Why doesn’t it get easier?
You would have thought having opened two successful coffee shops, the third would be but a doddle and whilst some parts were indeed easier, the whole experience is still very tricky but very rewarding at the same time. Personally Magda and I love the design aspect and essentially having a blank canvas that you can make completely your own is a very unique experience. Now that I’m sitting in the corner of the new Ealing shop writing this, I think we can be very proud of what we have achieved – it has a very raw and genuine look but it’s also quite fun at the same time. The Artisan Coffee School sits nicely inside the Ealing shop with a collage of reclaimed sash windows surrounding it and customers seem to love the whole environment and most importantly our coffee.
So having been through another rollercoaster fit out, what tips do we have for those about to go through the process? Here are just a few:
1) Clear your schedule for the months leading up to it, to ensure you have everything in order. For us this meant making sure all our systems in the other shops worked perfectly without us and we had a team in place that we trusted. The fit out is too big a time to have other issues to worry about, so make sure your house is in order before you start.
2) Budget for EVERYTHING down to the smallest of things and then add 20% to the overall cost – even though this is our third time around, we still went over budget. I have a theory as to why everyone goes over budget and that is because once you’re involved in the fit out as an independent, it becomes quite a personal thing and suddenly you want the best for it and you start making emotional purchases.
3) Push hard as you have to get it done quickly. Every day you’re on site, you’re spending and not earning so it is in your very best interest to finish and finish quickly – and this might mean having to make compromises along the way and those are judgements you have to make.
4) Involve everyone; we had our teams from the other shops painting the walls, varnishing the floor and we had signs up asking our customers-to-be to pop in and take a look at our progress. We invited suppliers down to come see us. All this helps build a sense of collective pride in what we were doing.
5) Never stop being creative; there is no right way or wrong way – just your way.
I hope these little tips help; good luck to you all and come check us out and our Artisan Coffee School.