Training Your Baristas for Success

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After spending a small fortune on starting and opening your coffee shop business or stand, there is a strong probability that you will need to hire employees – unless of course, you plan to run the operation completely by yourself or with the help of your spouse (which is actually fairly common). However, hiring employees frees you up to actually manage the business, grow the business, and market the business. In other words, when done right, hiring employees means growth and profits – usually. Hiring the right baristas for your coffee business will be essential for your short-term and long-term success.

Giving Thought To Your Baristas

Many people invest a significant amount of money in their coffee shop businesses – including time and effort – and the opportunity costs of doing something else. Often they will do everything right, except hire the right people. I’ve spoken to many coffee shop owners who eventually fail and the subject of hiring is nearly always at the top of their thoughts as they ponder exactly what happened. Sure, there may have been problems with their planning and having enough cash flow is always critical – but hiring is the one thing that sticks to their memory.

When starting out, a coffee business owner may simply not give enough thought to their employees – especially their baristas. After all, you can’t hire any baristas if you don’t have a coffee business, right?  So, first things first – get the business up and running. While we agree with this premise, it’s also important to weave into the planning the culture you wish to establish at your business. From there, you can begin to look at potential hires on the basis of whether they would fit into that culture.

Hiring Your Baristas

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Most business owners do two things when they are looking to hire. They place a physical sign up or they put up an ad on craigslist. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this picture, as many good baristas are found this way. However, if you would like the opportunity to meet baristas consider visiting events that you would find baristas. Events in your areas such as barista throwdowns – events where baristas compete on a friendly level by trying to pull great shots and come up with the best and most creative espresso-based drinks.

Many of these events are informal in nature and take-place after hours at a café or coffee shop – but they are often open to the public. To find out about any events in your area (especially if you live in a big urban area like Seattle, Portland, San Diego, etc.) simply go to an Indie café and ask your local baristas. Often times, you don’t even have to ask your baristas, you can simply search for local groups via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They often post pictures and updates of upcoming gatherings.


Why Training Your Baristas?

Your business should be distinct from other coffee shops. It naturally will be if you have a role in planning it. Your baristas should be trained in that distinction. Training matters especially if you hire employees that are young and have never really held a job before. How you serve your coffee and the experience you want your customers to have are all impacted by your hiring practices. 

It is no secret that many coffee shop business owners balk at the idea of training their employees, because training your baristas can be expensive. You might have to hire a coffee educator and train your old and new employees alike. This might take time away from actually serving customers, etc.


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But there are some qualitative and quantitative reasons that you might want to train your baristas:

#1: Training Empowers your baristas

With trained and well-educated employees, you essential empower them to take appropriate action when you aren’t around. The more empowered an employee feels the better they work and the more productive they are.

#2: Training Improves Customer Service

Training your baristas impacts customer service at nearly every touch point with the customer. Customers can tell the difference between an untrained employee and a trained and educated employee.

#3: Training Reduces Turn over – Saving You Time & Money

Training reduces your employees that pick up and leave because they don’t feel satisfied, empowered, valued, or challenged in their current position. Training does all of these things and provides a sense of ownership to their position.

#4: Training Baristas Can Boost Your Sales

It's no secret that friendly, well-liked, efficient, and trained baristas can boost your sales. When factored over time, the small investment in training can deliver high returns on your investment.

#5: Training Baristas Can Reinforce Your Branding

Baristas who are trained and acclimated to the culture of your cafe can help to reinforce your branding and marketing efforts.

Baristas: The Variable Key To Your Success

Baristas are key to your success. You already know that. Many coffee shop owners – actually many good coffee shop owners still forget this. They get desperate for hiring mediocre people only to miss the fact that their choices are slowing chipping away at their business. We've written extensively here about the important hiring choices and offered some advice through the years. We hope to continue discussing the topic as we move forward. The bottom line, however, is that coffee shop owners should take their hiring decisions – even when it comes to their baristas – as seriously as choosing a $15,000 espresso machine for their business. Choices have a price tag. And choosing the wrong baristas may be too expensive and too much of a burden for any new coffee business to bear. 

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