If you’re a chocolate fanatic who’s always dreamed of being your own boss, you might have wondered how to start your own chocolate shop…
Chocolate is an immensely popular treat and can be enjoyed in many different formats. Consumed simply as a bar, baked in a cake, whipped into mousse or ice cream, or melted in a fountain or beverage, chocolate is an extremely versatile food – and one of the most popular confectionary items in the world. And when it comes to how much of a sweet tooth the UK population has, the proof’s in the pudding. Research suggest that adults will consume a staggering 18,144 chocolate bars, cakes and biscuits in their life. (The Mirror).
Switzerland is the frontrunner in chocolate consumption; in 2017, an average of 8.8 kilograms of chocolate was consumed per person. Expertise appears to come hand-in-hand with this consumption, as Switzerland is also the producer of many famous chocolate brands, including Lindt, Toblerone, Milka and Nestle. So, how do you start your own chocolate shop business and give them a run for their money?
Reasons why starting a chocolate shop is a good idea
1. You can provide a unique customer experience
While the brands mentioned above dominate a large portion of the sector, there is still plenty of room for small, local businesses selling homemade and hand-crafted chocolates. Often, these types of businesses are associated with expertise and high-quality, unique confectionary. By introducing a range of sweet treats that aren’t found in the average newsagent or supermarket, you can carve out a space in the market where customers can have a personalised and meaningful experience.
2. Earn a living from something you’re passionate about
Whether it’s the satisfaction of seeing customers coming back for more or going to networking events and interacting with other chocolate-lovers, it is so rewarding running a business you’re truly passionate about.
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Top tips for starting a chocolate shop franchise
1. Analyse your competition
The first step in launching any business is to identify potential competitors in your desired territory. Dedicated chocolate shops are not as common as clothes shops and Italian restaurants, for example, but it’s worth considering the local businesses that consumers could turn to – or turn down – in place of yours. This could include sweet shops or even bakeries. Think about their business models and the type of consumers they appeal to. How can you present yourself as a more attractive alternative? In doing this, you’ll need to make sure your business corresponds to the area.
2. Decide who your target market is
You’ll also need to have an angle. Again, think about your target market and the type of chocolates and experience that will be favoured by them. For example, you could choose to specialise in a particular type of chocolate confectionary or tap into the current health/vegan trend by offering chocolate that health-conscious or vegan consumers can also enjoy. Once you’ve established your target market, create your brand identity and marketing materials with them in mind. Does the type of experience you’re offering match up with the type of people that will be passing by the shop?
3. Choose the location
You’re probably going to want to set up on a busy high street with high footfall. Think carefully about the businesses that will be close by. Setting up near a card shop or jewellery shop, for example, could mean you benefit from spontaneous purchases when someone is shopping for gifts for a loved one.
4. Look for ways to widen your customer base
Your business could increase its income by offering to help cater events, such as street food markets or weddings. You could also offer customers the opportunity to buy gift-wrapped boxes of confectionary to give to loved ones. This will go down especially well if you create gifts that look beautiful and can be customised.
5. Create a business plan
Once you’ve got a good idea of what your business will look like, it’s time to write your business plan. Discuss your objectives and how you’ll reach them, and include a financial forecast. This will be integral to securing funding from lenders.
6. Obtain necessary licences
As you’ll be serving food to the public, you will need to obtain a number of licences before you can start trading, and be prepared to take all the necessary measures to pass regular health and safety inspections. This is in your interest too – if customers see a clean and tidy shop, they are more likely to venture inside and buy your products than if it were visibly dirty or cluttered.
7. Purchase equipment
If you’re going to make chocolate, you will need professional equipment, including a large refrigerator, pots and pans, mixing bowls and moulds, baking sheets and utensils, as well as packaging materials, such as colourful wrappers and cardboard boxes.
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8. Build an online presence
While online chocolate shops selling homemade delights will most likely need to launch a stronger marketing campaign than a shop that is visible on the street to passers-by, physical chocolate shops could benefit from having a website that sells their treats online too. This way, customers could access a wider range of products or products that aren’t always in stock and have them shipped directly to their – or their loved ones’ – homes.
9. Market your business
If you are going to attract customers to your business and encourage them to choose you over brands they already know and trust, you’re going to need to have an effective marketing campaign.
You can start by handing out leaflets and business cards in your local area. It can also be very effective to get involved with local events and host your own quizzes and baking events to promote your brand. Giving out samples is another good way to entice customers.
Start your own chocolate shop franchise
By now you should have a better idea of how you can start your successful career in the confectionary industry in the UK. We have a number of chocolate franchises in our UK franchise directory. You can find out more information about their investment costs on their client pages.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©