So, you’re going to do it – you’re going to open a coffee shop. Congratulations! There are some amazing times on the horizon. The first big question to face is ‘where’? There is a lot to consider, but we’ve got the answers ahead…
Take a look at what else is around you – who else is in the area and what do they offer? Are you going to offer something new? By now you will likely have a strong idea of your brand, and how you want to look and feel. Take this opportunity to think about whether there’s any inspiration around you (or anything you want to avoid)!
It’s not just about looks, either. What’s your unique selling point (USP)? Maybe it’s a brewing method that nobody else is offering, a range of coffees that will excite people, or that one dish that everyone around is flocking to you for. You want people to keep coming back! Be sure to cover the basics well, but make sure your USP is strong.
High foot traffic areas are probably something you’ve been looking into, like shopping centres, downtown and office districts. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But, high foot traffic means high rent… There may be more potential for revenue, but this isn’t guaranteed, and you’ll often be up against well-established popular chains. But if you’ve got the right business for it, high-footfall locations can be amazing. Identify your budget and what works best for you.
Destination locations, like a more secluded street or a residential area, might be more suitable as the rent is a lot lower but is often more tucked away from the high street. Although it might take a little longer for people to find you initially, these locations can be absolute gems. Plus for any passing trade, your place will be the obvious choice to visit! For these sorts of locations, consider your marketing approach, as this will be more important than if you are in a high-footfall area.
Your target demographic and the feel of your business will influence how important you consider footfall to be. A takeaway-focused coffee shop will benefit from high-footfall and quick turnaround much more than a coffee shop/kitchen, where you will want your customers to be with you for a longer period of time. What will be best for you?
Regardless of footfall, visibility is massively important. Does your shopfront catch the eye? Are you tucked away around a corner, and if so, what can you do to make yourselves appealing? Being hidden away isn’t necessarily a bad thing – some of the best coffee shops out there are in the most obscure of places, and their ‘hidden gem’ status just makes them even more appealing!
On the other hand, being in the middle of a High Street with an eye-catching shop front is always going to be beneficial. The question you need to ask is – ‘where can I imagine my shop’?
Wherever you are, your brand needs to be consistent. Is it clear and understandable what your shop offers from just the outside?. Have a clear shop front with your logo and name displayed. Don’t fill your window with all the flyers and posters that come through the door. Carefully curate your visible space to bring the types of customers you want to attract.
Observe the community at your competitors’ businesses. See how staff and customers interact, observe how long people spend there and recognise if it fits your demographic. There’s no point opening a hip-trendy espresso bar, for example, if the main customer base in the area doesn’t fit the demographic.
How accessible is the location? Is it somewhere that people can get to easily? Is there enough parking nearby? These are just a couple of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself.
Most importantly, is the building itself accessible:
- Is the entrance wide enough for wheelchair users or other mobility aids to enter?
- Is the door difficult to use with these aids?
- If you have steps, outside or inside, is there also a ramp available?
- Are your menus and signage legible?
We’ll cover the accessibility of the inside of your shop later in this series, but for the time being – make sure you give these questions the consideration they deserve.
Research your local property prices: how much is being charged per square ft., what accessibility is there, etc. Landlords will be more willing to negotiate if you are knowledgeable on these things in the local area. For example, why would you pay the same price rent as a business down the road that has accessible parking when you don’t? You can negotiate, build-out costs, discuss not increasing or even lowering rent. It’s always worth the negotiation! Also, be aware that not all commercial properties will have a food permits licence so enquire about your options.
Confirmation bias is something people can fall into. Don’t make judgments based on emotion! You may love a location but you still have to check if it works for you financially and logistically.
So, what’s the takeaway from all this? Foot traffic, visibility, community, competitors, accessibility and rent costs are the main considerations when opening a new location. Have a plan and research, and we’ll see you when you’re ready to think about the layout and workflow of your shop.
In the meantime, for a free consultation if you’re starting your own business, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!