Free Download: Buying a Cafe Checklist

Whether you have bought a copy of my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe or not, this checklist will help you to tick all the boxes of cafe success.

Download Buying a Cafe Checklist Template

I hope you find it useful.


Craig Reid - The Cafe Ninja



Free Download - Cafe / Restaurant Profit / Loss Assessment Template

Whether you have bought a copy of my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe or not, this checklist will help you to analyse a cafe's financial situation, prior to purchase:

Download Cafe / Restaurant Financial Analysis Template

I hope you find it useful.


Craig Reid - The Cafe Ninja


Free Download - Cafe / Restaurant Business Plan Template

If you've been trolling the web looking for a Cafe or Restaurant Business Plan Template, then troll no more!

I've used this template as the basis for creating business plans for many cafes over the years. I hope you find it useful.

Download Business Plan Template - Existing cafe.


Craig Reid - The Cafe Ninja


Free Cafe / Restaurant Profits Workshop with Restaurant Marketing Expert, Howard Tinker

I know it's a challenging time in the industry right now so I thought I would give you a TIP about something that could really accelerate your profits!  
I recently came across a guy called Howard Tinker, who is helping hundreds of restaurant and cafe owners to increase their profits through smart marketing.  He doesn't use daily deals or any kind of tactics that cost owners, just very clever strategies that work - and make big profits.  
I told him about my book and he kindly said I could invite people who had bought it to attend one of his workshops for free. There really isn't anything in this for me I just wanted to offer you more support if you needed it.  
If you are interested, there's a website about Howard's next workshop here: 
http://restaurantprofitology.com its in Sydney in a couple of weeks.  
Howard also has a book you might want to check out too:
Good luck, I look forward to hearing about your successes.
Kind regards,


Buying a Cafe - Cafe Owner Interview Tips & Tricks (Grill Them!)

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe...

When you have decided that you are interested in the café you should make an appointment to meet the owner(s). This is usually arranged by the business broker. The business broker may or may not attend. It is better to meet the owner of the café on their own if possible as they are likely to be more honest. Business brokers tend to put “spin” on the owner’s words and shield them from difficult questions. However, always direct your questions at the owner and watch their body language if the business broker answers for them. Once the broker has arranged a suitable time for you to meet, you will start to get organised for the meeting.

The Grilling

The purpose of the meeting with the owner is not just to ask questions about the café – it is to find the truth about the café. Consider your role to be like a lawyer cross-examining a witness on the stand.


  • Ask as many questions as you like. If your questions are reasonable, you should expect answers
  • Not answering questions is a sure sign of the owners hiding something
  • If there are two owners, try to arrange two separate meetings with them and ask the same questions to see if their responses differ!
  • Take a second person along as the note taker. This allows you to maintain eye contact with the owner and to watch what is happening around the café. The second person may hear things differently to you.
  • Ask the broker why the owner is selling and ask the owner separately.
If you are making an “official” visit to see the café and to ask the owner questions, make this "formal” by carrying a note pad and reading your questions. At the end, thank the owner and put your notes away. The owner may then feel that the “interview” is over. Once their guard is dropped, they may tell you other useful information.
Want to read more? Buy my book today!




Cafe Financials - The Importance of Fixed and Variable Costs

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe...

Fixed & Variable Costs

Fixed costs are costs to the business that tend to remain the same or “fixed” over a period of time. For example, the most common fixed cost is rent. Rent will be agreed at a set rate, usually on a yearly basis with a percentage increase per year.

Other fixed costs are likely to include:

  • Council rates
  • Strata rates
  • Rental costs for equipment, etc.

Fixed costs are important to consider as they are independent of turnover,i.e. no matter how much – or how little – the business is taking in, you still have to pay them.

All other costs are known as variable costs, and they will tend to vary in direct relation to turnover. This makes sense when you consider that if you get busier you will need to buy more food to meet demand and more staff to serve more customers. The opposite is also true – less
custom and you will need less food and less staff.

If you are managing the business properly, your café’s variable costs will drop if the turnover starts to drop – however the fixed costs will remain and these will start to represent a bigger percentage of your overall costs. This is where a business can get into trouble. So the bottom line is that fixed costs need to be looked at carefully to ensure they will not represent too much of a burden if times get tough. 

On the contrary, as turnover increases, profitability can increase by a proportionately larger amount, as the following example shows:





Variable Costs




Fixed Costs




Weekly Profit




If you bought the café with a turnover of $6,000 and profits of $500 (8%) and you can increase the turnover to $7,000, the profit margin increases to $1,000 (14%). At a turnover of $8,000 the profit margin increases to $1,500 (19%).

The profit margin has more than doubled even though turnover has only increased by one third. The limit on your growth is simply the capacity of the café. If you can outgrow the capacity, it is time to find a bigger, better café or, perhaps, to open a second one.

Want to read more? Buy my book today!




Before You Buy a Cafe - Why You Need an Accountant and a Solicitor


The following is an excerpt from my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe...

The two people you need to make contact with before buying a cafe are an accountant and a solicitor. If you really want to dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” you might want to consider having a hospitality consultant fully assess the café. You wouldn’t buy a house without a survey so don’t buy a café without a thorough analysis.

Referral can often be a good way to find an accountant or solicitor but make sure you ask the referrer what makes the person a good choice. The referrer may have very different opinions on what they look for and may also have very different business interests which lead to very different needs.

It is important to get these people in place and ready to go as the buying process can often be surprisingly competitive. For example, you may find a café that you want to buy but there is a lot of interest in it. If you have your solicitor and accountant ready to go you have the opportunity to get ahead of those that are not as organised as you are. It can make the difference between getting the café of your dreams or missing out.

The Accountant

Why you need to find a good accountant:
  • They can assist with your business plan
  • They will help you to set up an appropriate company structure (which helps to get the most out of the tax system)
  • They will help you to set up your accounting systems
  • They  will advise  you  on the financial aspects of  the  business purchase
  • They will ensure that you submit all your required tax documentation on time.
But getting a good accountant can be tricky. There are lots out there and they aren’t cheap! So what should you expect from an accountant?
  • They will provide an initial consultation free of charge
  • They will come to you – you’re busy running your business so make sure that they are willing to come to you (you are the client!)
  • They will provide templates (e.g. Excel spread-sheets) or provide assistance on setting up your financial systems
  • They will provide a fixed price for your annual tax return
  • They include general enquiries (throughout the year) as “part of the deal”
  • They have a set hourly rate for other work i.e. work that isn’t “general enquiries”.
The Solicitor
Why you need a good solicitor…
  • To explain the buying process – including deposits, trial periods, etc.
  • To understand the fine print in contracts e.g. the lease
  • To warn you of any legal pitfalls
  • To complete the deal!
What makes a good solicitor?
  • They aren’t too busy to see you when you really need them
  • They understand the legalities of cafés and small business
  • They understand the legal requirements of councils
  • They have experience with leases and property.
Once you have your support network in place, you are ready to really hit the road and begin your search.
Want to read more? Buy my book today!




Should You Buy a Cafe Franchise? Differences between cafe franchises and independent cafes explained...

The following is an excerpt from my book, The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe...

Do I want a Franchise or an “Independent” Café? 

A franchised café is a café concept that is owned by a company and sold as a reproducible commodity business. You might think of it as the replication of a café concept. The franchisor
sells a café as a business to the franchisee who in turn agrees to run the café according to the guidelines and procedures of the franchisor. The franchisor provides backing to the franchisee in terms of people, procedures, systems, marketing, etc. – basically everything required to run the business. In return the franchisee usually agrees to pay both initial (one-off) and ongoing franchise
fees – typically a percentage of turnover.

Many new café owners start off with franchises as they are viewed as a “safe bet” – this is far from the truth. Let’s look at some of the major differences of a franchised café:




Café franchises will be typically 2-3 times more expensive than an independent café.


Café franchises are generally easier to operate than independent cafés  due to the structured processes and procedures in place – however, franchisees have to run the business as dictated by the franchisor.


All marketing is controlled via head office and franchisees have little say in the marketing activities undertaken.


Franchised cafés are typically tied to buying their products from the franchisor (although some variation is usually allowed).


The franchisor is fully involved with the start-up process for new cafés, including location selection, fit-out and promotions.


Typically franchises are “mass market” offerings and are therefore best  suited to high traffic areas such as shopping malls.  This typically means that lease payments will be high and that the café has to operate at “high volume” levels to survive.

For some people a café franchise is an ideal first step as they are generally easier to run and the franchisor offers continual support for the franchisee. Saying that, there are also poorly run “flash in the pan” franchises out there that seek to take advantage of the unwary. Whether you decide to buy a franchise or an independent café, both require thorough due diligence.

Want to read more? Buy my book today!




The Importance Of Due Diligence When Buying A Café

1277878_24146173The following article was contributed by BusinessesForSale.com.

Buying a business is one of the most exciting investments you can undertake. It also has the potential to be one of the riskiest. However, there are steps you can take to minimise any risk and they are described as 'due diligence'. This involves finding out as much as possible about the business and the key is to be thorough in your investigations. Many aspects of due diligence are the same, regardless of the kind of business, such as determining whether the finances are in a healthy condition, but there are some features which are specific to the catering industry.


Most café businesses operate under a leasehold agreement, which would mean you would take over the lease rather than buying the building. You should contact the landlord to discuss terms, such as the length of the lease, and ascertain the size of any bond you would need to provide. Additionally, you must reassure yourself of the suitability and soundness of the premises and ensure that there are no civic plans, such as building a new shopping area or road, which might adversely affect the café. Check whether the building has had all the required hygiene inspections and meets safety
regulations by examining the certification. 


Any reputable businessman would be prepared to let you examine the company’s accounts for at least the previous year so that you can be confident that it is a going concern. If they seem reluctant to let you do this, you should ask yourself whether you want to deal with them. In addition to examining the books, you should ask the vendor certain questions:

  • Are there any outstanding debts?
  • Has the level of trading changed in any way recently, such as with a drop or increase in takings?
  • What assets will be included?

If there is anything you are unsure of, ask for clarification or ask for your accountant to be present when discussing the issue.

Other Assets And Staffing

Once you are certain of which assets are to be part of the transaction, make sure that they are fit for purpose. For example, confirm the condition of any kitchen equipment and the furniture in the customer area. If staff are to remain with you, check the terms and conditions of their employment and their areas of responsibility, as well as acquainting yourself thoroughly with the wage bill as an actual figure and as a percentage of overall costs. 

Additional Information

There are several other issues which have a bearing upon the desirability of the business. For example:

  • What is the produce supply like? For example, is it good quality and what arrangements have been made regarding regular deliveries and payment for the goods?
  • Is the vendor planning to open a rival business nearby?
  • How many hours does the owner work to maintain the current level of success?

You should also ask the owner why he has decided to sell.

Whether you are experienced in the catering sector or not, you should ask the owner to let you observe the running of the business, or even help out. Any time spent on due diligence will ultimately be a worthwhile investment.

This article was contributed by BusinessesForSale.com, the market-leading directory of business opportunities from Dynamis, the online media group also behind FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com


Do 8 Out of 10 Cafes Fail? Here's The Truth!

The Following is an excerpt from my book, "The Complete Guide to Buying a Cafe":

Fear of Failure

At any one time, there are hundreds of cafés for sale in Australian capital cities. The majority of cafés are for sale by people who were not able to successfully get the returns they anticipated. By you reading this book, you are doing your homework so that you are better informed than those other owners.

Despite claims to the contrary, the statistics on café failure are positive for café owners.

In “Business Failure and Change: An Australian Perspective” (2000) the Productivity Commission indicate that:

  • Two–thirds of businesses are still operating after five years and almost one–half are still operating after ten years
  • Only 7.5% of businesses exit each year
  • Less   than   0.5%   of   businesses   exit   each  year   due   to ‘catastrophic’ failure e.g. going bankrupt
  • Exit rates are higher for businesses less than 2 years old

Whatever the statistics say, nothing will ever take the place of your own research – by this I mean getting your own statistics – and I’ll talk about this later.

But all in all, the message is “don’t believe the hype”. The statistics show that owning a café isn’t as risky as it is made out to be.

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