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November 15, 2016 at 6:08 am #995672TeoneMember
I have started a new business 3 weeks ago. It’s a cafe and I am very happy about how it is going. Now, I am stuck in the kitchen and I feel like I am not doing the most to attract new customers, market the cafe and innovate/find new business sources.
I am thinking of delegating the kitchen operations to a chef, which will suck up to $900 of my revenue per week.
Considering how I am going it looks like I can “afford” it, but I am worried that this would be too risky, a waste of money, and my effort to create new marketing activities, make the cafe more appealing and bring more customers in won’t be rewarded or it won’t work.
Also, I think we can improve customer service and I would like to be the one in charge of the front of the house to make sure that both food and service are up to standards, it means that I am spending more for labour in the kitchen but I am saving some on FOH.
What do you guys think? Is it too early to step out the kitchen? How would this be perceived by customers? Is it worth to take the risk or maybe wait a little bit?
Anyone with cafe experience?
Thank you everyone!November 15, 2016 at 8:00 am #1203345Paul – FS ConciergeModerator
Hi and welcome to the Flying Solo Forums Teone.
Thanks for posting today.
There really is no right answer to your questions as so much depends on your vision and plan, how much take home you are happy with, customer experience, exhaustion over time, cashflow – now and in future, whether the business will be seasonal or not etc, etc.
Doing things on trial for 3 months may be some sort of middle ground you and a new hire might be able to live with so it might be worth considering.
I will be interested in what others say.
CheersNovember 15, 2016 at 8:52 pm #1203346bb1ParticipantTeone, post: 241133, member: 72709 wrote:What do you guys think? Is it too early to step out the kitchen? How would this be perceived by customers?
At the end of the day I as a customer really only worry about the product that appears on the plate in front of me, so as long as the new chef is up to your standard (or even better), there should be no concern on that front. I don’t know the layout of your place, but often the customer never even see;’s the chef, and we only see wait staff. So you coming out the front could be a benefit, although having said that it comes back to you and your personality, some people are best kept behind the door and never to be seen or handle direct customer intereaction, and others should be out front.November 15, 2016 at 11:30 pm #1203347Greg_MMember
I agree with Bert on this one. If you have a great FOHouse personality you should be visible and delegate the cooking (policed to your standards) otherwise stay in the kitchen and hire FOH staff that are really good.
In a past life my partner and I developed and ran a cafe for about 5 years, then on-sold it for a profit. While she’s a great cook, the “business” was really the relationships she built with customers, not so much the food (the coffee has to be great though). I was kept out the back scrubbing dishes and bins (where I belonged).
3 subsequent owners of the same business have struggled. Arguably the food was in some instances better than ours…but their front of house skills were poor to indifferent.November 16, 2016 at 1:20 am #1203348Rohan@TDMemberTeone, post: 241133, member: 72709 wrote:I have started a new business 3 weeks ago.
I recommend you consider giving it some time and allowing yourself to develop a greater understanding of your business and your customers prior to making a financial commitment of $900 + a week and instigating change to a core element of your business.
Over the next 3 months we will also see a pretty big disruption to most cafe markets/customer patterns as school, uni and work goes through their end of year cycle and then through summer and so fourth.
Paul, Bert and Greg all provide some great guidance regarding focusing on your goals, the importance of your product (food quality), your own strengths and weaknesses (e.g. personality) and the importance of FoH service. Without knowing the details about you, your business and the market it operates within it’s pretty difficult to provide guidance on what you should do.
Talk to your customers and get their feedback on what they think you can do to improve your business and act after due consideration. Now is the time to seek feedback from your customers and display willingness and commitment to improve.
If you have spare cash you want to reinvest in your business, consider if it may be more effective to outsource some of what you are trying to achieve, rather than purse it yourself and disrupt what looks like a great start.
RohanNovember 16, 2016 at 10:38 pm #1203349arrowwiseMember
Agreed with Bert I value the food the most, but some value the other things like the cool factor and seem to put up with dismal over priced food while supporting such a place big time. I never get thatNovember 16, 2016 at 11:53 pm #1203350J.ZkanMember
Spending a lot of time inside than rather outside “growing” your business is always a mistake most people do, hire someone and focus on growing the business.November 20, 2016 at 9:35 am #1203352TeoneMember
Thanks for the response!
I’ll give you some information about myself and the business so you can have a better idea of who I am and what I am doing.
I am an Italian chef, I moved here in Australia 6 years ago and finally got to make my dream come true, open my own business in Australia. I have some FOH experience but mostly important I am someone who’s not shy, who loves to talk and engage with people and I think my job in making customers feel welcome is quite effective (sorry for the modesty).
My business is an Italian cafe that serves in-house baked goods, exceptional coffee (of course LOL) and an “italianized” English breakfast (focaccia, ricotta, pancetta and similar everywhere). There is an open kitchen so customers can see everything we’re doing, that’s why I was concern about getting someone else to cook for me, but as someone said, as long as the product is up to my standards, there would be nothing wrong with it.
We have an ok trade weekday and a good turnover on weekends, still so much to improve considering that sometimes people walk away because of the lack of choices at lunch time (weekdays, usually weekends it’s more breakfast menu). Most of the customers are residents in the area, and, although I see many new faces, there are many returning ones. Weekdays is more tradies, people who work in the area, weekends residents and poeple who come here to check the place out.
Now, I have found this chef, he is amazing, fits so well in the team and I think he’s a great addition to the team and the business. He’s excited about adjusting the menu basing to our first month of trade and customer feedback, introducing new dishes and special etc etc..things that I wanted to do before but I didn’t have the time to.
My last post on social media is one week old, I haven’t sourced any other supplier or enquired about products to improve my menu costing, I haven’t figured out some of the costs and profits of some dishes yet, I haven’t marketed the business around or created any partnership with other business, no written procedures or system in place, there is SO MUCH I could do, but I am here prepping and serving food.
The initial buzz has worn off and now we’re not having the same traffic we had when we first opened, I feel like things need to be shaken a bit.
Rohan has recommended me to develop a greater understanding of my business, I agree, but the only way to do it is by delegating and free up some time.
Guys thanks again for the helpNovember 22, 2016 at 3:22 am #1203353Paul – FS ConciergeModerator
It sounds like your love of a good conversation could convert well to up selling eg “You have to try our dessert” which will be good for overall spend per pax.
At the same time, from a financial point of view, I always recommend having more capital available than you think you will need.
Capital and cash-flow issues combined are the #1 reason small business fail.
So what it comes down to is confidence and timing.
The other thing to be disciplined about with more free time is to identify those things you consider will have a tangible positive effect on your financials. Policies and procedures are required but there benefit can be intangible. On the other hand, nailing a lunchtime special that will appeal to locals and sell well will immediately lift sales.
Good luck!July 15, 2017 at 1:39 am #1203354Paul BeauparkMember
My advice is to make sure that you have documented procedures and daily checklists that will cover your required quality output and other things like hygiene. This will assist in the success of your delegation. All the best, Paul Beaupark 0422308126December 6, 2017 at 10:47 am #1203355glipschitzMember
Delegating is good, but documenting process first is key.
If you want things done consistently, to a standard and “your way”, then it’s absolutely key to your success that you document your processes.
This also helps when staff start, staff leave, you need to cross train people and it will give you scale.
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