Coffee Shop Consultants

kimbica

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May 1, 2006
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Tucson, AZ
Hi all, I was wondering if any of you shop owners have used professional consultants to help start your business? If so, what was your experience - good and/or bad? I am thinking abut hiring a local coffee roaster to help me start my shop and he is not pushing any equipment, just sells beans, which I am pretty sure aren't a requirement for using his services. (though I like his product) I do not feel confident jumping into this alone; I have no experience in this business and I am a little intimidated by the red tape required to just get off the ground. Any advice about who to hire or not to hire? I have heard negative things about some of the "nationally known" consultants.
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey kimbica:

Interesting post. There are just about as many consultants out here as there are stars in the sky :wink: I say that in jest because over the last several years a lot of so-called consultants have come out of the wood works to jump on the ban wagon in this industry. Some times you may land a good one, and some times not. I would advise that you contact a few and then check some of their references from people they have actually helped and see what kind of feeling you get from them. I will say, don't expect something for nothing when it comes to consultants. Nor should you look to piece apart the consulting package they offer to save yourself money.

As for your local roaster becoming your consultant, please check their qualifications regarding actually having owned and/or operated a coffee/espresso business. Not all roasters have had the experience to help someone new in this business. Sometimes it can be a plus for the roaster to also sell you equipment, they may be able to offer you a better price especially if they are authorized distributors for certain machine manufacturers.

There are a number of true consultants and/or trainers right here on this forum like, Barista Trainer (for example), and even ourselves included that have been on both sides of the business. So this would be a good place to start your search.

In any case good luck 8)
 
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kimbica

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May 1, 2006
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Tucson, AZ
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consultants

Thanks Goffee Guy!

I talked to the roaster at length a couple times now and he is very easy to get along with - a real plus. He has been in the biz for about 9 years and owns a successful Coffee House in our city. (It is always buzzing). Their coffee at that shop has the reputation among other cafe owners to be the best in town, and after tasting it I am inclined to agree. :D

I asked him about consulting fees and setting up a package and he said he is willing to help me get a good location for free, and after I am in lease he will set up a deal to help with the whole process and do training, design, etc. I have heard good things about him from 2 other owners in town who worked with him. He does not really get into supplying machines (I don't think) but I got a referral for someone who supposedly sells and services equipment who is very reliable and quick in service. I feel like having someone walk me through this will be worth almost any price, though I think he will be reasonable. He is more of a microroaster but supplies others besides local shops. He said his wholesale beans run about 5.50-8/lb. Does that sound about right for high quality blends?

BTW, I have been on your website and it is cool!

--Kimbica :grin:
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Good, you've had an opportunity to speak with your local roaster. However, this statement sort of concerns me,
He has been in the biz for about 9 years and owns a successful Coffee House in our city.
. The reason I say this is, you might be in competition with him if you are too close to him (area). But on the other hand if you are far enough away, then you may not be in direct competition and that would be okay. It is also a plus to have a local machine distributor, but be sure to have the chance to play with the machine and feel good about it. All espresso machines are basically the same, except some may offer a few different features like automatic, semiautomatic, manual. And still others may have a bunch of bells and whistles that may not have any usefullness other than looking good. In any case learn as much as you can before investing in a machine. After all, this will be one of your largest investments for the business. Learning about your business is critical, especially if you are looking to be an effective owner. Be sure your consultant is an educator and not just a slick salesman looking to make money off of you. As for pricing of coffee, it depends largely on what you determine will be your price point (meaning what you are willing to pay). Of course higher quality coffees will cost a little more than your average everyday house roasted. All good roasters develop receipes to highlight their special blends and if using good quality you should yeild great coffee each and every time. The range you've given between $5.50-$8.00 may be about average depending on the competition your roaster has in their area. I would be cautious with coffees that are below $5.00 per pound, chances are this company may be offering lower quality and is playing the numbers game. More customers+more volume=more profit for the roaster. I should say however, one of the exceptions to that rule would be if you are being offered a volume discount based on the weekly volume you are doing with that roaster...Well that's about all I have for now...By the way thank you for the kind words regarding our site. PM me if you would like to discuss other issues... :wink:
 

cafemakers

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Nov 3, 2004
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Coffee Guy said:
Good, you've had an opportunity to speak with your local roaster. However, this statement sort of concerns me,
He has been in the biz for about 9 years and owns a successful Coffee House in our city.
.

I also share this concern; you will have a difficult time surpassing the beverage quality and business performance of your competitor when they are the ones providing you with information, technique and ingredients.

Do not misunderstand my sentiment - I am an advocate of mutually beneficial cooperation between friendly competitors; however, it seems that your competitor has everything to gain from this relationship. How better to neutralize a new threat in town than to be in control of their business - and profiting - from a potential competitor!
 
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kimbica

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May 1, 2006
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Tucson, AZ
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consultant

Thanks for your insights, Andrew and Coffee Guy. I was admittedly not thinking about the possibility that he could keep me "in my place" by putting a ceiling on my success somehow. Maybe I am naive. His shop is not too far away but it is on another major E-W street and he has a completely different clientele there. I mean really different than the people I am looking to attract. I can give more details in a private email if anyone is curious what I mean by this, but I guess I felt good about him partly because a few other owner operators in town recommended him and use his product. He has a good reputation and his primary biz these days is not the coffee house, but the roasting. Do you think I should back up and shop around more? I was under the impression that he is the best in town and as such I wanted no less for my store. :?

On another note, can anyone offer me any insight about how to find someone to do architect or design work for this? I really want to avoid a huge fee if I can. Do I need separate people to do layout, plans, interior design, etc? Or does anyone offer multiple services? Thanks...my head is spinning the last few days as I take in the vast number of choices awaiting me....

:-D
-Kimbica
 

Aliya

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Apr 12, 2004
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Illinois
I would be cautious in hiring a local person to do your consulting. Although I always like to look out for the good in people, as a business owner you have to be extra cautious. I went with a national consultant, Bellissimo, and they were AMAZING, and worth every penny. Do you research, of course, and go with whom you feel most comfortable with.

As for the architect/designer, sometimes they are one in the same. Other times they are not. Your architect can draw up a floorplan for you. Make sure he doesn't get too caught up with it looking cool or different or unique. It can be all these things, but you have to think about the flow of your customer traffic (ie, easy to get to condiment counter after transaction). Look around your city for places you like, and inquire about the designer/architect. If you are looking to save money, go to your local interior design school or a school that teaches students to become architects, or both and tap into some young new talent. These kids will give you a great deal, as they want the experience under their belt. But be careful. You want someone who knows what they are doing, not someone who slept through all their classes. A simple conversation will weed out the no-nos.
 

cafemakers

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Re: consultant

kimbica said:
Thanks for your insights, Andrew and Coffee Guy. I was admittedly not thinking about the possibility that he could keep me "in my place" by putting a ceiling on my success somehow.

Even with the assumption that the local shop operator will take time away from his business(es) and provide you with information out of the goodness of his own heart, you are limiting yourself to the maximum potential of being only as good as the best shop currently in your town; more likely than not, you can find better models in other cities across America and around the world. Only by looking to the outside world can you break through the ceiling of your town's preconceptions of how a coffee shop should operate and how your beverages can taste.

kimbica said:
On another note, can anyone offer me any insight about how to find someone to do architect or design work for this? I really want to avoid a huge fee if I can.

You can search this forum for "architect" or "design" and see a number of suggestions on this topic. I do suggest; however, that paying a competent architect and or designer a reasonable fee for the value of their services will be far less expensive to you over the life of your business than the lost revenue of a cheap - but bad - template design.

Best of success,

Andrew
 

Coffee Guy

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Seattle,Washington USA
You can search this forum for "architect" or "design" and see a number of suggestions on this topic. I do suggest; however, that paying a competent architect and or designer a reasonable fee for the value of their services will be far less expensive to you over the life of your business than the lost revenue of a cheap - but bad - template design.

This is so true...It is always best to hire a professional in this instance, remember you are putting your rep on the line, especially if this is your first location. Not to mention, that if you plan to open other locations in the future, you already have the plans. :wink:
 
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kimbica

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Tucson, AZ
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consultants

OK, thanks to everyone for their knowledge and warnings! I have to admit, i am a little confused now, and worried. Of course, I have not made any kind of formal agreement with the consultant yet, not in writing, but I stand to lose his good will if I back out now, since he has already put some time and thought into a location I have been looking at. :( I don't know what to do here...I thought he would be great based upon his personality and his happy local clients, but I admit I do not know if he is great compared with national consultants, one of whom I almost hired but found him abrasive and not strong enough in communications. (He is well qualified and extremely "famous" in our biz) I guess I am overwhelmed with the responsibility of making this choice because I don't want to fail if I choose poorly. I know some people do this on their own, without consultants at all, but I have no experience in this business and only a little working in food service at all. (College years I waited tables, hostessed, etc.) SO....aarrghh!!! Sorry to vent my frustration. If anyone feels they can help me make this choice and has a few minutes to talk to me or email me, please send me a private email. Thanks again to all who contribute to this thread.

--Kimbica :oops:
 

cafemakers

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Re: consultants

kimbica said:
one of whom I almost hired but found him abrasive and not strong enough in communications. (He is well qualified and extremely "famous" in our biz)

You should search for "fisenko" too. :lol:

Welcome to the specialty coffee industry.
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Hey kimbica:

It is natural to want to do good, just as it is to worry about making the right decisions. Keep in mind that you are going to become a business owner. So hard choices begin before the opening of the business, not after. Stay positive, you will find that you will make more good choices than bad. And, any investment that you put forth is for the business and make sure you start off with sound accounting.

I have not made any kind of formal agreement with the consultant yet, not in writing, but I stand to lose his good will if I back out now, since he has already put some time and thought into a location I have been looking at.
If you have not signed an agreement with the consultant, don't feel as though you have any commitment. I know that may sound a bit cold, but if the consultant did not have you sign an agreement, then no formal commitment was made to preform any services.

Send me a pm.
 

Coffee Guy

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Oct 19, 2003
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Seattle,Washington USA
Coffee Guy said:
Hey kimbica:

It is natural to want to do good, just as it is to worry about making the right decisions. Keep in mind that you are going to become a business owner. So hard choices begin before the opening of the business, not after. Stay positive, you will find that you will make more good choices than bad. And, any investment that you put forth is for the business and make sure you start off with sound accounting.

I have not made any kind of formal agreement with the consultant yet, not in writing, but I stand to lose his good will if I back out now, since he has already put some time and thought into a location I have been looking at.


If you have not signed an agreement with the consultant, don't feel as though you have any commitment. I know that may sound a bit cold, but if the consultant did not have you sign an agreement, then no formal commitment was made to preform any services.

Send me a pm.
 

morrisn

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Mar 27, 2006
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I would not write this guy off just because he is a competitor

First I would listen to everything he has to say, if he is successful he probably has some good info and he may be more interested in building his roasting business that his shop. He may also not consider you a threat to his shop. I am not saying you should not be wary buut don't discount him without cause.

The other thing I would do is be direct with him. Tell him you do not want to insult him but explain your concerns and ask him what he see's himself getting out of it. Then you have to judge.
 

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