One of the great things about working at Jenier World of Teas is getting to know and speak with, many excellent tearooms and cafes. Over the years they’ve taught us a thing or two about their business so we’ve compiled some of their tips for people thinking of opening or running a café or tearoom.
1.Location, Location, Location
In the end you can have the most wonderful décor, the finest tea and best staff but if you aren’t located in a place that suits your customers you’re not going to succeed. The ideal location isn’t always a busy high street or shopping centre. The best location is where the people you want to have as customers can most easily access you. That decision will be influenced by the type of business you plan on running.
2.What Type Of Business Do You Want?
The business model you plan on pursuing should heavily influence your location. For example are you taking over an existing business or starting something from afresh? These require different business plans. Take time and commit to writing a plan, estimate your budgets, make sure you allow for the ‘unknown’ and ensure if all goes to plan you’re making a profit. Having a passion for your new business is great, but that passion can sometimes blind you from seeing that certain projects or new lines might feel like a really good idea, but in practice are not always cost effective. So challenge your ideas from a cost perspective and don’t forget to include your time as a cost!
3.Have A Marketing Strategy
Marketing is essential for any business, particularly a new one. Marketing can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Marketing isn’t just high-profile advertisements, its social media, loyalty cards, posters in your window, point of sale and, most importantly word of mouth. We’ve seen some amazing social media campaigns building interest before opening. Posting pictures of the refurb, getting prospective customers involved in the menu choices – people love to feel involved and love to track progress and this interest will help build up your customer following so when you open you already have local awareness.
4.Design With Your Customer In Mind
This might sound obvious but customers will look and judge your tearoom before entering. If your tearoom is traditional it might not appeal to some, likewise if it’s modern and trendy. Think of who you want as your customer and design with them in mind. Themed cafés are very popular, so be creative and have fun.
5.Recruit With Care
The staff are your most important asset. Choose them with care, spend time training them and make sure they know exactly what is expected of them. Supervise them, support them as they learn, for like everyone, they’ll make mistakes and praise them when appropriate. Encourage them to get to know all of the products and offer recommendations. The more they know about what you serve the better informed your customers will be to make choices and explore your menu.
6.Keep A Clear Head
Again it might seem like common sense but it’s surprising how difficult this can be to achieve. When running a business it can become all consuming. Try and find a way of clearing your head. You’ll make better decisions that way. Also consider your general well-being. Try to stay fit and healthy, make the time for yourself because you’re the single most important person in the business.
7.Consider joining the UK Tea Guild
This is a nationally recognised organisation that will vet your operation 'unannounced' and membership is by invitation only. So you need to be on your toes to be a top tearoom. However, although this means hard work and dedication, we’ve spoken to many tearooms who’ve told us it’s worth it. You are likely to gain more marketing opportunities through the Tea Guild and it is a true sign of a quality tearoom.
Regular internal reviews of your business is a great way of keeping your eye on the ball. Remember customers can leave reviews online, good or bad, without your permission. Embrace this, ask people to leave reviews, address any that aren’t good in an open and honest way. Don’t shy away from these, even if you think a review is unfair. It helps to recognise that customers can more often than not tell if someone has a fair grievance or is being unreasonable – how you respond to negative comments often carries more weight than anything else your customers might read, so give them confidence in your professional approach.
9.Build Great Relationships
Try and have a good relationship with everyone who could impact on your business. Not just the obvious people like customers, but also suppliers, environmental health department, the rates office, neighbouring businesses through to delivery drivers, couriers and postmen. If you project a positive and welcoming attitude it encourages others to respond in kind.
10.Source The Best Suppliers
It’s not all about cost. You need suppliers you can reply on, and build a relationship with, suppliers who can help bring value to your business. By using the best produce your customers will enjoy their experience more and good suppliers can help you out of a jam at times. They understand the pressures of running a business too.
Now, if only there was an expert, independent, customer focussed supplier of tea you could speak with…
P.S…. we’re available for your call on +44 (0)1505 800 797