If you’ve always fancied running your own tea shop then here are our top tips to help everything run smoothly when you decide to take the plunge:
Identify your market, as this will determine what you serve, when you’re open and how your café should look and feel. Get to know your prospective customers and their shopping/consuming habits. If you are thinking of taking an outlet on the high street, then why not get out there with your clipboard and ask the passers by some key questions. You can also use online surveys such as wufoo.com and surveymonkey.com. Test your market too with a pop-up venue then you can ensure there is enough demand for what you are offering.
Find premises via the usual methods, but remember that your budget may need to stretch to alterations, decorations, equipment and furniture, so be realistic with your figures.
Health and safety if you’re preparing food is important – you need to contact your local authority’s environmental health service at least 28 days before opening. You can get advice from the Food Standards Agency via food.gov.uk. Insurance is also vital – protecting you and your customers.
You need to embrace promotion and do all you can to publicise your business via creating a website and getting behind some PR and social media. It’s not easy doing the cooking, serving the customers, organising the staff and generally running the business, and there will be little time left for promoting the business. But the concept of ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t work, you need to be out there shouting about your business. Promotional activity needs just as much time, effort and resource as all other aspects of the business. Like a chef, an accountant, a printer, a designer etc a PR professional needs to be employed to help boost your tea shop’s profile.
As part of your promotional activity provide offers on social media that can be shared and will help bring in customers. Host events such as demos, talks and tastings at your café. Create a calendar of regular events and link to any national activities taking place. One of the errors people often make is publicising an event and then cancelling it. Even if you think only a few people are going to attend you still need to go ahead, as disappointed punters tell others and this could create negative publicity. You want people to talk about your café for all the right reasons and for the vibe to be ultra positive.