What’s It Take To Open A Cafe That Doesn’t Just Survive, But Thrives?

Pay Meticulous Attention To These Four Cornerstone Rules

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Owners of successful cafes are purposeful in setting the cornerstones so that their business thrives.

Your aim is to run a successful business (obviously), to achieve this it’s important to be able to identify your weakest points in order to avoid failure.

To illustrate my point I want to let you know my own experience. I had over 15 years working in all aspect of the hospitality industry. Having a brief stint working in kitchens, I spent the majority of my time front of house, working on coffee machines, serving guests in places like Harrods, Hayman Island Resort and the Inter-Continental Hotel as well as many independent cafes.

Yet despite all this experience, My weakness was a lack of financial knowhow to operate a truly thriving hospitality business. I also thought If I could just work harder it would all work itself out but it actually caused me to burn out.

In the book the E-Myth which I highly recommend, author, Michael E Gerber points out that most business owners (like me, maybe you as well) are technicians.

i.e. People who want to be owners think that if they know how to do the technical work they can run a business by “doing” the technical work. Unfortunately this way does not work yet it’s how the majority or business are operated.

Your focus must be to put in place the processes to run your cafe in an efficient, effectively and ordered way.

Your cornerstones are the foundations on which your business is constructed, without them it will fail.

The cornerstones for a successful cafe are:

Processes – The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for how you ensure you consistently deliver to your customers, whether you’re present or not

People – Ensuring you recruit, train, inspire and then retain the very best people you can

Profit – A meticulous attention on whether you’re making money… or not

Promotion – Attracting a consistent influx of new customers, that your existing customers are enticed back regularly, and that you maximise the spend from every customer who does visit.

Take time to identify the areas which are your weakest. Then work on educating and developing them into strengths.

The most successful cafe owners work incredibly hard, but they are ensure they’re working on the aspects that give the biggest return on their time.

The successful owners will;

  • Seek to make every area of the business work so that the customer experience is the best it can be, every time they come in
  • Take time to effectively recruit, induct, train and inspire their staff to provide great service customers
  • Be focused on every financial metric of the business to ensure it’s profitable
  • Spend time every day working on attracting customers, both new and existing into the business

As these areas are cornerstones they are broad. Over the next few blogs I am going to be going into more depth on how you can run your business from a solid base.

P.S. – If you would like more posts like this, I give people the tools & tactics to run a great business and also have a life. You can join by adding you name and email at the base of this post.

Thank you for reading.

one more thing, Here is a five minute animated video summary from Between The Lines explaining the book the E-Myth.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • matias

    Charlie, hate to tell you this but you missed the most important point of a coffee shop’s success: amazing coffee that will differentiate your operation from the rest. Call me biased because i am a coffee grower/roaster but a coffee shop without the best possible coffee is like a car with no engine.

  • Hi Matias, Thank’s for you comment. I agree coffee is important to a cafe or coffee shops success. I would categorise it under the umbrella of Processes – “The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for how you ensure you consistently deliver to your customers, whether you’re present or not”. I have some future posts which dig deeper into the blocks which build on the cornerstones, which coffee is definitely included.

  • Bridget

    Hi Charlie,
    It’s so good to see a set of tools and guidance, with Process at the top of the list. I love the four “Ps”.
    I have been modelling, documenting and improving processes for a long time, and any business is “a set of processes”. It’s what they do, and they need to do it well, and keep improving.
    I found your website as I was looking for content for a procedure manual for a new cafe, and your content is a great help.
    I know lots about process management, but not so much about cafes.
    Brilliant,
    Thank you.