Food Empire Pro Podcast Mon, 25 Jan 2021 16:30:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Food Empire Pro Podcast 32 32 Interview with food business entrepreneurs of all kinds: restauranteurs, food truck owners, caterers, and food innovators. New episodes published weekly. Learn how to start your own profitable food business at Brett Lindenberg yes Brett Lindenberg (Brett Lindenberg) Copyright 2019 - Food Empire Pro Food Business Startup Podcast Food Empire Pro Podcast Four Epic Crowdfunding Mistakes That Kill Campaigns (2021 Edition) Thu, 14 Jan 2021 03:30:06 +0000 0 <p>Thinking about launching a KickStarter or IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for your business or project? Our goal is to help you avoid the crowdfunding mistakes we're seeing everywhere in 2021. First a little background about today's audio lesson brought to you by Gusto. Malcolm Bedell successfully launched one of the biggest food truck campaigns [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Four Epic Crowdfunding Mistakes That Kill Campaigns (2021 Edition)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Thinking about launching a KickStarter or IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for your business or project? Our goal is to help you avoid the crowdfunding mistakes we’re seeing everywhere in 2021.

First a little background about today’s audio lesson brought to you by Gusto. Malcolm Bedell successfully launched one of the biggest food truck campaigns in KickStarter history back in 2015 raising $29,457. You can check out the KickStarter campaign here to watch the video, see campaign perks, and learn the entire story.

kickstarter campaign

401 backers pledged $29,457 for Malcolm Bedell’s campaign.

Malcolm and I have held classes together teaching the mechanics of launching a successful campaign from recording a video pitch, writing good ad copy, adding photos, and creating perks. But what we’ve learned is the mechanical steps aren’t the issue in the graveyard of failed crowdfunding campaigns.

In fact, most of the KickStarter videos and ad copy we’ve seen are pretty darn good. The basic pieces of a crowdfunding campaigns aren’t the main point of failure. Bottom line, the basic tips you’ll find on hundreds of articles published on the subject of recording a good crowdfunding video isn’t what will actually make or break the campaign.

Our goal with this post is to give you direction on where to focus most of your time and effort in addition to revealing where most of your time should be spent. Let’s dig into each of these crowdfunding campaign killers and explain how to avoid them: 

  1. The things you do before the launch is what’s most important.
  2. All or nothing.
  3. No status updates.
  4. Hard to fulfill / bottom line killing perks.

The things you do before the launch is what’s most important.

Last week I got an email from Dave. I knew Dave had been working toward opening a food truck business for a couple years and sent me a link to his campaign on IndieGoGo. I clicked the link to check it out and support the cause.

Here’s what I discovered. The campaign had actually started 10 days prior and was scheduled to end in about a week. To date there had been a couple hundred dollars raised for a goal of $15,000. It was clear to me that Dave’s campaign would not be fully funded from the second I hit the page. There was no excitement, activity, and the campaign was about to end.

This is the trailer Malcolm purchased with campaign funds.

Unfortunately, this is a problem I’ve seen with campaigns before. The entrepreneur invests weeks recording a video, creating bonuses, writing a story for the campaign page, but because don’t take any time to notify people in advance of the campaign open. Since there’s no promotion in advance of the campaign opening, the fundraiser doesn’t go anywhere. There’s crickets on launch day and the entrepreneur is left wondering what when wrong.

It doesn’t matter how great your video is if people don’t know about the launch. If your entire plan to promote your crowdfunding campaign is posting two updates on Facebook and telling your best friend about it, I’m sorry to say your fundraising effort is destined to fail.

Fortunately, you’re reading this so you can avoid this crippling mistake. Instead of notifying people about your campaign after it’s already open, start the contact people the campaign a full 30 days in advance of your campaign open date. This is exactly what Malcolm did to raise nearly $30,000 for a food trailer. Here’s the basic 30 day pre-launch plan that you can follow too.

30-Day Pre-Launch Outreach Sample Plan: 

  • Direct message all of your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media friends to let them know you have a campaign launching in 30 days.
  • Email all your friends, co-workers, and family members about the crowdfunding campaign 30 days in advance.
  • Compile a list of websites, blogs, and local newspapers / writers and contact them about your campaign. Be open to conducting interviews for these people of the press.

You should spend the time writing a personalize message to each person you contact. Explain your campaigns goals, when you plan to launch and the importance of “Day 1” donations in the message. Yes… This will take a very long time.

Reader Note: The most successful campaigns overall have a “first 24 hour” rush of donations. This helps build social proof and momentum for the campaign. A big first day is critical because it gets people excited. You can parlay this excitement into more press and more donations. This is an important step to get people emotionally invested in the campaign. If you don’t have a big first couple days, you’re unlikely to secure funding.

All or Nothing.

If you don’t hit your campaign goals, the business doesn’t open. Without your donation, the dream ends. It sounds harsh and it is. But this is a point you need to hammer home in your campaign marketing.

When Malcolm clicked published on his crowdfunding campaign there were no backup plans. Malcolm didn’t have enough money or good enough credit for bank loan. Either he raised the money or got another desk job. Those were the two outcomes. How much harder to you would work toward something if the stakes were this high?

Another campaign I supported made this critical mistake. On social media, the owner promoted their crowdfunding campaign. This is good. But they also stated that they were going to get the money to start the business even if the campaign failed with a loan, dipping into retirement savings or whatever. These sorts backup plans make it less likely to conjure the emotional response required to get a donation.

People get behind all or nothing causes. Make sure everyone understands how critical their investment is in your business. No donation. No business. Period.

No On-Going Updates

The most successful crowdfunding campaigns are on-going events. The best campaigns have landmarks or mini goals that are hit. You want to notify your subscribers, fans, followers, friends and family about each goal you cross off the list. Here are a few updates you’ll want to make sure to share with your campaign followers:

Attention Founders: Get a New Food Business Case Study with Revenue Numbers Delivered To Your Inbox Each Week

  • Pre-launch message about a month before campaign kicks off.
  • Campaign is starting soon! Notify everyone about your campaign and send a link to your KickStarter page a 4 – 7 days in advance of the opening.
  • Night before. Notifying everyone again about the campaign and stress the importance of day one donations.
  • Campaign is live! Announce to everyone when campaign is live so they can donate. Call people and do anything you can to get people to take out their credit cards and donate right away. Ask them to share this campaign link with everyone.
  • Plan to post campaign update videos 12, 24, and 48 hours after your campaign launches, thanking supporters for their backing and letting them know that their donations are bringing your dream to life. Record these with your iPhone. No editing required.
  • Announcement of first income marker hit. Ideally at this point you’ll hit some donation threshold, maybe that’s $1,000, $2,000 or $5,000. When you hit a big round number that looks impressive, make sure to notify everyone. This helps generate excitement that this campaign could actually work out.
  • Other update options. There are other landmarks you might hit like getting interviewed by a blogger, getting press in your local paper. Share some other examples of momentum for the campaign. Express how thankful you are to everyone who already donated. Announce an exciting perk that supporters can get.
  • The Final Hours of the Campaign. In the last 24 hours of a campaign, you really need to get aggressive by letting people know this is the last chance to contribute and support this incredible cause.
  • Post campaign wrap up. Let people know how you did. Let folks know when the bonuses are coming.

As you can see there’s plenty to update people on about any campaign. It’s critical to provide on-going updates because some you know people might have forgotten about your campaign. They may not have opened the first email from you. They might have gotten an urgent call at the exact moment they planned to contribute.

Following this process ensures your message is heard through all the noise. Remember, while this campaign is a big deal to you, it’s just another status update or email to someone else. Do everything you can to stay top of mind.

Hard to Fulfill / Bottom Line Killing Perks 

One of the most popular tips for launching a successful crowdfunding campaign is to give away really amazing rewards to run a successful campaign. This advice is fine and well, but be careful promising too much when it comes to campaign rewards.

Related Reading: How Fat Leaf Water Raised $30k+ for a Cactus Water Sports Beverage

After all you’re getting into the food business, not the t-shirt fulfillment business. The last thing you want to do after hitting your crowdfunding goal is to spend the next month of your life fulfilling rewards instead of getting a funded business off the ground. This happens more than you might think.

reward perks

Some of the low-level rewards given to backers.

Another mistake we advise against is investing in perks that eat away at your campaign profits. One of the campaign mistakes Malcolm regrets is offering tin lunch boxes to supporters of a certain level. The tin lunch box with an engraved logo was cool, but a pain to fulfill and expensive. Not only did Malcolm need to wait for a few lunch boxes to be shipped to his home that cost around $30 with shipping. Malcolm then needed to individually mail every lunch box the supporters address too.

Instead of offering high-cost packages for backers, try keep fulfillment of rewards simple and affordable. Twitter shoutouts, a digital book, an exclusive cooking class held on Zoom, a tour of your restaurant kitchen after it opens, a 30-minute consulting phone call, naming a sandwich after someone on the menu, or even sending bumper stickers. None of these perks require much fulfillment effort.

Don’t think reward fulfillment is an issue? There’s an entire industry of reward fulfillment services you can work with after your campaign ends to manage getting rewards shipped. Working with one of these companies will eat into the profitability of a campaign, but they also allow you to get on with running your business.

So there you have it. The most common mistakes we see with campaigns that didn’t gain traction over the past year. If you want to get more inspiration on other ways that entrepreneurs have launched their own crowdfunding campaign, check out our case studies below.

The post Four Epic Crowdfunding Mistakes That Kill Campaigns (2021 Edition) appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Thinking about launching a KickStarter or IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for your business or project? Our goal is to help you avoid the crowdfunding mistakes we’re seeing everywhere in 2021. First a little background about today’s audio lesson brou... Thinking about launching a KickStarter or IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for your business or project? Our goal is to help you avoid the crowdfunding mistakes we’re seeing everywhere in 2021. First a little background about today’s audio lesson brought to you by Gusto. Malcolm Bedell successfully launched one of […] Brett Lindenberg 41:17
The Ultimate Food Truck Case Study for 2021 Fri, 25 Dec 2020 04:07:24 +0000 2 <p>Interested in starting a food truck? You're about to discover what it's really like to build a mobile food business from scratch.  If you're starting out on your own food truck journey and wondering if this is the right path for you then this is the episode for you. In today's audio lesson we share [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Ultimate Food Truck Case Study for 2021</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Interested in starting a food truck? You’re about to discover what it’s really like to build a mobile food business from scratch. 

If you’re starting out on your own food truck journey and wondering if this is the right path for you then this is the episode for you. In today’s audio lesson we share the good and the bad of operating a food truck business, the estimated cost to get started, and some of the top performing menu ideas in mobile food.

If you’ve got a food truck dream, you’ve probably put considerable thought into what it will be like to operate. You can imagine greeting guests, serving meals at events, making people smile, cooking the food you love. Being personally fulfilled while making money and being your own boss is the vision. And we have good news. This really is what owning and operating a food truck can be like.

Malcolm Bedell of Ancho Honey.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses in the food truck industry either. Like any other business there are bills that need to be paid, traveling to events can prove tiring, mechanical breakdowns and an endless amount of prep work and cleanup that must be completed. It’s important you understand these real business challenges before releasing the safety harness and diving into this venture full-time. Click play below to find out if this business is right for you and download our presentation to follow along.

Like so many things in life, you shouldn’t start a food truck business if you don’t have the right personality. For example, if you prefer working alone this industry may not be a good fit. You’ll be regularly talking to customers, suppliers, and event promoters in this business. Don’t like working weekends? Friday nights and weekends are the most profitable days for many of these businesses.

What You’ll Learn

  • What it’s really like to operate a food truck. The good and bad.
  • All the costs involved in starting a food truck business.
  • Characteristics of successful food truck businesses. Plus, high-profit menu ideas.
  • How food trucks actually make their money.
  • The next steps you need to take if you would like to get involved in this $1 billion per year industry.

Download Now: Sign up for the Food Truck Business Kit that Includes Cost Analysis Spreadsheet and Business Plan Template

The Food Truck Case Study

You’ve stumbled upon a real-time case study on starting a food truck featuring entrepreneur Malcolm Bedell of Ancho Honey food truck / restaurant based out of Tenants Harbor, Maine. In this series we follow along with Bedell as he goes through the process of writing a business plan, seeking funding, developing a menu, getting a food truck manufactured and finally hitting the streets of Tenant’s Harbor to sell his sandwiches.

burger photo

Hey ma! Look what I made on my truck!

Bookmark and share this page with others as it will serve as a table of contents for future updates on the progress of Bedell’s business.

The crazy thing about this case study is that it’s a work in progress. Bedell’s experience could result in fame, fortune, and he could become an incredible inspiration for other budding culinary entrepreneurs. On the flip side, the business could fail and serve as a warning to other dreamers.

Learn More

Order up!

How to Start a Food Truck Business in 6(ish) Steps – Get an overview of the basic steps to start this business. This is a great place to begin.

The Complete Breakdown of Food Truck Operation Costs – Find out how much it will realistically cost to start a food truck business.

Food Truck License and Permits – Use this checklist to determine everything you’ll need to legally open a food truck business.

How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan – Get to know a little bit about the background of Salvagno and learn the process he’s used to write a business plan. A copy and template of his business plan are included within the post.

Creating a Menu and Sourcing Product – Learn how to create a unique menu and source product for a food truck business.

How to Finance a Food Truck – Learn how to scrape together the cash required to purchase a food truck. Hint: Most food truck owners use a variety of funding sources.

Navigating City Regulations and Health Code Requirements – Find out how to find out about the local laws of a city and why an LLC was the right business entity to form. There are also tips for identifying the laws in your city as well.

How to Choose a Food Truck Builder – Our hero buys a custom truck for $35,000. See what the process of working with a manufacturer was like along with some of the difficulties he experienced while getting the truck.

Stuff that Goes Wrong When You Start a Mobile Food Business – Much has happened since the last time I spoke with Anthony Salvagno. The truck arrived from his builder, which became a much more interesting story than it should have been. We also go in-depth into all the different hurdles encountered while starting a business so far.

The First Summer on a Food Truck – See what the first season operating a food truck is really like.

Order our full guide on what it’s really like operating a food truck in your first year.

365 days on a food truck

The post The Ultimate Food Truck Case Study for 2021 appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Interested in starting a food truck? You’re about to discover what it’s really like to build a mobile food business from scratch.  If you’re starting out on your own food truck journey and wondering if this is the right path for you then this is the ep... Interested in starting a food truck? You’re about to discover what it’s really like to build a mobile food business from scratch.  If you’re starting out on your own food truck journey and wondering if this is the right path for you then this is the episode for you. In […] Brett Lindenberg 59:35
6 Smart Tips to Test Market Your Food Product Mon, 14 Dec 2020 03:32:53 +0000 0 <p>I got a question from one of our food business academy premium members last week that I felt would be valuable to share with all the readers / listeners of this podcast. She asked about the best ways to test market her new food products and get feedback.  The answer is in the notes below [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">6 Smart Tips to Test Market Your Food Product</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> I got a question from one of our food business academy premium members last week that I felt would be valuable to share with all the readers / listeners of this podcast. She asked about the best ways to test market her new food products and get feedback.  The answer is in the notes below and audio lesson — thanks for sending in the question, Haley!

What is Test Marketing? 

Test marketing is a way to see if there’s demand for your product. Without testing, it’s possible you could be creating a food product that no one wants. If nobody wants your product, you unfortunately don’t have a business.

Test marketing is often over-looked as an “I don’t have to do that” step of starting a food business. But, it’s arguably the most important step – even more so than packaging design, costing, and distribution strategy.

Without test marketing, your product might fail. And failure isn’t an option when you’ve got so much money, time, and resources tied up into your little food company that could (or couldn’t).


Hydrant mailed free samples to bloggers and social media influencers to ask for product feedback.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this podcast:

  • Why test marketing is crucial to the success of your food business
  • Where to do your test marketing (and why you have to be careful with friends and family)
  • The proven 5-step plan to test marketing (this is exactly what I do to test market new flavors for Green Mountain Mustard
  • Examples of small food businesses that failed test market their products. Like a grasshopper candy maker at a local farmers market.
  • Learn the secret benefits of test marketing and how the product gets customers involved in the recipe development process. We’ve tried inventive new mustard flavors like cinnamon mustard and sweet potato mustard and people always flock to our booth to try those new flavors. Most of these flavors never see a full production run.
  • Find out how our show sponsor Gusto can help manage payroll and HR for specialty food businesses.

How to Test Market a Food Product

Have you been playing around in your home kitchen, trying to come up with the next best chocolate chip cookie? Or maybe, you’ve got the “secret sauce”.

Creating a food product is one thing. But, making a product consumers buy over and over again is tough.

That’s why test marketing your new food idea is the way to go.

Test marketing gives you an idea of who would buy your product, for how much money, and if they would change anything about it.


I used test marketing to determine each of these mustard flavors.

Of course, when you’re testing something out, a million things could go wrong. You could get a false sense of hope, you could find out that, while delicious, people won’t buy your product. Or, the worst – no one’s a fan. Hard to believe with food products, I know, but it’s happened to me before.

So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck from your test marketing efforts?

It’s not easy. You’ll likely be test marketing for several months before you pull the trigger. But don’t worry! Once you get an idea for what your customers like, you’ll get more clarity on the specific products that are going to be a success.

For now, let’s get your first test marketing under way. Here’s a few specific ways to get started.

6 tips to help you test market your food product:

barn burner mustard

One of our early labels.

1. Don’t let family and friends give you feedback

Family members are supposed to be honest, right? Not exactly. When I was test marketing my energy bars and mustard, family members often sugar-coated their feedback. They weren’t upfront with me. Same with friends – they want to be supportive which means they tell you what you want to hear. This ultimately means you don’t get the best feedback.

To find people who aren’t friends and family, ask co-workers at work, post an ad on Craigslist looking for focus group participants, or give your family a couple test products and tell them to bring it to work. Since their co-workers don’t know you, they’ll be honest.

Related Reading: 25-Step Plan to Make Your Food Company a Reality

2. Perfect one product

Test marketing a line of 10 products is overwhelming. It creates decision paralysis for your test group. Plus, it can alter the taste of products if you have them taste multiple varieties. By focusing on one flavor, you’re able to perfect that recipe. Then, when you’re successful with one, use your test group to expand your product line.

After you’ve got one food product customers crave don’t stop the testing there. Continue going through the process for each new flavor you add.

One example of a company that followed this exact rollout process is called Bitchin’ Sauce out of Carlsbad, California. The original Bitchin’ Sauce is a unique lemon and garlic dip made from almonds with a similar texture to hummus. This single flavor launched the Bitchin’ Sauce brand that’s now sold in major retailers like Costco. Only after building momentum and proving their concept did the company start to release other flavors like pesto and chipotle. They did not release multiple flavors at once to kick off the business. Launching with eight or more flavors would have infinitely complicated the process for this family run operation. Keep things simple in the beginning!

3. Retailers are not your customers

The first place many companies just starting out go for research is their local grocery store. And that’s not a good idea. Sure, it’s awesome to get the buyer’s attention, but retailers aren’t your customer. The retailer’s customers are the ones  buying your product. By staying focused on consumers, you’ll get the feedback you need to found a fantastic food company.

green mountain mustard

More photos of our mustard line.

4. Prepare for criticism

Let’s face it – not everyone is going to LOVE your food product. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was told one of my test mustard flavors “sucked”. I kid you not. While 8 out of 10 customers are likely to think your product is worth buying, it’s the other 20% you should pay attention to. Why don’t they like it? What can you do better? Taking this criticism and feedback is important. It helps you make a product 100% of people enjoy.

5. Craft a 30-second pitch

“Try this and tell me what you think” is probably one the worst ways to get a customer to try your product. It’s bland, boring, and not engaging. Work on a short pitch about your product. What makes it different? Do you have unique ingredients? This pitch is not only useful for consumers, but you’ll need it when it comes to selling your product to retailers.

Test marketing is necessary to start a food business and produce a product consumers are going to fall in love with. Just making salsa, brownies, or spice blends because you like to cook isn’t a great reason to start your food business. Why?

It reminds me of a quote I heard from one of my marketing professors in college:

“Make what people will buy – not what you want to sell”

That quote is spot on. If customers like chunks in their salsa, make it chunky. If customers only want to buy your triple chocolate fudge sauce then discontinue the other flavors. Focus on what your customers are telling you, respond in a timely manner, and watch your food business take off.

6. Get survey responses from people that tasted your sample. 

Create a short 2 – 4 question survey to help document feedback. Here a few specific questions I would include in these short forms. Make sure these surveys can be completed in less than 3 minutes.

  • Would you purchase this product?
  • How much would you pay for the product?
  • Can you describe the flavor to me in your own words?
  • Do you have any improvements or suggestions you would like implemented?

By asking these specific questions you’ll get a better understanding of whether or not people will actually pay for your food product and get specific ideas on ways to improve the recipe if needed.

Take this feedback home and look for patterns. If one tester thinks the product is to thin or too thick, don’t worry about it. If you see a trend those are the pieces of feedback you want to take action on.

Processing feedback from test marketing events

mustard on display

Getting flavor feedback at a local farmer’s market.

One final bonus tip. Do your best to get into a zen state of mind when you’re accepting feedback (aka criticism) about your flavors and food. Believe it or not, many founders will go through the process of test marketing their food product only to throw out the results for any number of reasons.

Maybe they tested providing free samples at the wrong location without a market fit. Maybe the batch wasn’t quite right on that day. Maybe the samplers don’t know good food when they taste it!

Related Reading: Menu & Recipe Cost Template – Download My Spreadsheet

While the reasons listed above can in fact be true in certain situations. Don’t continue to move forward with the same approach to a food business if you tested your idea across multiple events and received the same type of feedback. Don’t fall in love with an idea that’s destined to fail and lose you money.

If a food item doesn’t resonate with customers, don’t take it to heart either. Just because no one liked your first food idea it’s in no way a reflection on your skills or ability to launch a successful food brand. Head back to the test kitchen and start brain storming another food idea you can bring into the world.

Do you have any test marketing tips for people who want to launch their food business? Let me know in the comments. If you want to more case studies like this one from proven food founders, don’t forget to join our community of 40,000+ members. Each week we’ll send you a new case study straight to your inbox.

The post 6 Smart Tips to Test Market Your Food Product appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

I got a question from one of our food business academy premium members last week that I felt would be valuable to share with all the readers / listeners of this podcast. She asked about the best ways to test market her new food products and get feedbac... I got a question from one of our food business academy premium members last week that I felt would be valuable to share with all the readers / listeners of this podcast. She asked about the best ways to test market her new food products and get feedback.  The answer […] Brett Lindenberg 14:20
25-Step Plan to Make Your Food Company a Reality Fri, 01 May 2020 14:32:38 +0000 0 <p>Your 25 Step Plan to Starting a Food Business. A lot of wanna-be food entrepreneurs sit at their kitchen table with their head in their hands wondering what to do next. Where do they start? What about finding kitchen space? Recipe approval? A logo? Man, there's a lot. If you're stuck with starting [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">25-Step Plan to Make Your Food Company a Reality</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> food business

Your 25 Step Plan to Starting a Food Business.

A lot of wanna-be food entrepreneurs sit at their kitchen table with their head in their hands wondering what to do next. Where do they start? What about finding kitchen space? Recipe approval? A logo? Man, there’s a lot.

If you’re stuck with starting your food business, I’ve created a 25-step fool-proof guide that walks you through everything you need to do before your first sale. The list is a mix of marketing, production, operations, and general food business to-do’s. And it’s in no particular order. I hope you find value in it — if you do, let me know.

Let’s hop right into it:

1. Select your company name

This one’s quick – grab some friend’s and family and start putting names down on a piece of paper. But, don’t settle. Think about your company name.

You don’t want it to be close to anyone else’s, hard to say, or limiting (yes, I realize I did 2 out of 3, but I didn’t know better back then!). Plus, look on GoDaddy to see if your domain name is available and snatch it up (we’ll talk about website later).

Here are tools to help you with naming:

2. Decide what you’re going to make

Do you just want to make bbq sauce? Are you known for cookies, but would like to make brownies and ice cream sandwiches? What product lines do you want to launch? I’d stick with one to begin with (as I wrote about here), but make sure your company name reflects the focus or depth of your product lines. Plus, think about how many products you’d like in your product line.

Do you want to make 12 flavors of jam, or focus on your top 3? For wider distribution, less is always more, You’re likely not going to get all 12 skus on the shelf. And ps: Take a look at the jam study before you make 4,000 flavors.

Attention Founders: Download our food business startup kit with business canvas, startup spreadsheets, and exclusive interviews. 

3. Get a logo designed (and other materials)

This is the exciting part! What do you want your logo to look like? Have you started sketching? Whenever I’m designing something, I ask myself what emotion do I want from my customers? Is this is a sales piece or is it fun and playful? What tone do you want to communicate? Find a friend to do some free design work in exchange for product or browse one of these sites for a freelance graphic designer:

When you’ve got your logo design, stick with the same designer for packaging, business cards, sell sheets, and more. They’ll already have a good handle of what you’re looking for after working with you to develop your company’s logo.

4. Get your website up – and social media profiles

bottling mustard

Yes… that’s really me on the production floor bottling mustard.

Even before you’ve launched your product, get your website up. It’ll give Google a chance to see you put something up on the web – and you’ll be able to build an email list of fans who can’t wait for you to launch! And don’t forget to secure those social media profiles (even if you’ve got nothing to put up yet!).

Here are a couple of resources I have used in the past to build quick websites (and they all have ecommerce components)

  • Shopify (we use this for Green Mountain Mustard and I LOVE it)
  • SquareSpace (incredibly easy to use interface)
  • WordPress (you’ll want your own hosting here, but this is wildly popular. The website you’re reading right now is built on WordPress.)

5. Look up health laws, permits, insurance and more

Ok – here’s the first biggie. Seps 1-4 were pretty easy, but important for your company’s branding. Now, it’s time to get down to work and see if you need to apply for any permits before you produce your product. What permits and licenses am I talking about?

  • Food Producer’s License (usually you get these through the state health department office.
  • Caterer’s License (if you’re preparing and serving food for immediate consumption)
  • Scheduled Process (if you produce a product in a jar it should be approved by a process authority. Here’s more on that)
  • Business License (want to be a corporation, LLC, partnership? File the paperwork to become a real business with your Secretary of State’s office)
  • Product Liability Insurance (basic insurance is $1 million general liability and $2 million general aggregate
  • Legal protection – you may want to protect your company name and it’s visual identity – or even a unique tagline.

6. Find packaging for your food product

How are you going to package your product? Do you want to put it in glass jars? Printed pouches? Your scheduled process may mandate how you package your product, so you could be limited. Regardless, here’s a couple resources (and pretty packaging) you can browse to find what you’d like:

And if you need package design inspiration check out The Dieline or even Pinterest.

There are even more packaging resources on this page.

7. Determine your product’s pricing

mustard on display

Drumming up sales at the local farmer’s market.

This is the most important step on the entire list — the cost of your product. It determines if you’ll have a viable business. It determines your price on the shelf. And it could literally crush you if you don’t get it right. I created a tool to calculate food or menu costs that you can download here and start to use right away.

Anyway, here’s what’s included in your product cost:

  • Ingredients (plus shipping!)
  • Packaging
  • Labor

If you have your own kitchen, you’ve also got things like rent, utilities, etc. Ultimately, you need to make and sell enough product to leave the lights on, right?

Related Reading: Menu & Recipe Cost Template – Download My Spreadsheet

8. Decide how you’re going to produce your product

There are a lot of ways you could produce your product. For some of you, your home kitchen is perfect. There are many states with cottage food laws that allow you to run a small business out of your kitchen. That means you can produce products in your house for public sale. There are limitations on process, revenue, and how you can sell, but they are fantastic programs to get started.

You could also use a church kitchen, community kitchen, shared kitchen, restaurant kitchen – or if you want you can have someone else make your product. That’s called co-packaging – and I wrote an entire guide on getting started with co-packing.

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer – I’ve produced three food products three different ways. It all depends on where you on with your business.

9. Check out your competitors at the grocery store

This is a covert operation because many large grocery stores – and even specialty stores – discourage photography. But, with a smartphone, you can snap a shot quickly. I have written a lot on test marketing your food product in my book, but here’s three reasons why it’s so important:

  1. It helps you position your product – are you going to be at the bottom of the market or the most expensive?
  2. It helps you get an idea of shelf space – how much bbq sauce is on the shelf? Is there room for you?
  3. It helps you identify local competition – If you make spice blends, your direction competition probably isn’t McCormack – it’s the other guy making spice blends in your town.

10. Read up on how to become the best salesperson

whole grain mustard

My top selling whole grain mustard.

Your hot fudge sauce isn’t going anywhere unless you can sell it. And a lot of food producers just want to make their product. Not you, though. You’re going to become a sales master. You’re going to get your product into a handful of stores when it first launches, right? YES. I’ve been reading a lot of sales books and blogs to get better at personal selling – whether it’s at a farmer’s market or a new retailer. Here are a few of my favorites:

Just one of these books is going to help your sales game. By the way, I don’t get any compensation for recommending these books. These are guides that have help me along the way. You can also check out my book on starting a specialty food business on Amazon titled Food Business Secrets. Read-up!

11. Know what you’re good at – and outsource the rest

This is hard for any business owner: you want to do everything, but that’s simply not possible. That means you have to think about what you love to do. The part of your business that keeps you going through the long nights and weekends.

Do that. And outsource many of the other business functions. I realize when you’re starting out, you don’t have a lot of cash to have other people do things for you. You’ll get there. Heck, I’m not there yet either. But I want to be. It’ll feel amazing once something HUGE is off your plate, won’t it?

12. Make your sell sheet (aka giant billboard)

This is basically the food industry’s version of a billboard. Your sell sheet is a giant business card – beautifully designed, I might add – that tells retail buyers and distributors about your company, your products, and sometimes includes pricing. Here’s a great article I wrote on sell sheets with examples.

Again, if you’re not design-inclined, hire a college student looking to build their portfolio – they’ll love the work! Or, use one of the sites I mentioned above to get your sell sheet designed.

You Might also Like: The Economics of the Fried Chicken Sandwich

13. Make a list of retailers in your area

Where are you going to sell your product? Are you going to sell to retailers in your area? What about farmer’s markets? Are they sustainable to build  business? Or, you could go the food service route and sell only in bulk. Finally, take advantage of technology and sell online – lovely margins to be had!

Whatever strategy you choose, it’s time to get listy! Write down a list of stores you’d love to see your product in. Include the big stores (you know, the kind-of-impossible ones?), small specialty stores, bakeries, farmer’s markets, restaurants, etc. Then, use your super-ninja sales skills to get into some retailers.

Bonus: Here’s what to bring to your retail buyer appointments.

14. Find sources for your ingredients

If you don’t get a little bit nerdy with math, specialty foods (aka manufacturing) might not be for you. You’ve got scrutinize every penny that goes into your product cost – and constantly find ways to decrease it. One of those ways is to find better sources of ingredients. In many cases, that means you’ve got to stop buying from grocery stores (maybe).

Here are a couple ideas:

  • Food Service Distributors
  • Warehouse stores (Costco, BJ’s, etc)
  • Online bulk suppliers
  • Grocery stores (special order only)

Buying bulk can get pricey for a small food producer, but it pays off with a lower product cost. And lower product cost means a higher margin for you. That really means more money in your pocket. Heck yes.

15. Find a local group of other food producers

There seems to be groups for everything – cat lovers, rock climbers, and knitters. Oh, and there’s tons of groups for small food producers just like you. There are a ton of LinkedIn Groups (just search food business). But, if you’re looking for face-to-face and online interactions, consider becoming a member of the Specialty Food Association. The Vermont one is awesome — great benefits and seasonal meetups where I learn a ton.

Getting together with people who know what it’s like to be in your shoes is a relief. You can all complain about price increases in packaging, getting your product into stores, and putting your head in your hands when you view a profit & loss statement. And don’t forget successes! We’re all in this together. Be excited for you buddy who’s hot sauce company landed it’s first account in NYC. Celebrate each other’s wins!

16. Promote your company to family & friends

Now that you’ve got your “beta” version of your product, it’s time to announce it to the world. You’re going to need the power of the people to get your food company out there – so let’s do some promoting. Post on Facebook, twitter, and other social media channels (you could even pay for promotion if you want).

But, the best promotion is email.

Make sure you have a way to collect emails on your website. Email is gold. It basically prints money when you send one out – especially when you build up that loyal fan base of yours.

For now, send an email to your family and friends, letting them know about your company (and if you’ve landed a few retailers, let them know that, too). Promote it to enough people, and you’ll get a nice bump in website traffic from your family and friends sharing your company with their own circles! Happy promoting!

17. Talk to a store buyer to get the lay of the land

Haven’t approached a buyer quite yet? It isn’t too intimidating – and many of them are willing to help small food producers out.

If you get a quick 10-minute meeting, try to present your product, see where it be merchandised in the store, and get a feel for how distribution to the store works. Tip: do this with a small, local store. You’ve got to get your ducks in a row before you approach the big boys.

18. Design point-of-purchase materials

How are people going to know about your product? Point-of-purchase (POP) materials are a great way to shout from the shelf about your product. And they come in many different flavors.

You can do shelf talkers which extend from the shelf, c-shelf signs which fit into the lip  of the shelf, or you could even do a shipper – that’s where the product is shipped in a custom-printed box that gets displayed away from the aisle.

If you’re just starting out, stick with the basic signs. Shippers will set you back a few thousand dollars (and I’m sure your spouse won’t appreciate having a stack of them in the dining room).

19. Land your first sale (take a deep breath!)

It’s game time! Let’s go make some money. You’ve read your sales books, memorized your 30-second food product pitch, and have all your materials ready. You got this.

If you need more help, here’s a great resource in our free food business startup kit.

20. Deliver your product (make sure this is included in your cost)

You got your first sale! Woot Woot!

Now, you’ve got to deliver the purchase order. Time to load up the car, right? Well, not exactly. Explore the different delivery options you have. There’s personal delivery (which is what you’ll likely be doing for the first few months), paid delivery (which is where you pay to have your product delivered via a service), or shipping via USPS, FedEx, UPS.

Whatever delivery method you use, make sure your cost is incorporated into the pricing you’re showing retailers and distributors. For example, if you make $12.00 on a case of product, but it costs you $10 just to drive there and back (plus your time), you’re not making a penny. Get friendly with addition and subtraction to make sure your delivery methods are making you money.

21. Focus on moving product in your first store

A lot of food producers ask me “how do I get into more stores?” Well, that shouldn’t be your focus. Your focus should be on generating more sales at a smaller group of stores.

Then, you can replicate your proven strategy out to 10, 20, 50, or even 100 stores. If you pushed to get your product in 100 stores, then you’re faced with moving that product – and no plan. Get your plan in place by working individually with retailers to move more product.

How do you move more product? You could run a sale, participate in a demo, do events in the area and drive people to the store, promote on social media, put up a shelf-talker. There are tons of ways!

22. Revisit your product cost

More math? Seriously? Yes. I’ve included this on my list because it’s crucial to your success. In the food biz, ingredients, packaging and labor fluctuate. That means your cost goes up or down.

Make sure you’re keeping an eye on it! Review your cost of goods sold with every production. Check ingredient prices, your packaging invoices (with shipping!), and your labor rate (did you pump out the blackberry jam as fast as you did last time?).

Here’s a clear-cut example: I made the mistake of not updating my product cost, so that altered my profit margins and ultimately my income. Not only had a couple of my ingredients gone up in price, put my glass was more expensive, and labor was spread across the board. We’re talking like $0.10/unit. Now, I have better control of it – you should, too. Don’t lie to yourself.

Remember, I built a food product-cost calculator – it’s free.

23. Start selling online

If I could build a food business solely on the internet, I would (and believe me, I’m working towards it!). The internet is a powerful thing – and ripe for systems. As the son of a materials engineer, I’m a sucker for details, precision, and systems. Online sales can be automated – from fulfillment to shipping. And your margins are crazy good.

While I could talk about selling your product online, other people have done it way better. Here are my favorite resources:

Don’t have an online store yet? Shopify is crazy awesome – and has become the go-to resource for many name and small brands over the past 5 years. I’ve been using it for quite a while and my sales have increased dramatically once I got started.

24. Find a team-member – or several

food pricing structure

Team work makes the dream work!

It took me almost four years to realize I needed some help. My business was growing and I couldn’t control it. My parents were helping where they can – shipping packages and doing events – but I needed more. I’ve brought on interns from the local college for temporary relief, but it’s time to find a partner – and you should, too.

Starting a business – in any industry – is hard to do alone. (It’s definitely possible, though). Go to local networking events, search LinkedIn and start asking family and friends who they may know.

Partnering up means someone else has skin in the game – it’s not just you. And that leads right into my last step – one of the most important on the list.

25. Take the day off

How many things do you have to do right now – besides the 25 I’m giving you on this page? Probably hundreds – and it all has to get done immediately, right? If you’re like me, you’re immersed in your business all day – with little breaks. What do you do? You take a break. Go for a walk, call a friend, head out to lunch, work-out, play with your kids outside.

Whatever it is – your business does not always have to be at the top of your list. Take a break – a couple days off if you have to. You need to recharge or you might burnout. And burnout is detrimental to launching your food business.

That’s the end of the quick guide!

Tackle as many steps as you’d like at a time – maybe one a night after you get home from your full-time job. Or take the weekend and blow through 10 of them. There’s a good amount of paper work that needs to get done and Sunday mornings are perfect for that!

Just a heads up, too — this isn’t an exhaustive list of what to do, but it gives you a great starting point – and a to-do list – to bring your product to market.

Looking for help getting started?

You can get involved in the community by signing up for our food business startup kit. When you sign up you’ll get immediate access to our newsletter, food business canvas template, and other bonuses we only make available to subscribers.

Don’t forget to have some fun on the start of your food business journey too. Leave a note in the comments below and share the idea you’re working on. Now that you know the 25 steps to take to start your a specialty food business, check out the 25 mistakes you should avoid at all costs based on my own experience.

25-Step Plan to Make Your Food Company a Reality

The post 25-Step Plan to Make Your Food Company a Reality appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

A lot of wanna-be food entrepreneurs sit at their kitchen table with their head in their hands wondering what to do next. Where do they start? What about finding kitchen space? Recipe approval? A logo? Man, there’s a lot. A lot of wanna-be food entrepreneurs sit at their kitchen table with their head in their hands wondering what to do next. Where do they start? What about finding kitchen space? Recipe approval? A logo? Man, there’s a lot. If you’re stuck with starting your food business, I’ve created a […] Brett Lindenberg 15:24
How to Run Social Media Ads for Restaurants in 2020 Mon, 27 Apr 2020 04:55:13 +0000 0 <p>This is an emergency podcast episode for restaurant owners that need more customers right now. In these challenging times, people are staying at home, watching Netflix, and spending even more time on their phones than ever before. Much this is being spent scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds. Is your restaurant advertising on Facebook [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Run Social Media Ads for Restaurants in 2020</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> This is an emergency podcast episode for restaurant owners that need more customers right now.

In these challenging times, people are staying at home, watching Netflix, and spending even more time on their phones than ever before. Much this is being spent scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds.

restaurant social media

Is your restaurant advertising on Facebook or Instagram?

Today’s episode is all about putting your restaurant in front of these “at home” consumers using social media advertising so your restaurant is the obvious option for delivery, take out, or curbside meals.

If the thought of advertising in this economy, gets you worried.. Don’t be. This doesn’t need to expensive or technically challenging for you to get results. As you’ll learn in today’s interview you can start seeing serious results for your restaurant with a targeted ad budget of only $100 a week.

You don’t need to be a social media expert to start getting customers through Facebook and Instagram either. Today’s guest Vlad Edelman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Targetable shares advice on how restaurants can realize the benefits of social media advertising without needing to hire an expensive agency, hire an employee, or spending hours trying to figure out setting up online ads.

Targetable is providing emergency support for all restaurants the next two months.

What You’ll Learn

  • What type of advertising is working right for restaurants on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Reasons you shouldn’t worry about general branding in this environment.
  • Why every social media ad should include these three components right now:
    1. How do you get the food to customers?
    2. What’s the menu?
    3. How do customers contact you?
  • How to build community for your restaurant around things like sports or other interests.
  • What type of social media advertising budget you should have for a restaurant.

Mentioned in Today’s Episode

Targetable requires as little as 10 minutes a week for its ads to begin reaching new customers on Facebook and Instagram. You don’t need to worry about image rights or ad setup – it’s all generated and bundled together in minutes so you can get started fast.

As part of Targetable’s commitment to the restaurant industry they are also offering two months of free services to restaurant and food trucks so they can generate more take out, delivery, and curbside sales for their business during this difficult time.

If you’ve been wondering how to increase sales in the current environment this is a low-risk opportunity worth exploring.

The post How to Run Social Media Ads for Restaurants in 2020 appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

This is an emergency podcast episode for restaurant owners that need more customers right now. In these challenging times, people are staying at home, watching Netflix, and spending even more time on their phones than ever before. This is an emergency podcast episode for restaurant owners that need more customers right now. In these challenging times, people are staying at home, watching Netflix, and spending even more time on their phones than ever before. Much this is being spent scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds. Today’s episode […] Brett Lindenberg 28:23
Five Restaurant Tax Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Mon, 30 Dec 2019 03:43:57 +0000 0 <p>Renee Kleiner joins on us on the podcast to share some of the common mistakes restaurants make when preparing their taxes and specific ways to avoid them. It's the time of year when most business owners are starting to think about filing taxes so this is a timely discussion. Renee is the owner of Kleiner's [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Five Restaurant Tax Mistakes and How to Avoid Them</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Renee Kleiner joins on us on the podcast to share some of the common mistakes restaurants make when preparing their taxes and specific ways to avoid them. It’s the time of year when most business owners are starting to think about filing taxes so this is a timely discussion.

Renee is the owner of Kleiner’s Keeping a service company that focuses on the books, so you can run and grow your business. Renee’s business help small businesses with virtual bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses, including restaurants. Renee spent years working in the restaurant industry and deeply understands the challenges restaurants face when preparing and submitting taxes. 

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by our amazing sponsor Gusto. If you manage payroll for a team of employees, Gusto makes it easy to file and pay taxes in easy an automated way. Learn more and get a discount on services here.

kleiners keeping

Here is a list of five tax mistake restaurant owners make. 

We dig into each of these topics in-depth inside the podcast. 

  1. Missing tax deadline: Everyone knows the deadline to submit taxes in the United States is April 15th. But if you don’t have expenses and paperwork properly organized, it can be easy to miss this deadline while you organize everything. Even if you get your box of receipts and expenses to a tax preparer in time, it can take these professionals a lot of time to sort through the information and also be very costly in the process. Get started filing early and if there is a surprise that holds up the process you’ll have the extra time available. If you still can’t meet the deadline, the IRS will usually allow you to file an extension. 
  2. Misusing (or ignoring) the home office deduction: Do you have a dedicated space in your home that’s used to manage your business. Make sure to take advantage of this home office deduction if it applies to you. Contrary to some rumors, taking advantage of the home office deduction is not a flag to the IRS to conduct an audit. In most situations you can take deductions on 300 sq. feet of home office space on your taxes. If your office is bigger than 300 sq. feet, I’d love to see your house! To qualify this must be a dedicated room utilized exclusively for working on the business. 
  3. Failure to distinguish / separate personal and business expenses: The easiest way to separate personal from business expenses is to setup different accounts. This arrangement can be setup quickly and easily through any bank. Make sure you’re not using the business card for any personal expenses. This advice is particularly important for restaurants with multiple owners and investors.
  4. Hiring the wrong tax preparer: This can be a tough one especially if you’ve just started a business. It’s hard to identify a good tax preparer from a bad one. As a general rule of thumb, find someone with experience helping restaurant owners. They will understand the sorts of deductions you should be taking and help minimize the tax burden. It’s not usually the best idea to have someone that specializes in personal taxes to file taxes for your business. While they might be fantastic at filing taxes for individuals, filing for businesses is generally more complex. 
  5. Failure to accurately and clearly track expenses and income: Thanks to modern POS systems tracking income has become much easier. But these systems don’t always integrate easily all the data you need to compile for tax purposes like expenses.  

At the end of the day, staying organized throughout the year will make it infinitely less stressful when it comes time to file your taxes next year. Aside from making life less stressful, you’ll have a clear understanding where your business is at from a financial standpoint. This is essential for projecting revenues and if you ever decide to put the business up for sale. 

You Might Also Like This: How I Opened a Restaurant with No Money and a 540 Credit Score

The post Five Restaurant Tax Mistakes and How to Avoid Them appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Renee Kleiner joins on us on the podcast to share some of the common mistakes restaurants make when preparing their taxes and specific ways to avoid them. It’s the time of year when most business owners are starting to think about filing taxes so this ... Renee Kleiner joins on us on the podcast to share some of the common mistakes restaurants make when preparing their taxes and specific ways to avoid them. It’s the time of year when most business owners are starting to think about filing taxes so this is a timely discussion. Renee […] Brett Lindenberg yes 17:14
How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan – Download Template Wed, 18 Dec 2019 04:39:10 +0000 5 <p>Want to look inside the business plan of a real food truck business? We've organized detailed business plan templates from successful food trucks and made them available to you in PDF and Word doc in this post. In addition to offer templates, we give you detailed instruction how to complete each section of the plan [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan – Download Template</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Want to look inside the business plan of a real food truck business? We’ve organized detailed business plan templates from successful food trucks and made them available to you in PDF and Word doc in this post. In addition to offer templates, we give you detailed instruction how to complete each section of the plan using this guide.

Before we dive in, keep in mind that it could take weeks if not months of planning to develop a business plan that’s helpful. Whatever time takes for you to write the business plan will be well spent. When researched correctly this document serves as the “game plan” for operating your entire mobile food business and sets the direction of your company.

Approach this document seriously because it can become the roadmap to operate your business and ensure you’re set up for success. When you’ve finished writing your plan, you should know where you plan to vend, estimated food costs, the marketing plan, and how you’ll raise money for the food truck. Pretty important stuff right? Let’s dig in.

Food Truck Business Plan Guide 


I want you to get the most value possible out of your business planning process. Why? I believe having an accurate business plan gives you the best odds of success for operating a profitable food truck.

And if you’re going to be investing tens of thousands of dollars into a food truck or trailer, cooking equipment, and permits, why not invest a few days creating a detailed plan for how to run the business.

Here’s one example why going through this process can be helpful from our Annual Food Truck Academy class, where train future food truck owners how to start a food truck. One student completed her research estimating food cost, overhead, and anticipated sales as part of her business plan. Then she came back and revealed that based on her current plan, the food truck wouldn’t be profitable. After factoring in tax, labor, and food costs there were no profits left over.

Our student was initially discouraged by the numbers, but I was happy. It’s much better to identify a revenue short-fall before you start the business than months after when you see sales coming in, but can’t figure out why there’s nothing left in the bank account. As a result of the work invested on the front end through planning, she was able to evaluate her ingredient cost and pricing to create a business plan that set herself up for success.

Still, many first time food vendors don’t take the time to put in this work. It’s a shame because it’s so easily avoidable.

One more tip before we get into researching and writing the business plan, don’t get overly hung-up on the structure of the document. Unless you plan to apply for a small business loan (then you will need to be more concerned about formatting, but let’s worry about that later), you’re not going to be graded on how pretty the document looks or how nice the nice fonts and illustrations. This isn’t an assignment for school where you’re going through the motions to get a B.

Instead focus your energy on making this plan useful for your business. Find specific locations that you plan to sell food. Get the contact information for these venues to learn how you can get into them. Figure out your exact food cost and how much it’s going to cost to get permits in your area. Putting ink to paper or word document is going to make the operations of your business real.

Now let’s get on with making your game plan!

Note to Reader: This is part of a series of posts following the process of starting a food truck with Anthony Salvagno (featured in the image below) as he writes a business plan, seeks funding, develops a concept, builds a menu, and ultimately launches his first food truck. Listen to the audio lesson inside this post to learn more about writing a winning food truck business plan.

The person that doesn’t have one [a business plan] sets themselves up for failure. – Anthony Salvagno on the importance of thinking before leaping into a business.

Serious about Starting a Food Truck? Click Here To Get Our Free Food Truck Business Kit.

365 days on a food truck

Download Business Plan Templates

In my opinion, this case study is most effective when listening to the audio and downloading the example that Salvagno was kind enough to provide for this post. I’ve also linked to other resources that can help you write your own business plan.

Download Business Plan – Yes, this is the PDF business plan used to acquire $5,000 for a food truck during a business pitch competition. This document is referenced in the companion podcast.

Download Business Plan Template – Here’s a sample template you can use and edit for your own truck.

SBA – Create Your Business Plan – The Small Business Administration (SBA) does an excellent job outlining the steps needed to create a business plan. It’s not food truck specific, but it gives you what you need and there’s plenty of valuable information here.

You can learn a lot by reading business plans for other food businesses like restaurants as well. Operating a profitable restaurant is similar to operating a successful mobile food business. The main different is that a trailer is that it’s mobile.

Components of a Business Plan

Below is an outline of the key sections you’ll need to complete for a standard business plan with a description of how each section applies to a food truck or trailer business. Complete each section and you’ve got yourself a real plan for your business my friend.

Keep in mind that if you’re creating this document for yourself and not a banker you don’t need to get fancy with the formatting. The important thing is to have a detailed plan for the business before you open. If you feel the burning desire to make this look nice, you can make formatting updates after the

Executive Summary:

This is an overview of the information contained in the business plan and should introduce the name of your food truck and the food you plan to serve. This section should only be one page in length. Give readers the high-level overview of what the plan. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to dive into the nitty gritty in the next sections of the document.

The purpose of this section in most business plans is to give prospective investors information about your startup. Lenders reviewing a small business loan might be another audience, although they will be much more focused on financial side of things. But for most of our readers this section is for you, a business partner, and potentially a spouse.

For our Executive Summary we included 2 – 3 sentences describing these important aspects of the business. The provides anyone reading this document with a general understanding of what the business is and how it expects to make money:

  • The food item we plan to sell and specialize in.
  • The key people that will manage the business. In this case, the food truck will be owned and operated by two partners.
  • The business entity we plan to form. We formed an LLC.
  • Where you plan to operate the business and hours of operation. Our initial plan had us operating 5 days per week for lunch and dinner.
  • The basic marketing plan. Again you’ll dive into the details in the marketing and sales portion of the document.
  • Projected cost to fund the business and anticipated revenue.
  • Future goals. How will you know you’ve won? For some this will be a specific revenue number and for others this could be opening up a franchise with 100s of locations.

executive summary

A snippet of the executive summary or our food truck.

Again, unless you plan to bring on outside investors don’t worry too much about perfect formatting in the executive summary. This is to ensure you and your partners are clear on the high-level plan for the business.

Food Truck Mission Statement:

The mission statement for a food truck can be as short as a sentence or as long as a paragraph. This statement should define what you plan to serve, who you will serve, and the ultimate vision for the business. When done right the mission statement should guide every major decision you make for the business.

Here’s the mission statement from our business plan as an example: 

To provide the residents of our city, young and old, an out of this world gourmet peanut butter and jelly inspired sandwich experience. We use local ingredients and provide gluten-free, contaminant-free products for those with special dietary needs.

When a mission statement is done right it should actually influence how you operate and run your business day to day. For example, since the utilization of local ingredients is part of our mission statement, we’ve got to actively be looking for local suppliers to buy inventory. If we don’t, we’ve failed.

We also need to consider the dietary needs of different groups of people. This impacts the sandwiches we put on our menu every day. Again, if we don’t do this, won’t reach the goal we’ve set out to achieve.

A mission statement can be the most influential part of the business plan when it’s used the right way. On the other hand, this guide can be forgotten when it’s not used to guide decisions. To learn more about making impactful mission statements, watch this interview to go deeper on the subject.

Company Concept and Description:

This is the fun part. Here you will describe what you hope the food truck will become, the food you plan to serve, and why you believe it will be a successful business. For most food trucks this section only needs to be a few paragraphs in length.

Make sure to include information on why your food is both desirable and unique to customers in the area. Also, if you have some type of theme, like an island theme for example, include little details like this in the description.

If you plan to operate something more mainstream like taco truck, take the time to express what it is that makes you different in your market. A common way food trucks differentiate themselves is through their ingredients or style. For example, you could be the only taco truck in town that uses organic, locally raised meats. Or you might be the only one in town that specializes in making fish tacos. Find a way to standout and offer something that isn’t available elsewhere.

You want folks that read this section to be able to clearly envision the kind of overall experience they’ll enjoy when visiting your food truck. Here are a few guidelines for writing this section:

  • What food will you serve?
  • How is your food different than other vendors in the area?
  • Is there a specific type of consumer you want to attract?

As you can see from our own business plan, we differentiated ourselves through seasonal menu changes all the time and have menu options that cater to people that require a gluten-free diet. It’s also worth noting that our core product of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is unique to the market.

Market Analysis:

Understand the players in your market before starting a business.

For smaller markets with a couple hundred thousand people living nearby this section might be short and include just 4 – 5 other trucks. However, if you’re entering a market like Los Angeles this section will be larger and more in-depth.

If you’re planning to enter a market that has 10 traditional taco trucks and you plan to start a traditional taco truck too, it will be to differentiate yourself from other vendors in the area.

Consider adding a spin to your own food concept like serving Asian tacos instead to provide local consumers will more variety and fill a potential need. If you’re not sure about the type of truck you want to create yet, looking at the market and seeing what type of food is missing can be a smart way to approach this.

In this area you’ll also want to identify the type of customer that will frequent your establishment. Any data about local trends that you can find will be useful to include as well like this report from IBIS World that forecasts growth in the United States food truck industry for the next 5 years. Google can be a good friend in locating the data to include in the document.

Management Structure:

stress restaurant owner

Most food truck owners start with a management structure of one.

This section is straightforward for most food vendors. You can list yourself as the owner and operator if that applies. But don’t forget about key employees or partners too. Many food trucks need a team of 3 – 5 employees to operate successfully during a lunch rush. Make sure these long-term players are accounted for.

In our business plan, it’s a partnership between brothers. The work load is split up between one brother operating the front of the house and marketing: accepting orders, booking new business and events, emailing and calling catering leads. The other brother focuses more on the chef duties including sourcing ingredients, cooking food, working with suppliers, and ensuring food quality.

Industry Survey Results: What is the Average Income of a Food Truck Vendor?

If you have more than one owner of the business this is where you want to take the opportunity to clearly define roles. This is an extremely important section of the document when multiple parties and their money are involved. By outlining everyones responsibilities in this document, it serves as a record of who was in responsible for certain aspects of the business. The more people involved, the more diligent you need to be with assigning tasks.

If it’s not written down, it’s easy for partners to recall things differently. This will help avoid conflict in the future for all parties involved. You need this.

The more stakeholders involved, the more complicated this section will be. You should also include investors and advisors in this section even when people aren’t excepted to help with the daily business operations. Outline what value these people have delivered to the business and what return they can expect in the future.

Product Line:

Ready-made meals can be a great way to diversify your product line.

Finally… This is the section you finally get to describe your food. I recommend outlining the main menu items and any signature dishes that you have in this section. But don’t stop at just the food that you plan to serve.

Other products and services that you plan to offer could include corporate catering gigs or weddings. These can be the biggest money makers for a mobile food vendor.

It pays to think outside the box too in this section. Some vendors that started out by serving food out the window of a truck exclusively have now begun to sell their trademark dishes in stores, online, or at restaurant. Don’t forget to think about possible paths for growth in the business.

  • Previous guest of the show Martie Richie of Motley Crews is an excellent example of someone that is doing just that. They’ve expanded to selling snacks online through their e-commerce website and at local gas stations.
  • Malcolm decided to open a restaurant to attain more consistent sales, especially through the slow winter months.

Sales and Marketing:

s'wich it up

A food truck can serve as a mobile promotional platform.

How do you plan to market your business and get sales? One of the biggest factors that determine the success / failure of a lunch truck is location. Will you be able to get into major events or areas with a lot of potential customers?

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself to input into your sales and marketing plan is to create a tentative list of places you might be able to vend. Get extremely granular with this task. In fact, it might even help to print out a map to evaluate where the best potential vending locations are in your area.

Here’s the information you should gather as part of this process. You can add this information inside the sales and marketing section of the business plan as you gather it. 

  • Name of the vending location and cost details.
  • Contact information including telephone, email, and address. Ideally a dedicated point of contact in charge of booking vendors.

Here are some locations that work well for food trucks:

  • Farmer’s markets: You can usually find vendor information listed on the website.
  • Annual events: Browse your cities website for a list of upcoming events like car shows, fairs, or parades.
  • Social Media: One of the easiest ways to find good vending locations is to monitor the social media accounts of popular food trucks in your city. If they are vending somewhere, it’s probably a lucrative location that you might be able to vend at as well.
  • Corporate Workplaces: Big corporate employers with a few thousand employees working at a single location can be a good option for generating consistent lunch sales.
  • Breweries and Wineries: Places like this often don’t want to build in a restaurant into their operations and partner with mobile food vendors to supply food to guests.

Pro Tip: Make sure to have a a lot of  different parking location options before getting started. Not every location you try is going to be profitable. By developing a big list of opportunities upfront, you won’t feel stressed about vending options because your dream vending location didn’t work out.

There are an endless number of tactics you can use to attempt to drum up business in the early days, but for most successful food business getting into events with big hungry crowds is the first step to building a brand locally and gaining traction. Learn more about finding profitable vending locations here.

Funding Request:

Just another day on the food truck.

The key to a good funding request is knowing exactly how much money you need and having a detailed plan explaining how you plan to use it. For food truck owners, the biggest early expense will be in buying a food truck and the kitchen equipment installed onboard.

You should also account for the amount of money you’ve raised or have on hand in this section. In our business plan for example, we were looking at $55,000 all-in to start the business. This would include the purchase of a food truck, our initial inventory of food, and permits. Be extremely diligent in outlining how you intend to spend every dollar in this section. It will safe you time late in the process and lenders will appreciate your attention to detail.

We were able to bring $14,850 or 27% of that total investment to the table that was raised mostly through personal savings, a small crowd funding campaign, and winning a business plan contest. The remaining 73% was acquired through the help of a small business loan. Being able to start a real food business like this for below $15,000 out of pocket is pretty cool.

Reader’s Note: If you’re not planning to seek funding through a traditional bank (or are simply planning to take out a personal loan based on your credit history) you can technically disregard this section, although you should still analyze closely how you intend to spend your money.

If you plan on asking for friends and family for money this attention to detail can help too. Even if they’re not in the food industry, it’s easy to understand that a commercial oven or fridge could cost a few thousand dollars. If you have a specific use for funds that makes sense, it increases the likelihood of obtaining a loan with friendly terms amongst family.

Financial Projections:

financial projections food truck

Detailed financial and cash flow projections from the business plan.

This is an extremely important area to spend time on before starting a food truck. I’d argue this section is as important as the product, sales and marketing plan of the business plan. This section will offer your first insight into whether or not the business idea you have is going to work or not in its present form.

From a practical standpoint, the main thing you want to figure out is what your break-even point for the business is. In other words, how much food do you need to sell in order to pay all of your monthly expenses? This is a simple, but critical question you must find the answer to before getting started.

You can determine the break-even point for a food truck business with this formula: 

Fixed Costs / (Price – Variable Costs) = Bread Even Point

Here’s the due diligence you’ll need to complete to find the break-even point for your food truck:

  • Add up the total monthly expenses you expect for the food truck to find your fixed cost number. This number will include loan payments, insurance, cell phone, and everything else you need to pay on a monthly. Use our guide to create a quick estimate of monthly costs.
  • The price refers to how much you plan to charge customers and how many sales you anticipate in a given month. From your perspective the less sales you need to break even the better as it will.
  • The variable costs is the expenses you put into cost of goods sold. In your case this if the food you’re selling. As you sell more, your variable cost will also increase because you need to buy more product. This is a good thing!

Based on your current fixed cost and variable cost estimates, find out how many total sales of your food total you would need to generate to pay all your bills. Does that number seem seem attainable based on the frequency you plan to vend each month?

Figuring out what your sales is going to be in the future will be the biggest leap of faith you make in the business plan. I always urge people to be being super conservative with sales estimates. You are going to have slow days and extremely busy days when you get out into the real world. Being financially ready for challenging times will make your business more resilient.

Forecasting Financial Projections:

In the financial projections, focus on estimating how much money you will make in the first year of the business. Investing too much time on longterm projections 5-years out doesn’t make any sense since you haven’t actually started the business yet. After the business has been operating for about a month, you’ll want to go back and review the previous estimates to ensure everything is making sense.

While estimating the projected revenue will require some guessing, figuring out startup and monthly operating expenses once the business gets going is much simpler. While there might be unexpected expenses that pop up before opening the business, you already know the monthly bills like insurance, phone, inventory, loan payments (if you have one), commissary.  Read our post that includes a spreadsheet on the Complete Breakdown of Food Truck Operation Costs for help researching this section.

Here are a few other quick tips for the financial projections section: 

  • Always start a business with some extra capital on hand and establish an emergency business fund. We suggest $3,000 – $5,000 minimum. You don’t want to find yourself underfunded going into the second week so and not be able to purchase supplies. Unfortunately, break downs also happen in this business so you want to be ready for them.
  • You’ll need to be comfortable making a few “educated guesses” in this section especially when it comes to revenue projections. Always be conservative with sales estimates. If you do end of exceeding expectations then that’s fantastic.
  • The primary goal of completing this process is to understand how much money you’ll require to operate the business and break even on a monthly basis. After determining a break-even, find out how much it will require to pay yourself a comfortable wage after taxes.


This is the place to include your permit from the health department, photos of the vehicle, and other legal documents needed to operate a mobile food business. This is a good spot to add photos of food or people smiling and enjoying your meals at events (if you’ve vended at an event already). Add in anything else you feel could be helpful too.

Bonus Tips When Creating Your Building Plan

Here are a few key concepts pulled straight from the audio companion of this guide.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask current food truck owners for help when writing a plan. They have the best understanding of what the market looks like and may even help you to create more accurate market projections. Not everyone will be willing to lend a hand, but some might.
  • The financial projections section is the most important and practical element of the business plan. You need this to be able to evaluate how much money you’ll to start the business and what prices you’ll need to charge for longterm success.
  • Don’t invest a ton of your time into longterm projections especially years 3, 4, and 5 of the food truck. Restaurants come and go. You won’t be able to make accurate projections out that far anyway.
  • You should be extremely detailed when estimating expenses. Including often overlooked items like sandwich wrappers, napkins, mops, buckets, and cleaning supplies. Knowing how much cash you need for day one of starting the truck right is critical.

Is Creating a Business Plan a Total Waste of Time?

Good question. That really depends on who you ask.

There’s a whole group of like savvy entrepreneurs and business people who don’t believe in the business plan at all. They’re like okay, you have this written document that you never ever use again. But then there’s this whole other group of people that actually believe in the business plan.

If you’re planning to try to get a traditional bank loan you will need to create a business plan. Having a written plan does not guarantee you will be approved for a loan. In fact, you might get turned down even with an okay credit history.

While it’s not perfect, I firmly believe going through the process of writing a business plan, when taken seriously improves your chances of success. You want to understand your competition. You want to understand where you plan to park. You want to have a few ideas about how you might market your business and what your overhead is going to be before starting the business. This document helps you make more educated decisions based on the work you’ve put in.

The Bottom Line: Will drafting a detailed business plan like this one take a long time? You bet it will. If you do it right, it could easily take a month or two to complete. But the benefits of doing so can be worth it and pay dividends for the life of your business.

So what’s the next step? I suggest enrolling in our free food truck business kit to learn more about the startup process. 

The post How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan – Download Template appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Want to look inside the business plan of a real food truck business? We’ve organized detailed business plan templates from successful food trucks and made them available to you in PDF and Word doc in this post. In addition to offer templates, Want to look inside the business plan of a real food truck business? We’ve organized detailed business plan templates from successful food trucks and made them available to you in PDF and Word doc in this post. In addition to offer templates, we give you detailed instruction how to complete […] Brett Lindenberg yes 22:15
Catching up with The Ginger Pig Sun, 15 Dec 2019 03:09:23 +0000 0 <p>In today's episode of the podcast, we catch up with Natascha Hess of The Ginger Pig in Colorado. Natascha was in our first ever Food Truck Academy program a few years back and has gone on to have tremendous success, including being awarded the Best Food Truck in Denver. Natascha Hess of the Ginger Pig. [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Catching up with The Ginger Pig</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> In today’s episode of the podcast, we catch up with Natascha Hess of The Ginger Pig in Colorado. Natascha was in our first ever Food Truck Academy program a few years back and has gone on to have tremendous success, including being awarded the Best Food Truck in Denver.

ginger pig
Natascha Hess of the Ginger Pig.

Fast forward a couple years, Natascha is opened her first restaurant at Rosetta Food Hall in Boulder, Colorado. If you live in the area be sure to give the restaurant a visit for authentic Asian street food.

This interview is an excerpt from part our annual Food Truck Academy class earlier this year where Natascha shared her insight into what it takes to start a successful food business, including how much work it is to stay open consistently over the long haul.

The Ginger Pig.

If you’re serious about starting your own food truck business, sign up to be notified when the next class opens up in early 2020. It’s been almost one year since we’ve held the last Food Truck Academy and will more than likely only be opening it one time the the next year. One of the unique elements of being part of these classes is the opportunity to get access to food operators like Natascha and ask any question you would like.

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by our amazing sponsor Gusto. If you manage payroll for a team of employees, Gusto makes it easy to file and pay taxes in easy an automated way. Learn more and get a discount on services here.

The post Catching up with The Ginger Pig appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

In today’s episode of the podcast, we catch up with Natascha Hess of The Ginger Pig in Colorado. Natascha was in our first ever Food Truck Academy program a few years back and has gone on to have tremendous success, In today’s episode of the podcast, we catch up with Natascha Hess of The Ginger Pig in Colorado. Natascha was in our first ever Food Truck Academy program a few years back and has gone on to have tremendous success, including being awarded the Best Food Truck in Denver. Fast […] Brett Lindenberg yes 15:35
How to Start a Sustainable Coffee Truck Business Thu, 28 Nov 2019 02:30:45 +0000 18 <p>Thinking about starting your own coffee truck? In this blog post we guide you through the steps required start a profitable mobile coffee business from someone that's already done it. Our goal is to give you the real deal of what it's like to operate this type of business (spoiler alert: you'll need to be [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Start a Sustainable Coffee Truck Business</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Thinking about starting your own coffee truck? In this blog post we guide you through the steps required start a profitable mobile coffee business from someone that’s already done it.

Our goal is to give you the real deal of what it’s like to operate this type of business (spoiler alert: you’ll need to be an early riser) on a daily business to help figure out if this really is the right business model for you.

coffee trailer

Learn how to start a small coffee trailer like this one.

Table of Contents


Matt Drew’s story began not unlike other mobile food entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed in the past. Drew was employed as a marketer in a corporate setting and found himself less and less passionate about the work.

Drew also had a daughter on the way and started to question the point of putting in 12 – 16 hours per day for someone else, and ultimately wondered what his legacy would be if he continued down this path. So Drew made the decision to change the trajectory of his life in a big way by starting a coffee truck.

Growing up in the Pacific North West, Drew had a hard time finding a really good cup of specialty coffee in the Dallas area and started his education on how to bring a really great cup of coffee to Texas.

Related Reading: Why Do Coffee Shops Fail? 232 Owners Share Top Reasons

Drew reached out to Coffee del Ray in nearby Plano, Texas, offering to work for free in exchange to learn the business model. In exchange, Drew would share some of his marketing / branding expertise with the organization. And so began Drew’s journey toward owning the Mo’ Joe A Go-Go coffee truck.

Listen to the full podcast interview, you’ll learn how Drew created a one-of-a-kind brand for the Mo’ Joe A Go-Go coffee business. From sourcing of product to the equipment used on the truck everything is 100% unique.

Developing a Brand

The first step you need to take in starting a coffee truck business, before you even start thinking about the equipment, the size of cart to buy or the licenses you’ll need to operate is to take some serious time to consider the brand you want to grow.

Whether talking to specialty coffee shop or truck owners that have been successful this is the biggest piece of recurring advice that’s brought up again and again. You can grab a cup of coffee for less than a buck at a gas station. What’s going to differentiate you from everyone else in your market is the brand vision and mission statement.

Italian coffee truck

Outside an Italian style coffee truck.

We dive deep into the details of developing a unique coffee brand here. But here are some of the specific elements Drew utilized to make his coffee startup:

  • Organic Products: Drew emphasized that everything sold on the mobile unit would be organic and sustainably grown whenever possible. This requirement applies to every detail of the business from the food to drinks to the dairy served. The tagline of the business even reflects this: The Freshest Coffee Sustainably Grown and Artfully Crafted.  
  • Responsibly Sourced and Fair Trade Beans: One regrettable aspect of the coffee industry as a whole is farmer’s are often located less developed countries have often made the least amount of money from their product. Drew has worked to ensure that the beans purchase with his business are through farms are Fair Trade, meaning they have responsible growing practices and are fairly compensated.
  • A Unique Product: By As you can see from the examples above that by following these brand guidelines, it results in a product you can’t get anywhere else locally as a consumer. If you want a cup of coffee with an impactful story behind it there’s only one place to find it.

To have any type of successful food business, you need to be able to differentiate the core product in a meaningful way. By establishing the things that are most important to your business first can make this process easy.

Daily Operations

Wondering what it’s like to operate a coffee truck truck on a regular basis? Here’s what you can expect based on the experience of Drew’s first 3-months in operations. 

The mornings for Drew typically starts at 3 a.m. This has been a challenge because Drew has historically been a night owl. But in order to get the serving windows up between 6:00 – 6:30 a.m., it requires waking up a few hours early to prep for the day, driving to the vending location, and preparing for service.

Here’s what a typical day in the life of a coffee truck owner looks like: 

Prep Work

It takes roughly an hour each day to complete prep work. This includes cleaning for the day, grinding coffee beans, getting drip coffee ready, placing breakfast items like muffins out. Much of this work is completed at a commissary before heading out on the road.

Travel to Vending Location

One of disadvantages of operating any type of food or beverage truck is that you need to commute to a different destination each day. Take the distance between your commissary and vending location into consideration before committing to it.

Commuting to and from your home base is a non-revenue generating activity. The farther you drive the more gasoline you use too. Try to keep one-way drive times under 30 minutes whenever possible as a best practice for saving time and money. 

Running the Coffee Truck

As you might expect, morning is the busiest time for a coffee truck business. Coffee is a beverage most people enjoy after they wake up. As a result, you can expect more traffic before lunch as a general rule of thumb.

But Drew insists that you shouldn’t limit yourself to operating in the AM as a coffee truck. A rush of customers can happen at just about anytime depending on the location. As you get more familiar with your regular vending spots, you’ll start to get a sense of regular cadence between busy and slow times. 

Refuge Coffee Co. Food Truck.

Refuge Coffee Co. Food Truck.

When you do get the opportunity for downtime, make sure to take advantage of it. Use these breaks as an opportunity to clean the truck, promote the business on social media, or follow up on catering opportunities. 

As Drew stresses in the interview, every day operating a food truck is a little bit different. Be prepared for anything in the early days and recognize that you will be looking for ways to improve processes and operations overtime. 

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Coffee Truck?

Expect to invest $30,000 minimum for a coffee truck that will pass your local health inspections, has quality equipment installed and is reliable. You could easily spend as much as $90,000 depending on the equipment you select and if the truck is brand new.

You might read something on blogs or forums of folks that have been able to get started for less and if you need to get started for under $15,000. It is possible by investing in a coffee cart that is lower cost. But keep in mind that you’ll still need a vehicle haul the unit that isn’t included in these costs. If you already own a truck this is a good option. 

Related Reading: How to Start a Coffee Shop on Your Own Terms

The other thing you want to keep in mind is that the truck is literally the face of your brand. If the truck doesn’t look good on the outside, people will associate the appearance with the quality of your coffee too. You’ll want a vehicle that looks good to give yourself the best chance of success. Going for the 

Keep in mind that the figures mentioned above are broad estimates. Determining the the average cost of a coffee truck is always difficult to answer because it’s a variable cost that will depend on the size, year, equipment installed (this is a big one), business licenses in your area, if you’ll be operating a truck or trailer, and who is building it.

This is a lot like asking someone the average price of a car. The price of a car will depend on the model, age, mileage, and other factors. 

How Profitable is a Coffee Truck?

Based on our survey of 223 full-time food truck owners, over 50% report generating at least $150,000 in revenue per year. Coffee truck owners can expect to see similar revenues if you operate the business full-time and establishing name recognition locally. 

Keep in mind that this survey was conducted with owners that have been in operation at least 2 years. You should not expect similar sales numbers during your first year in business.  

Overall, coffee is a high-profit margin business. A cup of coffee that costs you less than .50 cents to produce can be sold at retail for $2.00 – $3.00 a cup on average. 

wandering coffee
This business model works well on a trailer or truck.

You can start to estimate your break even numbers for the business as a whole by determining the cost of your coffee, how many sales you anticipate, and the profit margin of each customer. We always advise putting together a formal business plan to come up with a basic sales forecast. 

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to shoot for over $100,000 in sales per year as a full-time owner operator. This will ensure you’re able to pay for licenses, the truck, insurance, inventory and other expenses for the business. 

Coffee Truck Equipment Checklist 

This is a checklist of basic equipment installed on a coffee truck.

  • Espresso Machine: An espresso machine will be the most expensive single piece of equipment you install on a truck. Expect to pay between $2,000 – $10,000 depending on the model and if you anticipate buying new or used. The UNIC Stella Di Cafe  is the exact model of espresso machine used by Drew. This is a high-end Espresso machine from Italy. 
  • Drip Coffee Maker: A significant percentage of your clientele will want a regular drip coffee. A commercial drip coffee maker will run you around $1,500 – $2,000. But you could invest even more if you want top of the line equipment.
  • Grinder: This is required for grinding coffee beans on a daily basis for the freshest tasting coffee. The ballpark cost for a commercial grade grinder is $500 – $1,000. 
  • Commercial Refrigerator: You need this to keep milk, cream, and other products cool. Expect to shell out $2,000 – $5,000 for something reliable. 
  • 3-Compartment Sink: This is a standard requirement anywhere you operate in the United States. This is needed to washing dishes, spoons, and other cutlery. 
  • Plumbing and Water Tanks: You need these to store clean and grey water. This is roughly $2,000 – $3,000 for equipment and installation by a processional. Unless you’re extremely handy, this is not a project you want to take on yourself. 
  • Generator: If you plan to operate a coffee truck, don’t cut corners on this piece of equipment. As a coffee truck, you’ll have higher electrical requirements than most food trucks. Espresso machines, drip coffee makers, and blenders all require a lot of energy. You don’t want to lose power when you have a big rush and all your equipment is running. Around $3,000 – $7,000 should be invested on a quiet running generator that won’t scare off customers. 
  • Initial Inventory: Don’t forget about a the little things you need to start a coffee truck. Paper cups, stir straws, lids, napkins, sugar packets, coffee beans, cleaning supplies, a plastic garbage can and other necessities add up quickly. It’s essential that you take the time to itemize every little thing you end need to purchase for the truck. As a rough estimate, expect to pay $2,000 for inventory. 

These are the basic components of a coffee truck, but keep in mind that your vision may require additional equipment. Do you plan to serve breakfast sandwiches? Consider a commercial panini maker. Smoothies is another popular option on coffee trucks. In that case you’ll need at least one blend installed.

Take the time to figure out what you plan to serve on the truck and then work backward to determine equipment needs. 

Pro Tip: Drew recommends investing in quality equipment versus the lowest priced because it’s the heartbeat of your business. You don’t want to be dealing with repairs, replacements, and a lower quality product. 


License Requirements

The permits and license requirements of a coffee truck are different across each city and state in the United States. The bottom line is you will need to figure out the legal requirements to operate the coffee business in your specific area.

That being said these are the standard licenses and permits in most areas:  

  • Health Permit: This permit allows you to sell food or beverages to the public. Contact the county health department website you plan to operate for more information on what you’ll need to acquire this essential license. 
  • Fire Department: The local fire department will check your HVAC system and fire extinguishers to ensure you meet their requirements. 
  • Business license: Establishing a formal business entity whether that’s a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation is required in the United States. 
  • Vehicle license: Whether you own a trailer or truck, you’ll need a license within the state you plan to operate just like any other vehicle on the road. 
  • Food Handlers permit: Many cities and counties require that you take a class and pass a test for handling food. This permit is often required for a coffee truck even if you don’t plan to cook any food on the unit. 
  • Special event or temporary permit: If you plan to vend at special events like concerts, you will need to work with the event planner to identify what’s needed and the costs. 

Quotes from the Show

 You want to be able to say, “We’re doing something that nobody else is doing. We’ve got something that nobody else has and this is the only place you’re going to be able to find it.” Because if you can’t say that there’s really nothing compelling to be able to talk about with your brand. – Matt Drew on the importance of branding for mobile food owners. 

My mornings typically start at about 3 a.m…. and that sucks. – Matt Drew on owning / operating a coffee truck. 

What You’ll Learn

  • An overview of what it takes to start a coffee truck
  • Why finding unique beans and coffees that are unique to your area can be an important branding component
  • The reasoning behind Drew’s focus on sustainably grown coffees and no GMO products to maintain brand consistency
  • Why fair trade is so important in the coffee industry.
  • An introduction to sourcing specialty coffee growers. Really interesting stuff.
  • How identifying these specialty growers and establishing relationships can give you a unique marketing advantage over other coffee shops in the area
  • Learn about the less consistent rush periods for a coffee truck versus a food truck.
  • The difficulty of establishing a local presence without a strong brand
  • Some of the equipment needed to start a coffee truck, including an espresso machine (in case you’re a coffee geek Drew uses a UNIC Stella Di Cafe) and drip coffee maker.
  • Why a low price point shouldn’t the the main reason for you selecting a piece of equipment for your truck.
  • The importance of being flexible when you launch a mobile food business. Don’t let it derail you. Don’t let it get you down.

Resources in the Episode

UNIC Stella Di Cafe – The model of espresso machine used by Mo’ Joe A Go-Go.

Gusto – Payroll software that’s ideal for small businesses like coffee shops and trucks. They also sponsored this episode.

Heifer International – An organization that fights hunger worldwide by purchasing and donating animals to impoverished communities around the world and providing farming training. This is one of the organization that Drew actively supports and partners with.

Coffee del Rey – This is where Drew got his education in the coffee business. Coffee del Rey is a for profit organization that supports a variety of charities. The concept of using of business funds to help support philanthropic efforts is something that appealed to Drew.

Ultimate Food Truck Case Study – Want to start your own food truck? Check out this case study to learn what the process is like.

Used Coffee Trucks for Sale – Browse our inventory of available used coffee trucks, trailers, and carts. 

57 Global Coffee Industry and Consumption Trends – Learn more about the market opportunity in the coffee industry. 

coffee truck business

The post How to Start a Sustainable Coffee Truck Business appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Thinking about starting your own coffee truck? In this blog post we guide you through the steps required start a profitable mobile coffee business from someone that’s already done it. Our goal is to give you the real deal of what it’s like to operate t... Thinking about starting your own coffee truck? In this blog post we guide you through the steps required start a profitable mobile coffee business from someone that’s already done it. Our goal is to give you the real deal of what it’s like to operate this type of business (spoiler […] Brett Lindenberg 36:53
The 6-Step Marketing Growth Plan for a Home-Based Bakery Thu, 14 Nov 2019 02:00:46 +0000 0 <p>Jennifer Jacobs is the owner and founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennifer owns a boutique bakery studio with an emphasis on custom-work for weddings, corporate events, and catering. Jennifer Jacobs, Founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. But it wasn't always this way. Jennifer had extremely humble beginnings. In fact, she operated the [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">The 6-Step Marketing Growth Plan for a Home-Based Bakery</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Jennifer Jacobs is the owner and founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennifer owns a boutique bakery studio with an emphasis on custom-work for weddings, corporate events, and catering.

Jennifer Jacobs, Founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Jennifer had extremely humble beginnings. In fact, she operated the business out of a home kitchen the first half-decade. During this time, Jennifer would begin baking after logging 8-hours on the overnight shift at the Home Shopping Network (HSN). Jennifer started her business in a small apartment with an even smaller kitchen without air conditioning.

In spite of the challenges, Jennifer stuck with it. The persistence ultimately paid off with Jennifer quitting her full-time job and relocating to a beautiful commercial space.

How was she able to do it? That’s the focus of today’s podcast interview.

A glimpse inside the Wandering Whisk Bakeshop.

In our audio lesson Jennifer outlines her proven marketing plan for growing a home-based bakery from scratch. Jennifer shares not only her digital market strategy, but the importance of building relationships with local business owners and why word of mouth is still king to promoting baked goods.

Jennifer doesn’t hold anything back in this interview. If you day dream about taking your passion for cake-baking and turning it into a business then this is the podcast for you.

Should You Start a Bakery from Home?

Some local press.

When Jennifer was starting to get serious about the baking business, she did a lot of really brilliant things. One being she went out and asked other successful bakery owners in her area for advice. Do you know what these experienced bakers recommended?

Each of the experts Jennifer spoke with suggested building the bakery as a really strong home-based business first. No one with actual experience building a bakery recommended jumping into brick-and-mortar right away. Do not spend all the money needed on equipment, a lease, and permits right away was the collective advice.

One reason to start slow… It’s requires time to build stable business. By starting a part-time business on the side with a minimal investment, you don’t need to get stressed out about making money right away.

Instead, you can focus on improving your product and gradually build a reputation for yourself locally. Overtime, you’ll gain more consistent business and know when it’s time to take the next step.

Before you quit a job that pays the bills ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you making enough money from the business to pay your bills?
  • Do you have a recognized name in the community?

Thanks to cottage food laws, you can sell cupcakes, cookies, and just about any other baked good out of your house. You can use these laws to your advantage and start building a business with very little financial risk.

Baked up Fears

Everyone that starts a new business has things they worry about. Rightfully so! But there’s probably a handful of these fears that aren’t justified too.

One common concern of home-based bakers is that they won’t be considered “legitimate” if they don’t have retail space.

Don’t let baking at home hold you back.

Hopefully the conversation with Jennifer Jacobs will put your mind at ease with this concern. According to Jennifer, while not having a commercial bakery may have been something that worried her in the early days, it was never an actual issue with customers.

Before starting any type of business, it’s natural for doubts to creep up. Will anyone take me seriously? Will strangers hate my cake? Do I need a baking degree to get started?

Customers don’t care where the cake is baked. They only cared about the end result. In other words, how did they care about how the cake turned out. That’s it! Don’t let these sorts of made-up fears hold you back.

Home Bakery Marketing Plan

While having a retail store isn’t going to make or break your baking business there are some key to-dos Jennifer recommends to ensure the business looks professional and is poised for growth.

These are six things customers actually will care about and used in planning the overall promotional strategy. As a marketing team of one, you only have so much time to invest to word out about your baked goods (especially if you have a full-time job or kids right now). Make sure you’re using that time effectively based on Jennifer’s experiences.

Baking Photography

Taking good photos is critical for both social media and your website. If potential customers are able to see real examples of your work, they’ll feel confident in choosing you.

But don’t worry if you’re not a professional photographer. Neither is Jennifer. By applying some basic photography principles she has been able to take some pretty fantastic and Insta-worthy photos.

A great photo makes all the difference.
  • Buy a real refurbished camera. It sounds simple, but getting a solid used camera can make all the difference in the world. If you don’t have enough money for a camera right now, no worries. Start out by using one of the more recent iPhones.
  • Natural Light is really important. You shouldn’t be taking photos of cake at night with nothing more than the bedroom light turned on. This will never look good. Always utilized light from a nearby window during the day. Natural light is the big “secret” to standout food photography.
  • Consider the Setting. Got dirty laundry in the background? Don’t snap that Instagram post! Take the time to only take photos when you have an attractive and clean setting.
  • Create a White Backdrop. There are really cheap options for creating a professional looking white backdrop. Here’s one option on Amazon that’s under $20 and is perfect for baked good.

Since you don’t have an actual bake shop (yet!) where customers can come in and taste your goods, you’ll need to make up for it with quality photos where folks can see the work. You can take really good baking photos like the bloggers you see online! Just follow these simple steps and practice.

Social Media / Website

These confetti cookie sandwiches look insane.

Instagram and Facebook are free marketing channels. Take advantage of them! Post photos and videos of the cookies you’ve baked.

There are plenty of baking situations that make for share-worthy social media fodder in video or photo form:

  • Shopping for ingredients. When you’re at the grocery store, snap the cart pull or ingredients you’re buying. Don’t forget to mention the different brands you’re buying.
  • Making the cake. Share the details of the baking process and discuss what exactly you’re doing. Let people in on the different parts of a cake bake.
  • The Finished Product. The finished product is always a popular event to photograph and share.
  • Take photos at events. If you get hired to do a cake at a wedding or a fundraiser, make sure to take photos of the event and share across all social media channels. Your customers will appreciate it this and it will help provide social proof for the business.
  • Photos of people. Get people’s permission first. But make sure to take photos and video of other people eating and enjoying your goods.

Remember these photos should be fun to take. Feel free to share your personality in these and people will really gravitate to you.

Keep in mind that people will make orders through a personal website or social media account. The goal of documenting your isn’t to garner more likes and comments, but to improve the bottom line of the business.

Online Reviews

Outside the Wandering Whisk Bakeshop

If you have glowing reviews on Facebook or Yelp, people will have confidence in your ability to produce something as important as a 3-layer wedding cake.

Make sure to ask for reviews from happy customers. Most people will be happy to do so in the early days because they want to help you out. Don’t feel bad about having your mom or best friend leave a review at first! This is how everyone starts out.

Building these positive reviews is important to build in social proof that other people have tasted and loved your baked goods. It’s just one more validation they are making the right choice.

Local Press

If you live in or near a decent sized metro area, odds are there’s a local newspaper or free scene magazines you can pickup on the way out of grocery stores or bars. Don’t overlook these small, local publications because they can be the ideal place to drum up some free press.

Related Reading: How to Teach a Cake Decorating Class From Home and Online

Jennifer recommends reaching out to these publications by email, sharing a little bit about your story, and let them know you would be honored to do an interview. This approach can be extremely effective if you plan to vend at a popular upcoming city event like a farmer’s market or fair.

These sorts of papers feature small businesses and people doing interesting things in the community all the time. If you reach out there’s a good chance you’ll be featured. The worst these publications can say is “no thanks” so take a small risk by sending some short emails to see if there’s interest.

Community Networking

Every city has a small business networking group. Getting involved in these groups is important because it will help you understand the events that are going on in the city. It will also connect you with like-minded people that can help you succeed and connect you with more catering opportunities.

Getting out from behind the computer screen and meeting people face to face is a fantastic way to grow the business. Look for local groups and organizations like the SBA, SCORE, or the local chamber of commerce in your area and get involved!

Word of Mouth

Even with all the different ways we can communicate our food and brands, word of mouth marketing is still the best. Jennifer started her baking business almost by accident thanks to coworkers at her previous job talking about and supporting her passion.

While working at the Home Shopping Network, Jennifer brought red velvet cookie sandwiches she had made into the office. People loved them and asked if they could buy some and paid $20 for a batch. From there the business grew slowly over time. 

Thanks to word-of-mouth, the baking business ultimately found Jennifer. Jennifer had been baking her whole life, especially around the holidays. But Jennifer never planned this would be something she did as a career. 

Looking for more inspiring stories like this? Learn how a Culinary Grad Built a $26k/Month Pastry Shop.

marketing growth plan for bakery

The post The 6-Step Marketing Growth Plan for a Home-Based Bakery appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Jennifer Jacobs is the owner and founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennifer owns a boutique bakery studio with an emphasis on custom-work for weddings, corporate events, and catering. But it wasn’t always this way. Jennifer Jacobs is the owner and founder of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennifer owns a boutique bakery studio with an emphasis on custom-work for weddings, corporate events, and catering. But it wasn’t always this way. Jennifer had extremely humble beginnings. In fact, she operated the business out […] Brett Lindenberg 27:30
How to Teach a Cake Decorating or Baking Class from Home and Online Wed, 30 Oct 2019 02:58:33 +0000 0 <p>Want to start an in-person or online class teaching students about baking or even cake decorating? Today's guest Michelle Green has done both successfully for years and will teach you to transform your baking expertise into a class in today's lesson. Best of all you can adapt Michelle's approach to teach in any setting from [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Teach a Cake Decorating or Baking Class from Home and Online</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Want to start an in-person or online class teaching students about baking or even cake decorating? Today’s guest Michelle Green has done both successfully for years and will teach you to transform your baking expertise into a class in today’s lesson.

Best of all you can adapt Michelle’s approach to teach in any setting from your home kitchen to online using nothing more than a Facebook Live and iPhone. The basic process for teaching a successful course is the same whether you’re online or off.

Michelle Green, a chef, cake decorator, and teacher.

What I love about Michelle is that she doesn’t hold anything back and makes the entire process of organizing and selling a class seem simple to do. Michelle proves you don’t need tech knowledge, fancy video production skills, or expensive software to launch your first successful class or course.

If you want to learn more about Michelle, check out Michelle has a podcast, a book called The Business of Baking, and about 20 online classes you can explore. Click play on the audio lesson to learn what it takes to start start, create, and sell a baking class. This podcast is brought to you by our awesome sponsor Gusto.

Table of Contents:

Intro: Will Classes Work For You?
Michell Green: Your Business, Your Rules

Is doing some type of food class right for you? If you’re reading right now it’s obviously something you’re thinking about. Before diving straight into the tips here are some guidelines you should keep in mind to make sure your expectations are in check.

Teaching Isn’t Easy: It may seem fun to teach a class about a topic you’re passionate about. You’re spot on about this expectation because it can be both exciting and rewarding. But keep in mind that there’s more that goes into an in-person or online class than showing up for the presentation and going home.

For one, you’ll need to field student questions and support them throughout the course. If you’re not someone that has a lot of patience or enjoys multiple ways of explaining the same concept this might not be the right choice for you.

Related Reading: How I Started an $1,800/Month Booze-Infused Baking Business

You’ll have class students emailing you multiple times about the time of a course or cancel at the last minute because they’ve got a sudden trip to France scheduled. No matter how good you are there will be people that think they know more than you or leave bad reviews about a class experience. This is something you’ll need to be mentally prepared for.

Prep Time: According to the OECD, high-school teachers spend between 3 – 6 hours per work day actually teaching. This stat might seem alarming at first, but makes sense when you stop to think about it.

There’s a whole lot more that goes into the typical teachers day than instruction. Lesson planning, responding to email by email, offering office hours for questions, and (hopefully in your case) setting up a way to accept payments. All of these little time sucks add up over the period of a week or month.

Are You Only Doing it for the Money? Money is fantastic and makes life easier. Make no mistake about that. But is the dream of making easy money the primary motivation for putting on a class? Then you might want to try something else.

You can make good money with low expenses by doing a course. But it’s not as easy as it seems when you watch a YouTube video. It will require days if not weeks to create a course outline, dive into the specifics of what you specifically plan to teach in each class, creating materials (written content, video, audio), and of course marketing the course. Believe it or not, many successful class creators spend more time selling the course than teaching it.

Unless you have a strong motivation to help others learn a particular subject that goes beyond making a few bucks there other strategies that will get you there faster than doing a class.

Will People Pay for Your Class? Good news! People will pay for cake decorating and general baking classes (beginner, intermediate, advanced). People will also pay for things like BBQ or other cooking classes. There’s a proven market for these kinds of courses so you’re on the right track here.

But you won’t be able to sell every class idea possible. In the past, I spoke with an entrepreneur trying to create and sell a class on how to make artisan popsicles. But this person was struggling to get anyone in the class and couldn’t figure out why.

The main problem (in my opinion) is there was no market for that particular type of class. In other words, no students wanted to learn how to make gourmet popsicles! It doesn’t matter how good you are at marketing or how terrific your course is. It’s really hard to sell something people don’t already want or realize they have a need for.

Don’t beat yourself up too bad if your first or second class idea isn’t a winner though. Anyone with a full class has probably had a half-dozen planned trainings that no one attended outside of close family. It’s frustrating, but it happens to everyone.

The Art of Listening for Winning Class Ideas

Build Your Profitable Cake Business DIY. An Online Course from Michelle Green.

The funny thing about coming up with a winning class idea is that you actually don’t need to come up with something unique or even on your own. Instead of brain-storming class topics, you should stop, listen, and think of ways to solve other people’s current problems with your class.

Join Baking Facebook Groups: Private groups in Facebook are an excellent resource for listening to other bakers challenges. Michelle recommends joining a few groups to understand the common problems that your audience has. Big problems like making cloud-like buttercream frosting could be a major struggle to this market.

Listen to People You Know: If you’ve got friends or family members trying to accomplish the same objective as a class you want to teach, listen to their struggles. The struggle is where you can uncover a winning class idea.

Research on Amazon: A simple way to confirm there’s people that want to learn what you’re teaching is to see if there’s books on the same subject being sold on Amazon. If there isn’t a book already covering the topic you want to create a course around it’s a sign there’s no market for the topic.

Once you find a book topic that’s covered on Amazon (there are plenty on baking tips) then look to the negative reviews for that piece. See what people are saying is the gap in the book or what could be improved. You can take this feedback and use it to make your home-based class even better. Michelle credits the author Ramit Sethi with this approach.

Creating a Baking Class Outline

Pistachio Lemon Wreath Cookies just seem to make sense here.

At this point, let’s say you’ve identified two classes you think people will be interested in attending. One on Beginning Cake Decorating 101 and a second on Christmas Cake Pops due to the upcoming holiday season. The next step is to create an outline for the course.

You can think of a class outline, sort of like the syllabus for the class you plan to teach. It’s easiest if you start out with a bulleted list of all the subtopics students will learn during the session.

An introductory baking class outline could be as simple as the following:

  • An overview of baking
  • The Ingredients of a Baker (Eggs, Butter, Yeast, Sugar)
  • Popular baked goods (cookies, cakes, breads)

Keep in mind that you will have serious time constraints. A two-hour class might seem long, but time flies once you get to work. There’s only so much content you can get through in each class and you’ll want to leave extra time for student questions or special help. If you have a complex topic then you’ll want to break the class into multiple weeks.

Be sure to identify who this class is for in the class description as well. You can run introductory courses for beginners and specialty courses on the art of the croissant for advanced students. This is important for expectation setting and will lead to happier students.

There are two big benefits to creating a course outline. First, you’ll be confident in knowing exactly what you plan to teach each day. Second, you can use the outline to help sell your cooking class. Feel free to publish the outline and course description on your website so prospective students know the details.

Building a List of Potential Students

The Business of Baking is available on

Now that you’ve got a class outline created along with a web page or flyer that describes what people will learn in your class, it’s time to figure out who might actually want to buy it.

Related Reading: How a Culinary Student Built a $26k/Month Pastry Shop

In the ideal situation, you’ve already have ideas of who might want to enroll in your class. If you own a pastry shop, maybe you’ve got some customers that have told you they’d love to learn how to make a wedding cake like the one you did for the Johnson family. Maybe you’ve got a blog or Instagram account with a few followers interested in what you do.

Email Marketing: Sending emails to people that might want to join your class remains an effective way to get the work out. You can encourage people to join your email list by letting people know that they’ll be the first to know about your classes here. Michelle uses MailChimp to send updates and information about her classes.

Social Media: Everyone is on social media. This is a way to market your business for free with nothing more than sweat equity. Tell your followers and fans about your upcoming classes.

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics: There are all sorts of ways to get creative about getting the word out about your class. Think about where your target market hangs out. Put up flyers in community centers where other food classes are held. Tell people in Facebook groups that you have an online class for sale in a non-spammy way. Use sidewalk chalk to get the word out in a high-traffic area of your community. If you own a bakery, tell your customers about the classes.

Michelle stresses the importance of building a list of potential students before selling the course in today’s interview. This is a critical step because you can’t have a successful class without students.

How to Sell a Cake Decorating Class

If this is your first class, one of the scariest things about launching your own program is going through the process of selling it to students. This is where the rubber meets the road. The icing hits the cupcake. The cake gets baked. This is where you will soon find out if anyone wants to take the class you’re selling.

What makes Michelle’s process so great is that you don’t need a BA in computer technology to start accepting payments for a class. Michelle makes it super easy by essentially putting a buy button and writing a brief description of the class. You can see exactly how this looks at Michelle’s course directory.

Assuming you don’t want to take payments for your class in person with cash or a personal check, you’ll also need to setup something called a payment processor. These are affordable and easy to use. Michelle uses PayPal to sell classes. PayPal is free to use, but will take a small commission each time you make a sale. It’s totally worth it for the easy of use and will allow you to create buttons and links for free on your website so people can pay online. You can also create an account with EventBrite if you plan to teach in-person classes.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to be teaching the class from your home or even online, make sure to limit the number of students that can participate. If you are doing the class in your house, you’ll have a limited amount of space so five students may be all you can handle.

In addition to making sure you don’t book more students than you have space there’s a psychology benefit to limiting the number of students in any given class. It creates a sense of urgency that students need to enroll now or potentially miss out on the opportunity to learn from you.

What Format of Class Will You Create?

After you’ve come up with the class idea and outline it’s time to establish the best format to present this information to students. Here are a few ideas that discussed in the audio lesson:

  • 30 Day Course: You can write a series of emails that provides a piece of advice each day for students. These emails can be automated in an email service like MailChimp. This is a terrific way to start out with an online course.
  • In-House: Invite people into your home kitchen for a couple of hours. This is an intimate and easy way to get started with classes. Keep these classes small unless you’ve got a large kitchen.
  • Online Video Course: With tools like Facebook Live and YouTube Live you can conduct a live course from your home kitchen with nothing more than an iPhone.

What Should You Charge?

Michelle Green outside of a cake shop.

If you’ve never held a class before figuring out what exactly to charge can be a challenge. You might also be stressed out that people aren’t going to get enough value from your class to be able to charge $50, $75, $100, or $200 per student, per class. After all… Can’t everyone just learn this stuff on YouTube for free anyway?

First off, if you’re stressed about not providing enough value… You shouldn’t be. Don’t feel bad about it. If you’re planning to teach an artisan pie baking class, you’ve probably invested years mastering your craft, perfecting the crust, and refining the recipe. You’ve invested years of time and energy to master a skill that other people want to learn. You deserve to be compensated for sharing the secrets to a blue-ribbon pie.

Second, by offering a class you’re delivering a much different experience than someone that’s selling a book or teaching on YouTube. Your meeting with them in a more personal setting (whether that’s in your house or on Webcam). You’re able to answer their questions directly. Your students have direct access to pick your brain and get to know you, unlike other forms of teaching. You can provide them with direct feedback so they don’t need to spend time guessing.

Bottom line, you’re worth it. Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to charging money for a class.

With that being said you can check to the local rates for baking classes in your area by heading to In this case enter the keyword “baking” into the search bar and see the similar classes in your area. I live in California and the most common cost for a two hour baking class is between $50 – $150 for a two hour class. Longer 6 – 8 week classes will charge between $1,000 – $2,000 per student.

Referring to the prices of comparable cooking classes in your local area is a good place to start if you’ve never charged for a class before. Remember, prices aren’t set in stone and it makes good business sense to test increasing the average price per student over time as your name grows.

Wrap Up

As you can see, you really can create a profitable class around all sorts of baking topics. This is a subject many people are passionate about learning and mastering. As long as you can build a list of interested students and are qualified to teach the subject, there is proven demand for classes on the topic.

But as you’ve hopefully learned in the interview and post putting together a successful class of any size is going to require a lot of work and planning to execute well. Make sure your goals and expectations are in the right place before embarking on this journey.

cake decorating class

The post How to Teach a Cake Decorating or Baking Class from Home and Online appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Want to start an in-person or online class teaching students about baking or even cake decorating? Today’s guest Michelle Green has done both successfully for years and will teach you to transform your baking expertise into a class in today’s lesson. Want to start an in-person or online class teaching students about baking or even cake decorating? Today’s guest Michelle Green has done both successfully for years and will teach you to transform your baking expertise into a class in today’s lesson. Best of all you can adapt Michelle’s approach to […] Brett Lindenberg 42:06
47 Frozen Dessert Industry Statistics and Future Trend Analysis Sun, 13 Oct 2019 01:35:57 +0000 0 <p>Our goal with this episode is to help you identify which frozen desserts and ice creams could become the next megatrend that you start seeing on Instagram or long lines forming outside retail shops. And I promise you're going to learn about some up-and-coming dessert options, along with key insights and industry statistics you've never [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">47 Frozen Dessert Industry Statistics and Future Trend Analysis</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Our goal with this episode is to help you identify which frozen desserts and ice creams could become the next megatrend that you start seeing on Instagram or long lines forming outside retail shops.

And I promise you’re going to learn about some up-and-coming dessert options, along with key insights and industry statistics you’ve never heard of before.

We are not talking about frozen yogurt with special toppings here. We are digging into unique trends that are only beginning to make their way to the United States from East to West and from outside the country inside. Click on the link below to navigate to content direct. This episode is brought to you by our friends at the payroll management company Gusto.

Table of Contents:

Frozen Dessert Industry Statistics

Cookie dough ice cream.

The frozen dessert market is expected to hit $228.54 billion by 2024. This growth is being driven by rising incomes globally and flavor innovation. (Mordor Intelligence)

The top channels to sell frozen desserts are grocery stores (including retail locations like Target and Wal-Mart), convenience stores, and specialty stores like ice cream or froyo shops and cafes. (Mordor Intelligence)

North America is the largest market in the world for ice cream. The United States consumes 91.6% of the overall product. (Grandview Research)

Frozen yogurt continues to be the most popular segment of frozen desserts in the United States. There are an estimated 400 brands that provide different flavors and styles of frozen yogurt to eager consumers. (Grandview Research)

The global frozen dessert market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% from 2019 – 2023. (MarketWatch)

Nestle, Unilever, and Well Enterprise are the top global companies in the frozen desserts market in terms of sales. Each of these companies continues to innovate with flavor and non-dairy / low-calorie options. (MarketWatch)

The ice cream market within the United States has over 85% household penetration. This signals a very mature industry.

The frozen dessert industry is comprised of the following sub-segments: ice cream, gelato, frozen custard, novelties, sorbet, ice pops and more. (MarketWatch)

Milwaukee is the self-proclaimed “Frozen Custard Capital of the World.” It’s widely reported that Milwaukee has the highest percentage frozen custard shops per capita anywhere in the world. (Chicago Tribune)

Frozen custard has a gross margin of approximately 80%. Growing restaurant chains like Culver’s uses frozen custard vs ice cream as a major product differentiator. (Forbes)

Culver’s sells 59 different flavors of frozen custards. A different flavor is featured on their billboards each day and rotates throughout the year. Chocolate and vanilla can be purchased at all times. (Culver’s)

A cookie dough ice cream trailer.

The top five ice cream flavors in the United States is vanilla, chocolate, Cookies N’ Cream, mint chocolate chip, chocolate chip cookie dough. (IDFA)

The average citizen in the United States eats an astounding 23 pounds of ice cream per year. (IDFA)

The top selling ice cream novelty product in the United States are sandwiches, mini cups, ice pops, cones, and bars. (IDFA)

Halo Top, a company that specializes in low-calorie and high-protein ice cream completed an estimated $351 million dollars in sales in 2017 alone. This number is expected to have continued to grow in recent years. (USA Today)

Halo Top is also the best selling ice cream by the pint in U.S. grocery stores. (Food & Wine)

Private label products account for nearly 20% of all frozen dessert sales. (Mavrck)

45% of global consumers attempt to avoid frozen desserts that contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives. This is part of a larger trend of consumers being more conscious about the food they eat. (GNT Group)

One in every five consumers want easy to understand ingredient and nutrition facts on clearly displayed on their packaging. (Nielsen)

Yasso is a novelty dessert brand that is now one of the top 15 growing brands in the United States and will hit $100 in revenue before the end of this year. Yasso utilizes Greek-yogurt that is also protein rich as an ingredient differentiator. (PRNewsWire)

The frozen dessert industry is embracing new forms like marketing like influencer marketing. Breyer’s was a category leader in terms of engagement using this form of marketing. (Mavrck)

Ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturing is a top job producing industry in Wisconsin. This industry adds all sorts of jobs to the economy including truck drivers and manufacturing roles. (The MPI Group)

Unilever is an ice cream behemoth and owns 8 of the 15 top selling ice cream brands, including Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s and Cornetto. The company holds about 22% of global market share. (Forbes)

Häagen-Dazs (whose parent company is now General Mills) is credited with creating the premium ice cream category back in the 1960s. (Wikipedia)

Ice cream makers have had to rethink their brands to stay relevant with millennial consumers. In recent years brands like Häagen-Dazs have focused marketing efforts around highlighting the ingredients and care for producing the product. (Business Insider)

Breyer’s sells over $500 million worth of ice cream each year. They are the number one ice cream brand in terms of global sales behind private label. (Statistica)

Ice cream is one of the most lucrative products in the food industry from a cost standpoint. Profit margins can be more than 20% higher than other snack foods like chips or candy. (IBISWorld)

According to a 2016 industry survey of 3,000 adult Americans, 28.3% of men and 26.9% of women stated their favorite brand was Ben & Jerry’s. (Statistica)

The frozen yogurt or froyo market peaked in 2013 in the United States. Consumption has declined annually in recent years. (Euromonitor)

Skinny Cow is the tenth leading novelty ice cream brand in the United States with sales of over $18 million annually. (Statistica)

The Japanese dessert Mochi ice cream is the fastest growing categories in the ice cream market as of 2018. You can find the product just about anywhere ice cream is sold including Walmart and Target. (Food Dive)

Inside a frozen yogurt shop.

The ice cream industry is becoming more fragmented with new competitors and innovators entering the market. The ice cream giant Unilever posted lower than expected growth in 2019 due in part to this competition. (WSJ)

In a recent industry survey, three out of every four consumers preferred eating premium ice cream versus low cost.

The ice cream industry created more than 188,000 jobs annually. (IDFA)

The most popular nut topping to put on ice cream is the pecan. Strawberry is the most popular fruit topping. (IDFA)

The most popular topping for ice cream in the world is chocolate syrup. (

87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time. (

The State of California produces the most ice cream of any state in the United States. (California Dairy)

The biggest ice cream sundae on record was assembled in 1985 in Anaheim, California. It used 4,667 gallons of ice cream and was 12 feet tall. We can only guess how long it took to melt. (California Dairy)

In 1984, President Ronald Regan designated July as National Ice Cream Month. The third Sunday of each July is national Ice Cream Day. This is a holiday both sides of the aisle can celebrate! (Wikipedia)

It takes about 3 gallons of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.

Novelty ice cream is also sold through vending machines and contributes to the $8 billion dollar per year industry. This is a declining industry. (IBISWorld)

About 9% of all milk produced in the United States is used to make ice cream. (

The average cow can produce enough milk to make 2 gallons of ice cream per day. Keep those cows happy!

People over the age of 55 eat the most ice cream annually. If you’re over 55, you likely enjoy ice cream 56 times a year. (The Christian Science Monitor)

New Zealand eats the most ice cream per capita of any nation in the world. The United States come in at number two per capita for consumption.

U.S. domestic consumption of sherbet is 262 million pounds annually. (Statistica)

Key Consumer Trends and Analysis

Handmade ice cream with sprinkles.

In the podcast today, we speak with Evan Waldt from ICES (the Ice Cream Equipment Specialists) about hottest trends in the frozen dessert space. Evan has a unique ability to be able to identify trends in the frozen dessert and ice cream space that others overlook.

Not only does Evan intimately understand frozen dessert equipment, but attends the major industry events, speaks with business owners, and visits shops across the country that are innovating and pushing the industry forward.

Related Reading: Things to Consider Before Opening a Frozen Yogurt Business

Historically, food or fashion often start on the coast and gradually move to Middle America. But… more and more popular desserts are carried over from other countries, particularly Southeast Asia and Italy.

More often than not, if you pay attention to trends happening outside your market, you can replicate the product that’s performing well in your market to get that first mover advantage. So let’s dive into the latest and greatest ice cream trends.

Trend #1: Paletas and Ice Pops

Gourmet ice pops are a growing trend.

Paletas can be described as Mexican dairy ice cream on a stick. These types of desserts have been popular for decades in Latino neighborhoods, but the product is now increasing more broadly.

Gourmet Ice Pops made from certified organic ingredients is another growing trend on the East Coast of the United States and the South. This is not the KoolAid pop that you dug out of the freezer as a kid. This is often about fresh local fruit and other ingredients.

The ice pops trend is expected to grow in the coming years. Here are a two innovators mentioned in the podcast:

Trend #2: Support Local

In every mid-sized town in the United States you’ll find independent coffee shops that are supported by the community and reflect the tastes and style of the town. This is also happening in the craft brewing mega trend. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, you want to taste the unique flavors of your area.

The popularity of local is also hitting frozen dessert and ice cream shops. Consumers want unique flavors from small producers that you can’t find anywhere else. The consumer has become more sophisticated and educated in recent years and they are actively looking for this type of dessert product.

The big takeaway here is to create a brand that celebrates your local culture. If possible, find ways to integrate toppings and flavors that are distinctly recognizable by your customer.

Trend #3: Non-Dairy and Clean Label

Non-dairy and clean label alternatives are essential for any business owner in the frozen dessert category.

The frozen dessert and dairy industry is always a little bit behind larger food movements. But the demand of clean label and non-dairy ice cream and soft-serve alternatives has grown steadily in recent years.

This is a trend that’s not going away. There used to be a stigma that non-dairy couldn’t taste good. But that believe has been shattered by new chef inspired soft serve shops.

If you own a retail store, you need to offer non-dairy dessert options like oat or almond based ice cream for example. Banana based ice creams are also rising in popularity.

Here are a few businesses that are driving innovation and mentioned during the podcast:

Hakuna Banana – A banana based frozen dessert sold at WholeFoods. The product is also low-fat and Paleo friendly.

Banan Hawaii – Banana’s grown in Hawaii and turned into dairy-free soft serve.

Pregel – Ice cream mix and gelato company based out of Italy. They are creating a lot of new flavors, lactose free options, and toppings like passion fruit seeds that can be placed on a treat.

How to Stay on Top of Changing Trends

If you want to stay on the cutting edge of dessert trends here are some of the specific ways that today’s guest Evan Waldt stays in touch with the fast changing industry.

  • NICRA Convention – Annual convention of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. This is a terrific annual event that will help you stay on top of evolving consumer tastes. Ice cream people helping ice cream people!
  • Scoop School – This is a website highly recommended by Evan to understand the industry. This is a fantastic training resource with videos, classes, and other resources. This is one of the best resources on the internet on this topic according to our guest.

The post 47 Frozen Dessert Industry Statistics and Future Trend Analysis appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Our goal with this episode is to help you identify which frozen desserts and ice creams could become the next megatrend that you start seeing on Instagram or long lines forming outside retail shops. And I promise you’re going to learn about some up-and... Our goal with this episode is to help you identify which frozen desserts and ice creams could become the next megatrend that you start seeing on Instagram or long lines forming outside retail shops. And I promise you’re going to learn about some up-and-coming dessert options, along with key insights […] Brett Lindenberg yes 15:23
How I Started a Vegan Chocolate Bar Company with a Powerful Mission Sun, 29 Sep 2019 03:44:00 +0000 0 <p>Today we are speaking Sarah Feoli the Founder of Rescue Chocolate, a vegan and organic chocolate bar company that donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue. Each month, the company partners with a different rescue group to provide financial support and drive awareness for their important mission. Rescue Chocolate is also a Certified [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How I Started a Vegan Chocolate Bar Company with a Powerful Mission</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Today we are speaking Sarah Feoli the Founder of Rescue Chocolate, a vegan and organic chocolate bar company that donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue. Each month, the company partners with a different rescue group to provide financial support and drive awareness for their important mission. Rescue Chocolate is also a Certified B Corporation Honoree, meaning the business meets very high standards for positive impact.

Sarah founded the company in 2010 after an inspirational morning walk with her adopted pit bull named Mocha. After enjoying a bite of chocolate, Sarah got the idea there should be a chocolate bar company that raises awareness for pets and contributes proceeds to animal shelters. On that morning, the idea for Rescue Chocolate was born.

Sarah Feolie Founded Rescue Chocolate in 2010.

Each chocolate bar flavor highlights a specific animal rescue issue in a fun way. Some of the most popular bars are Peanut Butter Pitbull (the top seller) and The Fix, which help raise awareness for spay and neuter.

One of the issues Sarah had when she founded the company was that while visiting and donating time to animal shelter was fulfilling, it could also be a really heavy experience. Another goal of Rescue Chocolate as a more light-hearted way to bring awareness to an issue that often leaves people feeling down.

Share this episode of the podcast on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be automatically entered to win The Four Paw Collection Gift Box from Rescue Chocolate. This giveaway is thanks to our amazing show sponsor the payroll processor Gusto.

This doesn’t solve everything, but it’s a really fun way to think about the issues and to educate people who might not think about it.

Getting Started

The Fakin’ Bacon Bar from Rescue Chocolate.

One of the biggest lessons from Sarah’s story is that you can launch a food business without a team full-time employees, investing in equipment, and renting a longterm space to convert into a food manufacturing center. Sarah is able to operate her business as a one-woman show.

This doesn’t mean that Sarah is doing all the chocolate bar making herself either. Sarah learned early on that you can partner with a factory that’s able produce bars or other products with by following a proprietary recipe and specifications. Sarah also partnered with a chef to create these unique chocolate bar flavors. The taste testing of course is an important part of the operations to keep in house!

By going this route of partnering with a factory and chef, Sarah was able to really bootstrap and save on the startup costs. The first version of the packaging design didn’t require a designer. As a result, Sarah was able to produce her first run of a few hundred chocolate bars without taking out a loan, looking for partners, and investing in potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead expenses.

Another piece of market advantage that Sarah brought to the table was experience working at a raw chocolate company. By working as an employee she was able to get an understanding of how the ins and outs of the industry works and flavor combinations that paired well together.

The lesson here is that most food businesses you could create are going to require a lot of overhead investment. But before you begin investing in infrastructure start to ask other people in the industry about alternative options to accomplishing your goal. There are often creative options that can be used to achieve the same result.

Marketing a Chocolate Bar Company

A Stack of Rescue Chocolate Bar Flavors.

One of the super powers of Sarah’s is her ability to generate press for her company. Part of the reason Sarah is able to generate this press is because she’s got a powerful story and mission for the company that goes beyond making money.

When Sarah tells the story of walking her adopted pit bull and eating the chocolate you get an immediate visual of how the idea for the company came into the world. When she share’s the fact that the net profits go toward that’s a powerful mission that everyone can connect with.

This powerful story has helped Rescue Chocolate generate major exposure in outlets like the LA Times, CBS, Time Magazine and other outlets. To pay out of pocket for this level of reach would cost tens of thousands of dollars in advertising.

From a tactical standpoint, Sarah submits press releases regularly in an effort to get picked up by press outlets. Sarah uses the free option of and to publish these updates.

For example, every time there’s a new partnership with an animal shelter a new press release is written and syndicated through places like . By staying consistent these continue to be picked up and create ongoing promotional opportunities.

Sarah Feoli and her adopted dog Mocha.

Overtime, Sarah stays connected with people in the news industry including bloggers and writers by maintaining a list of PR contacts through MailChimp. Over the years her list of contacts has continued to grow.

The other benefit to joint venturing with different organizations each month is that it creates a cross promotional opportunity. The animal shelter will promote the partnership across social media and with local media as well. This creates a very synergistic marketing event that happens every single month.

What’s Your Story?

As a takeaway from Sarah’s journey, think about how your business could pair a larger mission with your product. This does not mean that you necessary need to donate proceeds to a certain charity. Maybe your organic granola bar has a mission is to help improve overall heart health.

If you’re struggling to find a mission / story for your own product, look toward your own personal interests and passions first. If fighting homelessness is important to you, see if there’s a way that your product could help there. If mental health is important, find ways to get involved here.

At the end of the day, people connect with stories. Understanding your businesses story and mission will not only help improve the bottom line, but you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the process too.

Cold Calling to Get a Product on Store Shelves

Checking all the boxes: Fair Trade, Organic, Vegan and B Corp Certified.

Getting product into store shelves is often viewed as the holy grail of food products. Sarah has also been extremely successful getting her product into retailers like natural food stores and gift shops. Most of this business was acquired by picking up the phone and making a cold call to the retailer.

Sarah describes the cold-calling process in our podcast interview. But the gist of it to find a retailer where the product could be a good fit. Then calling the business and asking to speak with the buyer. At this point, Sarah is usually referred to an email address for the buyer. Then an email pitch is made that shares the story of Rescue Chocolate and details about the product line and cost.

This is the point where having a powerful story can really help yet again to differentiate your food product from everyone else that’s contacting the buyer. Then the product itself needs to perform from a sales perspective and be really high quality to get reorders.

There’s also a wholesale business where they can produce custom labels for weddings or birthdays. This is another source of revenue and way for people to discover the brand.

Even though Sarah is someone that really understands marketing, at the end of the day she recognizes that producing a high-quality product key to a sustainable business. We’d like to sincerely thank Sarah for taking the time to join us on the podcast and sharing the story of her food business!

vegan chocolate bar company

The post How I Started a Vegan Chocolate Bar Company with a Powerful Mission appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Today we are speaking Sarah Feoli the Founder of Rescue Chocolate, a vegan and organic chocolate bar company that donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue. Each month, the company partners with a different rescue group to provide financial supp... Today we are speaking Sarah Feoli the Founder of Rescue Chocolate, a vegan and organic chocolate bar company that donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue. Each month, the company partners with a different rescue group to provide financial support and drive awareness for their important mission. Rescue […] Brett Lindenberg 19:09
Things to Consider Before Opening a Frozen Yogurt Business in 2020 Fri, 13 Sep 2019 12:29:40 +0000 0 <p>Thinking about starting a frozen yogurt (AKA: froyo) business in the coming year, but aren't sure if it's right choice? This is the podcast episode for you. When you crunch the numbers into a spreadsheet selling frozen yogurt can be a very attractive business model. Low product cost, minimal staffing requirements, and national consumer demand [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Things to Consider Before Opening a Frozen Yogurt Business in 2020</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Thinking about starting a frozen yogurt (AKA: froyo) business in the coming year, but aren’t sure if it’s right choice? This is the podcast episode for you.

When you crunch the numbers into a spreadsheet selling frozen yogurt can be a very attractive business model. Low product cost, minimal staffing requirements, and national consumer demand for the product has aided growth. But is this dessert market oversaturated or a fad past its prime?

Today, we outline the pros and cons of the business model, the steps you’ll need to take to differentiate the product and give you a no BS instruction to approach the opportunity thank to today’s guest Evan Waldt of Slices Concession.

Brief History of the Industry

The initial wave of popularity for soft-serve frozen yogurt began back in the 1980s with TCBY. While the dessert never disappeared it didn’t begin a return to popularity until 2006 – 2013 when there was a massive resurgence of interest in the product. Part of this was due to innovative toppings being served with the treat.

Fast forward to today and there have been a lot of closings over the past 5 years. Many of the closings were the result of markets being over saturated or absentee ownership situations that resulted in poorly managed stores. But of the shops that remain open as of 2020, many are doing well financially.

Cake batter frozen yogurt. Photo Credit: Pinterest

Key Characteristics of Profitable Yogurt Shops

Yogurt shops that stayed in business share similar characteristics according to Waldt. If you’re still in the consideration phase, think about ways you could build the four competitive advantages below into the business.

  • Location: The location of any small business is key to operating any successful small business. Look for retail spots near anchor stores such as a Target or restaurants. This will ensure steady foot traffic and discovery of the business.
  • Active Ownership / Management: For many of the businesses that closed their doors, it was because the owners of the business weren’t actively involved and slowly let the business die. If you view a yogurt shop as a fully-passive source of revenue this probably not the right choice. You need to get involved and meet customers to improve the odds of success.
  • Focus on Quality: To deliver the highest quality product possible, you’ve got to regularly maintain and inspect equipment. This attention to detail will make sure you continue to crank out the lightest and highest quality soft serve.
  • Ongoing Innovation: We’ll dive into the specifics of this later in the post, but you’ve got to be tracking trends and testing new flavors to keep things fresh.
  • Keep Marketing: Winning shops don’t stop marketing after being in business for 6 months. They keep going. Continue to look for more joint venture opportunities with schools or non-profits. Think about and test new ways to attract people to the store.

At the end of the day soft serve remains a great concept. It’s an affordable treat that families continue to enjoy. But this is not a set it and forget it business. You must be willing to put in the work and able to adapt with the market.

Inside a frozen yogurt shop.


  • Dairy Free, vegan, healthy and low-calorie options can be easily added to menus. This allows you to attract a variety of market segments to the business.
  • Low product cost. The cost of froyo is under $.10 per ounce on average, but you can often sell the product between $.25 – $.50 per ounce.
  • Minimal staff requirements. If you operate a self-serve shop, you only need 1 – 2 employees to operate the business at a time.
  • There are many ways to differentiate your product from and remain innovative. If you love experimenting with flavors and trends this can be a fun business from a creativity standpoint.


  • In many markets the competition can be cutthroat. Over the past 6 years, many independent shops have gone out of business for this reason.
  • The quality and volume of toppings you offer can cut into profitability. If you have a topping bar there can be a significant amount of waste that eats away at profit.
  • Although the core product is low other expenses like rent, labor, marketing, and machinery and insurance can reduce profitability to just 15%.
  • Maintaining equipment can be a challenge. Ice cream machines are not set it and forget it. They must be cared for to maintain the quality of product.

Frozen Yogurt Shop Startup Costs

soft serve cone
The perfect soft-serve ice cream cone.

Here are some of the typical costs associated with starting a yogurt shop. Many of these are variable costs depending on the location of your business like labor and rent. For states like California you can expect the startup cost to be more expensive than middle America. However, the opportunity in these areas can also be higher.

  • Labor Cost: $10 – $15 per hour for counter employees ($200 – $250 for 20 hours part-time). $16 – $21 for managers ($640 – $840 for 40 hours full-time).
  • Rent: $1,500 – $6,000 per month.
  • Bank Loan / Interest: $1,000 – $3,000 per month
  • Product, Mix and Toppings: $1,000 – $2,000 (Highly dependent on sales volume and waste.)
  • Cups, Spoons, napkins: $500 – $1,000 per month
  • Taxes: The effective small business tax rate is 19.8% on average. This rate will vary depending on factors like location, expenses, and business entity.
  • Utilities: $1,000 – $2,000 per month. Expect your electric bills to be significant to keep product cold.
  • Electrical Setup: $5,000 – $6,000 Unless you taking over an existing ice cream shop or froyo establishment, you’ll need to hire an electrician to ensure you’ve got sufficient power.
  • Permits / Licenses: $1,500 – $3,000 You’ll need to conduct research to see what the startup fees are in your city and state.
  • Insurance: $300 – $1000 Depends on level of coverage and location.
  • General Construction Cost: $10,000 – $50,000 – Always get different bids for the conversion. Cost will vary widely depending on your vision and size of the unit.
  • Ice Cream Machines / Equipment: $10,000 – $50,000. Depends on the number of machines, model, new or used.

All In Startup Cost: At the end of the day you can expect to invest $250,000 – $750,000 to open the doors to a frozen yogurt shop.

Is a Frozen Yogurt Business Profitable?

The profitability of the frozen dessert business remains strong… Mainly because the core product cost is low. Whether you decide to go the self-serve route and charge by weight or simply have a flat rate, you’ll can make a substantial profit.

Keep in mind that all frozen yogurt businesses will have a different profitability based on a variety of factors like location, product quality, management, and brand. With that being said here are a few examples that help demonstrate revenue potential:

  • Some chain yogurt shops report and average of $750,000 – $800,000 in annual sales volume of assuming the location has been open 2 years or more (Source). Not this is a gross sales figure that does not factor labor, taxes, and other typical business expenses.
  • Menchie’s owners make $94,795 on average per year according to This is after expenses and provides closer insight to the take home pay of operators.
  • According to IBIS World the frozen yogurt is a $1 billion dollar per year industry with 2508 stores in operation. Based on this estimate the average store generate $398,724 in annual sales.

As Evan points out during the interview, although the frozen yogurt is lucrative ongoing maintenance of machines is essential to maintaining high profitability.

If machines are not cared for and properly cleaned, the mix won’t be as efficient and food cost will rise. Simple ongoing care will also reduce the number of times you need to call a repair man.

Mentioned in The Show

Gusto – The best payroll solution for small business. Sign up for Gusto today to get a free 3-month trial.

Southwest Traders Show Product Show – Show put on by the largest frozen dessert supplier in the West. This is an annual show worth attending if you’re in the industry.

Slices Concession – Big thanks to Evan Waldt for sharing his industry knowledge.

The International Frozen Yogurt Association (IFYA) – Source of information and support for individuals considering this business. Also, check out their classified section to find frozen yogurt businesses that are listed for sale.

Frozen Yogurt Shop Ideas

In order to have a successful frozen yogurt shop, you’ll want to offer a unique experience and differentiated product. Here are some specific ideas you can implement in your business that are described in greater detail by Evan Waldt in today’s podcast:

  • Ways to Innovate with Frozen Yogurt: There are all sorts of ways to get creative with frozen desserts. Some simple ways are to follow megatrends to see if there are ways you can latch onto them. For example you could start offering Paleo frozen yogurt or perhaps a non-dairy option. This is an easy way to create appeal across market segments. Another creative option could be created around holidays by season like apple cider or pumpkin spice in the fall.
  • Self-serve versus Employee Served: By having an employee handcraft the frozen yogurt and toppings, you have more control over the quantity and presentation of the product. The timeless favorite Dairy Queen uses this approach. This creates a totally different experience and leads to more Instragram worthy desserts since your employees will get good at assembling the product.
  • Broaden Your Dessert Business: You don’t just need to sell frozen yogurt. You could offer drinks like iced coffees, Boba teas, or scooped ice cream as well. This will set you apart from the self-serve yogurt shops that have sprung up across the country.
Learn more about Slices Concession

Frozen Yogurt Chains VS Independent

These are the top 5 frozen yogurt chains by market share according to Guidant Financial. Evan Waldt suggests that if you’ve seen a lot of mom-and-pop frozen dessert establishments go out of business in your area it can be a good idea to look into a more established franchise with brand recognition. Here are a few of the most popular.

  • TCBY
  • Menchie’s
  • Yogurtland
  • sweetFrog
  • Red Mango

Other popular froyo chains include the following:

  • Cherry Berry
  • Orange Leaf
  • YogurBerry
  • PinkBerry
  • Red Mango

Conduct Market Research

Consider other gourmet dessert businesses as competitors in your market, not just froyo.

Before embarking on any type of business, you’ll want to complete some due diligence. Part of this process is to conduct in-depth market research in your market. This market research data should be included in the business plan for the store.

Google Maps and Search: Go to Google and make a list of the number of dessert shops that are in your area. Don’t just compare frozen yogurt shops, but other things that compete for the dessert or snack dollar. Take into account places like Dairy Queen, boba tea places, and Baskin Robins.

Visit Competitors During Peak Times: Spend time getting to know your competition. Visit these establishments at peak times like Friday night to see how many customers are at the store. Record your findings in the business plan to review later. You’ll also want to take note about the things you like and dislike about each business for later review.

Poll Potential Customers: Ask people in your area whether or not they would visit a dessert shop like the one you plan to open. Questions like this can be asked in person or online in forums or social media groups. People love providing their opinions and you’ll get a good sense if there’s any interest locally.

Popular Frozen Yogurt Menu Flavors

Here are some of the most popular flavors of frozen yogurt on the market. While innovation is key for longterm success in this business, make sure to offer at least a few of timeless flavors as well.

  • Blueberry
  • Peanut butter
  • Strawberry
  • Chocolate
  • Birthday cake
  • Vanilla
  • Cotton Candy
  • Cheesecake
  • Pistachio
  • Butter pecan

Popular Yogurt Toppings List

Keep tabs of new topping trends by monitoring social media, food television, competitors, and by attending industry events. Traveling internationally and domestically can also be a smart strategy as trends usually start on the coasts and are gradually discovered in other markets.

  • Gummy bears
  • Cereal
  • Peanuts
  • Whip cream
  • Chocolate, strawberry and other sauces.
  • Mochi
  • Chocolate and Brownies
  • Crumbled candy bars like Heath, Snicker’s and Crunch
  • A variety of fruits like blueberry and strawberry

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting into This Business

When you’re determining whether or not any type of business is the right fit, it’s important to be honest with your interests and skills. Here are a handful of questions you can ask yourself as a starting point to determine whether or not this is the right choice for your situation.

  • Can I see myself running a frozen yogurt business for the next 10 years?
  • Is this the community I really want to serve and get to know (Important when determining a retail location)?
  • Does coming up with new flavors and being obsessed with this product excite me?
  • Is this something that I could lose interest in within 1 – 2 years?
  • Do I enjoy talking to customers and serving people?

The most important step you can take is to be honest with yourself when answering these questions. A frozen yogurts shop is a viable and legit business opportunity that you can make a good living as an owner. But without a passion for the operations of the business, it’s going to be tough sledding to be a success.

The post Things to Consider Before Opening a Frozen Yogurt Business in 2020 appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Thinking about starting a frozen yogurt (AKA: froyo) business in the coming year, but aren’t sure if it’s right choice? This is the podcast episode for you. When you crunch the numbers into a spreadsheet selling frozen yogurt can be a very attractive b... Thinking about starting a frozen yogurt (AKA: froyo) business in the coming year, but aren’t sure if it’s right choice? This is the podcast episode for you. When you crunch the numbers into a spreadsheet selling frozen yogurt can be a very attractive business model. Low product cost, minimal staffing […] Brett Lindenberg yes 24:55
Pros and Cons: Should You Start an Independent Juice & Smoothie Bar in 2020? Sat, 06 Jul 2019 13:41:09 +0000 0 <p>Thinking about starting a self-funded juice or smoothie business in 2020 or beyond? According to industry reports this industry can expect steady growth in the natural juice space globally for the next half decade. Here are a few statistics about the encouraging trajectory of the industry in coming years: The fruit and vegetable juice market [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Pros and Cons: Should You Start an Independent Juice & Smoothie Bar in 2020?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Thinking about starting a self-funded juice or smoothie business in 2020 or beyond? According to industry reports this industry can expect steady growth in the natural juice space globally for the next half decade. Here are a few statistics about the encouraging trajectory of the industry in coming years:

  • The fruit and vegetable juice market is expected to hit $257 billion by 2025. This market was estimated at $158 billion in 2016. This is phenomenal global growth. (Source: Grand View Research)
  • Total revenue for juice and smoothie bars in the United States is estimated at $3 billion with an anticipated annual growth rate of 1.8%. (Source: IBIS World)
  • The cold pressed juice market in the United States is expected to reach $8.1 billion by 2024. (Source: Reuters)

In short, the growth of the juice and smoothie market is a bye product of the larger mega trend of a change in consumer tastes. Consumers globally are replacing sugary “junk food” with organic snacks and beverages that offer more nutritional value.

In spite of all this promising data, the decision of whether or not starting a cold press juice or smoothie business is the right opportunity for you depends on you! Your current situation, skill set, and interest the the business model. Based on all the research this is a growing business opportunity, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.

The goal of this post is to help you figure out if this is the right business opportunity for you. In today’s interview, we dive into what it’s really like to operate a juice or smoothie bar in addition to giving you the basics on how to start the business.

Today’s guest Andrew McFarlane has operated a juice food truck, multiple juice bars over the past 15 years, and is the founder of Start A Juice Bar agency. Learn more at where Andrew helps entrepreneurs start profitable juice bars through business planning, menu development, branding and more.

Andrew McFarlane from Start a Juice Bar.

We cover the financials of operating a juice bar, cost to get started, equipment you’ll need to invest in, whether or not you should join a franchise, the pros and cons of operating a smoothie truck and most importantly… Is this business right for you? Click play on the video interview below to find out.

Table of Contents:

Business Overview: What’s a Smoothie / Juice Shop?

A smoothie or juice shop is a retail store with a menu offering a wide-range of fruit and vegetable based beverages like cold-press juice, smoothies, and . These shops attract health conscious consumers looking for nutritious beverages and snacks.

Popular examples of these juice and smoothie bars include Juice It Up!, Orange Julius, and Smoothie King.

The Inspiration for Getting Started

Andrew was introduced to juicing while working as an actor. Andrew observed one of the cast mates was in insanely good shape. Not only did was the actor extraordinarily fit, but was a lighting rod of energy to boot.

Andrew had to know what this guy was doing. So he asked. The actor informed Andrew that he was a raw vegan. Being a vegan or having another specialty diet is not uncommon today, but in the early 2000s these diets were not well known.

This conversation led Andrew down a path to understanding more about his own diet and overall health. Shortly thereafter, Andrew discovered juicing and transformed his eating habits. Andrew was hooked.

Ultimately, Andrew decided to turn his passion for this healthy diet and lifestyle into a full-time business. We dig into Andrew’s back story and tips for getting started in this interview.

Starting a Juice Food Truck Versus a Store

Learn how to start a juice bar.

When Andrew decided to take the leap and open a juice bar at a retail location, he came to the same realization so many other entrepreneurs face. It was going to cost a lot of money to start a juice business in a commercial space.

Fortunately Andrew did have some savings. But not enough to pay out of pocket to rent a space, convert the retail space into a juice / smoothie shop, purchase equipment, pay for licenses in California, and other typical upfront expenses.

After some attempts to raise money to start the company with investors fell through, Andrew got the idea to start a juice truck instead.

The advantages of starting a truck versus instead of a retail store are significant. First off, you don’t have a monthly rent payment to make which is often your first or second biggest expense. Second, you don’t have to risk it all with a location. If a certain vending location doesn’t work you, you move on to the next more profitable spot.

For these reasons, Andrew decided to start a juice / smoothie truck instead of a juice bar.

While hindsight is 20/20, Andrew would not start a truck first if he had to do it all over again. Instead, Andrew would have found a way to open a retail location.

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to solve problems and make it happen. If that means opening a juice truck first this path can work as well. But in an ideal scenario, starting a store first and adding a truck to supplement those sales is the preferred approach.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating a Juice / Smoothie Truck:

One big reason entrepreneurs start out with a food truck is due to the lower upfront startup cost compared to a retail location. But as Andrew explains the overhead in greater detail within the interview. After looking at the economics, Andrew realized the juice truck business was spending $4,000 a month for rent at the commissary, fuel, parking tickets, and payments on the truck. In many parts of the United States, you could lease a retail space for that kind of overhead.

This realization led Andrew to the conclusion that a retail space is often the right choice for startups even if the one-time startup costs are higher. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach you decide to take:


  • Lower barrier to entry and upfront cost. Expect to pay between $50,000 – $100,000 to be all in with a juice food truck.
  • You aren’t stuck in a permanent location. You can move to more profitable locations at anytime.
  • Labor expenses can be lower on a truck, especially if you plan to operate the truck yourself. You may only need to hire 1 – 2 part-time employees to assist in the operations.
  • This can serve as a lower cost way to create a proof of concept for your business.


  • A retail location is simpler to operate in many ways than a food truck. You don’t need to find a new location to vend each day. You don’t need to commute to different locations.
  • Space is a major limitation on a truck. When you operate a juice bar, you need a lot of space for inventory. It’s not uncommon for you to use 100 pounds of apples per day. It’s easier to store fruits and vegetables with ample refrigeration and freezer space in a commercial kitchen versus a truck.
  • Smaller menu. This is related to the space limitations of a truck.
  • File this one under mechanical issues. If your truck breaks down, you won’t be able to generate sales until it’s fixed.
  • Many cities require you to park your truck at a commercial kitchen or commissary overnight to be cleaned. The monthly cost of storing the vehicle at these locations can range from $500 – $2000 per month. This is a big chunk of the rent you would be investing in a store instead.
  • You’ll need to regularly fuel, maintain (regular oil changes, washing), and repair the food truck.

The barrier to entry is low, but the cost of operating is high.

Andrew McFarlane on the advantages / disadvantages of starting a juice truck.

Establish a First Draft Route Right Away

One of the big takeaways that Andrew has for those considering a juice truck is to establish a tentative route or list of places you plan to vend before you buy the truck. This is a mistake that Andrew admits making early on in the business.

Decide in advance specific ideas for locations to generate sales on a smoothie truck. Some locations that can be profitable include yoga studios, farmer’s markets, fitness centers, and business parks. Special events like marathons, fundraisers, or mud runs can also be lucrative.

You should enter this list of prospective locations in a spreadsheet. After you create the list, reach out to the business by phone or email to see if they are open you to vending there. This will help you understand specifically where to setup shop after you open.

As Andrew points out, you should complete this research before you get a food truck. This will help you be more prepared and reach profitability faster after opening.

Related Reading: 6 Profitable Locations to Park a Food Truck

Are Juice and Smoothie Shops Profitable?

Smoothie shops can expect to generate between $250,000 (low-end) and $800,000 (high-end) in gross revenue per location. As an example, in 2015 the top 25% Smoothie King franchisee’s generated $681,724 in gross sales per unit.

The location, quality of product, staff, brand, marketing knowledge, ownership, and many other factors will determine your actual revenue numbers.

How profitable are juice bars?

How to Estimate Juice / Smoothie Shop Profitability

One thing to keep in mind is top-line revenue numbers do not represent how profitable a location is. Expenses for all smoothie shops incur include labor, lease payments, taxes, and the cost of goods sold or COGS (apples, bananas, carrots, almond milk, kale, and other ingredients).

You can start to building projections for sales volume profit margin of your juices with this downloadable juice profit spreadsheet. Juice businesses should have between 50% – 70% gross margin on the products they serve before overhead like rent, taxes, and labor. If your estimated gross margins don’t fit into this range, consider increasing prices for find ways to cut costs.

Cold Press Pricing and Profit
  Non-Organic Organic
Retail Price Per Unit $7.00 $8.00
Packaging (Disposible cups / straw) $.50 $0.50
Food Cost $1.50 $2.50
Total COGS $2.00 $3.00
Gross Profit $5.00 $5.00
Profit Margin 71.42% 62.50%


Looking at the profitability per unit, you might be thinking you’ll be making killing in the juice business. Not so fast! Remember that labor, taxes, any debt payments, and rent haven’t been taken out yet. These costs represent your biggest business expenses.

Each item on your menu will have a different set of fruits, vegetables, and total cost to make. As a result, you’ll need to complete this process for each item on your menu to understand menu profitability.

Be sure to include both smoothies and juices as part of your menu. Most shops will do about 60% of sales in smoothies and 40% in juices according to our featured guest.

One other consideration that Andrew makes during the interview is on the topic of food spoilage. Fresh produce has a short shelf life. After you operate the juice business for a few months, you’ll get an understanding of how much inventory you’ll need to keep in stock. Make understanding your inventory needs a priority early in the business to avoid food waste.

Profitability Per Day

After you’ve determined the profit margin per sale, it’s time to figure out what your profitability per day in a store might be based on sales. It’s important to do some self exploration with these numbers to get an understanding of what level of daily profit would satisfy you as a business owner.

If a few hundred dollars profit per day meets your goal for the business then you will need a much smaller operation to be successful. If you require a few thousand dollars in profit to be worth it, you’ll need a higher-volume location.

Daily Sales Volume / Profit
Units Sold Profit (Not-Organic) Profit (Organic)
1 $5.00 $5.00
20 $100.00 $100.00
50 $250.00 $250.00
100 $500.00 $500.00
250 $1,250.00 $1,250.00
500 $2,500.00 $2,500.00
1000 $5,000.00 $5,000.00
1500 $7,500.00 $7,500.00
2000 $10,000.00 $10,000.00

Create a Juice Bar Profit and Loss Statement

A profit and loss statement often referred to as a P&L shows the revenues, costs, and expenses of a business. As an informed business owner, you’ll want to review this statement on a monthly basis. You can learn more about the details of a P&L statement for a juice bar here.

Here’s what a typical P&L statement will look like for a juice or smoothie shop:

P&L Statement for Organic Juice Bar, LLC
Total Monthly Income $20,000.00
Perishable Goods $8,000.00
Labor  $6,000.00
POS Fees $400.00
Monthly Lease / Rent  $2,000.00
Insurance  $300.00
Internet Access $100.00
Debt $300.00
Supplies $1,000.00
Legal Services $200.00
Net Monthly Income:  $1,700.00

What’s the average day like operating a smoothie bar?

Operating a smoothie bar, whether you decide to use a food truck or juice bar is no easy task. As with any startup business, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to get the business off the ground. Here’s what a typical day for Andrew was like in the early days with a juice truck:

My lack of intellegence forced me to work harder!

Andrew McFarlane describing the early days of his food startup.

Andrew’s first juice truck started in Hollywood, California. For anyone thats visited you know this is a highly congested urban area. As a result, Andrew had to wake up at 4 a.m. to begin prep work for the day and secure a vending location for a 28 foot truck.

Andrew would regularly park his truck outside a Trader Joe’s location. Around 6:30 a.m., the windows would be up and they would start taking sales for the day.

From this point Andrew describes being in a flow state most days. Andrew would be making juices to order, cleaning the truck, and working as fast as possible to meet demand until about 3 p.m. when business would slow for the day or they would run out of product.

Even though the work day was ending at this time there was still a lot of work that needed to be done to prepare for the next day. Ordering more produce and cleaning the truck for the next day all happen after hours. On average it would take a team about 2 hours to clean out the truck after a day of operation.

In the first phase a business, Andrew recommends being extremely hands on so you understand all aspects of the operations. This includes understanding how to clean machines. You can’t manage what you don’t understand!

What’s the biggest challenge associated with running a successful juice bar?

How much does it cost on average to start a juice / smoothie bar?

You can expect to pay between $150,000 – $250,000 on average to start a juice / smoothie bar. On one occasion, Andrew has consulted for a business owner that invested $400,000 starting a single location. For comparison purposes you can start a juice truck for between $50,000 – $100,000.

There are numerous factors that go into determining the total startup cost of a smoothie bar. Some of the biggest factors include location, square foot or size of the location, the type of equipment you plan to install, how much renovation needs to be complete to transform the space into a juice manufacturing facility, furniture, branding investment and license fees.

As Andrew points out during the interview, no one wants to pay more than they need to during the startup process. But you don’t want to cut corners to save money on key areas of the business either. The branding and experience of the business can be the thing that allows you to charge more, attract the right customer base, and differentiate the business.

Don’t cut corners on the things that make a business special! The most important thing is getting started in the right way, not the cheapest way.

What type equipment will you need to start a juice bar?

Create a juice equipment checklist.

The simplest way to ensure you have all the equipment you need in a juice bar is to reserve engineer the menu. Look at each menu item then build the equipment list needed to make each menu item.

Here’s a sample list of equipment commonly found in juice bars:

  • Automated Citrus Press – Juicer. This will save you on labor cost.
  • Manual Citrus Press – Juicer (If you want to do it yourself.) More affordable to purchase, but will increase labor cost.
  • Refrigerator
  • Ice Machine
  • Knives, knife wracks, cutting boards.
  • Blenders – Vitamix or BlendTech. Andrew says Vitamix is slightly more heavy duty.
  • 3 Compartment Sinks
  • Portion scales.
  • Shelves for storage.
  • POS system
  • Food processor if you plan to serve food.

Go one step further with your equipment list by figuring out how much inventory you plan to hold in your shop. This will determine the size of refrigerators you plan to purchase.

Juice Franchise VS Independent

Should you start a juice franchise or start an independent concept? There’s no right or wrong answer on this one. This will depend on your goals and preference.

Key advantages of operating a franchise smoothie business is that you get to leverage an existing brand, systems, processes and supply chain. Ideally, you’ll already have a built-in customer base that knows how you are and what the menu is.

Generally speaking, however, Andrew does not recommend enrolling in a franchise juice opportunity. One big reason is because you’re creating extra overhead to your business in the form of franchise fees, royalties and sometimes being stuck buying supplies from a specific supplier that is high cost.

By creating a juice brand, you retain the upside of being able to create your own franchise opportunity in the coming 5 – 10 years. You’ll have less overhead and have the flexibility to change suppliers, menus, or brand positioning if needed. Andrew’s consulting company helps new juice / smoothie entrepreneurs establish a new business with the benefits of enrolling in a franchise without the ongoing costs and other downside of this approach.

Next Steps

The organic juice / smoothie segment is an appealing market that will experience steady growth in the United States for the next 5 – 10 years. If you’re passionate about producing a healthy product, offer exceptional customer service, and understand basic business principles this might be the right business opportunity for you.

After reading this post and listening to the interview the immediate next steps should be to create a first draft menu and business plan for your juice shop. This will get your ideas onto paper to begin creating a formal plan for the business.

The post Pros and Cons: Should You Start an Independent Juice & Smoothie Bar in 2020? appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Thinking about starting a self-funded juice or smoothie business in 2020 or beyond? According to industry reports this industry can expect steady growth in the natural juice space globally for the next half decade. Thinking about starting a self-funded juice or smoothie business in 2020 or beyond? According to industry reports this industry can expect steady growth in the natural juice space globally for the next half decade. Here are a few statistics about the encouraging trajectory of the industry in coming years: The […] Brett Lindenberg 51:28
Writing a Cookbook While Running a Restaurant with Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla Mon, 06 May 2019 14:55:02 +0000 0 <p>Eric Silverstein, founder of Austin's The Peached Tortilla is releasing a cookbook / memoir titled The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas. The cookbook will be available in May, 2019 through Barnes & Noble and of course and features a staggering 100 recipes. The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Writing a Cookbook While Running a Restaurant with Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Eric Silverstein, founder of Austin’s The Peached Tortilla is releasing a cookbook / memoir titled The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas. The cookbook will be available in May, 2019 through Barnes & Noble and of course and features a staggering 100 recipes.

The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food from Tokyo to Texas

For the reader’s unfamiliar with The Peached Tortilla and founder Eric Silverstein here’s a quick recap. Eric left a promising career as a lawyer to start The Peached Tortilla in 2010 with a rented food truck. Fast forward nearly a decade and the brand has grown from a single mobile food unit to one of the most recognized food brands in Austin.

While developing recipes, taking food photos, and writing content for a book like is an enormous undertaking by itself, even more impressive is that Eric wrote the book while continuing to manage his multi-restaurant and food truck business. An impressive feat in time management!

Although Eric’s progression seems swift from afar, he’s the first to tell you The Peached Tortilla is not an overnight success story. Success was anything but guaranteed at numerous stages of the business.

There’s a little something for everyone in today’s episode of Food Empire Pro. Eric digs into the process he took to create the new cookbook, how to manage a growing family while running a business. Click play for the full interview.

Win a Copy of The Peached Tortilla’s New Book

To celebrate the new book we will be giving away 20 copies of the book to our readers and listeners. All you need to do is share this post on Facebook for a chance to enter.

We’ll even give you a bonus entry if you share your favorite food to eat at The Peached Tortilla (if you happen to be in the Austin area) or just tell us why you’re personally excited to read the cookbook. We’ll be selecting winners with the best and most creative responses!

The post Writing a Cookbook While Running a Restaurant with Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Eric Silverstein, founder of Austin’s The Peached Tortilla is releasing a cookbook / memoir titled The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas. The cookbook will be available in May, Eric Silverstein, founder of Austin’s The Peached Tortilla is releasing a cookbook / memoir titled The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food From Tokyo to Texas. The cookbook will be available in May, 2019 through Barnes & Noble and of course and features a staggering 100 recipes. For the […] Brett Lindenberg yes 30:56
Coffee Shop Location Analysis: How We Found Our First Location Wed, 27 Mar 2019 21:06:31 +0000 0 <p>Finding the right location for your first coffee shop business is usually a make or break decision. Choose the right location and you could end up with a thriving business that can be passed down to your children. Choose wrong and you could lose everything financially. No pressure! This is the situation the Reynolds family [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Coffee Shop Location Analysis: How We Found Our First Location</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Finding the right location for your first coffee shop business is usually a make or break decision. Choose the right location and you could end up with a thriving business that can be passed down to your children. Choose wrong and you could lose everything financially. No pressure!

This is the situation the Reynolds family found themselves in when they started looking for their first location. The family had no experience managing or growing any type of business, much less a coffee business. They needed to make the right choice on location because they might not get a second chance.

In order to raise the capital needed for their first location, the family took a loan against their house to fund the first location. It was a massive risk, but decision paid off. Anthem Coffee & Tea eventually grew to six locations serving the Tacoma area with more scheduled to open this year.

Click here to learn the full story of how the Reynold’s family started their coffee business if you missed part one of the series.

Click play on the video below to learn the different options that are available to you to finding the critical first location for your coffee business.

Before starting the search for your first location, Bryan Reynolds recommends investing time into getting your brand vision, goals, and business plan established.

You can find more training videos and coffee shop startup worksheets when you join the private coffee shop startup community for free here.

Table of Contents – Jump to Section

How to Start the Search For a Great Location

When it’s time to start looking for a location, you’ll need to reach out to commercial real estate agent that’s local to your area. A commercial real estate agent will be able to show you the location options that are available in your desired areas of town. 

Any good commercial real estate agent will have a deep understanding of the different commercial locations, the local demographics, and costs of different venues around the city. Find someone that is willing to show you around some of the different locations and explain the advantages / disadvantages of each property.

It’s important to find an agent that will actually listen to the dreams and hopes you have for your coffee shop so that they will find and show you locations that are in your companies best interest.

You can start this search by tapping into your local network, especially someone that owns a successful local business since they will likely have connections with these people. If you don’t know anyone that owns a local business you can start by heading to Google and searching for commercial real estate agents in your area. If there’s a location you already have in mind, you can typically find the contact information of the property management company on a sign outside a strip mall or shopping center. This is another excellent way to inquire about pricing and availability.

find a coffee shop location
How to Find a Profitable Coffee Shop Location.

Class A, Class B, and Class C Commercial Real Estate Options

When it comes to commercial real estate the properties are graded on a rating system from A (in theory these are the best and most high-traffic locations) to C (the less attractive spaces due to location, resident demographics and traffic). You can learn more about the details of these Class A, Class B, and Class C ratings in this post.

When you start looking for your own location, keep in mind that just because something is in an A location doesn’t mean it is going to be the right location for your coffee shop. In fact, it could be a terrible location. Likewise, a location that’s rated as Class C might actually be the ideal location for you to start your business. Bryan’s story does an excellent job explaining why you shouldn’t blindly follow the advise of a commercial real estate professional for your small business.

Serious About Starting a Coffee Shop? Join Our Private Coffee Shop Community Here for Free.

When Bryan’s family got started in the coffee business they visited three different locations to determine if it was the right fit. Two of the locations visited where graded as Class A. One of the three locations was considered Class C.

The first Class A location visited by the Reynold’s family was a Class A property inside of a chain grocery store. This was a very popular grocery store with a lot of foot traffic in a popular shopping area. While it’s certainly justifiable that the location should be considered “Class A” it didn’t fit the vibe that Bryan and his family had envisioned. After all… Who wants to meet up at a grocery store to have a cup of coffee?

While there are plenty of coffee chains that do well inside of grocery stores, it’s not the environment that the family wanted for their own business.

The Reynolds family visited another Class A location for the second visit of the tour. This property was next to a Best Buy on a very busy four lane road. There were also a handful of small restaurants and shops in that area. As Bryan points out in the video interview, the location looked great on paper. The population density was there, the income profile of the people that lived there was terrific, and the drive-by traffic looked great. But the location didn’t feel right to the family.

Finally, the family visited the Class C location property. The Class C location was located underneath a community of apartments / condos. The property was also located across the street from a park and a subway station. Within two blocks of the location was a bank, a fire department, a police department, and a high school. Despite these elements of a thriving coffee shop location, the property was considered to be Class C.

As you see during the video interview, the class C location didn’t have much activity at the time. The area of town was considered to be a slightly run-down area known for antique stores. But Bryan and his family were able to look beyond numbers on a spreadsheet and see the vision of what could be with the location. Increased development was beginning to come into the area and the venue had the right feel based on their vision.

The interior of Anthem Coffee & Tea’s first location in Puyallup, Washington.

What was rated a C location became an A+++ location in hindsight. – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder / CEO of Anthem Coffee & Tea on selection their first coffee shop location.

Even thought the commercial real estate advisors didn’t recommend the Puyallup location, the Reynolds family decided to move forward and open their coffee shop there anyway. Ultimately, this location became the most profitable store for the 27-store coffee shop franchise at the time. Fast forward to the time of this interview, the location now does $1 million+ in gross revenue annually. Not bad for what was considered to be a Class C location in an undesirable area!

If you’re wondering what happened to the Class A location next to the Best Buy, it ultimately became a Starbucks franchise and closed down after four years of business. After Starbucks left, it became an ice cream parlor replaced it and also closed down shortly thereafter.

Am I willing to go all in, love and serve the people of this community, and is this where I want to put roots down? – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder / CEO of Anthem Coffee & Tea on the question you should ask yourself when analyzing a location.

The story of the Reynold’s families experience finding their first coffee shop location should not disregard data from property managers or other expert in the field. The demographic data, average income of residents in the area, and proximity to other thriving businesses should be considered in the overall location analysis. Our point in sharing this story is that you shouldn’t look at these numbers in a vacuum.

At the end of the day, when you open an independent coffee shop it’s your money that’s on the line. If something doesn’t feel right about a location then keep looking.

Outside of the Puyallup Anthem Coffee & Tea location.

What Are the Size Requirements for a Coffee Shop?

When designing a floor plan for a coffee house, Bryan does not recommend leasing a location under 1,200 square feet. When you operate a location that falls under this threshold it can be uncomfortable for more than 30 customers inside a cafe. The smallest location of the six locations that Anthem Coffee & Tea operates has a floor plan of 1,300 square feet and comfortably seats 60 guests.

A previous guest on the show recommended investing in a coffee shop that has no less than 60 covers (or guests) at one time. The reason for this number is that while a smaller cafe can be profitable, if you want to be able to make enough revenue to a pay full-time manager salary you will need a larger location to generate enough sales to cover employee salaries.

If you don’t intend to be an active operator in the coffee business forever then size is a consideration that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you plan to operate the business yourself, then you may not need as large of a space since labor costs will be lower. But you also won’t be able to expand or grow the business if that’s something you want to do by going too small. For this reason, Bryan stresses the importance of understanding your goals before opening the doors to your business.

On the flip side, the largest coffee house operated by Anthem Coffee & Tea is a massive 2,800 square foot location. Due to the size, they offer amenities you might not expect at a regular coffee shop such as a conference room that fits 20 people. This conference room is regularly used for classes or meetings.

There’s also plenty of room in the lobby to become a destination for events, benefits, or small concerts. With more space, you can offer unique gathering places that draw different groups into the establishment.

Outside of the Anthem Coffee & Tea location in Old Town Tacoma.

There’s an Exception to Every Rule

Bryan points out that the 1,200 square foot minimum size for a coffee shop is a good general guideline, but smaller venues can work too depending on your city and personal goals. One example is Laughing Man Coffee Company based in New York. They operate some of their locations in a spaces that aren’t much larger than 400 square feet and are extremely successful.

Another popular example is the drive-thru coffee shop that has done well for numerous brands including Better Buzz Coffee based in San Diego. Everywhere in Southern California is known for lots of traffic and spending a lot of time in the car to get to work. As a result, the drive-thru model been extremely successful in this area.

It can’t be understated that drive-thru is extremely important for profitability with some coffee businesses. According to Bryan, adding a drive-thru can yield 40% – 60% in extra revenue for some businesses. That’s a staggering number that can be the difference between a runaway success or business failure.

Dutch Bros is another terrific example of a brand that is killing it thanks to their drive-thru coffee options. It’s been widely reported that in 2017 alone, the Dutch Bros did $235.7 million in revenue. That’s a lot of coffee and demonstrates the high ceiling for this model!

Should You Look for a Location with a Drive-Thru?

For the next location, Anthem Coffee & Tea plans to test a drive-thru window. There’s no specific reason that Anthem Coffee & Tea has avoided this in the past… It’s simply that their previous locations haven’t made sense or had the option of a drive-thru counter.

Depending on where you live and your location this can be a major revenue source for your business. According a to QSR Magazine report, about 70% of revenue goes through quick-serve restaurant drive-thru windows. If you live in a place where people commute regularly this is something that you should seriously consider. You should also ask your commercial real estate agent to view locations that allow a drive-thru option.

Anthem Coffee & Tea Menu.

Find a Space Where You Can Offer a Variety of Seating Options

There are all sorts of reasons people come to your coffee shop. Some are looking for a place they come for a good cup of coffee, strong Wi-Fi connection, and get work done on the laptop. Others are looking for a comfortable place to relax, catch up with friends, and have a conversation. Make sure you create an environment that provides seating options for the the different types of people that will enter your shop.

Here are some of the different seating options available at Anthem Coffee & Tea locations. Consider these differing seating options when developing the layout of your venue:

Bar Seating: For customers that come alone or couples that want to belly up to the coffee bar. A good location for customers that want to engage in casual banter with baristas.

Seating at the Windows: Similar to bar seats, some customers will like to sit next to a window and flip open their laptops to work. When possible try to provide plenty of electrical outlets for people to power up cell phones and computers.

Two Tops / Four Tops Throughout Cafe:  Different sized tables help encourage groups of all sizes to meet at your location. Four top tables can be pushed together for larger groups.

Couches / Comfortable Seats: The goal of Anthem Coffee & Tea is to be the “living room” of the communities they serve. Depending on the location and size more cushy seats and couches are available.

Conference Rooms:  You can attract different groups and organizations by offering a conference room. If desired, you can also charge a small fee for groups to reserve. This is another great way to attract more people to your business.

Small Stage: While not technically seating, it can be helpful to have a small stage if you want to have small concerts or live events at your venue. When no acts are on stage, you can add additional seating so the space is never going to waste.

Cafe Takeover: Should You Buy an Existing Coffee Shop?

Another option to consider when looking for your own location is taking over an existing coffee shop business. In fact, three out of the last four coffee shops started by Anthem Coffee & Tea were acquired by buying the business of an existing shop.

There are a lot of advantages to buying an existing coffee shop from a business perspective. First is that it takes a lot of time and money to get a commercial space converted into a fully-functioning coffee shop. There are all sorts of costs to outfit a coffee shop: plumbing hook up, electrical setup, cabinets, and permits are just the tip of the iceberg.

When you buy an existing coffee shop, the foundational requirements are already taken care of. You’ll almost certainly need to make some updates or changes to the existing coffee shop when you take it over, but you’ll probably be able to use many of the business assets too.

In addition to the building foundation, you’ll be buying a business with an existing customer base. Even if the customer base is small at the time of purchase, you won’t be staring from zero as you would be when opening up a brand new location.

If you ever have the opportunity to step into an existing coffee shop, insert your brand that you’re passionate about, really get out there and infiltrate the community that would be the way to do it. – Bryan Reynolds on the advantages of buying an existing coffee shop.

Anthem Coffee & Tea Brand Logo.

Key Factors to Analyze When Finding the Best Coffee Shop Location

Ready to take action and find your first coffee shop location? Before signing a long-term lease agreement, ask yourself these questions about a prospective coffee shop location to audit its potential:

  • Are there other complimentary businesses in the location?
  • Are there schools, churches, community centers or places of work nearby the venue?
  • Is there public transportation nearby? Buses, train stations?
  • Is this an up-and-coming area or is it in decline? If new construction or other investment is planned for the future that’s a positive.
  • How much monthly revenue will you need to make to be able to break-even at a specific location due to the lease payments?
  • How many square feet does the location have? Is it large enough to meet your needs?
  • Is there the option to add drive-thru window sales at this location?

Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Location:

  • Can you see yourself serving this community?
  • Is this somewhere you want to put down roots and work everyday?

We hope this in-depth piece will help you make the right decision about your first coffee shop location. If you want to learn more about starting a coffee business, join our free startup community here.

The post Coffee Shop Location Analysis: How We Found Our First Location appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Finding the right location for your first coffee shop business is usually a make or break decision. Choose the right location and you could end up with a thriving business that can be passed down to your children. Finding the right location for your first coffee shop business is usually a make or break decision. Choose the right location and you could end up with a thriving business that can be passed down to your children. Choose wrong and you could lose everything financially. No pressure! This is […] Brett Lindenberg yes 38:48
How to Start an Independent Coffee Shop On Your Terms Like Anthem Coffee & Tea Tue, 26 Mar 2019 20:31:48 +0000 0 <p>Do you dream of opening a cute corner coffee shop? Wonder what it's really like to own a cafe? Trying to figure out if if this is business you want to seriously pursue? Then you're in the right place. Today's guest is Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO of Anthem Coffee & Tea, a six-location coffee [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How to Start an Independent Coffee Shop On Your Terms Like Anthem Coffee & Tea</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Do you dream of opening a cute corner coffee shop? Wonder what it’s really like to own a cafe? Trying to figure out if if this is business you want to seriously pursue? Then you’re in the right place.

Today’s guest is Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO of Anthem Coffee & Tea, a six-location coffee business serving the greater Tacoma area in Washington. In the show, Reynolds outlines the actions you need to focus on in order to start a successful, independent coffee shop brand from the ground up.

It’s important to point out that Bryan is not a success guru or a consultant. Bryan’s worked in the trenches of their coffee business for over a decade and continues to operate and grow the business today. Bryan’s not here to “sell you” on starting a coffee shop, but instead to help give you a realistic idea of what it will really be like to own a coffee business and the areas where you need to focus for it to be successful.

Sign up for our Free Coffee Shop Startup Kit Here for More In-depth Training with Bryan Reynolds and Unlimited Access to Our Coffee Shop Startup Cost Calculator.

The topics discussed in this exclusive interview is wide ranging: business plan development, how to deal with competition, how to market a local coffee shop, menu development, what it’s like competing with Starbucks and more. This is an in-depth interview so get a cup of coffee brewing to ensure you are fully caffeinated and click play on the video to get started.

Table of Contents

  1. About Anthem Coffee & Tea
  2. Where to Start with Coffee Shop Business Planning
  3. How to Find Your Why.
  4. Mission Statement & Guiding Principles
  5. Write a Coffee Shop Business Plan
  6. What Type of Person Should Start a Coffee Shop?
  7. Should You Buy an Existing Coffee Shop?
  8. How to Pick a Name For Your Coffee Shop.
  9. How to Write a Meaningful Mission Statement
  10. Franchise VS Independent Coffee Shops
  11. Coffee Shop Training Programs
  12. What’s an Average Day Look Like?
  13. The Transition from Doing Everything Yourself to Managing a Team
  14. Creating a Coffee Shop Marketing Plan
  15. How to Compete with Starbucks
  16. How to Develop Your Coffee Shops Menu
  17. Cost to Open a Coffee Shop
  18. Coffee Shop Equipment Checklist
  19. How to Source Coffee Beans.
  20. What are the Next Steps?

About Anthem Coffee & Tea

It’s been seven years since Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder, and his family opened the doors to the first Anthem Coffee location. At the time of the interview, the Reynolds family operates six stores under the Anthem Coffee & Tea brand. Four of these locations are in the greater Tacoma area with all of them in Washington state.

Five years before unveiling the Anthem Coffee & Tea brand, the family owned and operated a franchise coffee business where they learned the day-to-day operations and how to to run a successful coffee shop. But prior to the opening the coffee franchise, the family had no business ownership experience.

Like all first-time entrepreneurs, the family had plenty of energy and passion to pour into the project, but lacked in areas of business experience or money to get started.

To fund the business, Bryan’s parents took a loan against their house to cover the costs. Starting a coffee business is not cheap and required about $360,000 in investment before the doors could be opened. As Bryan half-jokingly shares in the video interview, the family might be figuring out life in a tent somewhere had the business had not worked out.

While Reynold’s doesn’t recommend taking out a mortgage against your personal residence to start a business, he acknowledges this was a unifying moment for the family. Everyone’s back was against the wall and failure was not an option.

Coffee is just the tool that we use to grow the people business. – Bryan Reynolds CEO / Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee & Tea on running a successful coffee shop.

Where to Start with Coffee Shop Business Planning

Learn How to Start a Coffee Shop.

Bryan recommends coming up with a game plan instead of a traditional business plan for a coffee shop. But no matter the exact format you select, you need to take the time to get clarity on a plan and goals for the business. If you don’t take the time to do this now, you could end up owning a business you either hate or doesn’t fulfill you.

If there’s one big takeaway you should from this entire piece in terms of step-by-step planning… This is it:

  • Start with the Why.
  • Establish Guiding Principles and Mission Statement

Once you have these critical pieces figured out, they’ll guide every thing else in your business. Don’t select the name of your coffee brand or look for a location to lease until you’ve figured out your why and guiding principles.

If you’re not sure about how to approach finding your why and establishing your guiding principles (or why this is even important), not to worry. The next sections will help you figure this piece out.

How To Find Your Why… If You Don’t Know Already.

First off we should address, why you need to start with “why” in mind. We humans are complicated creatures. Believe it or not, simply making money isn’t a good longterm motivator for most business owners. Sooner or later you’ll run out of energy without a stronger purpose.

Understanding the reason behind why you’re doing something can help you push forward despite the inevitable difficulties ahead. Most of us need to know the work we’re doing it important than simply making coffee. We need a sense of purpose and mission behind what it is we do.

An Event at Anthem Coffee & Tea.

All that being said not everyone enters the world knowing exactly what they want in life. In fact, most people never take the time to figure out their purpose, which is really too bad.

If you haven’t thought much about the reasons why you’re starting a business yet don’t feel bad. Take advantage of this opportunity to reflect on yourself and figure out what the why behind your business motivation. You’ll learn a lot more about yourself and future business in the process.

There are all sorts of techniques you can use to find your true purpose. Here are some exploratory questions that can help you discover and define your purpose:

  • What do you want to conquer?
  • Who do you want to help?
  • What do you want to be known for at the end of your life?

Where your passions and skills align is usually a great place to begin identifying your true purpose.

Another self-discovery tool recommended by Reynolds is a website called This is a free online personality test that can be used to attain more self-awareness.

Discovering Your Mission Statement and Guiding Principles

After identifying your “why” the next phase is to establish the guiding principles of the company:

“Guiding Principles” are a broad philosophy that encompass your personal beliefs and values and guide an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies or type of work. – Guiding Principles and Why Your Business Should Have Them.

When used correctly, guiding principles direct the future of your business. To make these valuable, they need to be reviewed regularly and considered before making major business decisions.

You should regularly ask yourself if the decisions you make in the business align with your principles and goals. If they are used in this way they can act as a North Star for business decisions big and small.

Strategies for Determining Guiding Principles

Like discovering your why, establishing guiding principles requires self reflection. Deciding on core principles doesn’t need to fall solely on your shoulders, however. In fact, it’s better if you welcome key players in your business into the process.

If you have a business partner, manager, or family member that will help operate the cafe then get their input too. By involving others in this process it will help everyone buy into the guiding principles and make them better.

If you’re looking for a fantastic example of guiding principles check out the Our Values section published on the Our Story page of the Anthem Coffee & Tea website.

Below is a list of questions you can ask to get clarity on the guiding principles of your business:

  • List ten words that come to mind when you think about your business or organization.
  • What are five nice things that people have said about you or your organization?
  • What does winning look like to you at a day to day basis?
  • What’s your unique value proposition do you have to offer to the people you will employ?
  • What are the values that will guide you?
  • What’s your preferred future look like? What does it look like 3 years, 5 years, 10 years from now?
  • What are the behaviors and mindsets that have led to your success so far?
  • What drives you?
  • What’s the one thing that if you do this everyday, it would really represent what you want to do?
  • What do you want your company to be known for?
  • What are the ten biggest pain points you’re facing right now?
  • How much income do you want to make?

As you continue this discovery process, be honest about your desired goals and income. After determining this criteria, figure out what winning looks like and you can begin to work backwards on how to build a plan to make it happen.

Success for you might be running a specialty coffee trailer side-by-side with your spouse. If this is the goal then the plan you put in place is going to look a lot different than someone who wants to own a 25 chain location in 5 – 10 years. You must take the time to know thyself and build a plan around your desired end goal!

Write a Coffee Shop Business Plan

Finally, it’s time to get pen to paper or text entered into an empty word document on your computer to start documenting the business plan. In addition to your own preparation for the business a formal business plan will be a requirement if you plan to get a bank loan or angel investment.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of free resources available to help you draft a professional business plan on your own. has an online program that will take you through all the steps. You can view an example of a drive-thru coffee shop business plan right here.

Be aware of your weaknesses, but go all in on your strengths. – Bryan Reynolds, CEO / Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee & Tea.

What Type of Person Should Start a Coffee Shop?

Is starting a coffee shop right for you? According to Reynolds, anyone with a sincere passion for hospitality is perfect for starting and operating a coffee shop. If you enjoy serving others this is the good business for your personality type.

In addition to being hospitable, you’ll need to be a people person. Whether communicating with employees, customers in your store or planning for a special off-site event, expect to interact with people all day, every day. If this isn’t something you enjoy this might not be the right business opportunity.

Finally, no matter where you look there’s a spot to get coffee these days. Creating an environment that stands out and keeps customers coming back is part science and part art. The only way to fight back is to lock in on your brand and what the vision is for your coffee shop during the planning process. This is the way to ensure you have a clear vision for the business.

If you don’t have a clear vision on what your coffee brand will be right now, don’t worry. This is a process that may take weeks or months to figure out. Just make sure you put in the time to complete this planning. Many failed independent coffee shops, unfortunately never took the time to figure this stuff out and failed as a result. Don’t let that happen to you! You deserve better!

Should You Buy an Existing Coffee Shop?

One way to get into the coffee shop game is to buy into an existing business. This could be a franchise or independent coffee shop that’s for sale in your area. The benefit to going this route is that you can get into a location that’s already successful and has an established customer base.

You might be surprised to learn how frequently small businesses like this go up for sale in your areas. The owners may be retiring or tired of the running the business. Sometimes personal reasons like illness or a cross country move is the catalyst for a sale. Other times, the coffee business is failing and the owner wants out.

But if your plan is to buy shop as a passive investment, hire a manager, and take the monthly cash flow Reynolds says he hasn’t seen that work often. In the early days, you’ll need to be there to set forth the vision of the business, establish processes, and improve the operations.

If the coffee shop was hugely profitable and didn’t require any work, it’s unlikely the current owners would want to part ways.

Absentee ownership rarely works in any type of business. If you’re considering the purchase of a coffee shop as a passive investment look elsewhere.

How to Pick a Name for Your Coffee Shop.

Don’t take the name of coffee shop lightly. The name of the business directs the overall vibe for the shop you plan to own.

Picking a name like Susan Johnson’s Coffee Shop could make the business more difficult to sell or expand in the future. Of course Tim Horton seems to have done pretty well using his name so there are always exceptions.

If you pick something unclear, like the Liquid House, people might not know what you’re selling or specializing in.

The Anthem Coffee & Tea Logo. What’s Your Anthem?

So how did the Reynold’s family come up with the name Anthem Coffee and Tea for their business? First, they wanted to select a name that was both solid and stood out. Anthem Coffee satisfied that criteria.

The tagline for Anthem Coffee is Live Loud. If you think about it, the name is a stark contrast to most coffee shops where the vibe is closer to that of library.

Instead of being quiet, Anthem Coffee encourages you to get out there into the world, be loud, and find your own anthem… Whatever that might be. That’s not what most people expect from a coffee shop.

How to Write a Meaningful Mission Statement For Your Coffee Shop

The goal of a mission statement is to define the “why” of a business startup. A strong mission statement can guide the entire strategy and operations of a business. On the flip side, a generic mission statement is totally useless and forgotten.

We get it. Drafting the mission statement of a coffee shop business plan can be tempting to push to the side when you’ve got a hundred other things to check off your to-do list.

However, skipping this step is a missed opportunity to set the right direction of your organization from the beginning. The vision for your company can be so much more than pouring cups of coffee if you’re able to think bigger.

As an example, check out the mission statement and longterm vision of Anthem Coffee. Here’s how the mission statement defines Heroic Hospitality:

We create unique experiences that change lives and bring people back.  We do this by loving and serving people, by preparing top notch, handcrafted food and beverages, and by creating an environment where real relationships are fostered.

Learn the Story of Anthem Coffee & Tea.

After drafting a mission statement, it’s time to set out the long term vision of your coffee shop. One way to figure out the goals of your small business is to ask yourself this question:

What’s the ultimate dream for the coffee shop? What does it look like when you’re imagining operating the operations of this business?

Achieving your vision isn’t an event achieved day one of the business. It’s something earned over time. It’s a goal to set your sights on for the future.

Similar to the mission statement, a company vision can be overlooked since it may not seem applicable to the nuts and bolts daily operations of a coffee shop. But when approached with a degree of thoughtfulness, the vision statement can become practical on how you operate your business. Again, let’s break down one component of the Anthem Coffee vision:

We know and are known by our community.

This statement is simple, but powerful. Being known and knowing your community means you must become an active participant in the city you serve. How you become active participant in the community is up to you and will look different to everyone.

Can you imagine how your actions might be different as a business owner if one of your guiding principles is to be known in the community… not just be profitable?

There are all sorts of ways a coffee shop can become a known and active member of a community. For you this could mean helping an area non-profit through participation in a food drive, getting involved in local small business association, providing a fundraising opportunity for the local high school.

You could create a semi-private meeting space in your coffee shop to offer to meetup groups. Maybe you have a passion for helping independent musicians get their music into the world. Creating a dedicated space inside your establishment to play music could be an excellent way to accomplish this goal.

No matter the brand vision that’s inside your head, you can see how approaching business with a clear mission statement and vision can direct the actions of a business for the better.

Franchise VS Independent Coffee Shops

The Reynold’s family started their first coffee shop by joining an existing franchise opportunity. There are some distinct advantages to buying into a franchise that can make opening a business easier.

Ideally there’s some level awareness for the franchise brand locally. People can drive past your location and immediately know what you sell and the quality of products you serve. This element alone is a huge advantage over entrepreneurs starting at zero.

Depending on the specific franchise, members of the community might even be excited to have your franchise restaurant or coffee bar opening in their town. You see this a lot when a Dunkin’ franchise opens in some parts of the country.

The second distinct advantage to becoming a franchisee is that it’s easier to make the transition from employee to business owner. You can literally follow the operation instructions of the business and in theory the business should work. You don’t need to come up with a brand, figure out what equipment to buy, source coffee beans, or develop standard-operating procedures for how staff members work. All of planning is done. All you need to do is plug-in an owner / operator and managers with a passion for operating the business.

In retrospect, Bryan Reynolds is glad his family operated as a franchise the first five years of business. The experience helped the family understand how the business really works and build experience running a coffee shop.

While there are plenty of benefits to going the franchise route there are some distinct downsides too that you should be aware of.

One prohibitive reason to start a franchise is the initial franchise fee and annual licensing fees. Initial franchise fee is a one-time payment to get started will require $15,000 – $50,000 to start out on average.

Annual fees are paid to the franchise company in perpetuity in exchange for operating a proprietary business model. Franchisees should recieve on-going benefits from these fees as some of the annual dues typically go towards marketing expenses, research and development of new menu items, and ongoing training.

Enjoy at Drink with a View.

Finally, there’s another fee called a royalty based on the volume of sales a store produces. These are often the profit center a franchise company.

These royalties (a fee by another name) can range from 4% – 10% of the revenue in the coffee industry so you need to understand all ongoing fees before enrolling in any franchise opportunity.

As an example, if you had a coffee shop that did $200,000 in sales, you would be obligated to pay $10,000 in royalties over the course of a year if the number was set at 5%. As you can see this particular expense can add up quickly for a franchisee.

When the Reynolds family was notified that their annual fees to operate a coffee shop was going to increase, they decided to transition to an independent coffee shop model.

There’s no right or wrong choice on the path you choose to start a coffee business. Ultimately the decision to invest in a franchise or start an independent location should be based on your skills and goals.

If you want to learn more about franchise fees and why you pay them, check out this article on To browse opportunities for coffee franchise’s, including fees and revenue potential head to the coffee business section of

Coffee Shop Training Programs

As mentioned earlier distinct advantage of going the franchise route is the training and support system that’s built into these programs. But even if an independent coffee shop is the goal, you should still seek mentorship in the beginning stages of the business.

There’s a laundry list of things you won’t be prepared for when starting out in a new business. Reynolds advise is to get help.

One way to get a better understanding of the coffee industry is to actually get a job working at a coffee shop for 6 – 12 months minimum. While you might not get the business side experience as a barista, you will learn how to make coffee, provide top-notch customer service, and most importantly figure out if you even like doing this. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to begin preparing yourself for coffee shop ownership.

Second, there are some high-quality coffee business schools that offering a faster path to operating a cafe or coffee house. Often, you can go through complete these programs in 1 – 2 week sessions of intense learning.

This is a great way to develop business fundamentals, like developing a brand and managing people that you probably won’t acquire while as an entry level employ inside a coffee shop. One tip when selecting a school is to find a teacher or training program from someone that actually has experience running and growing successful coffee shops. Finding a teacher or school that offers real-life experience will make a big difference in preparing you.

You can learn more about the next Anthem Coffee School. This is a training program facilitated by Bryan Reynolds and is a terrific option that covers different important aspects of owning a coffee business, including developing a business plan, barista training, menu development, and nurturing a strong brand / culture. Check out the website to learn more about the school and dates for the next live intensive.

What’s an Average Day Look Like Operating a Coffee Shop?

As your coffee brand grows the daily activities will and should evolve with it. This change in work focus is essential if the goal is to expand into multiple locations. As you expand to more locations your time will be spent working on the business instead of in it as an operator.

What The Typical Day Looked Like in the Early Days:

In the early days, Bryan worked brutal hours to get the business off the ground. Bryan would frequently open the doors at 5:30 a.m. and closed down the coffee shop at 9:30 p.m. During the day Bryan was involved in all the aspects of running a coffee shop from scheduling, making coffees, sweeping the floors, greeting customers, distributing free samples and running the cash register. This is what running the business was like for 7 – 8 months after opening.

A frantic pace that has you working 80+ hours a week is not sustainable forever. The thing that drove Bryan forward during the early days was the feeling that he had to make the business a success.

Eventually, Bryan was transitioned into the more manageable work day you see below. Keep in mind that in the early days you’ll be putting in long days to get the small business off the ground.

What Does The Day-To-Day Look Like Now:

Keep in mind that Reynolds has been working to grow Anthem Coffee business for over 10 years. Today, his role resembles that of the CEO of a brand than solo operator. It will take most entrepreneurs a few years to get this level, but it’s important to be aware of the natural progression in the beginning of the business.

Here’s what Bryan works on now:

  • Protect culture: Anthem Coffee and Tea spent years developing, evolving and figuring out their culture. Belief guides culture so employees must memorize the company mission statement as a first step so they can ultimately live it out. A lot of companies post their mission statement on a wall and forget about it. You need to lead from these guiding principles and refer to them regularly to guide your business if you want them to be valuable.
  • Cultivate leaders: As the business grows, focusing on the development of your leadership is critical. After all, as the owner you can only be at one location at a time. You’ll need to have high-caliber, trustworthy performers in place to manage and grow locations.
  • Cast vision: People need and want clear direction. It’s unkind to be unclear. You must have the ability to set forth this clear direction for a coffee shop business and let employees know how they impact the mission as individuals. Let employees know what’s on the horizon and how the future could look with them in a different role.
  • Grow daily: Anthem Coffee and Tea stresses the importance of ongoing learning and growth for everyone inside the organization. Grow daily means increasing sales, adding social media followers, improving efficiencies in the coffee shops. As Reynolds put it in the interview, “If we’re not growing daily, we’re dying gradually.”

On average, Reynolds spends 30 – 35 hours on the above listed aspects of the business. This activity represents the majority of his work day at this time.

The Transition from Doing Everything Yourself to Managing a Team

As you can see from Bryan’s experience things are different after more a decade plus running a business. But this progression won’t happen without being deliberate. There are plenty of small businesses owners that continue doing everything themselves and end up stuck for years or even decades. Change doesn’t happen by accident.

The reality is that in the early days of starting a business you’ll be wearing a dozen different hats and putting in a ton of hours. Work life balance isn’t a reality in early stage small business. While putting in a lot of hours at the start is a reality, you should be working toward assigning tasks to managers and employees by building out and refining a set standard operating procedures.

While time consuming, establishing written processes and guidelines on how to operate a coffee business is the only way to ever step away without everything collapsing.

The other realization Bryan had was that he had to set boundaries for himself with the business. He couldn’t be opening and closing down the coffee shop forever. It can be hard to leave the coffee shop during a rush so you can make it home in time for dinner with the family. But if you want to maintain a strong relationships with your family and friends, you absolutely need to be able to leave your place of work.

Establishing boundaries and scheduling times when Bryan wouldn’t be working, meant hiring additional staff to be able to run the shop while he wasn’t available. This also meant empowering co-leaders within the coffee shop to be able to make decisions while away. Making it a priority to only work a set number of hours was one of the big things that Bryan wishes he took more control over during the early days.

How to Have Meaningful Conversations With Coffee Shop Managers

As you may have noticed, leveling up your people skills is critical to growing a coffee shop empire of your own. Here are some practical nuts and bolts questions you can use to start having productive on-going with your managers. By listening and taking action on these conversations, you can help continually drive your people and business forward.

  • What are you most excited about?
  • What’s something you wish you could spend more time working on?
  • What are your pain points this week?
  • What’s something that you’ve seen that’s a need in your community?
  • How can we add value to local area?

Another point about the organization of a coffee shop is that Anthem Coffee and Tea does not have one store manager per location. Instead they have co-leaders for each location that manage the store together. This means that the highest ranking individual in a coffee shop still needs to work as a team. As a benefit to the manager, they don’t need to feel the pressure that everything falls on their shoulders. This structure has helped to foster an organization that focuses on team work and ongoing improvement.

One other important concept covered in the video is that you can’t lead people like a slave driver. Telling people to do this or take care of that because you give them a paycheck every two weeks is no way to create a happy work environment nor retain top talent.

You must get into the habit of sharing the reason behind instruction to staff. The why always drives the what… Meaning that people follow direction better when they understand the reasoning behind your instructions. Take the time to explain the reason behind why you’re doing something and you’ll get better results from employees.

As Bryan shares in the interview, during the early days of being a manager he’d get frustrated that employees wouldn’t greet customers quickly. But after Bryan started sharing the reason why it really made a different in how people perceived his instructions.

For example, Bryan wasn’t asking people to greet customers because of a desire to keep employees busy. The motivation was to make customers feel welcome when they entered the building. This small communication tweak changed everything.

Creating a Coffee Shop Marketing Plan

How do we best love and serve this community that we want to open this coffee shop in? – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee, on the key questions you should be asking when getting started.

After you open a coffee shop one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is getting people to know you exist. When you begin to consider marketing a business, you probably start by thinking about different tactics like buying radio advertisements, creating an attractive sign outside the shop, mailing coupons, handing out free samples or posting regularly on Instagram. While each of these approaches can work this isn’t where Bryan reccomends starting out when building a marketing plan.

While all of the tactics above can help increase awareness for your business, one specific recommendation that Bryan has is to focus on doing joint ventures with other local businesses or other organizations.

Concerts and Fundraisers are regularly held at Anthem Coffee & Tea locations.

A joint venture (also called a collaboration) happens all the time in the craft brewing industry. Two different breweries will come together to produce a limited edition beer. This beer will might introduce the specific type of beer and brewery to a new audience of beer lovers. Assuming both breweries have a following already, it’s a win-win scenario for both businesses. This approach can simple, low-cost, and extremely effective.

If you get creative with this approach there are all sorts of ways to leverage collaborations with local businesses to help increase your awareness in the community. Here are a few ways you can begin to collaborate and add value to the community you serve in the process:

  • Fundraising: Churches, sports teams, and non-profit organizations are always looking for ways to raise money. You could run some special events in partnership with an organization that you support and donate a portion of the sales.
  • Meetup Groups: There are groups of people in your community that are looking for places to come together regularly to discuss different topics ranging from cycling to knitting. These groups are kind of like book clubs, but on a wide range of interests. If you’re able to offer a semi-private meeting place inside your coffee house this can be an excellent group of people to reach. You can find local groups in your area by visiting
  • Collaborate: As a coffee shop there are all sorts of businesses you could test joint ventures. One idea would be to join forces with an independent bakery. You could sell their cupcakes at your shop one week, you sell your coffee at their location another week. These kinds of simple strategies not only get your name out, but keep things fresh and exciting at your location.
  • Ask How You Can Best Serve Others: As a general guideline, you want to get good at identifying as many ways a possible to help as many people as possible with your coffee shop. Does a struggling artist need help getting their painting out into the world? Offer to put up a piece in your store on the artists behalf. Does a local business need help promoting an event? Share information about their event on social media and let them hang a poster about it in your store.

Some of these collaborations take time and careful planning to execute. Others are super simple and don’t take much time at all. Best of all, the cost of this form of marketing is mostly sweat equity (meaning there’s no cost) and you’ll get back what you put into the efforts.

These are the things that have made a difference in our business. You have a chance to make a difference more than you have the chance to make money. But if you make a difference, you will make money. – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee, on the importance of business collaborations for a coffee shop.

How to Compete with Starbucks and Other Coffee Chains

Most of Anthem Coffee’s locations are in the greater Tacoma area. This is less than 40 miles south of Seattle where Starbucks was founded in 1971. Needless to say, the mega coffee chain has a strong presence in Anthem Coffee’s market. Not surprisingly, four of the Anthem Coffee stores are located within blocks of a Starbucks. But Reynolds doesn’t consider Starbucks to be a direct competitor.

I’m thankful that Starbucks paved the way for us. Starbucks has created an opportunity for independent coffee shops to come in and innovate. They made it (the American coffee shop) massively popular. – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee, how how he views competition.

So how do you handle coffee shop competition? According to Reynolds, it always comes back to having a differentiated brand, delivering a unique customer experience, and having an identifiable mission.

Well known establishments like Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Tim Horton’s have their own loyal audience. These stores all provide a consistent product that select demographic of people enjoy. That’s why customers return again and again to these establishments.

The goal for you as the business owner is to create a desirable and consistent experience for customers that relate to your style and environment. You can’t be everything to everyone so don’t try to be.

I’m not in competition with Starbucks. I’m in competition with myself and our organization every day. Always asking ourselves, how can we get better? – Bryan Reynold, Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee.

How to Develop Your Coffee Shop’s Menu

We are paying for our space all day long, we might as well use it. – Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder of Anthem Coffee on adding beer, wine, and food offerings to the menu.

Another one of Anthem Coffee’s core values is minimizing waste and maximizing profit. With this core value in mind, they noticed what many other coffee shops observe: Sales drop in the evening when most people don’t drink coffee. So staying true to these guiding principles, they looked for ways to enhance their menu to increase their profitability at night.

This led them to explore offering craft beers and wine so that people would be more likely to visit and compliment their lineup of speciality coffees. After they introducing beer and wine, they realized an updated food menu was needed to pair with these new beverages. This approach won’t work for every shop, but it can work well for some.

Check out a sample of items from Anthem Coffee’s food and drink menu that features a variety of quality coffees below:

Drink Menu:

  • Americano: Espresso with hot water.
  • Black and White Mocha: Dark and white chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk.
  • Caramel Macchiato: Steamed milk, vanilla marked by espresso and caramel.
  • Dirty Chai: Vanilla or spicy chai, espresso and steamed milk.
  • Latte: Espresso and steamed milk.

Food Service Menu:

  • Turkey Bacon Cheddar Sandwich: Roasted turkey, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread.
  • Anthem Fries: Shoestring fries with rosemary olive oil and shaved parmesean.
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Oven baked fries with salt and chipotle dip.
  • Black Bean Hash: Red potatoes, black beans, red pepper, jalapeño, and lime zest.
  • Pizzoni: Cheese bread stick with pepperoni and mozzarella.

One of the easiest way to start creating your own menu is to look around at what other people are doing. See what chain coffee shops are serving, see what independents are doing, and take notes on what you like. Get in a car travel to some of the interesting coffee shops within a 100 mile radius to sample coffee and learn.

Starting the menu development for food service really can be this simple. Think of it as a fun creative process.

While you provide yourself freedom to be creative during the menu development process keep in mind people’s expectations when entering a coffee shop. Plenty of people still like a plain-old medium roast drip coffee with cream and sugar. Make sure you maintain traditional menu items when starting out along with more creative options.

If you want to learn more about the menu development process and pricing, there’s a really good piece on the topic of menu pricing that was written at

All-In Cost to Open a Coffee Shop

On average you can expect to invest $100,000 – $400,000 on average to start a coffee shop business. Depending on the equipment you decide to buy, the build out of the location you could end up spend upwards of $1 million dollars if you want a high-end shop with artisanal chairs and tables. In fact, the first Anthem Coffee & Tea location required roughly $360,000 in capital just to open due to all the equipment, furniture, and permits required.

You can estimate the total cost of your future coffee shop using our coffee shop startup calculator. You can find a full list of cost considerations here as well.

Coffee Shop Equipment Checklist

You can view our full cost calculator and equipment checklist here. But here’s a run down of the quality coffee brewing equipment you’ll need to start this type of small business:

  • Espresso Machines and Grinder
  • Coffee Brewing System
  • Hot Water Tower or Dispenser
  • In-Line Fan
  • Fridge
  • POS System
  • Bag Grinder
  • Convection Oven
  • Underbar Sink
  • Microwave Oven
  • Display Case
  • Commercial Freezer
  • Blenders
  • Commercial Coffee Roaster (Optional, but can add a unique aspect to your shop.)

How to Source Coffee Beans

As Bryan Reynolds points out in the interview, discovering the specialty coffee beans and roasts that will be served at your shop can be an enjoyable and creative experience. Bryan suggests getting out into the world and actually trying a whole bunch of unique roasts before determining what you want to serve.

Depending on the mission of your coffee shop, you can locate beans that are sustainably sourced or grown in different areas of the world to align with your vision. Sourcing product from specialty coffee roasters ensures you have a unique and quality cup of coffee customers can’t get elsewhere in your market.

You’ll also need to decide whether to invest in a commercial coffee roaster to roast coffee in-house or have another reputable roaster complete the process for you.

It may be tempting to roast the coffee beans yourself, but keep in mind that this process of roasting is both art and science so it’s something you may want to consider outsourcing to simplify operations. We should also point out that most coffee shops outsource their roasting to experts. You can learn more about the art and science of roasting here.

If you do decide to purchase a commercial coffee roaster, one can be acquired for between $7000 – $25,000. The cost of this equipment depends largely on the capacity or batch size of the equipment. Mill City Roasters is a great resource to learn more about this specific piece of equipment and the options.

If you’re just beginning the search for a unique coffee to serve at your shop the suppliers below are high-quality sourcing options:

What are The Next Steps?

We hope this piece gives you a foundational understanding of what you should be focused first before starting a coffee shop. As a quick review, you need to get clarity and your why and mission statement so that you can create a unique brand that stands out in the local market first. If you get this piece wrong, you could spend years spinning your wheels without understanding the real problem. Don’t let this happen to you!

In the coming weeks we’ll be publishing more content on the nuts and bolts aspects of operating a coffee shop, including:

We hope you get value out of this series and encourage you to share and discuss this series with the team members involved in your coffee shop startup.

The post How to Start an Independent Coffee Shop On Your Terms Like Anthem Coffee & Tea appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Do you dream of opening a cute corner coffee shop? Wonder what it’s really like to own a cafe? Trying to figure out if if this is business you want to seriously pursue? Then you’re in the right place. Today’s guest is Bryan Reynolds, Do you dream of opening a cute corner coffee shop? Wonder what it’s really like to own a cafe? Trying to figure out if if this is business you want to seriously pursue? Then you’re in the right place. Today’s guest is Bryan Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO of Anthem Coffee […] Brett Lindenberg yes 1:14:03
How To Find and Hire the Best Coffee Shop Employees with Andrew & Claire Bowen Sat, 02 Mar 2019 15:19:28 +0000 0 <p>Andrew and Claire Bowen are on a mission to stop independent coffee shops from failing. While employed in the healthcare and retail sectors, Andrew and Claire Bowen got the idea to start a coffee shop. Andrew, who regularly traveled during his career, developed an appreciation for local coffee shops during these frequent business trips. The [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How To Find and Hire the Best Coffee Shop Employees with Andrew & Claire Bowen</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Andrew and Claire Bowen are on a mission to stop independent coffee shops from failing.

While employed in the healthcare and retail sectors, Andrew and Claire Bowen got the idea to start a coffee shop. Andrew, who regularly traveled during his career, developed an appreciation for local coffee shops during these frequent business trips. The more Andrew visited and worked out of these coffee shops, the appreciation for these business continued to grow.

After bringing up the idea of starting a coffee shop to his wife Claire, the couple completed their due diligence and determined the business model could be profitable. As a personal benefit, operating a coffee shop would also allow the couple to spend more time together. A win-win!

Today’s Guests: Andrew and Claire Bowen.

In 2007, the couple made the leap and took over their first franchise coffee shop. From that point, success and growth came fast for the husband and wife team. Within 18 months, the couple opened three locations and generated over $1 million pounds in top-line revenue. In 2011, the couple developed and launched their first independent coffee shop concept they continue to run today.

More recently the couple set out to support coffee shop owners worldwide through their website and their Amazon best seller “The Daily Grind – How to Open & Run a Shop that Makes Money.

By the way if you’re interested in winning one of five free copies of The Daily Grind book you can register for a chance to win a copy when you enroll for the free Coffee Shop Startup Kit or by sharing this post on Facebook. Do both and you’ll get two entries to win.

 It’s a nice business, full of nice people. – Andrew Bowen on operating a coffee shop.

Taking Over an Existing Coffee Shop 

For the first location, Andrew and Claire purchased an existing franchise coffee shop. The shop was positioned in a quality location, but the previous owner had lost interest in the business. As a result, the employees were left to manage the business without any rules or processes put in place. After purchasing the coffee shop, the couple went full steam ahead into improving the operations of the business.

The first step in the turn-around process was to document and improve the standard operating procedure inside the coffee shop. After establishing clear processes, the staff bought into the new vision of the company. The Bowens would also work to create a better overall working environment for their staff that made employees more satisfied. During this time period, all aspects of the business were looked at and improved by the couple.

Two Common Reasons that Coffee Shops Fail

There are many reasons that a reported 80% of coffee shops fail, but here are the two big ones.

In any type of small business, location is critical for success. Many would-be successful coffee shops open in a location that sets them up for failure early on. Too many coffee shop owners end up paying too high of rent to ever be successful based on the amount of traffic volume going by their shop.

On the flip side, other shops start too small. The thinking is logical: You might want to start small in a lower rent location where you don’t need as much traffic to be profitable. But it usually doesn’t work out that way.

If you’re opening in a small site with under 40 seats or limited drive-thru business, you’re essentially buying yourself a job by limiting the income potential. You’ll never be able to generate enough revenue to hire a manager to run the day to day. Depending on your goals for the business, this situation may not be ideal.

More often than not, you can avoid common mistakes encountered by new coffee shop business owners. But you do need to take the time to invest in yourself, be open to learning from already successful coffee shop owners, and take action to ensure your avoiding common business pitfalls.

Everyone thinks they can run a coffee shop because they sit in it all the time and think it’s easy. It’s not easy. – Andrew Bowen 

How To Find and Hire the Best Coffee Shop Employees.

Hiring the right team to run your business is a key factor in operating a coffee shop. When looking for those critical first employees, the Bowen’s recommend hiring for hospitality and customer service as the most important skill a person can have.

The Daily Grind is Available on

You can teach someone how to make a really good latte. It’s more difficult to train on soft skills like a welcoming smile, eye contact, and conversational prowess that delivers the one-of-a-kind experience and keeps customers coming back. These are the intangibles that can’t be trained. You’ve either got it or you don’t.

After you’ve found someone that’s a good fit. The next step is to train these new baristas and employees to your standards for working at a coffee shop. From serving coffee to cleaning equipment or how to deal with a challenging customer, no detail is too small to train on.

Here’s one you might not have thought about. It’s critical to share your coffee shop story with new hires. Every independent coffee shop has a wonderful and unique story. But the same story needs to be told by all staff members for this to come across to customers. Understanding the coffee shops back story will also help employees buy in on their roles.

Become a Magnet and Attract The Best Hospitality Talent in Your Market

Become a Magnet for Top Talent in Your Area.

When you become an established coffee shop in your city, it becomes easier to recruit the best baristas and managers. One of your goals as a business owner is to turn your business into a magnet for high performers that want to work in the best establishments.

The services of high-performing bartenders, baristas, or waiters are always in demand. If you’re able to create an environment that people are proud to work in, can have some fun, and make good money, word will spread within the local hospitality community.

Not surprisingly these rock star employees don’t want to work in a dive or be disrespected at work. These sorts of people won’t be working in a poor work environment for very long. They’ve got plenty of options.

The Bowen’s have spent years operating their own business and helping others improve their own coffee shops. Based on their experience, the thing biggest factor determining the success or failure of a business is having the right people in place. To get the right people, you must put effort into becoming a magnet for top talent.

Here are some specific things you can do to create a better working environment in a coffee shop and attract super start employees:

Working Conditions:  It should go without saying that having high-quality working conditions is super important for attracting the best of the best. This means maintaining a clean coffee shop that is welcoming.

Make sure the temperature isn’t too hot or cold for baristas. This is not an area to try to cut costs on heating or cooling bills!

Provide Schedule Flexibility: Your employees will have family or school obligations they need to attend to. Try to do whatever you can to provide flexible working options for people. Top performing people can have lives and goals outside of your shop. By offering more scheduling flexibility, you’ll be able to set yourself apart from other employers in your area.

We also want to point out that none of the points above has anything to do with money or paying more. While money is important, it’s not the only thing that drives employees.

Who Should Be the First Hire in a New Coffee Shop?

At this point, you understand the need to compile a super team if want to become one of the best coffee shops in your area. But you can’t build a team without that critical first hire. So what role should you attempt to fill first?

Depending on the size of coffee shop and your personal goals for the business will determine that important first hire. If the goal is to have a self-run coffee shop that you plan manage then by all means hire a barista to help prepare beverages and serve customers. This is a perfectly fine approach if you want to do everything yourself but it’s more like buying a full-time job for yourself versus operating a business with growth potential.

On the other hand if you hope to build a business that you could eventually sell or step away from at some point, The Bowen’s recommend hiring a store manager or someone with the potential to be a manager first. The individual you hire doesn’t have to have all the skill right away, but they do need a desire to learn and grow.

Hiring a manager first allows you to share the vision, build processes and make hiring decisions in the early days. This individual is someone that should take some of the burden off you. This person should have problem solving skills and a can do attitude with an ability to figure things out.

In the ideal scenario, you would hire someone that have a vision of starting their own coffee shop in the next 4 – 5 years. You know that these people will be serious about how they approach the operations of the business.

You’ll also want this new hire to have a complimentary skill set to you. This person should need to fill in the gaps where you may not have expertise. For example, if you’re good with numbers and accounting don’t look to hire someone with those same skills. Find someone with talents for building relationships and marketing instead. You should seek to fill in your weaknesses instead of bringing onboard people that think and act the same way you do.

So before you start hiring do some soul searching of your own first to figure out what you’re good at: Operations, Finance, Customer Service, or People Management. Then try to find someone with the complimentary skill set that will help grow your business.

How Many Employees Will You Need to Hire?

After you find a manager, it’s time to put together a supporting cast of team members. For a small coffee shop, starting out 8 – 9 team members is about average.

This may seem like a lot of employees hire, but remember that most of your employees will be part-time. Your store manager may be the only full-time staff member and that is fine. You will need enough staff to be able to support people taking days off, getting sick, going on vacations, and finding other jobs.

How Train Baristas and Staff For Success

One of the secrets to operating a well run coffee shop is to train people well and continue training individuals throughout their life of their employment.

Everything you do in your coffee house must have a system or process written down for employees to follow.

There should be a specific recipe and way to serve the simplest food item such as a pre-made muffin. There must be a standard process for cleaning bathrooms and dining areas.

In addition to providing clear instructions to staff, clear guidelines improves your overall customer service. A major element of customer service is consistency. People like to know what type of experience they’ll have at an establishment and if the coffee doesn’t taste the same each time or the food isn’t prepared in the same way every time that’s a problem.

Everything must be documented so your employees understand what they need to do and how to accomplish the tasks in a way that meets expectations.

The Hiring Process for Coffee House

It can be really hard to figure out the quality employees from the poor ones during an interview process. Someone that answers a set of standardized questions to perfection does not a great manager or barista make. As a result, the Bowens developed a few of their own tools that you can build into your own coffee shop business when hiring:

One smart test the Bowens have used to find out if a prospective employee can keep up with the often frantic pace of working in a coffee shop is to ask prospective employees to follow him up the stairs and stay close behind. If the prospect was still at the bottom of the stair case at the time he reached the top then working at a fast paced coffee shop may not be a suitable job type for that individual.

Another approach used is implementing a 90-day trial period for all new staff. No matter how sophisticate your approach to hiring is you don’t truly know if an individual will be successful until they start work. After the 90-day trial period, both the employer and the employee should have a clear understanding of whether or not this is the right fit. Making this an understanding up front also sets the tone with new employees that you’ve got to be willing to work to remain gainfully employed for long.

On-Going Feedback is Important for Employees

You must be continually giving appraisals to your employees. Giving feedback does not mean you’re being mean or nasty. In fact, for many of these appraisals you’ll be providing compliments encouraging employees to keep up the good work!

Often times managers can get into the habit of only identifying things that must be improved upon. Being able to spot improvement opportunities is an important element of a quality manager, but don’t forget all the good things happening every day in your business too!

When it comes time to adjust or improve on employee behavior, offer the feedback in a positive way. One good approach is the provide praise to an employee then offer a feedback and finally end the conversation with another compliment. This approach can help everyone feel good about what can be a difficult conversation. Always make sure to affirm that the employee is valued any time you provide constructive criticism.

Finally, it’s totally normal for coffee shop owners, especially if they’ve escaped stuffy corporate environments to forget about on-going training and feedback of employees.

After all, a regimented approach to work and communication may have been one of the catalysts for starting a business. However, if you want the business to be successful, a formal commitment to improving and developing team members is essential. Listen to the full podcast interview for all the details on ways to improve the hiring process for your coffee house.

What You’ll Learn: 

  • Why the couple decided to take over an existing franchise coffee shop for their first location.
  • How the couple was able to double the revenue of their within their first month of ownership.
  • The importance of carrying around a notebook to write down your ideas or thoughts about your business.
  • Why you’re really in the hospitality business as a coffee shop owner.
  • The importance of hiring employees with the hospitality gene. Other desirable traits and skills can be taught.
  • The importance of understanding the reasons why you want to start a coffee shop.
  • Some of the most common reasons coffee shops fail and how to avoid them.
  • Who the first hire should be inside of your business. Why you should aim to hire someone with management potential first.
  • How to build a strong team. Why you should look for people with complimentary skill sets to yours.
  • Finding your coffee shops story. The importance of creating an environment that people are proud to work at.
  • Learn about the 12-week training / evaluation process that new team members go through within Andrew and Claire’s shops.
  • Why you should take the time to work at a coffee shop before you decide to invest in a coffee shop yourself to get clarity if it’s the right choice for your situation.

Part of the reason we wrote the book is that we’ve seen so many people like us try to open a coffee shop and think it’s a great little lifestyle business. Then in 18 months – 2 years lose a load of money and retreat with their tail between their legs. – Andrew Bowen on coffee shop startups. 

You can teach someone to make a fabulous cup of coffee, but you can’t teach the hospitality gene. – Claire Bowen on hiring team members. 

Mentioned in The Episode:

Cafe Success Hub: Educational website and blog published by today’s guests Andrew and Claire Bowen. Here you’ll find a variety of helpful resources for coffee shop owners, including a business start-up calculator, informative blog posts, and an Ask Us Anything section where you can get answers to business questions.

The Daily Grind: This guide, written by Andrew and Claire Bowen, takes you through the steps required open and run a profitable coffee shop. If you’re going to be investing a hundred thousand dollars (or more) into starting a coffee shop, it would be wise invest less than $20 to understand what it takes to operate this business successfully. This Amazon best seller is the type of publication you’ll want to take notes with, highlight, and return to often for guidance during the startup phase of your business.

Coffee Business Owner Group: Shout out to this private Facebook group. You can apply for free access by clicking the link. If you are an owner of a coffee business or are thinking of starting a coffee business, this is a fantastic and active online community where lots of world-class entrepreneurs hang out.  I was able to connect with Andrew and Claire Bowen inside of this group to schedule today’s interview. This group is managed as a service to the coffee community by Espresso Outlet as a labor of love.

Coffee Shop Startup Cost Calculator – Free tool you can use to estimate the startup costs of your future coffee shop.

The post How To Find and Hire the Best Coffee Shop Employees with Andrew & Claire Bowen appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Andrew and Claire Bowen are on a mission to stop independent coffee shops from failing. While employed in the healthcare and retail sectors, Andrew and Claire Bowen got the idea to start a coffee shop. Andrew, who regularly traveled during his career, Andrew and Claire Bowen are on a mission to stop independent coffee shops from failing. While employed in the healthcare and retail sectors, Andrew and Claire Bowen got the idea to start a coffee shop. Andrew, who regularly traveled during his career, developed an appreciation for local coffee shops during […] Brett Lindenberg yes 24:53
How I Started a Craft Brewery for $50,000 And How You Can Do The Same. Fri, 21 Dec 2018 23:03:24 +0000 0 <p>Want to start your own craft brewery without bringing on partners? Don't think it would be possible ever start a brewhouse for sub 6-figures? Then take a look at this case study with Sam Corr, the founder of Drumconrath Brewing Company, who proves once and for all that you don't need an enormous loan or [...]</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">How I Started a Craft Brewery for $50,000 And How You Can Do The Same.</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Food Truck Empire</a>.</p> Want to start your own craft brewery without bringing on partners? Don’t think it would be possible ever start a brewhouse for sub 6-figures?

Then take a look at this case study with Sam Corr, the founder of Drumconrath Brewing Company, who proves once and for all that you don’t need an enormous loan or a dozen investors to launch an independent brewery. In fact, Sam was able to start his own brewery for just over $50,000 thanks to his ability to identify key ways to save money on equipment and do-it-yourself mentality that allowed him to avoid hiring expensive contractor for certain jobs.

In the inaugural episode of the Food Empire Pro Podcast, you’ll get a deep dive into the how Sam Corr got started down the path to owning a brewery based in Mapleton, North Dakota. If you want to learn how to start your own craft brewery on a bootstrapped budget this is the episode for you. Click the play button below to listen to the podcast of this conversation.

The Early Days 

Like the founders of so many other micro breweries, Sam was introduced to brewing about 10 years ago through home brewing with a Mr. Beer Kit. The kit leaves much to be desired from a creativity standpoint and tastes terrible, but is a simple way for beginners to brew their first batch of home brew.

While the Mr. Beer KitSam had its limitations, Sam quickly returned to the home brew shop where it was purchased to ask questions about ways he could have more control over beer recipes and the equipment it would take to execute. From that point forward, Sam was hooked.

Sam returned home that day with a roaster pan and stock pots from the local home brew store and began to develop what would be his first recipe. Using a $26 computer program called BeerSmith, a tool that helps you work out the right percentages of ingredients to make beer, Sam began to experiment and learn what worked and didn’t work in terms of brewing.

Sam tested recipes for a wide variety of beer styles, including red’s, American Pale Ale’s, Porters, IPAs and continued to refine them for years as an avid home brewer. As Sam got more serious and worked to refine the recipes, most of the beer would be given away to friends and family members that were eager to sample the latest style.

Eventually, people started to compliment how good the beer had become. Sam got to the point where there was a waiting list of people that wanted to receive and try future batches that were brewed. This was the moment Sam recognized that he was onto something that could be bigger than a part-time hobby.

Sam Coor, the owner / founder of Drumconrath Brewing Co.

My wife got tired of me just giving beer away all the time. So we talked about it, looked at our finances, and took the plunge. – Sam Coor

Challenges Getting Started and a Personal Crossroads

When entrepreneurs set out to build a new business one of the first challenges encountered is raising enough money for it to get off the ground. Sam’s experience was no different. When Sam started seeking a small business loan for his concept, he faced a lot of rejection.

Sam started the search for capital by going to usual suspects by scheduling appointments with the local banks. Sam had already prepared a business plan for his craft brewery, but was quickly turned down for a business loan by the banks and credit unions he approached.

While Sam was in the process of figuring out how to pull together the money needed to start his business, a family tragedy struck. Sam’s dad was diagnosed with cancer and passed within one year. Understandably, this devastating life event postponed progress on the craft brewery and led Sam to take stock of his own path.

At the time Sam was unhappy with his day job. It got to the point where it became emotionally draining to know that he could be pursuing his true calling of running a brewery, instead of working at a place he didn’t enjoy. Sam was at a crossroads as to what path he should take. Eventually Sam told himself it was time to actually figure out how to make the business work or move on:

We need to either do this or give it up. Life’s too short to be miserable at work all the time.  So either we’re going to work this out and do it or I should just quit all together because it’s emotionally draining now to go brew and think that I could have been there [owning a brewery]. – Sam Coor on being at a crossroads whether or not to move forward with the business.

Moving Forward and Raising Money

After a few discouraging meetings with banks, Sam realized that unless he was able to acquire a substantial downpayment of money there wouldn’t be a way to get a loan from a traditional bank. In most cases, banks will want some form of collateral like a house or automobile that they can take in the event you aren’t able to repay the debt. It also didn’t help with the banks that Sam had no formal business operation experience. This was his first business venture.

An alternative funding option would be to bring partners into the business that would provide the startup cash required to get started. But Sam didn’t want to go that route either. Any time you bring in partners, the operation of a business gets more complicated with more decision makers to agree on the longterm direction of the business.

So Sam sat down with his wife and they had a big talk about whether or not they should move forward with the brewery. After much discussion they decided to move forward with the plan. They would take a second mortgage out on their house to get started.

Worst case scenario, Sam and his wife determined that in the event the business failed they could support making payments on the house. Sam’s wife would stay at her current job. If needed, Sam could get another job in future.

Sam and his wife were willing to take the risk of a taking out a second mortgage to fund the business. This action is viewed as unfathomable by some, but it was a strategic bet they were willing to make in an effort to achieve a longtime goal of owning an independent micro-brewery. They are not the first or last business to be funded in this way.

With the cash finally in hand start the brewery, it was game on and time to begin evaluating locations and completing the regulatory steps needed to legally start this type of business.

Finding a Brewery Location 

Selecting the right location of your brewery is one of the most important factors that can determine the success of failure. Not only do you to find  an environment that is safe, inviting, and has a big enough customer base nearby. But you also need to locate a spot that’s large enough to store your brewing equipment, have a tasting room with sufficient seating and fit your budget all at the same time. For many breweries renting space at a quality location is the largest on-going monthly expense. (Note: The biggest monthly expense could also be labor depending on the size of the operation.)

Finding the right place that checks the box on all of these categories can be a lot like finding a unicorn… seemingly impossible.

Sam originally looked at a Fargo location for his brewery, which is the largest city in North Dakota. The location being considered was near the center of the city and accessible by a lot of major roads. In Sam’s situation, most of the startup cash would go toward funding the rent for the location and getting it outfitted / transformed into a brewery.

When it’s time to start looking for a location, one of the first things you’ll need to do is get touch with a commercial realtor that understands your market. Talk about where you want to be, how much space you’ll need, and the type of areas you envision.

Don’t forget to solicit commercial realtors opinions about the best neighborhood, prices, and up-and-coming areas you may not be aware of. It’s wise to take into consideration other people’s perspectives on a location when making this important business decision.

Sam selected a location in an industrial area that’s 2160 square feet. It’s not uncommon to find breweries across the United States located in what would be considered a traditionally industrial area. Due to the space requirements needed to brew beer this is often the only affordable area available.

Assuming you plan to open a smaller brewery and tap room, you could probably get by with 1,500 square foot space if you’re looking for a minimum size requirement. But having a little extra room to grow for the future doesn’t hurt either.

What Are The Regulatory Requirements for Breweries?

Craft brewing is a federally regulated industry through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TBB). But you’ll also need to understand the requirements from your state. Generally speaking, states are easy to work with. States will happily take your money and with the additional tax revenue and licensing fees. At least in the North Dakota, you can send them a check and get a license in the mail.

At the federal level, however, it can take 6 – 7 months for them to get back to you after submitting paperwork needed to get started. The city you decide to start and operate business can also present challenges. For example, the owners of more established bars, restaurants, or craft breweries can make getting started more difficult if they happen to be friends with high-ranking city officials.

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TBB)

The federal requirements and forms for going through the brewery qualification process are available online. These can be challenging to fill out so if you can get guidance from a mentor on this piece that will make the process infinitely easier.

This not the type of form you can just sit down and complete in an afternoon like a driver’s liscense. Many brewers express that it took them a few days or a couple weeks to complete the first time. Many entrepreneurs need to amend their filings based on the request of the government later as well.

Highlights of Federal Filing Requirements for a Brewery:

  • You must give a typed description of the brewery. 
    • Describe plot of land your brewery is on.
    • Describe building brewery is in.
    • Describe the brewery overall.
    • Get a letter of recommendation from bank.
  • Acquire and Send Registered tradename
  • Submit floor plan of your brewery. 
  • Secretary of State or Attorney for State information. 

What Equipment Costs Are There for a Brewery?

Equipment not as expensive as you might think. Sam was able to order all the metal equipment from China and handled his own importing. The fermenters purchased are plastic, which is a lot less glamorous and a little harder to work with, but saves a lot of money when starting out. You need to be more careful with plastic fermenters because if the plastic gets too hot it will wreck the beer. Sam also built a cold room himself. All this work added up to massive savings in startup costs that similar businesses should expect to incur.

All that being said below is the list of equipment costs Sam incurred while starting the brewery business:

Brewhouse & Filtering (or Brite Tanks) Tanks: $11,000

The brewhouse is where you make the beer and the filtering tank are what  you’ll use to pump liquid into the fermentation vessel.

Fermentation Tanks: These were $500 a piece used from another brewery. Fermentation in these tanks will take about two weeks for the wort and yeast to transform into real beer.

Kegs: These are the most expensive pieces you will invest in due to the quantity you need to purchase. You can find used kegs for around $60 a piece used and you need a lot of them. You might be able to get lucky and find them through another brewery or someone that’s going out of business. Sam invested approximately $12,000 total in full size kegs.

Sinks: You’re required to have a 3 compartment sink ($300 roughly). A seperate hand washing sink is also required and will cost between $50 – $200 on eBay or Amazon depending on the size and brand name you purchase.

Draft Parts: This is only a requirement if you have tap room on-site. You’ll need draft facets, which are the lines that go to kegs, regulators, bulk C02 and nitrogen tanks. You’ll also need beer facets with handles for the bar. All of these parts combined will run cost about $2,000.

Pumps: These are for pumping wert and beer from one tank to another. This will also be used for cleaning tanks. Expect to pay about $1,000 all together. This will depend on the size you need.

Shelving Units: These are utilized to stack grain, malt, hops, yeast and other ingredients. You can get shelving like this affordably at Amazon or from a home improvement store. These can be purchased between $100 – $200 per shelf. You’ll need 5 – 10 of these when you get started to keep beer brewing ingredients organized.

Keg Cooler or Cold Room: Ideally, you’ll stores kegs in a cold room that keeps that beer ice cold and run lines from there to your taps. When you’re making the floor plan for your brewery try to position it near the wall of your tap room where you plan to dispense beer. However, this might not always be possible due to the way in which your location is setup and regulations.

If you aren’t able to setup a cold room in the right location, you’ll need to invest in a keg cooler. Same was able to find a keg cooler on clearance at Menard’s (this store is a lot like a Home Depot with numerous locations in the Midwest) got a chest freezer that I converted and got on clearance for $300.

Plumbing / Electrical: As far as installing electrical and plumbing, you’ll need to hire an expert on those projects. Make sure to ask your network for referrals of good contractors and get multiple bids to understand the price range of services. The cost will vary widely depending on your location, but for initial business planning purposes you can expect to pay $2,5000 each to a professional plumber and electrician.

One final pro tip gleaned from the interview is that you should always carry  a backup of spare parts so that one small piece of equipment doesn’t shut down your entire operation for days. It pays to be prepared!

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Craft Brewery?

According to reputable reports online like this one from NerdWallet, you should expect to spend between $100,000 – $1,000,000 on average to open a brewery. As you can see by getting creative in the ways described above you can save a fortune in startup costs.

As mentioned earlier, Sam was able to started a craft brewing business for just over $50,000. As highlighted in both the audio interview and equipment costs section there are the three key areas you can focus on to save money when opening a brewery:

  • Equipment: Brand new, stainless steel brewing equipment will cost more than used equipment. You can buy plastic fermentation tanks for  $500 a piece compared to thousands of dollars. Try to find ways to save on equipment costs so you can make it happen.
  • Labor: Sam was able to get his brewery started as a one man show. Sam dedicates slow days toward brewing beer and is the head bartender on weekends. No job big or small is above him. As a result of all this, the on-going overhead is super low.
  • Rent: Negotiate your lease terms in an effort reduce your monthly payment. Look for lower cost locations in the suburbs or industrial parks.

How Much Money Does a Small Brewery Make on Average?

Each brewery has different sales numbers. Some of the larger craft breweries do hundreds of millions of dollars in sales annually with dozens of tap rooms, national distribution, restaurants, and generate revenue in all sorts of ways. A good example of one of the biggest craft breweries is Stone Brewing. In 2015, Stone Brewing reported annual revenue of over $137 million and over 1,000 employees.

If you’re just starting a brewery sales figures like that can seem impossible. Lofty as that goal may seem now, when you’re evaluating any business opportunity it’s good to find examples of brands that have enjoy mass appeal. This demonstrates tremendous upside in the market to grow. But these big craft brewers are not the sort of business we’re highlighting for this piece.

At the time the podcast interview was recording, Sam was in the first year of his business. Understandably, in your first year of business you should expect the lowest sales numbers since it takes time to gain traction.

According to Sam, the first year operating a brewery they generated $70,000 – $80,000 in total sales. On the bright side, each month’s sales generally got better and better, which should continue.

The other important point to keep in mind in terms of revenue is that Drumconrath Brewing Company is only open four days per week from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. If the brewery were to be open seven days a week it would immediately increase the monthly sales that would add up over the course of the year. But that’s the nice thing about being an independent business owner. Your the one that gets to set the hours of operation around your ideal lifestyle.

Sam is also able to keep expenses to a minimum due to being a one-man operation. Sam currently brews all the beer and works the tap room. Due to the combination of low labor costs and running the brewery out of a lower cost suburb, the monthly overhead for the business is very low.

At the time of recording this interview, Sam was generating sales exclusivley through his tap room. Here’s what the high-level costs and profits looks like for a batch of beer (17 kegs of beer). You can use this formula to help project the profit for your own beer.

What’s the profit margin on a batch of beer?

It will cost about $300 to make a batch of beer (ingredients only, not factoring labor costs). A batch of beer is a approximately 17 kegs of beer. We are assuming you plan to utilize standard 5-gallon keg sizes for this estimate.

You can expect to get approximately 40 (16 oz) beers from each 5-gallon keg.

So the math behind behind estimating your profit potential from a batch of beer looks like this:

40 beers X 17 kegs = 680 beers

680 beers X $5 average sales price per 16 oz. beer = $3,400 sales value per batch.  


For our profit margin estimate above we’re assuming you plan to make a beer with slightly more expensive ingredients such as an IPA. As you might expect, the costs of ingredients required to make different styles of beer will vary in cost.

You can increase profitability further by making and selling an American style light beer, which could cost under $200 for ingredients per batch. Naturally, you’ll want to run this simple formula using your own proprietary ingredients when starting out to make the estimate more accurate.

You could also increase the average profit margin of your beer by raising prices. In the example above, we assumed that you are charging only $5 per 16 oz. draft beer. That’s pretty darn cheap for a glass of beer in much of the United States. In many markets you’ll be able to charge $6 or $7 per glass.

By increasing the price of the beer by just $1 per sale (from $5 – $6), you can increase sales value of a batch of beer to $4,080! Be sure to test price points to determine the best pricing model in your area. If you do some quick research by viewing the prices of beer at other breweries you’ll get a clear understanding of what prices your market will bear.

On the flip side, you’ll need to factor the labor cost to make the beer. As you already know, the ingredients needed to make the beer are low. But the time and labor required to make an enjoyable craft beer is high. Sam has a passion for brewing and loves the craft so doing it himself this is part of the reason he got into this business. But if you don’t share that same passion for brewing you will need to plan for the expense of hiring an employee into your business plan.

Finally, keep in mind the other basic expenses and overhead that go along with operating any type of business. There will be a certain amount of product waste per keg, you’ll need to pay taxes, and rent.

Note: Sam is in talks to distribute his beer locally through restaurants and bars, which would add an additional sales channel and revenue to for the business in the coming months.

What Are the Steps Needed To Start a Brewery?

Follow these steps to start a craft brewery or brewpub:

  • Pre-Planning and Research Phase – Determine the costs to start the business, what’s your brand is going to be, you ideal customer, the styles of beer you want to specialize in, the ingredients and formulas for you beer. Determine your strategy for generating sales (sell food, tap room, distribution). This is the stage you write business plan for your micro-brewery.
  • Financing: Have an investor? Great credit? A large retirement account? After figuring out how much money you’ll need to start the brewery, it’s time to go out and raise the capital needed to make it happen. This is the point where you must decide if you’re willing to take the financial risk to start this business.
  • Finding a Location and Negotiating the Lease: Find a location that would be suitable for starting a local brewery. Try to negotiate the lease terms and price of lease. Never accept the first lease offer without countering. Tour multiple locations and note the pros and cons of each. The less you spend on monthly rent the more profit will be left over for the business.
  • Regulatory and Licenses: You will need to acquire the appropriate licenses at the federal, state, and city level to operate. Details on this in the podcast. 
  • Equipment and Build Out of Your Unit: Get the list of equipment you’ll need to start and also create a layout how everything will fit into your desired space.
  • Make First Orders – What do you need to order? All the tiny little things. List of it. Soap, soap dispensers, napkins, brewing chemicals, malt, hops, grain. These should be outlined in your business plan that you compiled in the pre-planning / research phase.
  • Make First Batches – Making the jump from home brewing to pro brewing is a challenge for many first time brewery owners. When you were a home brewer you would likely doing 15 gallon batches… now you might be do 100 gallon batches or more. When you brew 10 times bigger quantities there’s less room for error with beer recipes. For example, you can’t pitch yeast at the same rate in large batches as you could at home.
  • You’re Up and Running: You’re finally open for business. Now is when the work begins! From now one you’ll be in charge of many different functions in your business, including marketing, brewing beer, keeping customers happy, accounting / bookkeeping, cleaning, and trying to come up with creative ways to get people to visit your business.

From a time frame perspective you should be able to complete these steps within 4 months if everything goes smoothly and as planned. It took Sam about 9 months to go through the opening process due to delays with the city and paper work at the federal level. If you want to build in a buffer of time to resolve unanticipated issues or delays getting started a 6 month time frame from start to grand opening is reasonable.

Frequently Asked Questions For Aspiring Pro Brewers: 

Read This If You’re Married or In a Serious Relationship. 

If you’re married, make sure you’ve got a super supportive spouse. Over communicate why you want to open a brewery. If you don’t have it together, it may not be the right time. If you need to manage a tap room, you won’t be home in the evening a lot on weekends. It is very hard sometimes for both the entrepreneur and spouse. You’ve got to be willing to take the jump together. When you start a brewery, you’re basically having another child.

What’s the Biggest Tips for Someone Just Starting Out?

Sam recommends finding a business mentor that can help you get started. Preferably this would be someone that owned a brewery in the past.

However, if you’re not able to find someone with that specific of a skillset, anyone with experience operating a small business will do. Someone that has owned a bar or restaurant will have a lot of transferable experiences that you can learn from. Why make an already difficult journey more complex by not asking someone for help?

One specific way to start looking for a mentor or peers in the industry is to find the Brewer’s Guild for the state that you are in. This is a great way to meet other brewers and find out what strategies that are working. See if you can get hooked up with local owners.

Second, find out how much money you have can get access to. This shouldn’t take more than a week or two to figure out. Access how much personal savings you have in a checking account, stocks, savings, 401K or other retirement fund, and even figure out what you would be able and wiling to convert into cash like an unneeded car. Then figure out how big of a loan you can get either through a second mortgage or business loan. The goal is to get a clear understanding on paper of the different funds you have readily available. Starting a brewery as a business is not a low-cost endeavor. If someone claims to have a “no money” way of starting a brewery… Run the other direction!

As a general rule of thumb, stay away from investors if you are able as it will complicate your business operations in the future. Don’t take money without thinking about the longterm implications of that decision first.

Finally, keep your mind open to ways to save money when you’re getting started. Don’t take the first offer you get on a lease. Try to negotiate better terms for yourself and shop around for different locations.

When you start outfitting the brewery, look for tasks that can be completed by you or a friend. If you can buy second hand furniture and install it yourself in the tasting room go for it. Look for second-hand kegs and other equipment if you can find it. As a business owner must get into the habit of always asking for a better deal and looking for lower cost alternatives to getting things done. Each dollar you save reduces the debt burden and will helps expedite the profitability of the business.

Do small breweries a professional website? 

Sam recommends having a web presence online whether that’s through social media or a website. One of the ways that Sam plans to increase his overall revenue is by adding the sale of t-shirts, hats, and other apparel that includes his business logo. Sam cited this article in the podcast interview as a guide for giving him some creative ideas for earning income for his brewing online.

Is the craft brewing market too saturated?

This will depend on the market you’re in. If you’re in Denver, maybe the market is flooded. Smaller towns and suburbs are often an untapped gem, however.

Believe it or not, before prohibition every town had a brewery. Part of the reasoning for this occurrence is that distribution wasn’t as advanced as it is now.

Still, buying all things local when you can is a mega trend. People like to see local things succeed and enjoy regional beers. If you travel somewhere new for pleasure or work, many visitors will want to sample the regional brews they can’t get at home.

How did you decide your production capacity?

Three barrel system is the most versatile size for the money. If you put in one long day of work, you can produce two batches of beer. You could make about 4,000 barrels annually with a three-barrel system if you had some reliable part-time help. Input cost would still remain very low even with hiring employees.

Investing in a 10 barrel system would be as high as you would want to go initially and you could hit the 10,000 barrel mark which is kind of the benchmark for breweries that have “made it.”

How time consuming is it to operate a brewery?

It is time consuming. If you want to start a business it’s going to take time. I’ve got a wife and four kids so I understand the importance of being home, enjoying time with your kids, and making sure everything is good on the home front. I actually decided to close Sunday and Monday to be able to spend time with the family.

You can do this a couple days a week if you want to keep your full-time job for financial stability. You’re not going to get rich off of it as long as you’re operating part-time, but it is a good way to get started.

There is brewery in Bismarck that’s only open on Friday and Saturday. As you might expect these are the two most profitable days of the week. The business does leave money on the table by not being open every day, but this is actually the type of business you could realistically start part-time with a job and run only weekends if you wanted.

What’s a typical day like operating a craft brewery?

This is what a typical work week will look like for a small, independent brewer. As the operation grows you’ll naturally be less involved in the day-to-day operations below and more focused on increasingly sales and awareness for the business.

Brew days: 1 – 2 days per week. 

Come in and open up my brew software. Turn the water on and start filling the tank. Weigh out my grain. By then I’ll know if I need to add any salt to the water or PH adjustments. Start dumping grain and mixing it up. Do inventory, figure out what I need, order materials. Come in at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m on these days. Brewing time per day is between 6 – 8 hours.

Cleaning and Administrative Work days: 1 per week. 

Clean tanks and fermenter cleaning day. Might also clean tap room or other parts of the facility. Bookkeeping and other administrative type work could also be completed on this day.

Tap Room Days: 4 days per week

Come in during the afternoon. Count down till. Clean everything including bathrooms, pull pins on taps. Open the overhead door. Put the flags outside the building. Open for business! Often, there will be people waiting outside for the doors to open.

Should you hire a brewmaster?

This totally depends on you and what you want to spend you time on in the business. Adding an experienced brewmaster will increase your overhead significantly, which can be tough in the early days. If you got into this because you love trying, testing, and creating beers then by all means do it yourself.

A brewmaster is someone that has been to school for brewing. They have professional brewing experience and have worked in a brewery. You don’t need to be a brewmaster to start and their are plenty of smaller places that don’t have anyone with this credential on the payroll.

Do I need a business plan to start a brewery?

You will be required to have a business plan if you plan to bring on investors or want to work with a bank. This is a must have and these individuals will need insight into how you plan to operate the business. I mean, if you can’t get a business plan completed, how serious are you really about starting this business?

You should be excited at the opportunity to write a business plan. Before you open the business is when you’ll have the most time to stop and think about your vision, determine where you want to source ingredients, and develop a style of beer and brand that’s all your own.

Instead of thinking about a business plan in the same way you would think about homework at school… Think about it instead as an opportunity to get super clear on the direction of your business and how it will operate.

As mentioned during the interview there are all sorts of resources available locally, many of them free, that are setup to help new businesses and entrepreneurs develop a business plan. One way to get started is to take advantage of the free resources available from the U.S. Small Business Administration for help drafting a business plan.

What if people don’t like my beer? 

No many how many accolades your lineup of beers receive, someone will inevitably not like your beer. This feedback could come in the form of someone posting a negative comment on social media or telling it straight to your face.

While criticism can be tough to swallow it’s important to remember that most of your customers aren’t beer aficionados. What’s good beer? To the layman, they may have tried an Imperial Stout for the first time and not like the taste because it wasn’t anything like Bud Light.

One piece of advice that Sam offers is to understand your customers, target market and the region you plan to operate a brewery. In the upper Midwest, most folks still drink mass produced light beer. As a result, Sam makes sure to have a light blonde on tap at all times. It’s a continual strong seller and makes his beer assessable and desirable to a wider range of people that visit his brewery.

Keep in mind that when someone says they don’t like your beer, not to take it personally. A customer may simply not like the taste of Double IPAs so from a business perspective it’s smart to have a few different options on tap.

What Type of Person Should NOT Start a Brewery? 

If you’re not a people person this is not the job for you. If you don’t like getting to know your customers or building connections with other local businesses this isn’t going to be something you’ll enjoy. Making great beer is only one ingredient of operating a successful brewery.

What is a BBL?

When you dive into the topic of brewing beer at a deeper level you will begin to see references to BBL. BBL refers to barrels of beer. A barrel of beer is 31 gallons. The size of a brewery is often described by the annual production of barrels within the industry.

You can learn more about the classification of the size of breweries in this article from Kalispell Brewing Co.

The post How I Started a Craft Brewery for $50,000 And How You Can Do The Same. appeared first on Food Truck Empire.

Want to start your own craft brewery without bringing on partners? Don’t think it would be possible ever start a brewhouse for sub 6-figures? Then take a look at this case study with Sam Corr, the founder of Drumconrath Brewing Company, Want to start your own craft brewery without bringing on partners? Don’t think it would be possible ever start a brewhouse for sub 6-figures? Then take a look at this case study with Sam Corr, the founder of Drumconrath Brewing Company, who proves once and for all that you don’t […] Brett Lindenberg yes 1:01:25