Starting out a business is scary, and the pitfalls are endless. But with the right amount of planning you can limit your risks, and help identify the processes you need to go through to maximise your chances of success.

With the experience of so many shops who have provided us feedback on what worked for them and what didn't, we tried to boil down the top things you need to tightly control.

Prepare a solid business plan

Identify all the risks and hazards you believe you may encounter, regardless of how unlikely or insignificant they may seem. You can filter these out later.

But thinking through the processes, understanding where your cashflow will come from and what your forecasted expenses may be will probably give you a greater sense of the volume of business required, and hence identify your key performance indicators.

Choose the right location

Making sure your shop is in the right spot is so important for a food and catering business. Pick places with high amounts of pedestrian traffic, such as shopping malls, shopping streets, near schools or metro stations. This way you can maximise the amount of people who pass by your store front.

Financial Planning

We mentioned cashflow in the previous point, but how much capital will your require to get off the ground? How will you fund the business until it can break even, then move into profit?

You will then need to identify whether the money you inject into your business will be in the form of equity or liability. Make sure you know the entire financial structure prior to any large financial commitments!

Consistency in your products

Of course, in a bubble tea shop one of your flagship products will be a serving of bubble tea, and the pictures that you present will generate an expectation in your customers' minds.

Then you will need to deliver the same product all day, everyday. Make sure your staff are trained to cook things to perfection and to minimise variation between batches.

Drinks must look and taste fantastic

Why do people buy bubble tea? Because they like the taste, or perhaps they were intrigued by the pictures they saw. You may only have one chance to wow a customer, so make sure your products can impress anyone.

Have you ever ordered something like a hamburger from a menu, only for it to appear totally different or sloppy on your plate? It is a similar principle here. Make sure the amount of tea, boba balls, milk. etc. are all as you display on your promotional material.

Buy only the highest quality products

Here at Taipec we have a careful selection procedure to ensure only the best products are supplied to you. We have very strict criteria on quality as well as health and safety.

Ensuring you buy from only the most reputable sources, and through a company that has your best interests at heart.

Not Marketing

Who is going to purchase your newly added bubble tea drinks if no one knows that it's being offered? Who is going to purchase Bubble Tea when no one knows what it tastes like? Good marketing does not mean that you have to spend a fortune.

How to address this? You can go as simply putting up a poster in your window at customer eye level to engage the attention of people who are simply passing by. Another inexpensive way to market is through sampling. When your drinks are perfected and you are ready to start selling, have some samples out for people to try.

Poor management system in place

Poor management leads to the neglect and eventually death – of the business. It is important to watch over your employees to make sure they are not giving away free products or wasting products. Both of these things will cut into your profit and lead to a decline.

How to address this? A good manager will also be a great leader who will create a culture that motivates people around them. Train people who will oversee your business for you.

 

Below are some of the most common questions asked to us by you.

Can I collect an order from your office or your warehouse?

Our offices do not contain stock on site, and the warehouses cannot accept visitors.

Can I pay by cash instead of card?

The only payment methods we accept are Credit/Debit cards processed through Stripe.

Can I schedule a date to receive my goods?

We use DPD as the courier service, and while we believe they provide the best value to you, it is not possible to book a specific date to receive your order. They will communicate via email and/or SMS to notify you when to expect delivery.

Do we have a supermarket?

We operate primarily on a business-to-business basis, but end customers can purchase from our online store.

Can I place my order in-person from the Taipec offices?

Our offices are not accessible for unscheduled or uninvited visits.

Do we ship to other European countries other than UK?

Due to Brexit we are only shipping to addresses within Great Britain and Northern Ireland

My order says “completed” but I have not yet received the goods.

An order marked “completed” means payment has been collected, the order has been confirmed by the warehouse and is either being sent out for delivery imminently or is out for delivery. You should receive your order within the next 1-3 days.

Do we provide training sessions for bubble tea making?

If you become a trade customer (orders £500) we may be able to provide the following training to help you with your business:

1: Face to Face training sessions in London

2: Online training, either via video conference, telephone call or pre-recorded videos to suit your needs.

Please contact us if you plan to open a trade account.

Are our products suitable for vegetarians or vegans?

Each product’s description page will list whether it is suitable for vegetarians, vegans. In addition, we state any allergen information to help you make informed choices.

When will out of stock items be restocked?

There is currently a global shortage in bubble tea products but we do what we can to ensure reliability and availability in this difficult situation. We ask for your patience. We update the website every day to reflect current stock levels and so you can check back daily.

Bubble tea has taken the world by storm, and you may be asking how to claim your market share. This post describes some steps you need to take in order to open the bubble tea shop of your dreams.

Independent or Franchisee?

The two most popular business models available for bubble tea shops is to run the store independently, or to follow a franchise. Both methods have their pros and cons, but ultimately it comes down to how much business risk you are willing to take, and whether you want to design your own internal procedures.

Pick a good store location

There has never a cliché more true than “location, location, location”, at least in the realms of bubble tea shops. Finding a good spot can be the difference between mediocre performance and outstanding success.

From our experience we have observed that bubble tea shops that serve predominantly highly-pedestrianised areas, such as high streets or inside shopping malls, tend to do the best. That's not to say drive-through shops won't work but the turnover of sales is much faster where you can focus on pedestrianised zones.

Design your store layout and theme

Are you going for bright colours? Or are you going for more soothing tones? That's your pick!

Are you going to be a take-out only store, or will you have seating available? This will likely be a function of the affordability of real estate, but bubble tea shops are great hang-out spots at any time of the year.

A bubble tea shop can be quite compact, around 6-10m2 (65-110 sqft) including kitchen and counter space is recommended as a minimum size.

Write up your business plan

This need not be a complex document, but obviously the more specific and detailed you can be the better. This will be especially important if you need to seek financing from an investor or a bank.

At the minimum you should identify the top 3-5 risks to your business and how you plan to mitigate for that.

Understand how you will finance the new shop

Bubble tea shops are great in that inventory and equipment are relatively cheap to source compared to other forms of catering shops, and with decent profit margins too.

Almost certainly your two biggest expenses will be: 1) Shop lease and 2) Store fit-out. These are not unique to bubble tea shops but must be considered up front and priced into your menu accordingly.

Make sure to do some detailed calculations to ensure your business can be profitable.

Invest in the Right Equipment

We have a whole post on the minimum equipment you need to open a bubble tea shop, but in summary, you will need:

Find a supplier who can meet your needs

Running a bubble tea shop, you will need a reputable supplier who can provide ingredients in large quantities and variety such as tea leaves, bobas, cups, straws, seals.

At Taipec we serve as a one stop shop for any bubble tea shop owner. See our range of bubble tea products to understand where we can help supply your business.

Please feel free to contact us to enquire about trade supply, we would be delighted to help you along.

Staff training

You may realise that you want to level up your bubble tea service and serving quality. At Taipec we invite potential shop owners and staff members to our training facility to learn how to cook our ingredients to perfection.

Get the paperwork in order

It is hard to be specific on this point because the regulations differ greatly between countries and even municipalities. In general though, there will usually be some form of health and safety inspection from the local inspectorate, some kind of hygiene exam that staff must pass, and minimum display requirements such as ingredients and allergen information.

Make sure to contact the local authorities where you plan to open your shop to get a more detailed list.

We're here to help!

If all this sounds tricky, don't worry! Many local governments are desperately trying to find would-be entrepreneurs to invigorate the local economy. In any case once you have decided you want to pursue this venture, be sure to contact us to enquire about trade supply and training.