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How I bought a cafe and an income

Metin Esen says gradual change is imperative if you're to avoid alienating core customers post-sale.

Metin on the business's profitability…

In the first year we turned a small amount of profit and second year it was a good profit. Ever since then I have concentrated on the profitable side - the wholesale/catering side of it, which is more profitable in terms of getting the customers. 

On keeping existing customers happy…

"From the day I bought it I made gradual changes - from the layout to the menus - very gradual, very slow change, because I know that if you make a sudden change in any kind of business, then customers most of the time do not like a change. 

"But when there is a slow change in a positive direction, then customers can notice that bit by bit. When you see the feedback then you can do a bit more."

On buying a going concern rather than starting from scratch…

"When you buy an established business you have the customer base straightaway, and if there is any outside catering like we have, then you have the customer base [from that] as well and money from day one. 

"You will not be worried about building the business. You can build up the business on an existing customer base as well.

If you start from scratch you have to consider the time it takes to find empty premises, consider if the business will work in that area, and how long it will take to set up your business and establish a customer base to have some sort of regular income

"But the disadvantages are, you have to pay a premium for the business. But if you start from scratch you have to consider the time it takes to find empty premises, consider if the business will work in that area, and how long it will take to set up your business and how long it will take to establish a customer base to have some sort of regular income. So you have to weigh up the pros and cons."

On his future plans…

"I would like to open second and third branches, scattered around, probably one in north London and one in west London. Then after that my plan is to start a franchise model. 

"But because of the economy, people's spending habits are changing - they're not spending as much as they used to. We do get good footfall, but instead of having two coffees, now they're having one when they come in. 

"Or instead of having a large one, they have a regular one, so we have to think about what I can do. So those plans are on hold right now. When I see a slight improvement for the economy on the horizon…"

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Paulyne Antoniou

About the author

Paulyne as Head of Content has produced regular videos and editorial for many years with small businesses, franchises and industry professionals.

@Be_theboss

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