A cafe SWOT analysis can help you identify lucrative customers, stay competitive against major companies moving in and strengthen your marketing plan. SWOT stands for "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats." These are the internal and external factors that can help or hinder a business.

By conducting a SWOT analysis for a coffee shop, you can find a way forward for your business. However, you should know the basic guidelines for SWOT, how they apply to cafes and ways to make it unique to your company.

Tracking Your Strengths 

Strengths are factors that give you an edge and keep the customers coming. The ultimate goal of the strengths section is to highlight positive qualities relating to the cafe staff, how you do business, the restaurant’s location or the menu.

For example, a strength could be that your baristas are well-trained, know your customers and keep regulars coming through the doors every morning. Maybe you have an excellent coffee bean supplier or your location attracts nearby office workers on their lunch breaks. Anything that makes your business valuable can go in this section.

Of course, it can be hard to get outside your own viewpoint to see what people like about your cafe. Maybe you think the new, trendy drink is tasty, but your customers find it gimmicky. Make sure you ask customers and employees what they think makes your place special.

You don't have to say that you're doing a SWOT analysis for a coffee shop and would like feedback. Instead, casually ask your regulars what brings them in every day. If you want to be more formal, design a survey and offer a discount to those who answer it.

Understanding Your Weaknesses

Weaknesses are places where the cafe falls short. Weaknesses stem from flaws in your company’s culture, poor training practices, financial limitations and other sources. When drafting the weaknesses section of a SWOT analysis, turn a critical eye to the cafe and highlight your coffee shop’s shortcomings.

For example, you may not open early enough for some morning commuters or have late enough hours for hardworking students. Maybe you often find yourself short staffed or low on certain ingredients. Don't be afraid to add these things to your list. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to address them and become more successful.

Recognizing Your Opportunities

Opportunities are external factors that can allow you to grow your cafe. Social and financial trends related to current and potential cafe customers create opportunities. For example, a new apartment complex could open up nearby and bring hundreds of potential new customers your way.

Being Aware of Threats 

Threats are potentially dangerous marketplace conditions that the cafe has no control over. The threat section of a cafe SWOT must discuss important financial and social trends that endanger the cafe as well as the well-being of other competitors.

For example, if the price of coffee skyrocketed or a major cafe franchise moved in down the street, you would record this as a threat. Simply identifying these threats can help you prepare and protect your business.

Use Your Cafe SWOT Analysis Wisely

Use your SWOT analysis to pinpoint customers that will be attracted to your strengths and will not be as turned off by your weaknesses. For example, customers with higher incomes may not mind paying more for coffee, especially if they value the danish selection. If you have the time and money, rectify the weaknesses so you can appeal to a broader group.

Study opportunities and threats so you can capitalize on trends before competitors or create a strategy to lessen the effects of threats. For example, if there is a push to buy locally, you can include your ties to the community in your advertising efforts. If the recession is hitting people’s coffee budgets, develop a discount program or offer inexpensive coffee pairings that are gentle on the wallet.