Just Opened

CoffeeQban

New member
Jul 24, 2007
15
0
We just opened a new coffee house in a fairlty large town (200,000). We are on a very busy intersection with ADT counts of about 30K. We are the corner unit with good visibility. The customers who have come in are raving about our drinks. We averaged 50 customers a day our first week, followed by 70 in week two. We are in our third week and haven''t improved over week two. Is this normal or below average. We have passed out flyers to the local businesses and we get about 5 to 7 a day.

I was expecting a faster ramp up due to the traffic. What do you think I can do to drive in more customers. I need 200 to break even.

Thanks

Dave
 

cafemakers

New member
Nov 3, 2004
576
0
It will take several months until you can expect to see consistent and predictable traffic volumes that approach a location's potential. Take a look at this thread, here:

http://www.coffeeforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=4723

For a reasonably well-planned location and well-operated business, we recommend that you have access to capital to sustain your operations at a loss for a 1 year from opening. If you do not have the cash on-hand, you may want to look into a line of credit now.
 

CafeBlue

New member
Dec 8, 2006
121
0
Toronto
Not to rub salt in your wound, but I just realized that you are asking questions that should have had serious attention paid months prior to your opening. Let this be a lesson to all potential start-ups ... do your homework before you open. "Due diligence" is not merely a catch phrase.

Looking at performance of the category leader to benchmark your start-up, unknown, un-tested, independent brand is "pie in the sky" optimism. The category leaders open to significant volume because they have established brand recognition, but they ALWAYS open new territory with significant local fanfare and campaigning. An independent without an established brand and an untried concept must do at least twice the promoting to get started.

Independents can and do perform well. You did not provide enough detail to evaluate your results nor potential, but I can say that many independents comfortably surpass your stated break-even target (some within days or weeks of their grand opening). Many poorly prepared (and under-promoted) operations also fail to break-even for a year or more, even some highly qualified people can not make the cafe business viable using their own talents alone.

Serving beverages that surpass the quality of your competition is only the easy part of the cafe start-up. Despite the fact that this is the easy part, many operators fail miserably in product quality and their ability to consistently deliver benchmark perfomance.

Provided you have that accomplished (as you claim, but I doubt), then your next step is to promote your business. You need the potential customers to sample your product in order for them to appreciate that it is premium quality. Therefore you need to focus on promotional concepts that bring customers to you. You also need to have the potential customers experience your concept at your best several times, before they even begin to loyally consider you as a destination. Therefore you also need to focus your promotional efforts on return client campaigns.

Now is the most important time in the life of your business to spend money and effort on marketing and promotion. Since you do not already have a plan, I suggest you consider hiring an agency to create and perhaps even enact some serious activity for you.
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
Ouch, the truth can hurt. Take what they said to heart, otherwise you will be working a midnight shift at Wal-mart just trying to stay afloat.

This is where I have personally seen a lot of business fail. Its not uncommon to see a business go under in less then 6 months. The most common reasons are a lack of planning and not enough working capital.
 
OP
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CoffeeQban

New member
Jul 24, 2007
15
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  • Thread Starter
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Don't beat arround the bush, what do you really think?

Yesterday we broke the $300 barrier. (Hours are 6am to 6pm.)

I know the product is strong. Our espresso is awesome, with a sustaining crema at 40% of the shot. Our baristas have been trained on the proper portion, and tamping pressure, as well as grind, look and taste. They are eager to discard any bad shots and start over. We've got milk steaming down to a science and the micro foam we produce is always silky and creamy. I had a lady refuse her nonfat latte insisting we used whole milk. I had to re-do it while she watched to convince her- she had never seen micro-foam. We don't even grind our espresso or coffee until we are going to use it. All but two of our baristas can pour rosettas. (we have 6)
So I'm happy with our product quality and consistency.

I am not however very versed in marketing. We have enough working capitol for 12 months. I am very leary though on spending it on a marketing firm. I requested some quotes and fell out of my chair. You very clearly stated what i was doing wrong, but can you provide me with some specific things I can do to promote and market my business?
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
0
Hartford and New Haven, CT
Re: Don't beat arround the bush, what do you really think?

CoffeeQban said:
Yesterday we broke the $300 barrier. (Hours are 6am to 6pm.)

I know the product is strong. Our espresso is awesome, with a sustaining crema at 40% of the shot. Our baristas have been trained on the proper portion, and tamping pressure, as well as grind, look and taste. They are eager to discard any bad shots and start over. We've got milk steaming down to a science and the micro foam we produce is always silky and creamy. I had a lady refuse her nonfat latte insisting we used whole milk. I had to re-do it while she watched to convince her- she had never seen micro-foam. We don't even grind our espresso or coffee until we are going to use it. All but two of our baristas can pour rosettas. (we have 6)
So I'm happy with our product quality and consistency.

I am not however very versed in marketing. We have enough working capitol for 12 months. I am very leary though on spending it on a marketing firm. I requested some quotes and fell out of my chair. You very clearly stated what i was doing wrong, but can you provide me with some specific things I can do to promote and market my business?
Don't let the first 3 weeks get to you. If the first few weeks are not what you have predicted, it doesn't matter. To reiterate cafemakers point, 3 weeks is too early to tell. As long as your customers are raving about your coffee and you are seeing repeating customers then you are doing fine.

As far as marketing, When I first opened I always asked my repeating customers to take menu/printouts back to their offices and I always asked them to bring their friends with them next time.

Best of luck.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
Offer a cupping class or an Espresso 101,
let the community taste the difference in what you have to offer. For the independent shop, Word of Mouth (WOM) is the fastest way to market. Continue doing as you're doing, and work on being more efficient so you can have less barista working because those labor costs can kill you.

DON'T do flyers, coupons, or anything of the sort. These all say "I serve crap and/or my business is dying" Do simple clean and professional ads in a few local free weekly papers. Have a professional graphic artist design your logo and perhaps help with the layout of your ad, most (but not all) of the people who work at these papers couldn't design a good ad if they tried... so beware.

Continue to concentrate on INTERNAL marketing as well. Quality of product, quality of service, store design, ambiance, coffee and espresso knowledge, etc.

If you continue improving, and continue learning.... you'll be fine.
 

crema123

New member
Mar 10, 2007
31
0
Cook Islands
Remember that you just started. Now is the fun part where you get to BUILD your business. Just opening the doors doesn't make you successful, it's what you do now.
 

AJPRATT

New member
Mar 7, 2007
382
0
Atlantic City, NJ
Being open three weeks--woohoo! Good for you! You have made it further than a lot of people have!

From a PR/marketing perspective: Do you have a charity you like to work with? Here's an idea... host a fundraiser for a charity and tie it in to a local radio station and maybe a local newspaper, and involve the charity (Foodbank, Kiwanis, Key Club, Autism, Breast Cancer, whoever). Radio stations don't usually get involved for free unless there is something going on that can benefit them with PR, and if you hit them at the right time (in a ratings book) you could benefit and do a little good for the community. You could have a jock surrounded by cups of coffee and for every one bought, a % can be donated to a charity and the jock cannot leave until all the coffees are bought. You could do the same with bags of coffee, too. I would also take some samples and some beverages into the local morning shows. If you offer specialty sandwiches or novelty drinks, you could have a contest to name your drinks or sandwiches.

I am sure you could come up with some more creative ideas that what I just mentioned... not enough sleep. Also, I don't know how you (or the others) feel about barter. You could give drink coupons or bags of coffee to radio or newspaper in exchange for ads. I know we don't like to give away out product because it might cause the perception of being crap, but sometimes a little can go a long way.

I would be happy to offer any input as far as marketing goes; that's my background. Right now, I just don't have any better ideas that come to mind.
 

morrisn

New member
Mar 27, 2006
126
0
Try bringing the local business's around you product samples. Every morning pick several and bring them a sample drink, when we first opened we got some smaller cups for this purpose. Use it as an introduction to your business. As we opened in summer we used smoothie samples. Just make up tray of cups and go to them,if there are customers in the business give them a sample as well. We found it ramped us up very quickly.
 

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