July 29, 2014

Hospitality is a transient industry and is still considered to be an industry that requires very little skill. Anyone can do it. If this was the case, then why do more than 50% fail in the first 12 months?

There are literally thousands of venues - way too many. The people most happy about this saturation are the good operators. They are made to look even better.

In my experience, there are two types of cafe owners. The first is the one who truly believes that it's an easy way to make money. They are the also the one who makes a great sandwich and figure they should open a cafe.

The other does it because it's a career move. They love the industry. It's part of them. These are the people who leave the industry when they choose rather than having the choice made for them.

Too many people enter the industry and find that the amount of work required was never something they anticipated. Long hours, long days, long weeks and very little down time. It's tough going and can break even the fittest and strongest.

Is there a formula for success? Or should I say, survival?

The vital ingredient is really quite simple. Here's the scoop. Not every person in the world is naturally hospitable. There are some that are. It's part of their make up. These are the people who love to talk, to share, to give, to meet, to offer themselves and are also the ones who take enormous pleasure in pleasing other people. Interestingly, as I write, I sit in a little cafe and attempt to strike up a conversation with the owner who, after a one word answer to my question, was unable to take his eyes of the World Cup replay on his specially mounted television. Really? Really.

There are people who look forward to building relationships. People who take satisfaction in giving pleasure to others, through their hospitality. If this is not you, if this is not part of your make up where these qualities come naturally, the hospitality industry is the wrong fit and whether it happens in a month or a year or even longer, it will eventually get the better of you. You can only fool yourself and your customers for so long. I call it, the 3 year fade.

It's not just about serving food and beverages. It's not just about filling a group handle and pushing a button. The work is too hard and too time consuming to survive for longer than 2-3 years if hospitality is not a part of you.

You see, it's not just a cup of coffee anymore. It's a moment of indulgence. A moment in time to which people look forward. It's also expensive. People get hired over coffee. They get fired over coffee. They meet, they catch up, they say goodbye over coffee. For a cafe owner or barista, to be part of that moment should be seen as an honour and a privilege. It's not the other way around. The customer should never be made to feel intimidated for being in the presence of the 'great barista'.

If being part of another persons 'moment' is a chore, or if the World Cup penalty shoot out takes precedence, then hospitality simply isn't for you.

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