Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Human Behaviour - just try to figure it out!

Three months in now and the one thing that just baffles us daily is On Mass Human Behaviour, or the abbreviated version for it... F.U.C.T.   Running a business is certainly a challenge - blah blah blah, everyone knows that.  Staffing, food costs, service, food variety and quality and the list laboriously goes on and on.  However the one thing that has completely blind sided me is human behaviour.  I am not talking about the guy that comes down to us on day one and tells us we need heating (um der), or the person who tells us that we need more staff because their is a line of people waiting to get a seat (no, that would be more chairs sir), or the lady who orders her takeaway, pays for it then vanishes into thin air, or even the people who sit on a beautifully made latte for over an hour and keep sipping it while engrossed in what their i-phone has to offer them that day - no, none of that.  In fact that human behaviour keeps us going, keeps us smiling and keeps us fascinated. 

I am more talking about how on mass people (or customers as the case may be) do things that affect our business.  People who have nothing to do with each other, but all act the same at the same time.  So, what I mean is that now we are three months in and it is time to take stock.  You have to work on trimming the fat so to speak and make sure you don't have much wastage.  That means wasting food, keeping food costs down, keeping staff costs down so that you have the right staff without compromising service and so you don't have too many on that it sends you broke.  Of course I analyse weekly our takings, customer satisfaction, what sells and what doesn't and why no one seems to like sparkling blackcurrant juice.  After this long you get a feel for the days and the ebbs and flows they bring.  However just when you think you have got it HUMAN BEHAVIOUR kicks in (or F.U.C.T).  So here are some examples that have me baffled:
  • Our mornings go up and down with coffee.  One moment you can look up and no one is around for about 30 minutes and then all at once, people come from everywhere and all of a sudden within 2 minutes we have 15 coffee lovers waiting for their liquid gold to be crafted and 20 people have just come and taken a seat in the cafe.  These people don't know each other (some do), but all of a sudden they descend on Mister C at once.
  • Same as leaving - all of a sudden 8 tables of people can get up and leave.  It is like I have just said something that has offended them all (which can happen once but not all the time).  So one minute we have piece and harmony with a bit of Dolly Parton singing "Here you come again" in the background and then next we have 12 people waiting at the register to pay.
  • Our weeks have been steady and thankfully people like what we do, but I just don't get how one week every day can be above average in takings, while the next week every single day will be below average.  Not just one day up and one day down, but the whole week - what?  I don't get it.
  • One week we receive 9 catering orders, the next none.
  • One day my hair will be perfect the next it clearly isn't.
  • One day we sell out of the salads and nothing else while the next day we sell out of all the sandwiches, or even more bizarrely we sell out of a different kind of sandwich each day.
It keeps us on our toes and we certainly do not take anything for granted.  Especially our point of sale system.  Who would have thought that a little cafe would be so reliant on three screens, two printers and some software.  My world is so small now and you psycho analyse everything you do.  Are these differing forms of behaviour anything to do with us?  I don't think so, it is just this weird connection that people have with each other - synchronicity between each other.  I am not going to get all on new-age on you, but there is something in it...

Why isn't our takeaway that big today?  What did we do wrong?  Is the food tasty, do people like what we do?  Did I not smile enough .  Are we too expensive or too cheap.  Is our coffee grind right today - does no one like brussell sprouts and can anyone cope with Peter's singing all the time.  All we can do is continue to work our guts out and try our hardest.  Most of all that each day we do the best we can do.  Ok, don't mean to get all weird, but it is true. 

Once again - we thank our customers for all their feedback, support, suggestions and care in what we are trying to build.  We are truly grateful and will always remain humble.  Oh Mister C - I love you but you do my head in sometimes.  There, I'm done, now for something sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet...

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