just kind of a vent.

debbiej

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Mar 22, 2010
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I'm not complaining. business is good and I think it is getting better. coffee is good. we get lots of compliments. people are checking out the roaster. I hear a lot of 'you roast your own beans here?' although we have for several years, not at the shop and I guess seeing is believing.

I've had a lot of employees taking time off. they don't so much as ask, but say that they have to be out of town. one is just starting college, one is in a band that went on tour, another to a film making workshop she has been really hoping to be accepted into. it is hard. they are good, and I know smart kids will have other irons in the fire. but I hate it when they take time off.

today and tomorrow I work an afternoon kitchen shift. food prep and cooking, and not my favorite shift. in fact, I feel awful from racing around. we do omelets, sandwiches, some soup and quiche. so it's not real 'cooking'. but we prep a lot of cheese and vegetables.

I'd like working at the shop, but there is just so much else to do. after closing and cleaning up, I dragged my sorry self to the store for supplies for tomorrow.

my employees are half my age, I hope this is easier on them than it is on me!
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
Venting is good.

But...

Stop whining and get back to work! :p

If you have employees, they need to be available when you need them to work, otherwise find new employees. If they work for you, they don't decide when they come and go.

I'm 41 and my wife is about ten years younger. We both used to do about 85 out of ~110 hours a week at the caffe, but after becoming more efficient and tweaking hours to maximize our time, we each spend about 35-40 hours out of 72 here now. We don't have any employees.

... we do omelets, sandwiches, some soup and quiche.
Why don't you cut most of that. It would make life easier.

Plan accordingly to minimize your trips for those supplies that are not delivered. Hopefully you have at least one other person so you can do all of your errands during store hours. While there are still many things to think about regarding business when you are away from your store, end of day should be end of day.
 
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debbiej

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yeah, I know.
I've got 12 employees. all part time, most students. doing the schedule is a headache unto itself. when I took back our business from the yahoos who tried to buy it, I had a whole lot of things to make better fast. that was 7 months ago.

I'm almost finished with most of those projects, but the last one; finish re-writing our outdated employee handbook, cookbook, drink procedures, shift duty check list, for training and evaluation of employee performance. Once this is done, a review of policy and procedure, including policy on taking time off will be covered in an employee meeting.
as anyone who has a business (or a family) knows, it takes a lot of effort and energy to enforce systems. But, once I have a system, I'll be better equipped to train new employees and less reluctant to give ultimatums to errant employees.

I've got a funny situation. when I took our business back, many of our old employees who had quit, came in begging for their jobs back. I wanted to start with a clean slate, but didn't have time, so I hired most of them back. most love our shop, and do a good job, but almost seem like free agents. my battle is consistency, but I depend on them and they know it.

we have suppliers who deliver, but I still go to Sam's club a couple of times a week because the prices are better. I shop very carefully. our big freezer died last week, so I'm having to go for supplies much more often.

I thought very seriously about cutting out much of our menu when we were required to install a vent hood and fire suppression, but they said we would still need it for our oven. and we have so many customers who come in for breakfast, I'd really reduce the income. the other day we had a $900 morning, mostly baked goods and coffee. I would love to go in that direction, but so many people come in because they want great coffee with their breakfast or lunch. If we didn't serve food, they would go somewhere else for food.

I really would like to have fewer employees, shorter hours and work more myself, but find myself spread thin.
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
As school is starting up again soon maybe you can find a better crop of employees who can commit to (at least) the full year. If you can get some reliable employees who are freshman you have the possibility of four years out of them.

Checklist is easy.

1. Make perfect drinks - Or else!
2. Keep sh!t clean
3. Prep
4. Count money accurately.
5. Free time? See number 2.


There you go! 8)
 
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debbiej

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Mar 22, 2010
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well, yeah, but that is the short list. It does about cover it, but I've learned that "clean" is a relative term that must be defined. and you have to teach them to make the perfect drink, and how to prep food. I have really good employees who forget to, say, rinse out the pump pots. so a long check list is required. and there are barista duties and kitchen duties. there are employees who take advantage but they can work hours no one else is available. then there is the documentation. if you don't document warnings, evaluations, showing up late, etc, the employee can claim unemployment.

I once had a girl who baked. she was late all the time. I spoke to her over and over. when I finally told her to leave and not come back, she filed for unemployment against me. I had a years worth of time cards and I went through them and counted the times she was 1/2 hour late, then how many times she was and hour late. typed a letter describing her position and how baristas would come to work and couldn't get in because she hadn't shown up. the unemployment guy said "document everything". so I'm trying to do that.

I'm too old for this.
 
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debbiej

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yikes! what a mess! can you send her for a drug test? cut her hours?
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
ElPugDiablo said:
debbiej said:
yikes! what a mess! can you send her for a drug test? cut her hours?
Connecticut makes it really hard for employer to drug test employees. I have to have some kind of proof other than she looks high. I am not cutting her hours, I am replacing her.

Yes they do! But the good news for you is that you probably wouldn't have all that hard of a time if you can prove her job is dangerous if she's high. Last time I checked working around a 300F+ oven constitutes as dangerous!!! :p
 
I totally feel you on the employee issues. All of my employees are wonderful, but they are all college students. They feel that time off is a right granted to them. They don't ask, they just tell me that they will be gone. I can't argue because they know that I need them. I work at least half of the shifts that are on the schedule as it is. I also really feel you on the stocking issue. I use many different vendors to get the lowest prices and the most unique, quality products. On top of all of those factors, my kiosk is about 60 square feet so on a busy day I not only work shifts, and procure supplies, but I also have to stock the shop from the warehouse twice a day (that part about needing to stock twice a day is a blessing...I know)! I seem to get better results when I am firm. Coincidentally, I was just thinking today that if they all up and quit, I could still do it myself. With that in mind I decided to make a concerted effort to be more firm. If they won't work when YOU want them to, then what are they good for? Scheduling always sucks. This one needs this day off for a sorrority function, this one wants to go to the football game, this one has... Who cares? I have a life too, and last time I checked I was the one signing the paychecks that arrive like clockwork every other Wednesday. Maybe you should try that sometime. "I'm gonna pay you next week ms. Heroine addict." that should go over like a lead balloon. Wow, now I'm venting... Thank goodness we have thriving businesses to rant about :)
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
Bay Islands Coffee said:
'm gonna pay you next week ms. Heroine addict."

I'd back you a 110% if you ever decided to pull that one out of a hat. Just give us a heads up so we can get plane tickets in order so we can come to the trial of you being sued for slander! 8)

The one thing I haven't been in a long time is an employer so that makes me happy in the sense that I don't have to put up with the whiny aspects of employees who can't ever seem to manage on their own and need a babysitter. That's what I like about my field that I work in because my boss can go away for a few days and know the shop isn't going to fall in a day. He can leave and come back to see progress has been made.

I feel for you I really do. Keep your head up! Sounds like your doing a half way decent job as it is.
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
At least you can work those shifts. I just installed a beautiful espresso machine after my espresso tech spent times not to mention money checked and rechecked the machine. It worked great for one day. Today it is dead in the water. Welcome to Jojo's, the best coffee bar that pulls the meanest espresso in Connecticut, just not today. Should have gotten a Cecilware Venezia.
 

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