How to Open a Bubble Tea Shop
Opening a bubble tea shop is a great way to become a small business owner or expand your current business operations. Like the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all ships”, and bubble tea has been rising for the past two decades and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. In fact, boba Tea is just catching on in a lot of places in North America and Europe right now so now could be the perfect time to get in.
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Starting Your Own Bubble Tea Shop:
Some of the most important aspects of starting your own Bubble Tea Shop are Store Costs, Store Design, Necessary Equipment, Product Sourcing, Training, Branding and Location.
First, a little background:
Bubble tea was invented in Taiwan (not China!) which is a small democratic island with a population of about 24 million people. Taiwan is known for both fresh tea and delicious food so it is no wonder that the two would be combined into Boba Tea!
Bubble tea or Boba Tea can best be described as eating and drinking at the same time. With it’s iconic “fat straw”, you are able to slurp down delicious flavored tea with chewy boba at the same time.
Bubble Tea Store Costs:
A high end Bubble Tea Shop can cost over $100,000 to open and a franchise can cost even more. A successful bubble tea shop requires proper equipment, training and high quality ingredients. These all cost money, but don’t worry! I’ll show you how to open a bubble tea business without breaking the bank. With this Bubble Tea Business Plan you’ll be able to open up your own store for $25,000-$40,000.
Bubble Tea Store Design and Lay Out:
The size of your store will be directly correlated with your cost. Basically you need counter space and sinks. Everything else is just personal customization. We recommend using stainless steel for your counter space. Many stores still use wood, and while wood has a lower start up cost, it won’t last very long. Within 5 years the constant liquid environment will degrade the wood and have it looking shabby and unprofessional.
Bubble Tea Store Size:
The size of your store is going to impact the cost more than anything else. I’ve seen giant bubble tea shops with tables and couches and I’ve seen tiny ones that can fit into a 100 square foot location! If it’s your first store, then we generally recommend starting small. This will significantly decrease your costs and having a smaller store will make it look more crowded and therefor more in demand.
Bubble Tea Store Location:
Bubble Tea is currently extremely popular in places like LA, Austin and New York while it is only starting to emerge in other places like the Midwest. Don’t be intimidated if there are already Bubble Tea Shops in your area. This means that they are there making money and if you can serve a superior product than you should have no problem gaining market share.
If you’re in a more saturated market, do your research. Go to each bubble shop in your area and see how the different shops rank against each other. Find what you can do better and make that the cornerstone of your Boba business. You can also gain inspiration from other stores’ layout, menu, and level of customer service. Look for small yet impactful ways to set your business apart.
Bubble Tea Equipment:
High quality bubble tea equipment is one of the most important parts of opening a bubble tea shop.
Boba Tea Sealer Machines are a staple at any real bubble tea shop. They create an airtight seal giving your cups an authentic look and feel. Sealer machines also save money in the long run because plastic sealer film is cheaper than traditional lids.
Tea Shaker Machines will help mix your hot tea, with powders and ice to make sure they dissolve properly and create the “bubbles” on top of your tea.
Sugar Dispensing Machines are the best way to make sure that your drink quality is consistent and your customers get the exact level of sweetness that they ordered.
Automatic Tea Brewers can save time and cut employee costs. But if you’re just starting out, you can also brew tea using a gas or electric stove.
A stove will also be necessary for cooking your tapioca pearls (boba). The main differences between a gas and an electric stove are speed and heat consistency. A gas stove will heat up faster and bring your water to a boil much faster than an electric stove. However, an electric stove will produce a more consistent heat source which will make cooking your tapioca pearls a lot easier!
Some other necessary items are tea shop utensils, shaker cups, stirrers, tea dispensers, measuring cups, etc.
Wholesale Bubble Tea Ingredients:
Great bubble tea starts with great ingredients and because bubble tea was invented in Taiwan, the best bubble tea ingredients are also from Taiwan. Using fresh tea leaves, delicious powders, fruity syrups and chewy boba will make sure your customers keep coming back for more.
Bubble Tea Training:
Making Bubble Tea is a skill similar to making a cocktail or a great cappuccino. Proper training and recipes are necessary to ensure that your Bubble Tea tastes great and that your customers keep coming back.
One of the largest distinguishing factors between an amateur tea shop and a more experienced business is the quality and texture of the boba. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of practice time before opening day so that you can nail that first impression.
Branding is often overlooked by new owners who might start our using clear cups and film but having your own branded logo cups and sealing film can be a huge advantage. Everytime a customer walks away with your cup they’re walking away with your advertisement. Plus this also helps with your social media presence once customers start posting with your drinks online.
Bubble Tea Shop Business Plan:
Your Bubble Tea Business Plan should be made up of 5 main parts: The Executive Summary, Explain the Opportunity, Execution, Team/Company and your Financial Plan.
Helping Your Bubble Tea Store Grow
While setting up your bubble tea shop can be daunting, it’s only half of the battle. Once your store is set up, it’s time to get creative in order to attract customers, especially if you’re not in one of the aforementioned metropolitan areas. Here are a few basic strategies to help build your business far past opening day:
- Utilize social media. As noted by Forbes, a social media presence increases customer loyalty, engagement, and can draw in new sets of consumers that you might’ve struggled to connect with initially. Luckily, bubble tea can be very aesthetically pleasing, so it has plenty of visual power on popular video and photo sharing sites like Tiktok and Instagram. You can even offer discounts to loyal customers who share pictures of their bubble tea to create more of an organic buzz throughout the community.
- Offer promotions. In addition to social media campaigns, it’s a good idea to incentivize customer loyalty especially when you’re just starting out. This could take the form of a loyalty card, or offering “happy hour” teas at a discounted price at a certain time of the day. Get creative and have clear signage advertising your tactics to rake in new consumers.
- Strive for quality. If you’re opening a shop in an area with multiple bubble tea spots, you’ll need to stand out by crafting the best product possible. Even after your store opens, continue to hone your craft on a regular basis to build your business by word of mouth. You can also find ways to incorporate new, unique flavors into your drinks that may not be available elsewhere.
- Remember that the customer always comes first. The base of any good business is undoubtedly impeccable customer service. Do everything in your power to leave each customer feeling better than when they came in. First impressions are vital, especially if you’re not the only boba store in town. If you’re starting a bubble tea business in a town less familiar with the treat, you can opt to give out free samples to get people interested in your teas. Keep the customer experience clean, pleasant, efficient, and most importantly, delicious!
Opening up your own bubble tea shop is a lot of work but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Hopefully, these tips make it easier for you to create a successful tea business in your area.