Opening a chocolate shop can be a career dream come true for culinary professionals with an aptitude for sweets. These establishments can also be a sound financial investment with the potential for consistent profit under the right circumstances. There are dozens of ways to improve the viability of the business, but there are a few basic strategies that every new chocolate shop should follow.
Select a Strong Location
Location isn’t everything, but it’s still one of the most influential factors in determining long-term success. There are three main aspects to consider when choosing a place to set up shop: expense, accessibility and customer availability. The cost of purchasing the property and subsequent taxes are always a factor for new businesses, as is the ability of customers to see and access the store. Prospective shop owners should also research the area to gauge potential competition and local interest in the products.
Start Marketing Immediately
After choosing a location and designing at least a few menu items, new stores should start connecting with their community and building interest. As the official launch date nears, many new stores host social events or offer substantial discounts and free samples. It’s also a good idea to develop a strong web presence through popular social media channels and reach out to local newspapers or other publications for coverage.
Request Customer Feedback
The first few months after launch are often the most critical for building a strong reputation and improving service. Store owners should actively seek the honest opinions of customers regarding products, service, and customer experience. There’s no need to respond to every single comment or criticism, but this information often offers a new perspective and valuable insight.
Invest in Quality Equipment
As any chocolate expert can attest, the ingredients, process, and equipment have an undeniable impact on the final taste and quality. Investing in quality equipment can be a daunting prospect for new businesses, but the results speak for themselves. Aside from mixers, boilers, and other standard industry appliances, stores should also invest in general kitchen solutions like stainless steel wire cloth, pastry tubes, and digital scales.
Many new businesses struggle to make money during their first year or two, but following these strategies can help owners accelerate their growth. Consistency, quality, and presentation are all essential elements of the chocolate experience and they are just as important in the management and operation of a specialty store.
Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball. @LizzieWeakley