CAFE CASE STUDY: DOUBLE SHOT
These guys are the very definition of a no-nonsense espresso bar: Hole in the wall, minimal food & absolutely cranking espresso.
Starting with their first site on the Pacific Highway at Belmont, NSW, they have expanded to two more locations also on the highway at Swansea & Charlestown. The creation of two brothers Chad & Luke, along with their mum, Julie.
I’m having a chat today with Chad & Julie about their journey and the secret of running a ‘lifestyle’ business…
Tell me a bit about your background before starting double shot?
Chad: I’m a motor mechanic by trade and ended up building trains – putting the engines in diesel locomotives. Then I decided to get a coffee van with my brother, I thought it looked pretty cruisy and the lifestyle looked good.
Julie: Ha! so he thought…
So, what motivated you to get into the coffee game?
Chad: I was sick of working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for someone else. I actually didn’t like coffee to start with, until my brother got his coffee van. He had been running his coffee van for about 4 years, and then we did that for another 2 years, until the shop started to get too busy and we sold the van.
Julie: I think Luke first saw the market and said: people just want good coffee in a hurry. And this (the Belmont store) is actually where it all started, the hole in the wall thing.
People talk a lot about ‘lifestyle’ when starting a coffee business, but you seem to be able to pull it off. Whats your secret?
Chad: The secret is to have a good manager (looks at Julie and laughs)
Julie: There’s the 3 of us. I couldn’t do it on my own.
Chad: We’ve all got our own things that we do. If was just any one of us, it wouldn’t be a lifestyle, we’d be going home from work and doing all the finances, doing all the maintenance and stock.
The locations you’ve gone for seem to be the ones that other people have overlooked, what was it that you saw in them?
Chad: They’re all on the Pacific Highway, which has a lot of traffic. A lot of people work north of here, so we’re getting people from Belmont, Swansea, the Central Coast. Previously, they could go to Maccas or a take-away shop, but not a place that specifically focussed on espresso coffee…
So, you we’re targeting commuters?
Chad: Basically yes, tradies and people commuting to work
Julie: When Chad worked as a tradie, he recognised that these guys want coffee really early. It’s not what you personally want, you’ve got to know your customers. It’s been a conscious decision not to be like a cafe. These guys (looks at Chad) pull me back and say remember what the core business was when we started – and that is good, consistent, speedy coffee. It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people do.
Chad: There’s always people trying to get you to sell their product. It’s like, a bit more food here and a bit more there and before you know it you’ve got fridges full of all these different things. And it takes away from doing the coffee well.
The locals are loving your coffee. How do you keep up such a high standard with your team?
Chad: We’re constantly watching them, we try and make it so that one of us is always working with them until we know that they can do a good job and that they want to do a good job.
Julie: We critique each other too. It’s so easy to fall into thinking: oh, you’ve got good coffee, everybody likes it. but we need to keep listening to what customers are saying.
Chad: and sometimes, when the guys are pouring a coffee you’ve just got to say ‘no’, do that again.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to get to this point?
Chad: I would say, finding the right staff that actually have a passion for making coffee. Everyone says they know how to make coffee, but there’s not that many that know how to do it well.
Julie: And no matter who it is, they all get retrained to our way of doing it. We’re not really after people who just want a job. There we’re other things that were hard when we started out, setting up and getting systems in place, but the biggest challenge has to be staff…
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Julie: Decide on who your customer base is, and stick with it. Try not to be influenced by what other people are doing and find your point of difference. Chad, is it what you were thinking…?
Chad: No, I was thinking, for us it’s location and parking. Our customers being commuters, if they can’t park or have to cross the road to get to us they wont stop.
Julie: It blows me away when people don’t do their research (when starting out). It’s a key thing, you don’t just say ‘coffee’s great’ let’s open up a place – that’s where people can go downhill fast.
For more on Double Shot, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DoubleShotExpresso
For help on starting a new business or improving an existing business, drop us an email at email@example.com or call (02) 4962 4222.
The cafe case study series is about learning and finding inspiration from the
small business success of cafes & espresso bars.