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How to Run a Café

What can you do to run a café that stands out from the competition? This article finds out!

Running your café will be something that you will get better at over time as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. It might even take a bit of trial and error until you see what works. 

Keeping a few things in mind, however, can give you some guidance as to what you should focus on when you are getting things streamlined in your new business.


Your menu

There are several factors that you will need to consider when you are choosing what it is that you will serve in your café. Most importantly, you will need to have things on the menu that will appeal to customers and, therefore, draw them in.

Who are your customers? What is it that they want from you?

If you are surrounded by offices, you might need to focus on convenience. Having a menu that is easy to take away would make it a great option for people getting something on their way to work or on their lunch break.

If your target market is concerned with trends and fashion, it will be important to keep your menu stocked with dishes that are up to date with current trends. In South Africa, places like Johannesburg and Cape Town are home to the more ‘foodie’ trends and you’ll have to keep up with them to stay competitive.

Despite all this, though, it is usually much more cost effective to keep your menu short so that you don’t have to worry about keeping too much in stock, which can lead to wastage.


Focus on your customers

Your customers have to be your main focus. No matter how well you can cook or make coffee, without a customer base to buy your goods you will not make any money.

Engage with your customers and get a better idea of what it is that they like so that you can better cater to them. You should get to know your regulars and greet them when they come in. Becoming the ‘regular spot’ for your customer base will keep your sales up.

You can show your regulars that you appreciate them by giving them a free coffee every now and again or initiating a rewards scheme for people who keep coming back.


Marketing your café

Drawing customers into your café can be done in a few ways. You can rely on footfall or you can market your café in order to get customers to come specifically to you.

Never underestimate the value of word of mouth. Treating your existing customers well will encourage them to spread the word about your business. 

You can’t, however, rely solely on word of mouth. You will need to actively market your café and one of the easiest ways to do this is through social media. You can create accounts for your business and update it regularly to make sure that people’s interest is drawn to you.

When you are deciding which social media platforms to focus on, you need to be clued up on who your customer base is and what kind of content will appeal to them.

Other ways you could market your business is through review sites. Encourage happy customers to review your café so that other people who are looking for somewhere to go will trust that they should go to your café over the competition.

Two important review sites in South Africa are Zomato and Eat Out.


Are you ready?

Opening a café is a daunting task. For many people, it is fulfilling a dream and will often be the start of a long and rewarding venture.

Buying the correct café is important so that you can start out on the right foot. If you are in the right location with some goodwill already accumulated, it will be easy for you to mould the café to be successful and exactly the kind of café that you and your customers want.

Anthea Taylor

About the author

Anthea Taylor is Content Producer at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.