Location, location, location. Just as in real estate, location is the most important thing when opening a business. Your marketing plan and branding may be on point. You may make the best cup of coffee in town. But if your location is bad, your shop will struggle to keep its doors open.
Some of you may already have a location in mind – that's great! But if you don't, you'll need to do some serious research to find the right spot. Even if you do have a location in mind, you'll need to figure out the size of your shop and the layout.
How to Choose a Coffee Shop Location
Choosing a coffee shop location is complicated. You can't just pick a dot on the map and hope for the best. Like with anything else in business, your decision needs to be informed, calculated and smart.
Traffic and Visibility
The first thing you need to consider is foot and car traffic. A small shop in a busy part of town – like Main Street – will likely be a better location than a large shop in a dead (i.e. mostly empty) shopping mall.
Spend time in the areas you're considering. Pay attention to the number of people walking and driving down the block. Will there be enough traffic to keep your doors open?
Choosing the right coffee shop location also means being visible. If you choose a location on a narrow side street, no one is going to know your shop exists. It doesn't matter if it's right off of Main Street or walking distance from a college. Your shop needs to be visible to people walking and driving by.
It's important to know your neighbors. Do the people in your target market work or live nearby? Will these people pass by your shop on their way to work?
If you choose a space in a part of town that gets little traffic and the nearby residents don't seem to be interested in coffee, you'll have a hard time succeeding with your shop.
The Shop Type
When choosing a location, you need to consider the type of shop you want to open. All of the factors are virtually the same no matter the shop type, but with mobile shops, you have more flexibility. In this case, you may be able to set up shop in the parking lot of a busy shopping mall that has no available retail space. You couldn't get this type of advantage with a conventional coffee shop.
Size is an important thing to consider when choosing a location. Will the space be able to accommodate your vision for your coffee shop? If you want to offer food and a place to relax, you'll need to make sure that the shop is large enough to accommodate tables and a kitchen.
On the other hand, if you want to open a smaller shop that only serves coffee drinks, then you'll want to choose a smaller space – one that allows people to get in and out easily.
You found the perfect location – congratulations. But can you afford it? In some cases, higher rent costs can be justified. A prime location would likely increase your sales, which would offset the higher rent costs.
The cost of the rent can only be justified if your projected sales will more than cover the cost of rent.
Analyze the Competition
Let's say you have a few locations in mind. Who will your competitors be? Keep in mind that your competitors may not necessarily be obvious.
For example, you're considering a location near a grocery store. The store gets a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. For all intents and purposes, it's a great location. But here's the thing: there's a Starbucks inside of the grocery store.
This may not be a big deal if you're planning to open a drive-thru stand or the location is along a busy route to where most people work. Otherwise, you may have a hard time getting people to choose your shop over the well-established coffee chain that's already inside of the store.
One last thing: don't rush this process. Many owners of successful coffee shops say it took them at least a year to find the right location. Also, consider the design of the shop. If you're going for an industrial look, you'll need to focus on locations that can help you achieve that look (e.g. old warehouses).
How to Make a Coffee Shop Floor Plan
Once you've found your location, it's time to come up with a floor plan. This is the fun part because you can tap into your creative side.
There's a good chance that you have some idea in mind for your coffee shop floor plan. Maybe you envision a seating area in the back and a welcoming coffee bar that greets visitors as they walk through the door.
What kind of vibe do you want to create inside of your coffee shop? Do you want something unique, or do you want to follow in the footsteps of other trendy shops?
A lot of coffee shop floor plan designs include:
- Reclaimed wood
- Industrial themes
- Shabby chic interiors
- Metal furniture
- Brick walls
- Exposed pipes
- Chalkboard-style menus and boards
- Big windows to maximize natural light
- Simple, minimalistic furniture
- Comfortable seating and lounge areas
- Clean, modern layout and colors (black, white, wood)
Floor Plans and Layouts
It's possible to find coffee shop floor plan ideas online, but it's important to remember that your space is unique. It has its own look and feel. That makes it difficult to take a "cookie cutter" layout and use it in your shop.
Consider how guests will enter, what they will see when they first walk in and where they will naturally go when they've received their order. There should be a nice flow to keep the space feeling comfortable and to prevent chaos inside of your shop.
Depending on the space you've chosen, the counter and kitchen may already be in place. If not, you may have free rein to do as you please with the layout.
A few things you need to consider:
- Can the barista work efficiently in the allotted space?
- Can the staff get to the other side of the cash wrap quickly?
- Will customers understand how to order when they walk through the door?
The best coffee shop floor plan is one that takes the customers and the shop's concept into account. Customers should be able to move smoothly from the front door to the counter to the pick-up area and to the tables (if you have them) or out the door. If people have to fight through crowds to get in and out of your shop, they may just choose to go elsewhere.
Once you have a layout in place – one that will work well for your customers and staff – you can start thinking about signage, in-store design, storefront design and all of that other fun stuff (e.g. décor).
Learn more on how to open a coffee shop:
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 1: Choose Your Concept
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 2: Create A Business Plan And Find Insurance
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 3: Budget - Expenses Vs Profits
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 5: Supplies And Equipment
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 6: Local Regulations And Licenses
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 7: Hire The Right Staff
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 8: The Menu And Food Safety Issues
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 9: Marketing And Promotion
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 10: Maximize The Revenue