The first few weeks are now a bit of a blur; customers would expect us to be as efficient as a streamlined coffee shop that had been open for years. Instead they found Magda and I looking bewildered as we tried to figure out the confusing till buttons; and often we had to make up answers to customers’ questions as we went along not knowing if they were right or wrong. With our menu, we started small with not too much on offer except our coffee and slowly added things on as and when we felt confident enough to do so.
The very big scary looking coffee machine that was proudly displayed on our counter slowly became more familiar to us and after some time, it even became less daunting. We began to work out other things like the unreliable and noisy ice machine we had picked up cheaply on e-bay, the till printer that often decided not to print and dishwasher that was hit and miss in its cycles. We both relied heavily on our amazing staff who all had years of experience and knowledge. With their help in those first few weeks, we tried many different processes. We found changing small seemingly insignificant details, such as where the cups are stacked, made huge differences to the flow of the shop.
I also remember the nervous anticipation we would get when we came around the corner to see Artisan; and I’d be praying that I would see customer inside, peering through the glass when we finally got there. We would feel disappointed and disheartened anytime we walked in and found an empty shop, though we always appeared positive on the outside so as not to show the staff. Around this time we also celebrated the small victories, for example I remember the first time I saw someone walking down Putney High Street with one of our takeaway cups. I was amazed and couldn’t quite believe my eyes – as only 8 weeks before we had been designing the logo and the cup on our living room floor and now there it was walking down the street!
We did little to no publicity in the first 4 weeks as we wanted a do a soft launch and get all our systems working first. We would chat to customers and ask them loads of questions about what they liked and didn’t like about Artisan. We had little cheat sheets with customers’ names and their drinks; it would say something like: “Tall man red hair and glasses – Frank – Flat white 1 sugar”. Above all, we made sure every single coffee was the best it could possibly be!
In the next blog I will talk about our launch, what we did and how it went!
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