If my gift shop doesn't turn a profit with brick and mortar and internet sales (did I mention that I upcycle furniture too;) within a given time frame and after I've persevered through creative ways to make a go of it, I have no problem closing it before it costs me much. All commission based sales and well curated. And bonus, the rehab and fixtures all toward our match of the blight restoration.

appreciate your insight! Thank you!

The business of "why not" Just quickly: New and/or struggling operators often look for multiple revenue streams rather than improving their core business. Adding multiple (and non-relevant) revenue streams dilutes your base both from a financial and a positioning standpoint.

There's also the mess of licensing fees and other numerous problems. That's a whole other ball of wax.
lol...ok....no open mic.

John is absolutely right when he said "no open mic and no Jazz sessions". You'll be asking for trouble if you do it.

I need to add . . . no Quizmo Trivia Game nights and no Henna Tatoo sessions, too. Speaking from experience, I've seen many unfortunate endings after cafes start having these events.

When cafes are struggling to get a foothold in the coffee community, they sometimes make the mistake of adding these kinds of events to draw people in. When people start coming to your cafe for anythig else but coffee, it's the beginning of the end. You may as well start planning your bankruptcy strategy instead.

I know of one coffee shop that started having open mic night after a few months in business, literally people would just start playing guitar and singing out loud where they are sitting at. It was our second time at that place and I remember thinking, "Not coming back here again." Then a couple of weeks later I was driving by and I saw a banner outside that said, "Now Serving Tacos." About a month later, the sign said, "FOR LEASE." I wasn't surprised.
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #9
wow, you have all put the fear of the coffee gods in me. we will leave the live music out and save it for the farmers market which wont be tied financially to the coffee shop.
so, stick to coffee education events....how about the high school hang out football/basketball game night scene.....any opinions?

and back to the demographics ?...so I do not put any in the business plan and just do the national averages and growth data that's readily available?
.how about the high school hang out football/basketball game night scene.....any opinions?

Are you picturing your cafe being the local hangout?

The "high school hang-out after the football and basketball game scene" will happen naturally if your coffee is good. They kids should be coming in for the coffee, not looking for a place to hang out and chase the adults away. And if you have free WiFi you'll get your fill of people hanging out in your cafe and you'll see how annoying it is.

Other things that I've seen chase customers away are weekly prayer group meetings, mothers with baby carriages having Mommy and Me meetings, community group meetings, etc. They take up space. They only buy one cup of coffee, and they make noise and annoy the other customers. You can't stop them, but encouraging them to come in every week and make your place their meeting spot isn't a good idea.
Any gimmick (these things are called "gimmicks") that a coffee shop uses to get people to come other than the coffee/espresso is bad. Open Mic - Gimmick. Discounts - Gimmick. Seinfeld Saturdays - Gimmick. Bikini Barista - Gimmick.

Those people (not customers) who come for these things have zero respect for your business or your coffee because by doing these gimmicks it shows YOU have no respect for your own coffee and business. Once you use gimmickry, these people will leave at a drop of a hat if someone else offers a more bedazzled spectacle than you.

When you build a coffee business based on people coming for something other than coffee, you are doomed.

Build a culture of coffee. The key word is "build." But if the foundation isn't solid from the beginning, it is much harder to correct.
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #12
The only thing is though that my husband and I have a passion for 2 things.....coffee AND community. We want community relationships to be encouraged. We don't want gimmicks for sales. We genuinely want to supply the best coffee around, the best service around, the best freshest foods around, the best employer around, the best business to pay back to community around, the best interior/exterior design around, and the best place to gather around We want respect for the coffee and we want a safe, comfortable, family oriented place for people to gather. We want to supply ALL of that so we have to stay successful.......so trade-offs have to be carefully thought out. (hey, I think I've got my mission in there somewhere!)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #14
John P! Thank you for your patience! Thank you for the blog link.....I think I'll frame it and hang it beside my first earned dollar bill so I stay focused. That really simplified it for me....maybe I can have all of it if I perfect the coffee and the service as priority.
John, do you do the latte art?
Of course. In general, it shows a dedication to craft... But if your espresso, if the foundation is not perfect, the prettiest rosetta will be meaningless.

You can't polish a turd.