Looking back at the first two weeks

May 10, 2010

Echo Coffee in Scottsdale at night I wanted to share some insights into how things have transpired through our first two weeks as an open and operating coffee shop.  I had aspirations of providing these types of updates far more frequently, but those dreams have been dashed by the sheer quantity of work I leave for myself to do.

As I mentioned in the Start Line post, Friday, April 23 was a pivotal day.  The building inspection presented a couple of problems, most notably with the specific location of the women’s bathroom sign (we are now required to hang that sign on the mop room door, which is very confusing for the sighted, but apparently where a blind person would expect it).  With the sign location fixed, we received our Certificate of Occupancy at approximately 10:30am Friday.  At 11:00am the health inspector arrived, and while there were 2 minor corrections she would like to see, she was a pleasure to work with and happily printed up the report that allowed us to open our doors to the public.

A quick run to the store to get milk (the health inspector wouldn’t allow any perishable food in the shop until after the inspection was complete), and we were suddenly open for business right on time (ha!) at around noon on Friday.  The service counter wasn’t even cleared of tool bags, but we were pouring our first drip coffees for everyone in the store (namely our staff and contractors).

It seemed like we were only “open” a few minutes when our first customer came through the door.  On the spot I decided we were certainly too rough around the edges to charge full price for our drinks, and simply gave away every drink at no cost on Friday.   I wanted to start serving customers right away, but charging them for something when we were so slow and inefficient seemed wrong.  As luck would have it, it seemed every new customer wanted a new menu item that required us to find a missing component in the back that had yet to be stocked.  We were horribly disorganized this first day, but fortunately our first customers were very understanding (and free certainly didn’t hurt).

Saturday morning, I once again made a snap decision and decided that although things had improved a bit, there was still too much to improve and set the price of our entire menu at $1 an item.  Given the Point of Sale system had not yet been fully programmed, charging $1 for everything made it quick and efficient at the register, and once again put smiles on the faces of our newest customers.

Sunday afternoon came one of the better surprises of the weekend.  A customer that had visited Saturday had taken one of our menus home, redesigned the menu on his Mac, and brought it back in for me to see.  It was AMAZING.  I was stunned by what he had done.  Best of all, he offered it to me with no obligation.  He was simply happy that Echo Coffee was now available to him, and presented it as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.  To J, again, my thanks.

The first half of the first week we were a bit busier than I expected, which was certainly a welcome surprise, but not super busy by any stretch.  I used these days to finish moving into the shop, train, familiarize, and generally settle in, while attempting to meet as many new customers in person as possible.  The majority of customers commented that they had seen the building go up and then sit vacant and were just hoping something cool would be built.  They all seemed very excited that we were a local, independent coffee shop in south Scottsdale.

We received our first meat, bread, and cheese shipment on Monday, which enabled us to begin lunch service on Tuesday.  On Tuesday, I was also interviewed by a reporter from the Arizona Republic.  The resulting story ran in the Scottsdale Republic section of the AZ Republic on Thursday and featured Echo Coffee in a favorable light.  That Thursday we did triple the business of the day before, literally selling out our entire lunch menu.  Business has been quite healthy ever since.  As I write this post, nearly two weeks later, people still occasionally mention that they saw Echo Coffee in the paper and that’s why they are visiting.

The next day (Friday), I realized we were woefully understaffed, and insta-hired two more baristas, one of which came in and started working the very next morning.  Completely gone were my personal fears that I would sit in the store alone for weeks, wondering if a customer would ever walk through the door.  Now my worries could properly focus on providing the best possible customer experience.

This last weekend we had our Grand Opening event.  Once again the drink menu was set to $1 / item.  Most customers throughout the weekend had no idea it was our Grand Opening, since they were “regulars” by now, but it was fun just the same.  Many people won free Echo Coffee T-Shirts, and most walked away with a card for a free drink on their next visit.

Throughout these two weeks, I’ve focused as much as possible on improving consistency and efficiency.  We pour our drip coffees much faster now.  We deal with a line of customers much more smoothly.  We have processes in place to eliminate serving an order to the wrong customer.  And best of all, the staff gets along amazingly well.  A happy staff radiates outward a positive energy — something I saw in the smiles of so many of our customers this morning as they started their week at Echo Coffee.


4 Responses to “Looking back at the first two weeks”

  1. Justin McHood on May 10th, 2010 7:49 pm

    I love this place.

    Keep on rockin’!

  2. Chris Lee on May 11th, 2010 12:03 pm

    Congratulations, Steve! So happy for you. And us! 🙂

  3. Sierra Lunkley on May 12th, 2010 10:25 am

    Are you still looking for more staff?

    Wonderful place by the way. I’ve been looking for a ‘real’ coffee shop since I moved here almost a year ago.

  4. Gabriel on May 13th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Wow your place sounds amazing! i seen it going up in passing, and then seen you listed on a list of roasters online while looking for a sweet spot to toil away the summers heat. i hope to hear back from you. It sounds like good things are to come for you and your shop!