I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GingerBears be Gone

A couple of months ago a new cafe opened up a few doors down from my shop. There are no cafes on this side of the local shopping strip, so all of us were really excited to see something new 'come to town.' Frankly, there is only so much Subway and Indian food one can take, so I think we were all hoping for something really yummy to add to our lunchtime repertoire.

I popped my head into the new cafe a couple of days before they opened, just to be neighbourly, and do some local snooping. The owner was a big, burly guy - who among other things was WAY too overbearing, spoke so loud I felt like asking if he thought I was deaf, and basically was one of those people who I find irritating on sight. No matter, I don't need to marry him, right? He asked if we can produce products for the cafe, and while it's not something we normally do, it's seemed like a good opportunity. He gets great product, we get a way to show the locals what we do, without them needing to buy an entire cake.

On their opening day, I took some themed (themed to the name of the cafe) cupcakes and a variety of cookies over there, as a welcome gesture but also as a way of hopefully convincing them to place a regular order with us.

Ever after, every single time Overbearing Cafe Owner saw me in the area, he'd shout at me. "I'm gonna come in and order, emzee, I really AM!" he would boom at me. "I'm coming in RIGHT NOW to order up big, emzee!" "I'll be 'round any minute now, emzee!" and so on - but of course he never showed. Frankly, it got embarrassing and intensely irritating enough that I'd actually cross the street if I saw him coming and I started to fervently pray that he would not make good on his promise to drop in.

A few weeks back he did in fact come in to the shop to order some gingerbread cookies (in bear shapes, hence the title of the blog.) He was totally unable to tell me how many he wanted, how much he had budgeted for the creation of these, how often he might order, how many the cafe might use in a day or week, what decoration he wanted, if the biscuits he currently offers sell well, or what storage space he had available to keep stock on hand.

I'm not saying I'm an expert at running a cafe - but surely after several months in business, you know if you are selling biscuits in the first place, right? You should know that you're selling on average 10 a day, versus, say 100. Enough to be able to make an estimate as to how many you should order, surely? He literally had NO idea. None. "Um, I don't know, just give me lots." Couldn't even tell me what he wanted to spend on these, "Oh, you know that better than I would, emzee!" He got very tired of my questions (which, hey, I'm thinking are kinda important if you're trying to set up a supply chain, but what do I know about being in a food business? ;) ). He got SO tired in fact that, mid-question, he stood up and shouted, "Look, you know what you're doing here. I've got an appointment for a massage. Just go and fill up the jars. Bye!" and literally ran out my door.

So that's how I found myself wandering down the road to grab empty (dirty!) biscuit jars, so that *I* could work out how many, how often, what size, what decoration was needed. Because, you know, I know all about running this man's cafe.

I ended up making a stack of gingerbreads (enough to fill the jars plus a few for top-ups) and charged an entirely appropriate price considering his total lack of information plus his making me go rescue the damn jars.

I got a phone call from Overbearing (and now Irate) Cafe Owner about ten minutes after we delivered them. "Listen emzee, we have a problem."

Yes. The problem would be that you have NO CLUE how to operate a money making cafe. Or ANY cafe at all really - but carry on. Problem?

"The problem," it seems, is that I charged him too much. Note, I ASKED what he wanted to pay and he left it up to me. We provided him with an ocean load of cookies to sell, and the grand total of his invoice was $100. "Emzee!" yells the soon-to-be-bankrupt cafe owner, "That's a RIDICULOUS amount of money to pay for some biscuits!" and then he shouted at me all the reasons why my prices were insane:

  • $100 at $20 an hour means it took me 5 hours to make those biscuits and it most certainly did NOT take me five hours so HOW can I justify that? (the logic on this is so fucked, I won't even begin to explain it.)
  • He currently charges $4 for a Texas-sized savoury muffin with cheese and nuts in it, how on earth can he charge $4 for a biscuit as well? (because you're losing money on that muffin, moron. Try learning how to cost out muffins before you worry about my biscuits.)
  • He didn't want to pay more than $1 per biscuit, and even that is ridiculous but he thought he would be nice and generous by paying that (and that would be why I asked you what price you could pay...because had you said $1, I'd have laughed in your face.)
  • He really wants to support me and help me out by giving me his order and he thought HE was doing ME a favour (remind me again why my well established business needs a moron like you to do it a favour...)
  • ...and so on. He carried on for quite a while. I'll spare you. I eventually hung up. 
Word among the local traders is that he never charges the same thing twice, there does not appear to be an actual menu of sorts which they adhere to, he gives stuff away fairly often - because all of those are great ways to run a business, yes? There are quite a few fairly miserable online reviews of this cafe, most of which talk about how overbearing and annoying this man is (I checked. Of course I did.) 

For my part, I'm bloody grateful that I never need to supply this man's business ever again, and grateful that he is so clueless the chances are he will be out of business within a few months.

That being said, I've suddenly reaffirmed my fondness for Subway and Indian take aways (because after all, you can't order lunch from a cafe which does not have an actual menu, can you?)  My reliable sources tell me the gingerbreads sold really well and were well received by the locals.

Final tally in the Gingerbears Fight:

emzee: 1
Overbearing cafe owner: -1 (because he's losing money. To score him at 0 would imply he's breaking even.)

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