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Opening a Coffee Shop

Pyramid of Profitability

Opening a coffee shop. Even if it is your dream, it may seem complicated. And in a world where coffee lines die out as frequently as Billboard one-hit wonders (remember Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” or James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”?), building a coffee business that’s built to last takes more than inspiration.

Building a successful coffee business — whether you are just opening a coffee shop or you’ve been in business for decades— is all about blending the art and business of coffee. Whether you’re a celebrated musician or a professional accountant looking to start your own coffee business, Dilworth Coffee and our parent company Stockton Graham & Co. will take you on a 5-step process that can help ensure your profitability. We call this process our Pyramid of Profitability.

  1. Plan

One of the first serious steps you’ll take toward opening your coffee shop is creating a business plan. Take some time to think about your business strategy: what’s unique to your vision, what do you do best and what do you enjoy? Think about what you want to sell and what type of people you want as customers. Then write this down.

The business plan document sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Simply write down in bullet format the answers to these questions:

  1. What do I love doing?
  2. What can I be really good at?
  3. What can I make money doing?
  4. Who are my potential customers?
  5. Where do those people shop now?
  6. How can I be better than the place those people shop now?

To formalize your plan, ask us for our Marketing Area Profile (MAP). This free tool can help you document your current situation, competition, target market and areas for growth, as well as marketing opportunities you may be underutilizing.

If you’re eager to open a coffee shop but are daunted by starting one on your own, you should consider partnering with an established coffee shop brand like Dilworth Coffee. Dilworth Coffee is a quintessential southern coffee shop with an excellent brand reputation started in Charlotte, NC in 1989. Stockton Graham & Co., based in Raleigh, began managing the Dilworth Coffee licensed concept in 2016. We believe life is better with great coffee so we are committed to making great coffee experiences accessible to both coffee shop owners and profitable, high-end coffee consumers.

In joining the Dillworth brand you will have access to our coffee, a top 3 regional specialty coffee product.* You will also benefit from our deep expertise in multi-unit coffee businesses. Partnership with our brand is less expensive than a franchise with similar support and those who do join us enjoy owner flexibility within a profitable structure.

  1. People

No enterprise is successful without the right people. From your baristas and other staff to promoters of your shop and vendors, all the people in your circle should be committed to your vision. People who are committed to your vision are naturally committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve the skills and competencies to make that vision successful.

With more than three decades of experience running coffee businesses, the team at Stockton Graham & Co. can help you identify experts both in and out of your company. We also offer a series of coffee educational courses, including our popular Coffee College 101, to help you and your staff become experts at preparing and serving specialty coffee and operating a specialty coffee business.

  1. Place

Whether you are opening a new store or have an existing store you want to grow, so many aspects of your location, layout and atmosphere are keys to repeat business and overall success. We can offer ideas and feedback on real estate and traffic flow, counter and work area design, back of the house layout, seating, store design and branding, merchandising and point-of-sale display, as well as creating a sensory atmosphere that guests will want to return to time and again. More importantly, you can draw on our expertise on how to position your espresso and coffee brewing stations within your space to create an extraordinary experience for your customers.

  1. Products

When you have a good idea of characteristics of the customers you seek for your business, we can help you understand how to serve that customer segment. That’s because each customer segment has different ordering preferences and menu requirements. The team at Stockton Graham & Co. can help you understand your costs for different menu items and source everything you need from craft-roasted coffees and other specialty beverage items to the right equipment and supplies. With extensive knowledge in logistics and inventory control, our team can help you better understand how they affect your product costs, as well. We can even connect you with companies that specialize in financing for coffee businesses.

  1. Promotions

Having operated coffee shops ourselves, we understand that building strong promotional programs can seem overwhelming. That’s why we simplify it using our F.A.T Philosophy. We start with your Marketing Area Profile (MAP) and help you set goals designed to convince your guests to visit more often (Frequency), sell them more during each visit (Average Ticket) and get new customers in the door (Trial), or “F.A.T.”, resulting in a FAT bottom line! Other promotional tools including point of sale materials.

Our internationally award-winning in-house creative team brings a wealth of talent and experience to projects from package design to logo creation. We help customers build private brand coffee awareness and trial through development of public relations, social, digital and print media campaigns, eye-catching point-of-sale and innovative in-store displays.

If you are thinking about opening a coffee shop or already have a specialty coffee business, feel free to contact us. We can provide more detail and explore how we can help you succeed. For initial discussions, reach out to our Director of Business Development Thom Swain at or 866 849 1682.