How to Run a Cafe With Purpose : 5 Tips for Success

Running a cafe is an incredible opportunity to create and share something special with your community. We’ve put together a list of five meaningful ways you can improve and evolve your business to become more successful.

Five Key Tips on Running a Successful Business

Running your own hospitality business is an incredible opportunity to create and share something special with your community. After experiencing some of the toughest years this industry has seen, we think it’s more important than ever to support one another and reflect on how and why we do what we do.

We’ve put together a list of five meaningful ways you can improve and evolve your business to become more successful…

Know Your ‘Why’

Arguably the most important factor in running any business is the ability to define oneself. The best way to do this is to know what drives you personally, and why your business exists. Knowing your ‘why’ is a superpower - it’s something that will attract the people you need for your business to thrive; it will help you make decisions, and it will help you develop a roadmap to the future.

No matter what business you’re in, a clear vision for people to get behind is integral to success. Identifying your vision and sharing it with others will not only help you to understand and clearly set your goals, but you’ll also be able to achieve them more quickly.

Knowing your why, knowing your purpose, is the most important thing you can do to help you achieve what you want to achieve within your business.

Steps to take:

  1. Reflect on your purpose & connect with the reasons you started your business.
  2. Clearly articulate and define it – be specific!
  3. Share with others and return to these reasons when making decisions.

    Know Your Numbers

    Confronting the financial aspects of any business can sometimes be challenging and even daunting, but being able to clearly understand you financials means you’ll be intimately aware of any patterns, insights and data which can help you make decisions and project into the future. In an industry where there is on average only 2-6 percent profit...knowing how your business operates, what it costs, and how to save money is crucial. If you know your costs and you are managing your margins and your percentages, it allows you to make better decisions and maximise your profit. We are in this industry because we love it and we love what it does for our community, but it isn’t always easy! Getting to know your numbers will empower you to take on the responsibility of ensuring your business remains both feasible and rewarding in the long term.

    Steps to take:

    1. Learn how to read your profit and loss statements.
    2. Review and evaluate the financial aspects of your business regularly. It can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly – the most important thing is that it’s regular.
    3. Seek advice from a trustworthy bookkeeper, and if in doubt, google!

     Know Your numbers

    Systems and processes

    In an industry where the business owner usually works day-in and day-out onsite, the process of documenting what we do, how we do it, and what we want staff to do is something that just doesn’t make the top of the priority list. It is, however, crucial to building a sustainable business that can function regardless of whether you’re there or not. By focusing on systems and processes early, you can improve consistency and ensure the evolution of your business.

    Everyone performs better when they know what is expected of them, so it is crucial to make it clear to everyone within the business what they’re supposed to be doing, how they’re supposed to be doing it, and when it’s supposed to be done. If you can make systems and processes clear and consistent, the team will function better, allowing you to provide quality, friendly and speedy service. This is the formula for having a successful café business that always functions smoothly, not just when the business owner is around!

    Steps to take:

    1. For each task and responsibility within the business, clearly identify and document what it is, how you want it to be done and who should be doing it. No task is too small! Get it all down.
    2. Demonstrate these tasks being done to your standard and make sure everyone on the team is aware of their responsibilities and what is expected of them.
    3. Check in with your team! Just because you’ve documented the systems and processes doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being followed. Establish a method of checking that these processes are being followed to ensure everyone stays on track.

    Run a Successful Cafe

    Offer Genuine Hospitality

    We know in this industry that the experience and environment we provide are just as important as the product. Research has proven that things taste better, and people have a better time, when they feel welcome and comfortable. The research also tells us that the biggest reason people stop coming back to a café business is because they don’t feel valued.

    To ensure that your customers are feeling comfortable, welcomed, and valued, you need to hire people who have hospitality in their nature, not just in your front of house team, but in every role. While you can upskill people and set standards and expectations, ultimately there are innate qualities which make some people better suited to this industry. Despite how rewarding it can be, hospitality is a very demanding industry, and requires a certain type of person to thrive within it. These natural community builders are the people you need to find for your business!

    It is also crucial to provide and actively create a culture where customers are valued and appreciated. Your business will succeed if you can do more for your customers than any of your competitors, because people will keep coming back to the place where they feel valued and a part of something.  

    Steps to take:

    1. Reflect on what you consider genuine hospitality to be and the qualities that are non-negotiable in your business.
    2. Create an onboarding procedure that outlines your values and the expectations for staff and share that openly.
    3. Actively look for the qualities you’ve identified in staff when you are hiring or onboarding. Be strict, if they don’t fit, don’t hire them.

    Genuine Hospitality

    Creating a culture

    We’ve been told in this industry for a very long time that the customer is always right, and that the customer always comes first. We’ve mentioned above how important customers are, and we stand by this. What we also know, however, is that if our team isn’t thriving, then our business isn’t thriving. Maintaining the wellbeing of your team and the interests of your customers doesn’t have to be a balancing act, and sacrifices don’t have to be made. Defining and actively creating a business culture is the best way to ensure you have a happy, motivated team and consequently satisfied customers.

    Providing a culture statement where you connect your vision and purpose with the practical, daily experiences of being in the business is a great way to ensure everyone within the business is on the same page. By sharing this statement with anyone who joins the business before they start, you are letting them know who you are, what you expect from your team, and onboarding them before the other tasks and obligations kick in.

    Having even one person who doesn’t align with your values or respect where you’re coming from can completely disrupt the working environment and consequently the level of service provided. Culture is everything, and it requires consistency. The leadership in your business sets the tone for this culture.

    Steps to take:

    1. Create a culture statement.
    2. Onboard staff before they begin work.
    3. Have a process of check-ins and activities to actively create the culture you want in an ongoing way.

    Cafe Culture success

    We hope these tips have been inspiring and that they will be useful when considering how to improve and evolve your business!

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