This is the story of Daniel, an intrepid geologist that decided to change the Australian rocks for coffee cups in the town of Hebden Bridge, in England. He spent his school and university years taking different coffee jobs, but Square One Coffee Company represents his first real business experience as an owner. They’ve just started in June, but surely they know how to steer their business towards success.
I could experience by first hand Daniel’s hospitality through our small chat on Facebook, which really does justice to the many positive reviews on their Facebook and TripAdvisor profiles. I sincerely invite you to read this interview full of life experiences with insights and business tips.
Q: 5 years working as a geologist, so what made you decide to open your own business?
A: I have had a passion for business from an early age, having seen family members running their own businesses successfully. In high school, I began working at a local tearoom where I prepared food and waited on tables. I got a sense of achievement from providing excellent hospitality and ensuring that customers were happy. I went on to study geology at university, a subject which combined my passion for science and nature. After a couple of years exploring for minerals in the Australian outback, I decided to save the money to pursue my own venture. Australia has a great coffee culture with a real focus on quality. I wanted to bring a little bit of this back to my hometown in England.
"I got a sense of achievement from providing great hospitality and ensuring that customers were happy.
Q: How was it at the beginning? Was it difficult to gain your first customers?
A: In the beginning, I knew what it was that I wanted to offer, but I didn’t know the location. It was difficult searching for a place from the other side of the world. I returned to the UK in December 2016 and put all my efforts into finding a suitable location. I became aware of a tearoom for sale in the town center. The place was perfect, a prominent position in the square and the size of the building allowed for lots of seating, however, a lot of repairs and maintenance were required. I knew that with a tremendous effort and lots of help from family, the concept could be realized.
It ended up being much later in the year than intended when we finally got our hands on the premises. We had wanted to be up and running before spring to give us time to get used to our systems before the busy summer period began, however, with two weeks of renovating, we managed to open early in June.
"In the very first week, we didn’t even have an espresso machine."
In the very first week, we didn’t even have an espresso machine, but we had finished the renovations, and we had to bring in revenue to pay the bills. We had an initial offering of single origin coffees served in cafetieres, our home-made cakes, and soup. It was challenging to get customers in with such a limited offering, but people were very supportive, and we left cards on the table for customers to tell us what they would like to see on the menu in the future and this was very helpful. Once we got our espresso machine, we offered some free coffees to passers-by and gradually word of mouth spread, and we now have lots of regular customers.
Q: You mentioned to me that you gradually developed a full menu, what advices would you give to other businesses for their menu creation process?
A: We began offering just soup and cakes. We then added sandwiches to the menu as this is what the customers told us that they wanted the most. As we were getting comfortable with this, we were getting a lot of customers asking us if we made breakfasts, so that is what we did next. The main thing I would say is that it is essential to listen to what the customers are asking for, it seems obvious, but it can be easy to go down the wrong path. Keep the menu flexible at first so that if something doesn’t work out, it can be removed easily. You can do this by adding things like specials and if the customers like them then they can be put on the main menu.
"The main thing I would say is that it is important to listen to what the customers are asking for, it seems obvious, but it can be easy to go down the wrong path."
Q: How do you face your competition, what makes you different from them?
A: There is a massive competition in the area, but we do benefit from a lot of tourism and events that run throughout the year, so there is enough business to go around. Our goal is to offer high-quality coffee, and good, simple food at a reasonable price and we have received excellent feedback from customers in this regard. There are a lot of traditional tearooms, boutique cafes and specialist cafes (e.g. vegetarian) in the area. We have tried to create a contemporary, relaxing environment while maintaining the character of the building.
"A quirky thing about our café is that the kitchen is up two flights of stairs. Using Loyverse POS and Loyverse Kitchen Display System, we are able to send our orders to the kitchen wirelessly and save the staff from running up and down."
Q: What about Loyverse POS, how was the set up like? Would you recommend it to other businesses owners like you?
A: Setting up Loyverse POS was straightforward. As the menu grew, we were able to use the features to separate items on display to make it easy for the cashier to use. The app is very intuitive, and staff finds it easy to learn. Our menu comes with lots of options for the customer so using the modifiers really helps to simplify and speed up the ordering process. A quirky thing about our café is that the kitchen is up two flights of stairs. We thought that communication would be a big problem, but with using Loyverse POS and Loyverse Kitchen Display System, we are able to send our orders to the kitchen wirelessly and save the staff from running up and down. I would definitely recommend other businesses like mine give Loyverse POS a try.
Q: To end the interview I would like to ask you about your business vision. What were your goals for opening the café and what are your plans for the next years?
A: My goal was to create a relaxing environment where customers can get great coffee. I wanted to make sure that the café would appeal to locals as well as tourists. After just a few months of opening, it is wonderful to see regular faces coming through the door, so I am happy with the way that it is going. The plan is to be there for the long term and to continue to develop the business, listening to the customer feedback and making adjustments as necessary to ensure that we offer the best that we can. Almost all of my time is spent on the business as it is, so expansion is not something I am looking into shortly, but in a few years’ time, all going well, a second site may be on the cards.
Visit Square One Coffee Company in facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SquareOneCoffeeCo/
and in Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/squareonecoffeecompany/