Artisan Coffee School

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Systemise it

People who are about to embark on the adventure of starting up their own coffee shop often ask us what is the one bit of advice we would give them. Whilst there are lots of aspects that are vital and success is obviously not just down to one particular point, there is one thing we always tell them. The area we often see people get wrong is the systemisation of their business. We love systems and always have, right back to when we were setting up systems in our previous jobs in Uganda, where these needed to be very easy to understand in order for the locals to buy into and embrace them. This feeds right through to the situation we are in now where we have systems for every aspect of our business and believe these are integral to running any sort of successful organisation.

A good system needs to bulletproof, simple and well thought out and they exist in every facet of a business. Let’s take a simple example such as ordering stock; questions you should be asking yourself are:

Who does is?
When do they do it?
If they do it at that time; will they need cover on the shop floor?
If so; how is that going to be displayed on the roster?
How do they know how much stock to order?
Where is this information displayed?
If it is a sheet that is filled in; who prints it and when?
If they need to call the supplier to place an order, where is that number displayed?
How do the other staff members know the order has been done?
What happens if the person who normally does it is away; how is the process explained and documented?
When the order comes in; who is responsible for it?
How do they know where to put it?
Is there a rule for rotating stock; if so what is it and where is this documented/displayed?
Where does the delivery note go; who collects these and when?
And most importantly..
Have I set up a system that can run without my involvement!

That last point is the most important as when you establish your business it becomes very personal and you are involved in every part of it. The trick is however, to be able to delegate and systemise yourself out of the day-to-day so you can focus on the other aspects like delivering amazing customer service and products. You can easily identify those who have and haven’t systemised correctly if you just spend time with people.

One clear indication is if their phones ring constantly and when they do – are they answering questions by saying things like: ‘It’s under the table on the left hand side’ or ‘This was done yesterday’ or ‘I you need to call them and find out if it was ordered.’ When you hear these answers, you know they need to go back and work on their business. Other times you meet owners and their phones rarely ring and when they do, it’s to set up meetings with suppliers to negotiate prices or meet a journalist to talk about their products. These are the types of business owners that have understood the power of systems.
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