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Modern Cafe Operations Keeping Your Coffee Shop Competitive

Modern Cafe Operations: Keeping Your Coffee Shop Competitive

There’s always something new brewing when you run the local coffee shop. From the first brew of the day to the last pour, you’re always on the go. But with so much hustle and bustle, it can be hard to keep up with your daily cafe operations. We hear it from the shops we serve all the time.

At Dilworth Coffee, we believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice to provide a great blend at a great price. You can serve up smooth coffee blends and enjoy smooth operations, too. 

We’re all about helping the shops we serve. That’s why we make sure our coffee is the best around—because it keeps your customers coming back for another cup. For us, supporting our coffee community isn’t just about the beans. We’re here to help your shop thrive.

5 Modern Strategies for Coffee Shop and Cafe Operations

In our time working with coffee shops and cafes in our little corner of the world, we’ve picked up a tip or two along the way. Here are a few ways you can stay ahead when running a coffee shop.

Examine Your Food Costs

Cafe operations go way beyond grinding beans. One of the most important things you can do is cut down on waste—which means tracking things like inventory usage and recipe measurements.

But do you also understand your theoretical food costs versus your actual food costs?

  • Your theoretical food cost is all about what your cafe costs should be, based on their current costs. This figure doesn’t account for things like improper portion sizes, spillage, waste, shrinkage, or products that pass their expiration date.

  • Your actual food cost is how much money you actually spent for the same period, factoring in accidental waste, shrinkage, and more.

By tracking the variance between these two amounts, you can find places to make up for lost profits.

Say your theoretical food cost is 32.9 percent of your expenditures, and your actual food cost ends up being 33.3 percent. Your variance is low—which means your coffee shop’s ingredients are being used efficiently. Now that's cause for celebration!

But if you have a theoretical food cost of 29 percent and an actual food cost of 31.5 percent, your variance is considerably higher. With a 2.5 percent variance, you might want to examine where your resources are not being used efficiently, and where there’s room for improvement.

Make the Most of Your Menu

Just like putting together the perfect roast, menu engineering is an art form. It’s all about designing and pricing your shop or cafe menu to make the most of your resources and ensure that your most profitable items sell most often. It can also help ensure that your most popular items are earning you the profits they should. It’s a delicate balance but it’s also one that can help you stay on top of your operations and maximize your earning potential. Now who doesn't want that?

A smart point-of-sale (POS) system can help edit your menu, refine your prices, and even create exciting seasonal offerings your customers are bound to love that also makes good financial sense for your bottom line.

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Stay On Top of Staffing

Community is everything. Your team is one of your most valuable resources. Much like menu engineering, building an effective staff schedule can help you handle the ebbs and flows of your peak hours and slow periods while also managing labor costs.

A well-designed schedule helps prevent understaffing and limits overstaffing, keeping your team happy. A certain amount of turnover is to be expected in the coffee shop world, but the more you do to limit that, the less you spend on onboarding and training, and the better off you’ll be. A frantic morning with too many customers and too few employees can make even the toughest of baristas ready to turn in their apron.

You may want to consider scheduling software, which can help you keep labor costs in check and schedule your team appropriately to tackle the busy morning rush and keep employees happy.

Manage Your Inventory

If cafe operations were a sandwich, inventory management would be your bread and butter. Meaning? Everything else is important, but without it, you don’t have a way to make a sandwich—or a successful shop. Your shop carries lots of perishable inventory, which could quickly go to waste if not managed correctly.

An inventory management system that’s fully integrated with your POS, as well as with staff inventory counts and vendor invoices, helps you really understand what your anticipated demand is. It also tells you exactly how much inventory you have at one time. This means you can keep an eye on short-term and long-term trends, make data-driven ordering decisions, and ensure you always have what you need, all without creating excess waste.

Find Simple Ways to Save and Grow: Go PRO

Modern Cafe Operations - Find Simple Ways to Save and Grow Go PRO

You’re a pro. Nobody in your neck of the woods knows coffee the way you do. Our advice? Why not shop and save like a pro, too?

When you find ways to save—a discount on a bulk order here, a savvy shipping decision there, it can really add up. And when done right, that can make a huge difference in your cafe operations. It can even free you up enough to invest these earnings back into your shop.

That’s why we created Dilworth PRO. With PRO, you can take advantage of all kinds of savings options to make the most of every order. Dilworth Coffee got its start as a coffee shop. Over the years, we’ve owned coffee shops, we’ve operated coffee shops—and we’ve even helped thousands of owners and operators based on everything we’ve learned. In that time, we have seen firsthand how important the specialty coffees and products you need to run your business are for your operations.

PRO is all about speeding up your operations. Supplying you—the business operator—with the best coffee on the block, all ready to ship, and at a price that could help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

That’s a whole lotta beans.

One big way to stay ahead with your coffee shop operations is our Mix & Match Savings program. Available only on PRO, this program lets you combine similar items in a product family to get case discounts. So you can buy the individual unit, multiples of the same unit, or a full case of different similar units. The more you buy, the more you save! Mix & Match includes top industry brands such as Torani, Monin, Oregon Chai, Big Train, Two Leaves and a Bud, Lotus, Pacific Foods, and more! The best part is, your Mix & Match savings are applied automatically as you shop! So no subscription or codes are required. Just like that!

We also have a deep inventory of products to keep your shop supplied with fast fulfillment. Plus, two shipping options for even more savings:

  • Free Freight: Coast to coast, orders of $1,000 or more receive free shipping throughout the contiguous United States; automatically applied with no subscription needed!

  • Freight & More Program: This monthly subscription program is great for when you don’t have a huge order but still want to get free shipping! At only $99 per month and $50 per month for each additional location, get your items shipped free with a minimum purchase of $79. Your first 30 days are FREE! This program is available in NC, SC, VA, MD, DC, GA, KY, TN, PA, WV, NJ, DE, AL, and OH.

Here’s why we do this:

You’re part of our community. You matter to us. We want to save you money, and Mix & Match and our free shipping options on PRO are just two ways we help make that happen for you.

PRO translates to money in your metaphorical pocket. You also get perks like competitive volume pricing for large orders and cost-saving subscription options for low-volume orders.

One of the most important things PRO provides? Access to coffee experts and professionals for guidance on cafe operations, plus custom-tailored training to help you bring your vision for your coffee shop to life. Elaborate latte art? Pour-over pointers? Menu design and pricing? We’re your people.

There are so many ins and outs when it comes to how to operate a coffee shop and getting out in front of the pack—and it comes down to how you manage it all. Want to learn more about how we can help you stay ahead of your coffee shop operations? We’ve got a whole menu of services to take your daily roast to the next level. Contact our team today!

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