What does it take to start a brick and mortar business?
Although I have been looking for a direct hire position in the Houston, Texas area, I have had the great opportunity in the past few months to help Connections Coffee Shop in Crosby, Texas to work through the process of opening their new business. I have learned a great deal and have had to be creative with my research. There are so many things to work through and gather information about.
Starting the process
The process began with an idea and a question. What can we do to give back to the community and what does the community need? The answer for this business was to create a place for the community to come together and share time and connect with each other. This lead to their name, Connections Coffee Shop. And the reason for coffee was simply that they enjoy good coffee and wanted to share this with the community.
Now with this idea in mind, the owners did not want to blindly throw money at a brick and mortar building and just start serving coffee. They wanted to research successful businesses and identify what makes them work and how to avoid pitfalls that so many startups deal with. So, off to Texas Coffee School, they went. There was a lot of information in this class and we are still working on following the plan the owners derived from this course. Some of the information covered in the course included… (See the site for a complete List)
Coffee Business Class Topics:
- How to Open a Coffee Shop – A Detailed Step-by-Step Roadmap
- Coffee Shop Business Plan – 7 Essential Elements
- Local Market Research – 12 Critical Factors
- Location Selection Based on a Formula, Not a Gut Feeling or Guess
- Detailed Coffee Equipment and Supply Lists
- Designing an Efficient Coffee Bar (includes 5 sample coffee bar designs)
- Selecting the Right Coffee Roasting Company for You
- Menu Costing (includes detailed sample menu costing spreadsheet)
- Retail Sales – Tips for increasing profitability
Selecting the right location
Using the information and guidance learned in the class, “Location Selection Based on a Formula, Not a Gut Feeling or Guess“, the owners set out to find their location. The first step was to find buildings for lease in the area. Then the analysis of each location. Was it on the main thoroughfare? How much traffic passed a location at any given time. Is the access to the location easy to enter and exit? With the gathered information, a location was selected.
Researching and selecting the equipment
An overwhelming list of excel spreadsheets, vendors, equipment and cost came in very helpful when deciding what to purchase. Taking the time to research the cost of equipment, the vendors, and shipping costs allowed the owners to save over $20,000 on the equipment and all the necessary sundries needed just to open the doors.
Selecting the Right Coffee Roaster
I have had the pleasure to visit the owners’ roaster of choice. While visiting the roaster, I also had the pleasure to talk with the roaster himself. Ivan has been roasting coffee beans for many years and took the time to explain to me the process he uses in roasting. He showed me all the different green coffee beans they use from all over the world. I was able to taste some of the different roasts they supply. My favorite at this time is their “El Salvador”.
How do you know if your costs are going to kill you? What does it really cost to make that lunch item? Will you be making enough profit to cover the costs of the building, sundries, electricity, equipment, etc… There are too many things to list here.
Spreadsheets to the rescue. We had to break down each item by a recipe, the ounces, grams, and portion of each ingredient to make a single menu item. We created a spreadsheet that broke down the ingredients by the way we purchased them and then down into per units for the recipes. This means that a 128oz bottle of milk gets broken down to cost per ounce. Then we created a sheet with the recipes to calculate the cost per batch and divide by the quantity per batch. This was a fun yet tedious process.
Marketing & social media
This is a beast. There are so many ideas and sites to work with. How can one person handle all the different social media sites and keep up with them? Well, we needed more help to understand what was necessary. So we used a free resource made up of retired and current business owners that work together to help new businesses succeed in their endeavors. This free resource and group are comprised of Houston experts that help to start or grow your business now! Their name is SCORE. They have some free seminars on social media and marketing that help you to get started in this area. Working with SCORE, you can also request to be assigned a mentor that will work with you and your business throughout its lifetime.
So much more learned
I have barely scratched the frost off of the iceberg. There has been so much that I learned through this process that one would need to write a book to cover it.
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Dean Weis, MCSE Cloud, and Infrastructure