My alarm goes off at 5:30AM and I’m faced with the inescapable decision to hit the snooze button and sleep in, or wake up and begin my day. This perpetual battle rages on in my head until my daily task list begins to pervade my thoughts - I think about those counting on me to complete it. I get dressed, pack up my stuff, and head out the door. I’m ready for what the new day brings.
When I first began working, I struggled to learn the daily mechanics and flow of a coffee shop. It was a foreign concept that I had been fully immersed into and needed to learn ASAP. From an outside perspective, the concept seemed simple: place orders when inventory is low, schedule employees when they’re free, make sure the day runs smoothly and customers enjoy their experience. Easy enough, right? Surely my time in sports and executive positions held with different organizations has prepared me on how to become a manager, help lead a group, and effectively manage my schedule. What my eager mind didn’t realize was this was a whole new world with its own challenges.
After two brief months of learning the basic mechanics, the manager at the time told us he was going to pursue another career out on the West Coast. This meant I had less than 2 weeks to prepare myself for full managerial control of the shop. We sit down and organize a list of everything I would need to keep things running smoothly. Again, my naive mind didn’t fully comprehend the level of responsibility being placed on my shoulders.
My first two weeks came with a major learning curve and quickly showed me what it takes to truly keep a business up and running. Big details like greeting customers and having food on hand were the simple tasks. However, the minor details many overlook are what I learned through tough experiences. Details like: having enough trash bags, enough sponges to wash dishes, and enough change for the register, can be easily overlooked because we always expect them to be there. Focusing on these details is a tedious task, but the smallest things make the largest impact and that’s where I put my focus.
Three months later and I’m training the next manager to take my place for when it’s time to move on. I hand them a binder full of tips and instructions on everything they will need to know. I vowed to myself in November that I would set the next manager up for success no matter what it took. When we first opened the doors to Z Beans in August, I came across this quote from Henry Kissinger which hit home and put everything we were doing in perspective:
“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
Our goal is to create a replicable model so others may be able to succeed later down the road when we are no longer able to be around. This means finding out the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish goals while also creating an environment which drives thought and creativity. When I began my role as Shop Manager, I did not have all the answers nor do I have them all today. What I do have is an environment that cultivates ingenuity and a team which strives to learn new things each day and helps to improve the systems we currently have in place.
Seeing the smiles on customer’s faces when you remember their name and orders, or the excitement of a child when they see the mountain of whipped cream on their drink makes you appreciate doing the little things right. Learning the systems, focusing on details, and watching all the pieces fit into place makes waking up at 5:30 worth it.