This is day 11 of my 31 days of coffee shop stories. Welcome.
I remember one fleeting thought, once. What if we didn’t hire anybody and make this a family business? We could cook, wait on tables, tend the bar. But I soon realized this was a bit far from the coffee shop of my dreams. I realized I wanted to be as much in the background as possible. It turned out that being in the background was not at all feasible, but about this another time.
Anyway, after the fleeting thought disappeared, one little thought remained. We didn’t need a manager, we could do this all on our own. How hard can it be? I don’t use all caps around here, but now I just have to: WRONG. Maybe the worst idea we ever had regarding our little venture.
Apparently, managing a coffee shop is not that hard. For someone who knows what he’s doing. For the rest of us, it could mean the end of a business that has just begun. In 2010, we were on the verge of closing down shop. Bills piling up, suppliers hunting us down day and night. All our savings put into paying the rent and the wages. The coffee shop was full and the business was getting better and better, but money wasn’t enough. Or were we using it wrong?
This is when one of our suppliers suggested we hire a manager. And also recommended someone with whom he worked before and was now looking for a job. We hired him. It was not like we had a room full of people willing to work their ass off to save a business that was just barely able to support another salary. He came on board. We opened the second coffee shop together and we still argue on philosophical topics, like the menu or the prices.
And now onto the reasons why I used all caps back up there and why I am so glad we hired a manager.
- It is very important to have the right person in the right place. The cook doesn’t wait on tables, just so someone needs to take care of suppliers, bank, bills. We are just not cut out for this.
- If you are buying a bottle of wine with, let’s say, 8 coins, and sell it for 6.5 (because you don’t have enough time to check every invoice and see the price going up), you definitely need a manager.
- If suppliers don’t count you for bonuses, discounts and other such fun things and you dare not even ask, you need a manager.
- If you’re there, closing the doors each and every night (or, better yet, morning – around 3, 4 a.m.), someone needs to be fresh in the morning to make sure wheels are turning.
- And isn’t just nice that you can take a day or a week off every now and then? (we were at the coffee shop every single day for almost two years, it’s not fun at all).
We desperately needed someone to delegate things to, someone who could keep all the money in check and someone with whom we could consult on one matter or the other. This is our manager and I am very glad he is still on board with us.
Tomorrow, on to more fun stuff. Hope I can find the first receipt I ever issued, with a coffee on it.