I feel like I come here to vent and my blog is quickly becoming a business owner’s b-fest. Maybe next time I will try to pick something happy to write about, like the tomatoes I have roasting in the oven for sauce, or the 10lbs of elderberries I just ordered to make all seasons worth of immunity elixir, or even my adventure in picking the last of the figs from Eatwell Farm where I risked life and limb against wasps to get us through the year for our brie/fig jam grilled cheese… and how much joy those homesteady things bring me.
But today I am going to tell you about how bored I am of writing procedures and a few things about details I had no idea went into running a restaurant, and market, and coffee shop… and whatever else we are.
I had no idea so much of my time as a business owner would be filled with writing how-to’s. Ever wish the people you work with could just get inside your brain, pull out what they need, or what you need them to need, and implement that? Yea, me too. But then there’s the obvious, no one wants to be in my brain, not even me, so it’s probably a terrible idea anyway.
It may be because we have moved into three locations in three years, but it feels like I am constantly writing procedures. Opening ones, closing ones, cleaning ones, terminology ones, messaging ones, and today, I sat down to write out how to change over from breakfast/lunch to dinner service ones. Instead I am writing this, because as I opened the Google doc to start, I felt like I should tell the world about another completely unnoticed, yet completely obvious part of owning a business. The details.
Every part of a business has to be meticulously planned.
Planning isn’t my strong suit, but I am learning.
I am more of an ideas girl, and, since I expect execution to be top notch and it’s hard for people to read on my mind on what that is, that means writing out protocols.
Last week was our first dinner service. We spent weeks looking at menu formatting, plates, chairs, ect. The day before I realized two things: we didn’t have steak knives, and the lighting in our building is meant for a cafe in the daytime. Bright, fully overhead, not dimmable. So back to the stores I went. Shopping sounds fun right? I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s a lot of pressure when the entire mood of dinner service is at stake here. Oh yea, and there’s no spare power to just go wiring new wall lights all over the place so they have to plug in.
We were successful, my trusty shopping partner and I, with a great start on finding inspiration at Lofings Lighting in Sacramento that carried us to a dozen other places finding other lights to coordinate with what we found there. Got back in time to add plug-in cords to what was supposed to be a hardwired and mood the heck out of opening night.
This brings me to my next couple musings.
Number one: This is why so many small businesses just miss the mark from the perspective of the reviewing patron. Because it’s really flippin’ hard to get every detail. There are just so many of them and it’s really hard to communicate them to the people who do the job. And it ends up being a lot to depend on staff for.
Number two: This must be why people who want to actually make money and run their business out of the gate opt for franchise buy-in. All of the details are mostly ironed out. You don’t have to pick lights, the design already fits within certain margins, you don’t have to pick which salt shakers and ketchup packets you want. No reinventing the wheel. Maybe once I have all these protocols written and every butter knife and syrup pourer picked out, I’ll package them up and sell some franchises myself. Cause I can assure you, at some point, we will have all of the details worked out.
So next time you are out, really anywhere. Take a second to think about the person who picked what color tile went on the floor, which door knobs style they chose, what materials they used to cover surfaces, and which soup spoon they brought you. If they did a good job you probably didn’t even notice because it all came together as a single cohesive presentation.
Off to actually write those protocols now.