Open your cafe! Even if you're not ready, yet.
Are you still waiting for the right moment to open your cafe? That perfect moment, when you’re finally going to be ready to take that step?
Let me tell you this, there won’t be such thing! There will never be the perfect moment!
You will always feel, you still have to do this and that first, take care of certain things, get rid of some more concerns. But these things will be coming and going, even when you’re already within your cafe business. It’s never going to be all done and settled.
Even when you’re not ready, yet, go open that cafe anyways! Because, there’s no such thing as perfection, but praise the imperfection!
I’ve been visiting Berlin Coffee Festival the past weekend and talked to a lot of great coffee people. And I got some more recommendations on new cafes to check out.
One of them was Isla Coffee Berlin in Neukoelln district. Open only for 7 weeks, this place is a ‘work in progress’. For a good reason: A cafe will be always an ongoing project, even if you figured out a certain store concept in the beginning, an amazing interior design, your menu and all.
Isla is a small place with minimalistic designs, a huge table in the middle of the cafe space, some more benches and the counter. As of right now!
Also, with the first people coming in, the first coffees sold, there will be opinions and feedback, positive or negative. And this is actually a good thing, because, without amending things, without that feedback, there will be no moving forward, no progress.
Take that ‘imperfect’ first start and let it be your way of approaching things.
Your first customers might be even the ones of the cafe that used to be in that very space before yours. That’s good and kind of bad as well. Convincing regulars of your concept compared to another is not easy, but the chance is, that people are open to new things and keep coming back because they liked the place that used to be there before you moved in.
What that ‘work in progress’ part can do for you
Well, it kind of is a ‘new cafe’ whenever your customers come in each week! The lighting, the furniture, tables, chairs and all; the counter, coffee equipment. No one has to know, that you couldn’t afford to purchase these things totally new all at once right from the start.
It’s actually exciting! People will start to ask you, what the next thing to come will be or what has changed to when they last stopped by.
Involve your customers in that process
If that ‘work in progress’ means there will be some major changes and you'd have to close for a couple days or making larger amends on your menu, involve your customers within that process!
Give discounts or special offers. Your customers will appreciate you taking care of them, even in that imperfect surrounding. This is a great way of turning these customers into your first loyal regulars.
Going for that imperfection doesn’t mean to be just flexible. We all have to be, be it in private life or within our (cafe) businesses, at some point. Going for imperfection means to accepting the things to change all the time and adjusting to that change.
We don’t live in a safe bubble where no one from outside can do us any harm. Especially with you, either planning on opening a cafe or already opened one; you will always be the one having to do smaller or bigger amends.
Go for the curiosity of your customers
Let’s assume, you just opened your cafe. Let’s assume further, you opened your cafe in a space with another cafe being there before yours - completely different concept. You might have customers coming in and complaining about the old one to be gone and complaining about your new approach. You cannot blame them; we are all ‘creatures of habits’ and simply having troubles to say 'Goodbye' to the things we got used to and being open to new things.
But, what about the customers not even coming in, be it the customers of the cafe before or totally ‘new ones’ of the neighborhood stopping by?
Take their curiosity and make them coming in with an approach that is so easy, you’ll ask yourself, why you didn’t come up with it first!
What the heck…?! Well, remember the A-frame sign I mentioned in my last article about visibility? How about creating an A-frame sign that says: “We’re new! Come in and check us out! Curiosity discount of xyz%, only this week!” Or you could offer a certain special price for some of your coffee drinks, if you’re not a fan of percentage discounts!
I’m sure this will pull some customers through your doors! Playing with the curiosity that all of us have inside of ourselves, because we’re all just human beings and love new things. With a new place opened, most of us are a little skeptical at the same time: How will the people treat me there..? Will they judge me because of the way I like my coffee…?
Again, go for that imperfection! Even if you’re struggling and afraid of doing mistakes - well let’s not call it mistakes, it’s an experience, another chance to learn something. Learning from each other and getting to know your customers better. Because you’re a human being as well!
Peter and Philipp, owners of Isla Coffee Berlin, are two of these kind as well. Skilled people with a lot of power and motivation for their cause. I’m already excited to go there again. How different will it be then?
What holds you back from opening your doors? Share with us in the comments below!