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  1. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    26
    Wow janie....that's impressive. I guess were budgeting a considerable amount for a great location, and not sure if we should if its worth it to ground lease high traffic location??

    Any comments on other ways to decrease start up costs??? Sure would make it much more feasible if I could get it down about 30k

  2. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle,Washington USA
    Posts
    874
    janie1963 I applaud you for what you have done to get your business up and running. How long did you research this business before you knew it was the right time to start? I think it's great that your husband was able to build a state and L&I approved building. I think it's equally impressive that you were able to accomplish all of this including (new?) equipment and opening inventory etc. for $20K. Did that also include permits, etc.? And are you hard plumbed? May I ask if you have a prime location? If so, depending on your traffic count, your business may be able to support itself within a year or so. Also alot would depend on how much competion you have in your immediate area. That's amazing! You have a great story, I wish you a lot of luck And for those who may not be as fortunate to be able to pony up that kind of money, I would advise them to continue to do the ground work themselves and learn as much as possible as I'm sure janie1963 did before entering the business. Or if you find yourself still unsure, I would still advise contacting an experienced consultant in this industry that can help you. After all it is a business expense that can be written into your business plan. If you decide to go that route, interview them to be sure they are qualified. Nothing worse than hiring some "Joe Schmo" selling snake oil promises like books and tapes and you do nothing but sit them on the shelf to collect dust.
    "A Word of Difference"TM

  3. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    65
    All new equipment and we are hard plumbed. It's a great little building and we thought it was a great location (hopefully will still prove to be), but we are having a tough time getting people off the hwy...they are in "auto pilot" mode on the way to and from work. It will take a while-we're in an area where people don't adapt to change too easily.

    Now I need to vent: started with 4 employees and am now down to 2. The first to go was more of a relief than anything. The 2nd is the one I've tried to please the most....adjusting to her college and child care schedules, etc. Today she tells me that she was offered a temporary position with a former employer and they need her immediately. Shes doing this at the worst possible time-another employee also starts classes Monday. I told her that I understand taking advantage of an offer of more $$$. And I let her know she is leaving me in a bad situation...NO notice, no time to hire and train another. I really wanted to be able to take more time to hire and not have to be in a position of desperation. I need at least 2 weeks to train as I'll never hire anyone with coffee experience again. This is the same employee who brought up the idea to have Spiderman make an appearance-assured me that her brother said he'd do it "no problem". Her brother decided to go to the fair. She then said she'd do it, though not without complaint. Well, tomorrow is our Spiderman day and she had to leave early today because her son was sick...how much would you bet she calls in sick tomorrow and I have to be Spiderman!? Did I mention the migrain I've had for 6 days?

    I certainly would never wish to discourage anyone, however I will agree with Coffee Guy-seek a qualified consultant and ask exactly what you can expect from every aspect of the business. I knew I'd encounter problems with employees, I just didn't expect to be hit so hard in the first month. And you know what really irks me? I've been so nice, flexible and giving to them, I've provided a safe and friendly and fun work environment.
    What should I say to her tomorrow? I really want to let her know how unhappy I am, but I'm so stressed out that I know everything would come out wrong.

    Sorry so much whining!

  4. #14
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    26
    janie...if I'm close enoughI'll come help you I don't think I can play spiderman though...I can imiagine your frustration...Good luck!
    We are looking at a location just off the highway with a very high traffic count. I am considering using my marketing budget for a great sign and a billboard near the exits. Great attention getter for for your "autopilots". Can be a litttle costly depending on size, length of time. Around here about $1500/month, but well worth the exposure. Maybe you could get a BB company to give you a discounted "trial" offer....just a thought

  5. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle,Washington USA
    Posts
    874
    Hey janie1963:

    Everything sounds great except your location. That's one of the most important parts of this business. As the old saying goes, "The three most important things to look for in a business is...location, location, location." And that is very true.

    I feel your pain Unfortunately when screening new employees in this business, a lot will depend on how well you can read people. It's easy for the prospective employee to be at their best behavior during an interview and tell you what you want to hear. Then later come up with every excuse in the world not to perform. A long time ago we developed a pre-interview test and give it to each applicant that wishes to be considered for an interview. After they take this test we review it and let them know if they are granted an interview. During our interviews we ask the usual drink prep questions, in addition to their personal life type questions including if they attend school, have children, etc. this gives us a better idea of the accountability and availability. We also ask questions of their trustworthliness. Remember this is a cash business and it's not rocket science, and a lot of your employees depend on tips more than their salary. If they are getting good tips, they are more liable to stick around and not look for something else. But an owner also has to be the one to call the shots and not let the employee hold them hostage by not showing up to work or flaking out when they are needed the most. All of these things we usually cover during our interviews. And we give them a probation period. If they don't pan out, we have to let them go. Always accept applications and keep them on file even if you don't hire that person right then, you never know if you might need them to fill in part time or offer them a full time position in the furute. You know it's not too late in your case to seek the help of a consultant.[/b][/i]
    "A Word of Difference"TM

  6. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    65
    Chelle, funny you mentioned the billboard-the guy who owns the land (more than 6 acre) has two BB's at the end of the property that he leases. Maybe he'll give me a good deal on one. And our location is unique (around here anyway) we can get big trucks or RVs in easily when no one else can offer that...it was great to have those RVs pull in over Labor Day weekend!

    Spiderman actually brought in a lot of new customers yesterday. And Friday , which has been our slowest day of the week was our best sales day thus far. The local school called in a 9 drink delivery order and we had steady traffic all day.

    If we could just increase our daily customer numbers a bit we'd be fine...the average sale per car is running around $6.00 and that is more than I estimated it would be.

    I don't want to jump the gun yet, but I think perhaps we're turning the corner-getting people to notice us. I'm going to work on a mass mailer for the local area...there isn't another espresso place for 5 miles in either direction. And as far as customer service goes, we've got all others beat by far.

    Coffee Guy-tomorrow I am meeting with a young lady...shes starting college and is available after 11am and weekends, which fits perfectly for what I need. She doesn't have coffee experience ( another plus) and looks good on paper, but we all know anyone can make themselves look good on paper. Any advice on what to ask her...things I may not have thought of? I'd really like tomake sure shes going to stick with me and be reliable.

    I am currently making new inventory sheets-even though I keep a close eye on things, we are missing one bottle of syrup that I just bought and some garbage bags. I knew there would be situations that would arise that I could not have anticipated before hand...between the employees and the customers new things happen each day that I have to make adjustments for. After the first day I was adding new policies to my "personnel guidelines" and continue to do so.

    Any hints, tips warnings are greatly appreciated.

  7. #17
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    26
    We were just working on the "operations" section of the ridiculously long, and seemingly unending and detailed business plan....for a simple little drive thru coffee business...sigh...
    Anyway, the good employee problem is just that...I was thinking of doing a lot of marketing in and around a local junior college. Not only do they drink alot of coffee, there are now apartments on campus, so they need jobs, and its a great resource for things like, perhaps designing a bill board, if they have a graphic arts, or advertising/marketing dept.

    I guess I'm just saying utilize the educational facilities near you. They may have more than potential cutomers.

    janie, I would love to chat about more specifics...pm me if you want

  8. #18
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Boca Raton
    Posts
    3,643
    where are you opening again?
    "Wine is for aging, not coffee."
    Ken Hutchinson, Starsky and Hutch

  9. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle,Washington USA
    Posts
    874
    Hey Janie1963...I don't know what questions you may not have asked, but here's a couple questions you might what to throw at prospective interviewees. 1--Is there anything that may prevent you from arriving to work on time? 2--Have you ever worked with a Telecheck or credit card machine? 3--Do you feel that you are an honest person, why? 4--What type of environment do you work best in? 5--During slow times here at work, what would you do with the down time? 6--How often do you call in sick? 7--If we hired you and you currently have another job, how would you plan your schedule in order to work here for us?

    Those are just a few questions we ask our applicants during our interview process. As for inventory control, sometimes it's hard to keep track in the first month or so because you are trying to track useage in the beginning, but not to worry, you'll catch on as time passes. What I might suggest if you can fit into your budget is to get yourself a camera system. That way you can watch what the employees are doing not to mention it's a great security feature for the business.

    Just a couple of thoughts you might chew on
    "A Word of Difference"TM

  10. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    65
    Thanks CG, those are great questions because they are sort of open ended-not just "yes or no" responses. I saw the girl today, but couldn't talk much because the employee who is leaving showed up for her last shift early. I told her she could come back tomorrow and observe. BUT a got a call from a young lady who went to school with my oldest daughter, so I've known her and her family for 12 years. She works at a daycare until 3:30, but has weekends off and thats what she's looking to fill and that works pretty well for me. I'd feel very good about her working for me-shes honest, outgoing and intelligent.

 

 
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