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Coffee cart/kiosk on major college campus

pectopahpectopah subscriber Posts: 2
edited October 2007 in Business Planning

Hi. I`m currently pursuing an opportunity to open 1 or 2 carts/kiosks
on a major state college campus, and I wanted to get an idea of
potential sales numbers from anybody who might have experience in this
type of location. It seems that with that many students and faculty all
jammed into a campus, it would be almost impossible not to average 15 -
30 sales an hour per cart, but maybe I`m wrong. I`m
figuring on 9 months a year (Sep - May), 7 days a week, 12 hours a day,
and hopefully open another, less seasonal location during the summer.I`ve been
researching opening a cafe for about two years now, but with the
significantly smaller investment involved in carts, and an opportunity
to put them in the middle of a large campus, I think this might be the
way to go, at least for now.Thanks in advance for any advice!


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    LtresselLtressel subscriber Posts: 3
    Pectopah-It would be nice to go by someones successful numbers-wont it? However, those numbers will not help you one bit. Why? Because your location, demographics, pricing, quality of products and services, and every other variables concerning your business are different from the others whose had a business you are planning to open.You can use their business model. Sure you can. That`s one avenue to take. It will be your due diligence to measure  traffic count in the locations you are considering to open your carts.Another thing to consider is your staffing.  Your observation of your busy hours and less busy hours will be pertinent to your success also. You don`t want to be under staffed or over staffed. This can affect your net sales in the long run.Just another thing that popped in my head-get liability insurance! You don`t want anyone pulling a "seinfeld" act on you.  (Caution this beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely HOT) I really do wish you the best.  It seems like you have been putting significant time in researching the coffee cart biz.  Kind Regards,LT
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    pectopahpectopah subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks for the advice so far everyone!!!!I plan on pretty standard coffee cart fare, but with really exceptional quality.  Fresh, locally prepared sandwiches and salads and fresh baked pastries.  Also, I`d like to feature as many organic offerings as I can.  For the bread and butter, coffee, I`m working with an award winning cafe/roaster and I think my biggest selling point will be quality.  When I tasted what a latte was really supposed to be, I was blown away, and I hope to bring that same quality to my business. 
    , Did you find those numbers to be high or low?
    , I guess what I`m trying to figure out is if I`m crazy for thinking that I can (if I execute well) make more with this concept than at a good, steady job (like I have now).  After running some numbers, it seems like if all goes well, a 6-figure income wouldn`t be too much of a stretch.  Obviously there are a lot of variables there, but I`m just trying to get an idea for general possibilities.  I`ll definitely check into liability insurance and see how it applies to this concept.  One last question...why the concern over staffing? I had guessed that being on a campus, there would be lots of people looking for a short shift (4 hrs?), on campus job.  Thanks again everybody!
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    LtresselLtressel subscriber Posts: 3
    Pectopah,If you look at Starbucks, they have employee pride. That`s what you have to protect. People that care about your business. People who would serve that coffee with pleasure. Sometimes, it can be the best coffee but people come back for the service too. Staffing issues regarding hours. Restaurant managers (I will be in the restaurant biz in a few months) will know what days to staff heavy and staff light. You don`t want your employees sitting around picking their noses (figuratively speaking) nor you don`t want them stressed out they want to throw the towel and walk. You want to get the most out of your hourly wages.  In restaurant biz, they send people home if its too slow. It`s hard to predict these things but with careful observance you might nail the days right.  I`m with you on forecasting the 6 figures. I think if you want to attain it, you`ll figure out a way to get it.  That`s been my philosophy. Perhaps prior to opening-do a "soft" opening and give tiny samples of the award winning brews. Smart marketing will be your ticket.  Play with the suggestion some, I`m really not an expert these are just things that I know from experience.  My cheap .02 cent adviceLT
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    SandraPSandraP subscriber Posts: 3
    As a former college student I would have been thrilled to have a coffee cart on campus. I think the issues everyone raises are valid but workable. One thing on the staffing - you want to market your cart to be the place to see and be seen on campus. That will help you pull employees. You might also work with the university, they usually have offices to help students find work and would have screening tools and resources.
    I know kids (geesh, I`m old!) who work at Starbucks and they part of the reason they are there is because people think it`s cool!
    Um, by the way, let us know where you open, my daughter is shopping schools now! You could become a millionaire on her latte addiction alone!
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    nevadasculnevadascul subscriber Posts: 3 Member
    Hi all,
    The main community college in Reno Nevada has a coffee kiosk that does quite well for the students that operate it.
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    pectopahpectopah subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks so much to everybody for their advice.  It looks like I`ll be fighting the big chains when the RFP goes out, but I`ll be there. 
    One not-so-related question regarding loans.  As I understand it, the SBA/bank generally requires a roughly 20% injection from the business owner.  So, if you need 200k total, you put up 40k, and they make a loan of 160k. 
    In my case, I have enough capital to qualify for a loan to cover my opening costs, but my working capital needs almost double the size of the loan, and coming up with 20% of that larger number is no easy task.
    My question is...since working capital (hopefully) won`t be spent right away, is there a way to separate these two chunks of capital in terms of loans?  Or, do I just have to come up with 20% of the total up front?
    Thanks again!!!!!!
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