Australians are huge coffee drinkers and our coffee drinking habits represent a major part of our culture and of our history. Coffee is a lifestyle much more as it is being just an energy booster and so many coffee shops flourished all around the country because of these facts. Have you given this business a thought? Is a shop too expensive for you to start now? Or is it too big for you to operate? If that’s the case, we’ve got a suggestion for you – a coffee cart business.
Yes, nearly every block you see has a coffee shop of its own already and almost every major city spot has a big retail coffee franchise operating there, thanks to the likes of Starbucks and Gloria Jeans. But the business opportunity that is waiting to be tapped lies in the capability to be mobile. Imagine being present and to be serving coffee in special events, in different places each week, visiting companies, trade shows, expos, homes, and parties. Not to mention that you don’t have to start big right away. This only requires a lower capital and with less complicated operational procedures. You can actually survive with just two to five personnel and you can hire them on a part-time basis only when there is an event or an invitation.
Interested? We don’t blame you. Statistics show that there is a strong month on month growth in the café and coffee business in each state. The demand is strong and with the influx of business owners who are keen on introducing new coffee and food products, this kind of business is expected to thrive in the years to come. But just how do you start a coffee cart business? Let us tell you how with these 8 easy steps.
- Create a sound business plan.
Many aspiring business owners think that they can do away with a business plan. For them, it is better to focus on the physical aspects of the business right away rather than visualizing the entire scenario first. But think of a business plan as a blueprint. It sets the course as to where your business will go and guides you as well on what needs to be accomplished to be able to move forward. It details the things that you want to happen in the areas of marketing, recruitment, finance, and business development. It is something that you can refer to each time you think that you might be confused and disorganised.
Business plans can be short or lengthy depending on how much information you want to place there. But a standard one should have a section that tackles the concept of your business which in this case is a coffee cart business, the marketplace meaning your target market and how you plan to approach them, and the financials like its source and how you will manage your money. Other segments of the business plan which could be beneficial for you to study are competitive analysis which is a look into others who are in the same business, sales and marketing strategies, partnerships, and metrics which is knowing how to measure the growth of your company.
- Finalise your menu and pricing.
The very fact that you are planning to launch this type of business means that you are a coffee lover or is at least very interested in coffee. Over the years, coffee has been prepared in many ways – hot and cold, which can be mixed with one or more other ingredients. There are also several types of coffees coming from different places like Indonesia, Brazil, or Africa. On top of coffee, you can also offer smoothies and bakery products like bagels, sandwiches, cookies, and chips. Bottom line, there is a wide range of products that you can sell and you can easily get lost as to what to include in your menu. But just remember that what you are about to start is a coffee cart, not a full-blown coffee shop. Therefore, you should simplify your menu according to what you can actually prepare or concoct given the space of your cart, the number of staff that will man the cart, and also the type of market that you want to serve. If you prefer to be a niche coffee cart serving a specific product type only then feel free as a lot of kiosks and carts are going this way now.
Next is pricing. Remember these basic rules when it comes to pricing:
- Your pricing should cover the cost of operating the business.
- Your pricing should assure the generation of profit.
- Study, monitor, and evaluate competition, the industry, and your business and see if your pricing needs to be adjusted.
- Formalise agreements with your suppliers, business contacts, and partners.
No matter how small your business is, you still need to formalise your contracts with your suppliers, business contacts, and partners. This way, you are putting an extra shield of protection on top of the trust that you may already have for them. A contract also identifies how your business partnership should be conducted, how collection and payment should be carried out, how long your contract will last, and some clauses as to how you can terminate your agreement should a party fail to comply.
Make sure to nourish your business relationships by investing time to call or meet with your partners from time to time. Partners could open other doors for your business later or can introduce you to a potential client. Suppliers also know a lot of other places too where you can station your coffee cart so don’t miss to make them feel valued all the time.
- Buy or have the cart constructed, complete the needed equipment & tools, and stock on the coffee and food ingredients that are going to be used.
It is now time for you to complete the actual cart that you will be moving from places to places. There are a lot of ready-made coffee carts that can be purchased and they may already come with the equipment that you will need. At the same time, there are also handymen who specialise in building food carts and with them that you can request for a particular cart design to be constructed. When it comes to equipment and tools, you may refer to our FREE Coffee Standard Operating Procedures Manual for a complete list.
Create a full inventory of the products and materials that you will need. Your cart should also have a small compartment where you can keep some materials that will be needed on the go. However, you still need to have a cool and dry room or office where you will keep the rest of your stocks.
- Start hiring staff or baristas.
Once your coffee cart has been completed, you are now ready to hire the staff or the barista that will man the cart. Hiring before the business launch will give you time to train him or her of the systems and procedures that you would like to be implemented like greeting customers in a special way, giving out vouchers and coupons, upselling, or ordering stocks for inventory. Firstly, you will need to formulate the job description. It will detail the roles and responsibilities that you will be delegating to your staff as well as the key skills and qualities that you will be looking for. It is ideal to hire a barista as having one on your team ensures that your coffee products are mixed, prepared, and served the right way. A barista is trained and experienced to handle coffee products.
- Apply for the permits needed in the city that you want to operate in.
Being a responsible business owner also means familiarising yourself with the various laws and regulations on business, health, and food of the city or cities where you plan to station your coffee cart. Never think that you own a small business only that is why you can do away with these things. Laws and regulations apply to everyone to safeguard the safety and rights of consumers and so you should adhere accordingly. Apply for the necessary permits before launching your business. Customers will also feel at ease purchasing food products from you if they know that you carry that special paper given by the government saying that you sell safe and healthy food products.
- Have a tour and activity plan.
One of the best features of your business is the capability to be mobile and to tap new customers. You may have a regular spot where you will station your coffee cart but you can also go to other places where there is an expected gathering or event. You may also accept invitations to corporate events to serve coffee and pastries in meetings or seminars. You may also attend parties, trade shows, and festivals. It would then help for you to organise these in a tour and activity plan. Plot out your activities ahead and organise your events in this document so you and your staff won’t get confused on what has been scheduled for the day.
- Set up a feedback system.
As a start-up, suggestions and feedback matter a lot most especially if they are from your customers. These will help you improve your business and further grow it into a business that the market loves and patronizes. You can ask for feedback by making your barista ask a customer casually or by handing out a small paper that customers can quickly answer. You can also run a survey in your Facebook page or set up a poll in your website. There are so many ways to gather your customers’ thoughts about your business and you just have to be creative and analytical. Just remember that once the data are in, you should act on your findings right away.
Need help in starting your own business? We have several manuals that might be of help. Just visit https://businessmanualsmadeeasy.com/ and avail of a 10% discount when you use the “HELLO10%” voucher.