Start-Up Labour?

elizabethgypsy

New member
Oct 15, 2009
4
0
I'm wondering what everyones opinion is on staffing when you first open a small cafe - I have no problems being the only worker there for the first little while, and then hiring on part-time help as I work out which times need the extra support, eventually weaning out my hands-on and promoting someone to a full-time position. I don't imagine I'll be off the hands-on running (and I don't really want to) for the first year at least, but I also understand I need time to be doing everything else, like balancing books, marketing, ordering, etc.

Should I hire before I open, or wait and see? As info I'll be open approx. 12 hrs a day, 6 days a week.

Look forward to everyones thoughts!

Elizabeth
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
At 72 hours a week be thankful for a pretty light schedule. I would venture to say that most new owners spend 100 hours a week on their business, but in reality, it's nearly a 24/7 operation.

By the phrasing or your question, you seem to have a fairly realistic view of things, which will continually pay off as you progress. Hire what you can afford, and in the beginning, if you can't afford to have much, or any, staff then you'll need to do without. As I have mentioned in a previous post, many new owners want too much too fast. They expect to have 10-15 employees, make a profit, and pocket $50-$100K for themselves. These owners usually find themselves pleading with the bank and landlord as their funds dry up.

So I would look to hire before you open, but don't hire just to have bodies. Be extremely critical as this is the most important time for you. Make certain you understand all the aspects of training a new barista and hire those who specifically want to work for YOU, not someone just looking for a position. If you find the right people, bring them aboard, some may work out and some may not and that's ok. You need to do what's best for your business, and sometimes less is more.
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
0
Hartford and New Haven, CT
If you have a following, and are well publicized, you might do a booming business from day one, then you better have enough people on hand. This is a very rare situation, and most of the time is not necessary a good thing. For us mere mortals, we started out slow during the first year, so keep (well trained) staff at minimum level is essential. I would think you need at least another body during every hour other than youself. BUT it depends on your menu. Hire too many, you will lose money. Hire not enough, you will have poor customer service which is a detriment to your long term survival.
 

morrisn

New member
Mar 27, 2006
126
0
If you can afford it have some well trained staff when you open. As the old saying goes you have one chance to make a good impression. If you do not provide a excellent product in a reasonable amount of time, they won't come back. If you do they will be back and usually with friends. I believe in overstaffing to start and then making adjustments after being open a few weeks. Yes it will cost you but it will be a lot cheaper than trying to get people back after a negative experience.Look professional and be professional from day one, it will pay off. Also make sure your drink and food recipes and procedures are worked out before you open the doors.
 
morrisn said:
If you can afford it have some well trained staff when you open. As the old saying goes you have one chance to make a good impression. If you do not provide a excellent product in a reasonable amount of time, they won't come back. If you do they will be back and usually with friends. I believe in overstaffing to start and then making adjustments after being open a few weeks. Yes it will cost you but it will be a lot cheaper than trying to get people back after a negative experience.Look professional and be professional from day one, it will pay off. Also make sure your drink and food recipes and procedures are worked out before you open the doors.

This is all good advice. Most well budgeted startups for chains, hotels etc will make sure there is more than ample staff on hand at least for the first month. Obviously this is a little more difficult if your purse is not deep. I think from my experiences you need to work out how much capital you need, then add another 50%. This will help give you a larger barn door to aim at and avoid shocks- an perhaps not be tempted to cut back on start up labour. There are about 100 diferent models for labour for cafes. Some are based on labour hours vs covers/dockets, some on square meter formulas, some on a mix of these. Ultimately you need to remember a Morrisn has said- startup is Sooo important, get it wrong here and it is going to be an uphill battle to get customers back in the door
 

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