Tips on relocating your hospitality business

Johnson Reed
5m read
3 top tips on relocating your hospitality business

This post was contributed by Oli Baise. Oli helps run London-based coffee shop The Coffee Traveller and writes about coffee and the coffee industry in his blog Drinky Coffee.


At the end of 2021, The Coffee Traveller, a coffee shop that I help run, moved premises. 

Although we only moved a mile away, it was not an easy process, and with hindsight there are a lot of things that we would have done differently if we were to move again.

Since many of the mistakes that we made while moving are ones that any catering business owner could succumb to when moving premises, I’ll share where we went wrong with our move and what we would have done differently if we had to do it again.


Understand the footfall patterns of your new location

The biggest mistake we made when moving was failing to do our due diligence in understanding what times of the week that our new premises gets the highest footfall. 

In our old premises, the busiest times of the week were weekday mornings from 7.30am to 10am. We naively assumed that this was in virtue of the fact that we sell coffee and pastries, and that people like to consume these early in the morning.

Once we moved we realised that a big factor in why we were busy first thing in the morning was that we were situated a short walk from a business park. Since our new location is much more residential, with the only businesses being within a five minute walk being a school and a gym, we are now quiet in the early mornings, but far busier between 10am – 12pm and on the weekends.

3 top tips on relocating your hospitality business This has meant that a premises move has also had to involve changes to the way that we staff the coffee shop, demands on seating space and even how we stock the shop. Our failure to anticipate this meant that during our first month in the new premises we were understaffed and underprepared on the weekends – not conducive to creating a good first impression.

We were also losing money the first hour of the day that we were open on weekdays, so were not able to maximise the return on our investment in moving until we started opening one hour later than we previously did.

With hindsight, since the premises we were purchasing previously also had a food service business running out of it, we should have asked the owner if they had any data on when their busiest times were. This information is usually readily available from a point of sale system. 

We also should have asked how often that business ran at maximum capacity as if this figure was low then it should call into question whether we were getting the best possible value for money with our move.

All in all, a greater appreciation for how location can affect the pattern of consumer behaviour, and more of a willingness to speak to the current owner of a potential premises would have stood us in better stead in the first month of moving.


Try to find a property with an existing commercial kitchen

As there were not many properties with commercial kitchens available in our desired area, we initially were interested in purchasing a commercial property serving a different purpose (a small grocery store for3 top tips on relocating your hospitality business example) and converting it to a coffee shop.

Speaking to commercial kitchen fitters, catering engineers and our local council it became clear that this was not the way to go. Between the legal loopholes that you had to jump through and the potential points where delays could happen, trying to save some money by converting a cheaper property to a hospitality premises would have proved more expensive in the long run.

You lose money every day that you cannot operate at full capacity. Consequentially purchasing a property that fits your needs as close as possible from the offset will usually be the most profitable (and most stress free) option.

If you feel that a property that best fits your needs without extensive refurbishment might put a strain on your cash flow, it may be worth getting some sort of business finance rather than having to resort to refurbishing a more affordable, but less immediately suitable, property.


Communicate your move to your customers both before and after your move

Since we were not moving far from our previous premises, we were relying on many of our existing repeat customers to continue visiting us at our new location.

One month after our move, we were concerned by how few familiar faces we were seeing in the shop.

Although we had tried to spread the word as much as we could about our move in the months that preceded it (this included putting a sign outside our shop, having flyers in the local area, social media posts about the move and even an advert in the local paper), it was not until we put up signs outside our old premises after our move did we start seeing our old customers in large number.

It turns out that most people do not take notice of your messages about moving until it affects them directly – namely when you are gone.

It’s therefore imperative that you keep notices of your move outside your old premises after you have moved away from it. If this means getting permission from the property’s new owner, then try and do everything in your power to get them to agree to this. I cannot stress how much of a difference this made to our footfall.


Wrapping up: Tough lessons learned but worth it in the end

Despite our initial hiccups, we do not regret our premises move one bit. Although it is hard to look at reliable revenue figures since early 2021 was still in partial lockdown, we are seeing the early signs that the move is paying off financially.


If you think that you might benefit from moving your business premises but are worried about cash flow, JR can help. We work with multiple catering businesses and are able to aid in expansion, or relocation with various equipment leasingbusiness loans and full fit out options.