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Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
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Sabo
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Sabo
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Posted Mon Feb 6, 2006, 1:00am
Subject: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think
by George Sabados

Thinking beyond the "barista" in you, and thinking about costs and investments instead of just cutting costs - a food for thought look at how to improve your cafe.
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Perpetual_Buzz
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Posted Tue Feb 7, 2006, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

Great article.  Thanks for the insight.

 
Everybody needs an addiction.

I'm not addicted to coffee, I just have to have a cup EVERY morning.
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mrgnomer
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Posted Sat Feb 11, 2006, 6:37am
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

Thanks to Coffeegeek and forums like it I've gone from a secret passion for what I thought was the inaccessible world of coffee to home roasting and a true love and appreciation for espresso all in a few short months.

I'm now considering the idea of one day, maybe sooner than later, of opening a cafe dedicated to offering customers the the high quality coffee I now know exists.

George Sabados' article offers excellent advice for cafe owners and, thanks to Coffegeek and their generous supporters, the dream of excellent coffee and sharing it with the world is not only made real but put into reach.

Excellent article.
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Sabo
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Posted Thu Feb 16, 2006, 5:36pm
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

I have intentially kept this subject brief due to the myriad of areas which require scrutiny when attempting to re-train the thinking of a cafe owner. It is no simple matter, and has on many occasions been conducted over many months between myself and owners.

Again, the difference to a business is in the detail and how fanatical an owner is to keeping on track with the principles behind experiencing stellar growth in sales. I have had many occasions where clients called me to relay that they were following what I had shown them, and yet sales were not growing. Upon closer inspection, they had in fact only listened to the broad application of what I said and demonstrated (which is the category of this article) and exhibited a complete lack of understanding in respect to the detail required to leverage sales. Further rounds of explanation, demonstration, practice and closer observation soon turned these businesses sales figures around.

For a cafe owner, the first step along the road to greater sales and therefore profitability hinges on their answer to the following question:

Can you swear black or blue that whatever time of day it is, or day of the week it is, or whichever staff member is on, that there is absolutely no discernable difference to the look and taste of your product?  

Remember, I said the answer is in the detail. If your answer is no, then there is vast room for sales improvement. If your answer is yes, then usually I do not agree that you are right unless that yes is matched with aggressive growth - because that is what a cafe will experience if the yes is truly a yes. If that is not the case then as before, there is vast room for sales improvement.

I hope that this has made clearer some of the questions I have received via email.

Kind Regards

George Sabados
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alsterling
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Posted Mon Feb 20, 2006, 9:04am
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

Sabo Said:

Can you swear black or blue that whatever time of day it is, or day of the week it is, or whichever staff member is on, that there is absolutely no discernable difference to the look and taste of your product?

Posted February 16, 2006 link

George....... I've been visiting cafes as often as I can, both near home here in SoCal and while traveling the Western US on business. My observations boil down to perceiving this industry (retail coffee) to be made up of what we call "Mom and Pop" operators. In most small businesses, the very same mistakes are constantly being made. Most specific is "misplaced priorities." (How different is this than in our personal lives?)

I've asked young people behind the counter about their training.........their answer was generally similar. The owner or another employee "showed them how to run the machinery." Summary; no formal barista training. Mistakes are usually passed down. I've watched employees work the counter that didn't have good people skills. Employers don't take the time to search for the best, but rather hire as though they're at a "Last Day Only" employee sale. Lack of training and hiring incompetent workers falls under the category of poor business management. Unfortunately, this is all too typical in small businesses. It's always better to hired "limited partners", who, after working a certain period of time, gain a point or two of ownership in the business. Wouldn't you rather be served by a "partner" than "an employee?" It's all about pride in self and pride in product.

The more I talk to cafe owners, the more I begin to believe that they are sometimes succeeding "in spite of themselves." When I ask about the espresso machine they're using, the typical response to "how did you settle on your machines?", is often answered with; "We inherited it with the business", or "Our coffee supplier gave it to us to use with their coffee." The other sad response is; "It was really cheap and we couldn't pass up such a great deal." Imaging trying to get a "deal" on the two items in the store that are used the most, yet whose total cost is far less than 10% of the total investment in the business!? There are few businesses where one's main working tools can run under $20k. (That's for the espresso machine and grinder.....maybe throw in some blenders too?) You'll undoubtedly spend more, much more, for refridgeration, counters, plumbing upgrades, etc.

You're right. It's tough trying to address all the issues. But as mentioned, good management skills and a proper list of business priorities will always be necessary for small business success. I enjoyed your article, but wanted to jump in and say that it doesn't matter if it's a coffee retailer or a tennis shoe outlet......the road to success has to be paved with good business sense. That's something I don't see alot of as I travel and visit these smaller cafes. Maybe that's why I see so much opportunity out there for well run small shops.

Best, Al in SoCal

 
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Sabo
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Posted Tue Feb 21, 2006, 7:27pm
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

"It's tough trying to address all the issues. But as mentioned, good management skills and a proper list of business priorities will always be necessary for small business success. I enjoyed your article, but wanted to jump in and say that it doesn't matter if it's a coffee retailer or a tennis shoe outlet......the road to success has to be paved with good business sense" - Alsterling

The small business sector has exploded in numbers in the last decade or so due to many reasons. There is no doubting that good management skills and good business sense is not inate in an individual. As an old army advertisement on the T.V. used to state, "leaders are not born, they are created". Some are lucky enough to find a mentor who succeeded despite numerous setbacks, others develop it over years of trial and error. What is clear is that someone buying a business for the first time DOES NOT have excellent management skills and great business sense from day one. Their greatest learning results from analysing the failures, not the success. Being prepared for the mistakes (which do come), to learn from mistakes and then develop strategies to hopefully prevent them from re-occuring in the future is how a person becomes exceptional in business.

The problem with small businesses is that there have never been any real barriers to entry. People from all walks of life, who saw the cafe sector explode, rushed in to experience their slice of success. Business minded people with a long track record were already there, taking the good with the bad. WHat has happened in the meantime though is that these 'people from all walks of life" now dominate the small business sector in terms of numbers. They are usually not prepared to accept loss, and often have learned what they know from others such as themselves. They mostly operate in fear of change, and are not risk takers by nature. Often, they are passive participants in their own business, not taking control and dictating terms to the market. As Alsterling rightly points out, most businesses are poorly led, poorly trained, poorly staffed - and this spells great opportunity even in so called saturated markets.

Again, the mental state of the owner must be right to accept this as a challenge to better him or her self.
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BlackSheep
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Posted Fri Mar 10, 2006, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

Thanks for this insightful and thorough look at ownership.

Very helpful.

 
-=Black Sheep Coffee Cafe=-
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Yotei
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Posted Mon Mar 20, 2006, 9:15pm
Subject: Re: Changing the Way Cafe Owners Think by George Sabados
 

"For me when I analyse a business is not about how much money it is making, but rather how much money it loses every day"

This is a very interesting way at looking at the success of a particular business.

I would like to know more about what is concidered a successful business. I own and opperate a cafe in Japan, it is a great challange since 'cafe culture" is still in the underground stages. I have many repeat clients, some who come everyday. I am enjoying the cafe, though I spend 12 to 14 hrs a day there... I have positive cashflow, but no get rich quick scheme. My new barista is a CG, but there is no quality training here. We have created a 'space' to escape, to endulge in a great cup, meet new friends, find new conversation, or just read a book.

I think employees and owners alike are responsible for the success of Cafes. If the owners don't treat thier employees with respect, as free thinking adults, their true charicter won't surface. Some employees are great baristas but not good with the register, others are people people but have no clue when it comes to buisness. This is where the owners skills must come into play, find the place for those people...  I think it is hard to find 'great help', their already working some where else, so we must shape, but not controll.

Sorry for the tangent, I am interested in reading more on this subject if you can reccomend any books or links.
Cheers
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