Tearoom Tips


Award Winning UK Dartmoor Tearooms share their success with Top Ten Tips when opening a tearoom.

Jenier have the pleasure working with many people who are just starting out with their new business. We haven't had the experience ourselves of opening up a tearoom, so we thought we'd ask the accredited experts in this area to see if they could give some pointers. Linda and George Hastings run the Award Winning Dartmoor Tearooms & Cafe in Moretonhamsptead, UK and have just won for the third year in a row the UK 2011 Tea Guild's Award for Excellence. We're delighted to share with you their thoughts and experience. Thank you Dartmoor Tearooms!

Top tips for prospective tearoom owners

1. Pick the right location -

This depends on what type of business and lifestyle you want to have. If you choose a place with very high footfall, you will need to prepare for being very busy. Of course if you want a slower pace of life and more of a 'lifestyle business' you may not wish to place yourself in the middle of a High Street. So this links with the second point -

2. Consider the business model -

You may want to run your chosen tearoom in the same way as the previous owner. Or you may decide you want to do it in a completely different way. It make sense to write out what you want your business to 'be'. You will also need a well considered budget, with contingencies, so that you can afford to develop your tearoom without too many financial restrictions. Seek guidance from organisations like the UK Tea Guild, visit other tearooms and use this information to write out your plan. Above all ensure that your business model is conducive to making a profit, after all you are running a business.

3. Source your suppliers with care -

This is not just about cost, but about quality and the development of a good working relationship with your suppliers. Depending on the type of tearoom, you may wish to consider many factors in choosing your suppliers. If you are a top quality tearoom you will need to consider the source of your ingredients and products. Are you looking for organic, rainforest alliance, fair trade, free range, award winning suppliers, local suppliers etc. ?

4. Build up good relations with everyone who may impact on your business -

From suppliers, the EHO, your staff and of course your customers, it is better to be positive and responsive to all that goes on around you.

5. Have a well chosen marketing strategy -

From your window display through to your website, the more you work on marketing, the greater your return. Be careful of your budget however as marketing can also be very expensive. Bear in mind that a happy customer induces more custom, so the quality of your tearoom is an integral part of marketing.

6. Keep fit and clear headed -

This goes for running any business!

7. Join the UK Tea Guild -

This is a nationally recognised organisation which will vet your operation 'unannounced' and membership is by invitation only. So you need to be on your toes to be a top tearoom. Dartmoor Tearoom & Café have been members since 2008 and for the last three years have won awards of excellence. All we can say is that, even though this means hard work and dedication, it is worth it. You will derive more marketing opportunities through the Tea Guild and it is a true sign of a quality tearoom.

8. Design your tearoom with the customer in mind -

Whilst your delicious scones, cakes and loose leaf teas will attract the crowds, don't forget that people look before they eat! So design to please the eye.

9. Have a sound recruitment policy -

Your staff are the bedrock of your business. Treat them well and have sound policies to help them with their tasks. Train them well and give them clear instructions. Supervise them and correct any mistakes straight away. Be positive, but firm and decisive, so that they know exactly what you want from them. In our business, because we cook and bake virtually everything, we encourage all of our staff to try all of our foods. This helps them to inform customers which in turn builds a more responsive relationship between staff and customers.

10. Review -

Keep your eye on the ball and don't become complacent. It's important to check out how your business is doing. Have a visitor's book, talk to staff, talk to customers. This will not only help you maintain standards, but will help you to build on success.