In this blog, we look back over the last 6 months of running Artisan and try to pull out some useful bits of information for all of you who are keen to go down the independent coffee shop route. The first thing that springs to mind is that we think we made our lives easier by ensuring we always played to our strengths, and that was making great coffee and definitely not doing the accounts. As a result, from day one, we employed a local accountant who took care of all the things we were not experts at, such as payroll and our monthly accounts. Although this does cost money, it relieved a huge pressure and gave us the time to focus on the business. Personally, we would highly recommend this approach.
When hiring, we always sought out individuals who had a similar passion for coffee and outlook on life – sometimes over those who claimed to be expert baristas. This resulted in a team who all wanted to push Artisan in the same direction. When it came to hiring, we would hold off until the team was stretched and we knew for certain that we required additional staff members. The advantage of this was that the new staff member did not get frustrated by us not being able to deliver on the number of hours promised and joined the team more permanently. This is only possible if you as an owner do what we did, and that is step in and mop the floors, help in all aspects and get your hands dirty.
From the moment we opened the doors, we never viewed Artisan as a finished product but always tried to tweak and improve in any way we could, and still do this today. For us, this meant such things as taking every single seat, two at a time, out of the shop and padding and upholstering them with reclaimed coffee sacks as customers had mentioned to us they were not comfy enough. Whilst customers are obviously very important to listen to, we found some of the best information came from our staff. They were the ones watching and learning about our business; we therefore always encouraged them and gave them opportunities to feed information back to us through staff meetings or pub outings.
Finally, we would suggest you have to remain true to whatever your unique selling point (USP) is. For Artisan, that is coffee, so we continually invest time and money in ensuring every cup goes out to our standard. However, your USP could be anything from your quirky furniture, to gluten free cakes, or the type of food you prepare. We think part of Artisan’s success is down to simply having one clear message… great coffee.