I have been looking for info on which months may be best to open a coffee house. Does anyone have any info or opinions on this? I live in the Midwest, so April - Sept. is Spring/Summer. Maybe I should be asking if there are any bad times to open...as I would imagine December to be, or maybe February because it traditionally seems to be slower.
Quite a number of shops report a slowing of business during the hot summer months. There definitely is a lull in business Jan-Feb. And if you want to take advantage of the Christmas season, then it's best to be open by Oct.
Otherwise, the "best" time to open is whenever you actually can open. But if you're doing your planning, figure out how much it will cost to operate and see if you can raise the capital to support the shop for a year or two. That will give you time to get in the groove and get things rolling.
In my opinion the best time to open has very little to do with the time of year. It really has a lot more to do with how much money you have to keep the doors open until you figure out what it takes to at least break even at the end of the month. We opened our shop last September in a small mountain town in southern California. Most of the other business owners here in town thought that it was both a good time to open and also a bad time. We felt we would have an instant following because we were opening up in a good location in the middle of town where another coffee shop had recently closed. I will say that you should use your local economy as a gauge, so that you you have a good idea of what to expect throughout the whole year. Also remember that the coffee biz doesn't always follow the retail norms. January through March can often be painfully slow, I think mainly because most folks are trying to recover from the Holiday spending season. What ever you do give yourself and you staff time to get comfortable before the busiest time of your year.
Oh, but how charming is your place!! Judging by the photo, you did well. I'd still say it's better to get out of the box running than to be dead in the water from Day 1. Hope it's working out well for you.
Definitely not 4th of July weekend, in heavily populated coastal village running ramped with tourists - as we crazy fools did!
I think that if you can afford to there are advantages to opening in a slower time. Mark made a great point about first impressions, and no matter how good you are you will make mistakes and changes in the beginning. If you open in a slower time of year, then you can fine tune your operations and really be on top of your game when your first "busy season"hits rather than just jumping into the fire.
Worst I image is Jan Feb when budgets are the tightest after Christmas and it's cold and miserable outside... I like to hibernate between New year and Valentine's Day. If you will have cold beverages of gelato as well as your coffee drinks spring summer could be good.
Any food offerings or are you a coffee only kind of place? What is your target market... old, young, teen , college? each have there own quirks. Learn your market and what their habits are. It's like gardening you look through all the catalogs, draw out sketches and make plans but ultimately it comes down to where you get your plants (equipment) from, do you have a green thumb (do you know what your doing) and will your soil even grow anything ( is their a customer base that will grow)?
Just because you love to watch the gardening shows on TV doesn't mean you can garden...
Just because a person loves coffee doesn't mean they run and operate a coffee house.
I spend more time on schedules, paperwork, banking and legal stuff then I do anything else. I fill in with the food orders and have had no time to perfect my barista skills. I only get to cook or bake in my own kitchen once a week because I'm too busy running the business.
Know the scope of your dream. Be prepared to change it as it grows and changes. Plan ahead and have a business plan!!! ANd that budget you worked so hard on... triple it... at least!
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