If you plan to open your own café, the coffee shop floor plan will be the most important decision you make. In many states, shop owners will need to submit floor plans in order to get a permit for new restaurant construction. This means that before the physical work – demolition, electrical work, plumbing, and appliance installation – you’ll need to have your floor plan strategy drafted and ready to go.
If you’ve spent enough time in coffee shops, you’ve probably picked up on a few trends. There’s a point of sale, a counter, a behind-the-counter workspace, seating, and, likely, a small and well-curated retail section. But unless you’ve created a shop yourself, you might not know the logic behind these sections’ placement. Optimizing your floor space will take a bit of creativity, a few compromises, and a lot of measuring. Here are a few strategies to consider.
Understand the dimensions. Your retail design will rely entirely on the size and dimensions of your space. According to Total Food Service, you’ll want about 15 square feet dedicated to each customer to keep guests comfortable. This takes into account the space needed for traffic aisles, the counter, and point of sale. Nobody likes an uncomfortably cozy coffee shop, so this rule of thumb is an important one to follow. That’s unless, of course, you’re trying to do the European-standing-room-only café concept.
Once you’ve determined how much seating you want to comfortably provide, you can start to think about what else you want to include. A sales shelf next to the cash register? Separate pick-up and drop-off spaces? All of that will come after you plan the seating.
Keep the entrance zone separate from the interior space. The entrance zone is a potential customer’s first impression of your shop. This sets the curb appeal, but also the friendliness of the space when they first enter. Unless you can’t help it, you don’t want customers opening the front door and landing directly in front of your point of sale. Instead, you’ll want to give a bit more space; the customer will want to stand back, observe the menu, and take a look around before committing to a product.
The interior space begins a step or two inside the shop. This is where you’ll want to do most of the designing. Do you want to give your customer space to move around comfortably? How much space do you want between tables? This is where you’ll need to start answering those tough questions.
Figure out your point of sale and retail space. Starbucks has taught us that customers are likely to purchase small food items at the last minute, especially when they’re close to the point of sale. This is called point-of-purchase merchandising, and it’s a great way to up your retail revenue. That said, be aware of which items you want close to the cash register. The coffee bar and register are often the focal point in a coffee shop. You want to make sure the area is both appealing and functional. Put simply, don’t crowd the register with last-minute purchases if it there isn’t sufficient space.
If you’re selling larger items, like bags of coffee, brewing devices, mugs, and other accessories, you might want to keep this merchandise on a separate shelf. Providing a different space for retail will allow customers to spent time with the items to make thoughtful purchases. Plus, you’ll have a built-in wall decoration, additional counter space, and the ability to sell items instead of just foodstuffs.
Consider using a software. If you don’t want to leave your floor plan to chance, or if you like data-driven recommendations, consider investing in a store planning software. This type of product can help café owners optimize shelf space, utilize merchandising best practices, and help collaborate with other retailers and suppliers on larger projects. Store planning software will help shop owners identify the performance contribution for every inch of space in your coffee shop – no matter how tiny it may be. You’ll get actionable insights and recommendations to boost your sales and make the most of your space.
Planogram software can be especially important for coffee merchandisers and roasteries working with grocery stores; using sales data, you can help maximize sales in their coffee section. This will boost their sales for that category, which means they’ll likely want to increase stock orders from you. With a bit of data analysis, both you and your stockist can boost revenue.