Coffee is literally the elixir of life. It has been estimated that over 2.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed by people worldwide on a daily basis. Can you imagine the sales that coffee shops get in the fast-paced, ready-to-drink coffee market? Do you love coffee? Have you been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug? You know the one, the persistent, coffee-drinking bug that insists you could own your own coffee house.
Of course you can! Coffee houses are expected to grow up to 67% by 2022. They are also known for being incredibly resilient in markets that are otherwise volatile too. That erases some uncertainty that comes with the ownership of a small business. Combine your love of coffee with a positive entrepreneurial spirit and open your very own Alaska coffee house.
How Should You Set Up an Alaska Coffee House?
Great! You’ve decided to open an Alaska coffee house. There is an unprecedented caffeine-fueled obsession with the coffee shop retail industry in America. Consumers are devoted to the steamy brew and that devotion is only getting stronger and hotter in Alaska. Promising areas for coffee shops are Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, and more.
Welcome to a new generation of coffee lovers that demand high-quality coffee served in a beautiful space that caters to their every whim with exceptional customer service. When you can offer the perfect cup of java along with services that are immaculate, your Alaska coffee house has the potential to become quite profitable.
The solution is to do as much research as you can about the coffee house industry in Alaska, and then do some more. It is a practical approach that is the smartest way to do business. Start by researching local small business insurance as well as the integral steps to starting an Alaska coffee house.
- The Integral Steps to Starting an Alaska Coffee House
You Need a Solid Business Plan
One of the very first steps you need to take when opening an Alaska coffee house is creating a business plan. There are many aspects you need to keep in mind including validating your business, getting a good sense of the market in your area, how you’re going to reach customers, and how you need to differentiate your business from competitors.
Consider how you want your logo and signage to appear. You need an image that is going to capture the imagination and represent your specific brand identity. Your logo is the ‘face’ of your coffee house. The name and signage should also complement each other.
Speak with a professional designer, or use the services of a design studio. They are more than happy to include your ideas and give you options so you can choose the precise logo and signage you prefer. Once you have your logo you can have signs, stickers, and many other accessories made for branding purposes.
What is going to be the great draw to your coffee house? Are you going to serve high-end coffee using only the best bean varieties and grinders? Do you plan on serving pour-overs exclusively? Are baked goods, sandwiches, light breakfasts, and lunches on the menu? You have many decisions to make that all need to be included in your business plan.
You don’t want your coffee house plan to fail. A detailed plan can keep this from happening. Every business needs a plan in order to gain a deeper understanding of the market, current and potential growth, and the organization itself. With a firm plan in place, you also stand the chance of attracting serious investors.
- Elements for a Business Plan Should Include:
Registering Your Business Is Important
When you open a new business, you need to make sure that you register it within the state. There are going to be necessary permits and licenses you will need to obtain too. In order to turn your new coffee house into a legal entity, you’ll need a business license. This can be achieved using the state of Alaska’s government website. Be sure to read all of the details that may include license renewal annually.
Depending on your exact location you may need different essential licenses such as a certificate of occupancy, an employer identification number, a food service license, sign permits, and possibly a license for playing any recorded music. It is a good idea to check the rules of the state of Alaska so you aren’t fined for not having the appropriate permits and licenses.
Success for Businesses Is about Location
Success for any business is really about being in the right location. This goes double for a coffee shop in Alaska. You really need to know the area where you wish to do business. You also need to know about the weather so you can keep up with commercial snow removal. You want customers to be able to easily reach your establishment no matter how much snow has accumulated.
Other parameters that require consideration include easy access, a central location, high visibility, consistent foot traffic, and of course a space that fully encompasses your vision. You want the right feel and size that fits your concept. It is important that you don’t become discouraged. Finding your ‘dream spot’ will not happen immediately. The process could take months. Don’t give up until you have found the perfect location and spot.
An Alaska Coffee House Needs a Welcoming Floor Plan
A solid floor plan will prove to be welcoming with the right touches. Make sure there is plenty of space for customers to form a line. Employees will need to be able to reach supplies and materials easily for quick access. Most of all, you want a comfortable and relaxing seating area for your customers.
A good floor plan takes careful planning and consideration. Key points to keep in mind include heating, plumbing, the type of POS system you want in place, and security systems. You need to know exactly what you want to be included in your coffee house to ensure the location and space are both fitting in regards to your desired floor plan.
You also want to avoid remodeling modifications or costly fines. Initially, imagine going through every scenario possible from making coffee to serving and cleaning. Furthermore, put yourself in the mind-set of customers to ensure the seating area is relaxing. Be sure to ask for assistance in creating a successful Alaska coffee house floorplan so every aspect you visualize can become a reality.
The floor plan for your coffee house will help you find the right vibe that is crucial to your business. The atmosphere is what is going to attract a customer base that turns into your loyal customers. Make sure the interior is memorable for being stylish. Select an attractive color palette and lighting. Include comfortable furniture that still gives plenty of space between seated customers. Finally, furnishing should also be practical, quick to fix, and easy to clean.
Also, make sure that your focus is on the exterior of your coffee house too. Pay attention to the exterior appearance, landscaping, and signage since those are the first things potential customers will see before entering your coffee shop. A first impression can make the difference between gaining more customers or losing them.
Choose Ideal Equipment and Suppliers
If you haven’t been able to rent a space that already has coffee equipment, which is a great idea, then you have a few more options open to you. You can purchase new equipment, purchase used equipment that’s in good shape, or possibly find equipment for free. It is possible if you have great diplomacy skills and luck. You may be able to negotiate with foodstuffs suppliers by signing a long-term contract in order to get the use of their equipment.
Finding the ideal suppliers is a never-ending task. Start a local search and then focus on quality. Don’t be afraid to fully explore the coffee and foodstuffs markets. Check reviews whenever possible. Once you have narrowed down suitable suppliers, check their terms of business and prices. This will help you make a final decision. Just be sure to read any contracts very carefully. You have the right to use several suppliers if you choose.
Try Getting Funding from Local Sources
Staring an Alaska coffee house is going to require funding. You could try asking friends and family members to invest in your business. That’s the whole purpose of having a solid business plan in place. If this isn’t an option, then you should look into local loan options.
Consider getting an SBA backed loan or speak with a local credit union or bank. They may want to see that your business already has some traction. Typically, both entities want to know you are already a reasonable risk. If you haven’t started your business yet, there are more options to consider such as bootstrapping your business.
You Should Hire an Accountant
Owning your own business can be tough, especially when it comes to accounting. Hand your books over to an experienced accountant. Having valuable numbers-experts as part of your team will work in your favor. Consider an accountant to be a small business consultant. They should believe in you and your business. An accountant can handle many financial aspects of your business including taxes and payroll too.
Before You Open Your Alaska Coffee House Develop a Marketing Plan
A firm marketing strategy starts the moment your coffee house is just an initial idea in your mind. Don’t want to start marketing or you’re going to get behind before you ever get started. Develop the marketing strategy for your coffee shop and start advertising several months before you even open the doors.
How can you accomplish what seems to be an insurmountable task? There are many affordable marketing options you should consider. Partner with local businesses and offer them free coffee for advertising on-site.
Begin to leverage your business on social media by directly communicating with potential customers. Getting a firm grip on social media management is something that should be implemented as soon as you start using social media. It’s also a good idea to have a website to link back to that fully introduces your coffee shop and entices business. You will need a great website design that’s user-friendly and attractive.
Include your coffee house in local events and give specialty coffee samples for free before your grand opening. Start an email or small direct mail campaign and sent coupons to local businesses and residents. Make sure you call everyone, especially the media, to announce the plans you have for opening your coffee house. Network your heart out!
Hire Staff Carefully
Being able to find the perfect staff is nothing other than tricky. The focus should be on finding people with a positive attitude that can properly operate your POS, wait on customers, as well as make menu items and drinks. It is not a good idea to hire people too fast. Hire neighbors or a few friends who want to help before you have a full, dependable staff.
The whole idea is to bring staff on slowly. Finding trusted employees can be difficult. Good interviews do not always ensure that a new team member is going to be a good fit. You won’t really know how well they fit until they have worked on the floor. Ultimately, this is your business so take care of it and don’t be scared of letting people go if it turns out they’re hurting your business.
Keep Your Attitude Positive
Your business will face challenges. It’s how you look at those challenges that’s going to make the difference. Keep a positive attitude, especially when things look dire. Your outlook is going to benefit your Alaska coffee house by outwardly showing strong leadership to employees as well as sharing a friendly presence with customers.