OK I’d probably be drinking so much of it myself that I wouldn’t make much profit ;-), but still… I regularly have a look at coffee shops / cafe’s for sale on eBay and business sales brokers, not that I am in a position to buy one, but I can dream.
When I consider the idea of setting up a speciality coffee shop business, I’m usually in two minds with regards which would be the best plan, to start from scratch or to buy an existing cafe & “hit the ground running”. On one hand buying an existing coffee shop save a lot of messing about when it comes to buying the equipment and getting it all set up, but then on the other hand I think that would probably be one of the most exciting parts of it, starting off with just an empty shell of a unit or a van, and sculpting it into a thriving coffee shop or mobile coffee business.
By the way, if you do run a cafe or you’re thinking of it, see do cafe businesses really need a website these days?
I’ve often thought about buying a mobile coffee business, and there are often mobile coffee vans or existing mobile cafe businesses for sale on eBay, but I can imagine spending most of my life sat in traffic, which puts me off.
I know some coffee trailers / vans that get a good spot can do very well, but I also know that there is a lot of competition for great spots, and I’ve never seen a mobile coffee business for sale that includes the pitch, I’m guessing that’s not possible in most cases. I did once see a cafe van for sale that had a really good pitch and offered details for the pitch but no guarantee that the new owner would be able to retain it.
I do sometimes look at coffee shops that are for sale and see lots of opportunities to improve, for instance some of the coffee shops I see for sale don’t have a website, they probably don’t think they need one, but not having a website I think is a huge mistake, and they don’t need to be overly expensive. Not having active social media accounts, and not making the most of the the opportunities that the latest social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have to offer I think is an opportunity to transform a just ticking over coffee shop into a thriving one.
There are lots of other opportunities I can see to turn around coffee shops which perhaps aren’t doing so well, such as new branding, new name & signage, new improved menu, Facebook targeted marketing campaign focusing on those who follow business on the same street. Local mail-shots, email list building and marketing, doing something newsworthy and informing the local press about it. Uploading some funny viral videos to YouTube, installing decent wifi, installing plug points at each table, and the list goes on. So from this perspective I think taking over a coffee shop which you can see has definite areas you could improve upon, would be a great idea.
From another perspective though, if I were setting up a coffee shop from scratch I could focus on getting all of this right from the start, and at the same time I could ensure I was opening the business in the right spot, kitting it out with the right gear, setting the decor exactly how I want it, and also utilize the natural interest that a new coffee shop opening in an area would create locally, which may not be the same with a change of ownership.
If I was buying an existing coffee shop business, one thing I would ensure that I do, as well as ensuring that there are plenty of improvements I would be able to make to the business, would be to speak to the current owners and convince them to speak to me open and honestly about their reasons for selling up. I’d tell them that it doesn’t matter to me that there may be a negative reason for the sale such as not enough business, and on the contrary I would prefer it if there was a reason like this behind the decision to sell up, as that means an opportunity to improve. If I was looking at taking over any business, and they were to tell me that everything is hunky dory and the reason for the sale is nothing to do with the business itself, I would be concerned that the seller isn’t being completely honest and therefore the main reason for the sale, and therefore the main opportunity to improve things could be hidden from me.
For instance lets say that the real reason for the sale is that the owners of the business found that they hated running a coffee shop. Maybe they didn’t like working with the public, and they had a number of run in’s with customers? I know someone who once ran a coffee shop, who told me exactly this, she just discovered that she didn’t like dealing with people very much, and she got incredibly irritated by people, and found herself snapping at customers, and for that reason ended up selling the business on.
If this were the case, the current owners might not want to share that info, but it would be the biggest opportunity to improve, as I would know that I needed to focus on ensuring that all previous / current customers realised that the business had changed hands, and I’d do that by initially changing the name to something completely different, and putting up a huge sign saying “New Very Friendly Owners – Come in For a Chat!”
This is all just fantasy for me, at least for now, as I’m not in a position to buy a coffee shop at this point, but I do think it’s something I will do at some oint in the future.
Anyway, for anyone who is considering taking on an existing coffee shop, here are some that are currently available:
Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.