Have a life and a business. It works fine if you have a Monday to Friday cafe in a business area or the CBD. But if you’re part of the raging weekend cafe market, Saturday and Sunday are top earners – they can’t be neglected. Maybe you can’t have office hours like your corporate friends, but there’s a lot you can do to have more time away from business and still have control.

1. Build your remote control systems
Modern POS systems are designed to share information in the cloud, which gives you access from your phone or iPad, or PC. They can also be set up with email or SMS alerts to zap you with the final sales or variations that indicate problems (like a refrigeration motor that’s failed). Surveillance cameras are inexpensive and can give a view of anywhere in the business – the till, the spirit shelves, the front door and the storeroom. There’s a whole industry grown up around remote control monitoring – it’s available for your business and for your home.

2. Delegate counting and reporting tasks
Now that online bookkeeping, rostering, reporting and communication are so well established, you can have a skilled helper doing the bookwork, checking invoices and making phone calls from anywhere. It might be a relative or a Virtual Assistant – working from their home office. Google ‘virtual office assistant in Australia’ and see the choices – an admin assistant without the need to provide a desk. Tedious office jobs are often the ones that suck up your recreation time.

3. Good systems help staff do a great job 
Amazing people are hard to find, and they usually have a job already! Once you systemise your business with easy-to-follow Start-up Lists, Ordering Sheets, Cleaning Rosters, Recipe Cards and Manager Checklists, it’s much easier for everyday employees to perform well. Get these forms onto an iPad or PC, so you watch the input from somewhere else – on the beach and still in control.

4. Simplify, Simplify
Sometimes it needs an outsider to cast a cool, critical eye over the crazy, complex menu you’ve created, or the eccentric way the counter is set up. The flavour, the smiles and consistency are what matters – most menus could be cut by 20 percent and no-one would notice. Plus fewer chances of staff getting it wrong, and you getting upset.

5. Build sales so you can afford better staff
The place that is the cheapest on the strip usually has the all owner’s family there, all the time. That’s not what you want. If there’s a price-war on, don’t join it. I recently spend a week in a tourist town south of Sydney and it was depressing how 95 percent of the cafes were selling the same-old food with the same sloppy service and mediocre coffee. And the business owners were running the show! There were two places doing a great job, and no obvious sign of an owner in attendance. Good staff need to be paid more, and if you’ve cut profits to the bone, you probably can’t afford them. 

6. Employ staff who want weekends
There are plenty of people wanting part-time work, and they’re increasingly aware they should be paid more on Saturday and Sunday. Once you have the good systems and monitoring in place, the weekend team can be as strong as when you’re around. Watch the numbers and give regular feedback. Remember the saying: ‘When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the improvement accelerates’. The weekend team needs its own care and attention – they can do a great job even if you’re not in the building.


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