How to own a winning café

It is easy to set up a coffee shop, but how you run it will determine how successful the enterprise will be. The management tactics that you apply should be able to distinguish your establishment from other similar businesses, and keep you ahead of your rivals in the face of stiff competition.

We all know that having a well-built and maintained premises is the key to success, but here at Lake Contracts after carrying out many café refurbishments, we have learnt some (soon not to be) secrets, that in our experience will get your coffee shop in a good position in the market.

Some of the most important elements that will contribute to the success of your cafe are:


The services and products offered in coffee shops can be duplicated across establishments, but how the services are delivered is unique to every establishment. Aim to be swift in service, get the clients their precise orders, clear and clean the tables immediately after use, train your staff to be polite to guests and also offer your guests insightful information on your products to help them make the best order decisions. This will keep them coming back, and when they spread the word to their family or friends, you will have more clients walking into your coffee shop.


You definitely set up your business with the knowledge of the products that you will be offering, and you already have all the resources in place to make these products. As you start running your business, you will need to do value addition to these products and a great way to do this is to involve your clients. Let them give you feedback and suggestions on how to make better cappuccino, how to make their best donuts, the new types of cakes they would like to be included in the menu and some new combinations for your menu.


Investing in basic technology will help you achieve maximum output with minimum input, which is the goal of every establishment. You can invest in an espresso machine that fits into your budget to help you make different types of coffee perfectly and using minimum effort. You should also have an integrated management system that will process your sales transactions, link the front office operations with the back-office process and help you control your food and drink inventory for example. This would be much cheaper and time-saving than having these things done manually.


Consistency is key to any business, but the consistence should not be a bore. It is advisable to have some variations in your menu from time to time. For instance, you can have a special muffin for Tuesdays, special pies for Wednesdays and have special fresh juices or milkshakes on Fridays. Let your clients know of these special offers from your staff or menu. You can call them ‘Chef’s Special’ or ‘Today’s Special’ for example.


Most coffee shop owners will run their businesses with a lot of enthusiasm from the start but as soon as the guests start steaming in, they become comfortable and relax. This is a grave mistake and it could get you considering closing your cafe sooner than you expected. Make sure that you maintain your high standards of hygiene, production of quality foods and drinks, service of fresh products always and that your service delivery is consistent. Guest always take note of consistency in quality and they will keep coming to your shop.

Now you have woken up and smelt the coffee for ideas, have a look at our café refurbishment page for previous projects, ideas and inspiration.