How to start a juice bar business

Thinking of opening a smoothie shop or maybe starting a milkshake business? Read on...

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The key steps for learning how to start a juice bar are:

  • 01 | Do some juice bar market research
  • 02 | Outline the costs of all your ingredients
  • 03 | Consider equipment, premises and insurance costs
  • 04 | Evaluate pricing and potential earnings
  • 05 | Write your juice bar business plan
  • 06 | Test your juice bar idea
  • 07 | Develop a marketing strategy
  • 08 | Start selling!

“We are thinking of starting a Milkshake Bar also selling smoothies, waffles, ice cream, coffees etc. in a popular seaside town in Devon,” says Startups member MikeJ. “Looking at doing a cashflow forecast but I’m struggling to come up with realistic figures. My wife is going to run the business but will be giving up her current job in the process, so it has to make a justifiable profit. How can I estimate a sensible turnover figure?”

Member Keith McConnell responds: “The business plan is all about market research and market knowledge. Remember you will likely be a seasonal business meaning in summer you will have more business than in winter. In your smoothie business plan you should include a break-even analysis, profit forecast and start-up costs.”

The business plan

How much does it cost to start a juice bar business?

Essential costs:
– the costs of the ingredients for making a smoothie, juice or milkshake
– the cost of equipment and materials
– the cost of premises (will you have ongoing advance lease rent costs or an upfront van/stall cost plus stall pitch costs?)
– the cost of insurance

Additional costs to think about for your smoothie business plan are marketing and branding items.

Next, work out your potential sales (firstly thinking about sales needed to break even). Think about your target market and potential footfall along with the pricing of the milkshakes or smoothies. A Startups member adds “build in what else you can sell over these cold months (whether you sell other things like ice cream/coffee/food). We are based in a UK seaside town so trade definitely drops to almost zero Jan-March. Be realistic in your cash flow forecast. You could consider converting to a ‘cafe’ type offering over the colder months.” (see our guide to how to start a cafe)

This is no quick route to big sales revenues or profit. A Startups member reports “I have spent the last month doing my market research and working out costs etc. I’m pretty sure I’ve included all costs and I have found that in order to break even, I would need to sell 96 milkshakes a day. This seems like a lot, just to break even… ”

Bear in mind that the more you forecast to sell, the more additional costs you might have to consider. A member responds: “I would say that 96 is definitely in 2 staff territory.. there is just too much jug cleaning and money taking as well as blending required.”

You may find it useful to look at our free business plan template

The marketing strategy

Research if there is a smoothie bar or juice bar in your location – if there is one, what’s your point of difference and, if there isn’t one, why not?”

Identify who your target market is (take a look at our guide to calculating the size of your target market) and how you will sell to them. A Startups member notes that they
“are anticipating the slower months with a specific marketing strategy for the local population which should help us through and we are out on the streets this weekend asking opinions from local school children and residents just to verify this.”

Once you’ve identified your target market, think carefully about suitable milkshake bar names or smoothie/juice bar name ideas. Can you come up with an innovative juice bar design concept to make your business stand out?

How to set up a juice bar

Running a milkshake shop isn’t complex – its the time required that’s the problem, if you’re not that busy then you end up working all hours yourself, which is physically draining” – Startups member MikeJ

What do you need to open a juice bar?

  • Physical premises
    You could test your fruit juice making business idea or milkshake business idea in market (take a look at our guide to starting a market stall) or perhaps you could consider a pop-up shop as you look to go more permanent. If you’re ready to get premises, think about what you may be able to negotiate, but also what will be involved to make it ‘shop-ready’: A Startups member says “we negotiated three weeks free rent and also 10% off during the term of the lease – the unit was in a real state though and subsequently had to be completely gutted and replastered.”
  • Appropriate licenses and insurance
    A Startups member shares their insight that “The premises we are after is already a cafe so there should be no problem with the local authority on change of use issues, or outside seating and “A” boards.” It’s worth considering if there are any restrictions on what you are able to do with the premises, plus what obligations you have in terms of providing customer toilets, reasonable ventilation. In addition, you will need to obtain a Food Hygiene Certificate, a Food Premises Approval (if you handle any dairy products) and public liability insurance.
  • Equipment
    Startups member Blooey believes “The third single biggest expense (after the shop and advance rent payment) will be equipment..blenders,tea/coffeee machines, fridges, cold displays etc.” Another member adds, “we’re having air-con put in now. “Think about where to get smoothie equipment for commercial use (such as an industrial smoothie maker or milkshake machine). This is likely to be something you won’t want to scrimp on! Finally, you will need to offer ways of making payment: take a look at our guide to the best card machines and mobile card readers.
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