This is where it gets really tricky. The aim to setting up a coffee shop should be by doing so on a limited budget. From the start, it has been my objective to find ways to cut costs where possible without it looking cheap. However, many things pop up after the budgeting process, and by then finances are limited. I also received the best cost saving advice when it was already too late. So pay attention and you could save some money.
Begin by writing down everything you might need. Go into detail here. Napkins, cloths, cleaning agents, an increase in phone calls prior to opening, etc. I felt assured I had planned for every eventuality, but I was proven wrong many times over. Make sure even the most unlikely expense is added.
One of your most expensive items will be the espresso machine and grinder. Contrary to what you might think, you do NOT have to buy these items brand new. Most start-ups have had early success with decent second-hand equipment. Just get an expert to inspect the machine before buying it. We bought a reliable old Brasilia, henceforth known as Old Faithful. To be different, the Nexus team did a nifty paint job on Old Faithful, and she is now ready to work.
After you have made a list of what items are needed for your shop, ask yourself which of these would be adequate if purchased as a good-condition second-hand item. Then begin booking auction dates and attend a couple to get the gist of proceedings. Great bargains are to be had for the savvy entrepreneur. I will not recommend buying crockery or an espresso machine on auction, but things like tables, fridges, work stations, etc., could save you a lot of money. Sadly I missed the auctions, but this is sound advice which came my way later.
Google for second-hand items on sites like Gumtree or similar classifieds. You are bound to find someone selling old restaurant or catering equipment. I even used Gumtree to get estimate prices on items, as not to be done in along the way. Also use Google to check specs and price comparisons before buying anything. Make ridiculous offers on items, come in with a low price and see what happens.
3. Less bulk buying
It is true that buying in bulk reduces cost per item. However to open your store, you do not need 5000 take-away cups and sugar packets. Pace your purchases. An as-and-when approach is a safer approach. Even with crockery, we bought tea cups, americano cups and cappuccino cups with a universal double well saucer. So we could start with about 30 cups of each and only 30 saucer to share until the demand increased.
4. DIY shop fitting
Unless you constantly rework the costs to setting up, shop fitting can and will be an outrageous expense that quickly gets out of hand. Best result: do it yourself. I don’t mean you should become a handy man overnight, but you will have to get involved a bit. I always wanted Polvo to have an earthy theme. My carpentry and plumbing skills are extremely limited, but I roped in the help of some more apt friends and together we managed to get everything done. Drilling the odd hole or painting a bit is not rocket science.
5. Wisdom and friends
Consult those who know better than you. Join and follow organizations, groups and institutions who can assist you with industry-related assistance. Make friends with experts, suppliers or like-minded businessmen and constantly ask them for advice. Soak it up. More exposure to the environment assist with budgeting like nothing else. The Coffee Mag always has some great articles about the coffee business and SCASA always has some advice floating around on their website, and those of its members. Hanno from Strictly Coffee was a never-ending source of advice and it was fun bouncing ideas around throughout the process.
Keep these 5 points in mind when starting out and keep a close eye over where your money goes.