Not falling behind by staying one step ahead

not_falling_behindPeople often think that rent, business rates and VAT are the key expenses for a small coffee shop and whilst they are important and expensive, they don’t even compare to the cost of your staff.

Our plan, which does differ from many of you who are thinking of establishing a coffee shop, was for Artisan to run smoothly and independently from us – the owners. Now don’t get us wrong, there is nothing we love more than working at Artisan on a busy and bustling Saturday with Magda on the coffee machine and Edwin on the till with the friendly vibe and coffee shop chat. The difference however was that we knew that we wanted Artisan to work without us and of course this has meant a large investment in both people and training, which does cost and dramatically cuts the profit margin.

With staff comes the weekly rota, which is a consistent balancing act. We found that working out exactly how many staff you need at what time of the day is crucial and very hard in a growing business. As soon as you think you have cracked it, you discover you are getting busier on an unexpected Friday morning and within a 3 week period, you have gone from having the right amount of staff to them all complaining they don’t have enough time to deal with the workload. This can mean that staff morale drops and if you’re not careful, your trained and valued staff can leave.

All at the same time there is nothing worse than having too many staff on and no work for them to do, as it is basically means throwing money away, which for a new business is the worst thing that can happen! Running a business within its first year is difficult as it is always done on a shoestring; and it can be a big guessing game working out your exact staffing numbers.

One way we overcame this problem was that we become the floater, so whenever we thought we might be busy we would be in the shop to help – not rostered on to work but there just in case. This meant that when we found that we were always needed it was time to roster someone on and the flexibility really helped us not over staff and not under staff.

There’s nothing more satisfactory than when eventually you have a fun, loving and hard-working trained team who have the right amount of work at the right time. In our experience you can never take them for granted and always have one eye on the future developments and needs of the business.

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