WHAT A START!
Truly throwing himself in the deep end, our franchisee from Caerphilly, Gareth, has been keeping himself busy with attending events before he officially starts his round in January. We had a catch up to see how it went.
You’ve just done your first event at the football match between Ynysddu Welfare and Cefn Druids, what was it like?
Great success, it went really well. I really enjoyed it. Lots of customers, lots of happy customers! Good practice on the van, it was good.
How busy was it?
At the main event, it was non-stop. From the time that I got there at 12 o’clock I was constantly making hot drinks from there. I think I managed to watch the last five minutes of the game! It got really busy before the game and really busy at half-time, but apart from that it was just a steady flow of customers.
How did you get into the swing of it?
I think it’s one of those things that you’ve got to throw yourself in and embrace it. The first one has got to be the hardest one; you’ll find yourself overthinking how to make each drink but it just comes naturally.
Is it one of those things where you know it, but you don’t know if you know it at the time?
Exactly that! It’s one of those things where you think you’re prepared with the training and everything, but until you’re in it, it’s difficult. You have a system then, and with help and support, I had ways of taking orders and writing them on the cups.
Like they do in another popular coffee chain?
Yeah, like they do there! Taking the drinks orders. I couldn’t have done it without the support I had. I don’t think I would have survived on my own; it was just too busy!
Do you think you could do it on your own now you’ve had the first event?
I could do the round on my own yes, but events I think you need more people. You’re not going to be able to do an event on your own, because it’s just too much to do when some people just want cold drinks and food, and some just want coffee. Like I said, I was making hot drinks consistently from the first one, to the next one and the last one. It was non-stop. I wouldn’t have been able to take the orders, take the money and make the drinks.
Martin, the UK Franchise Manager was supporting you, wasn’t he?
Well, Martin was there at the beginning, so he helped me set the van up. He was there, he identified a parking space, where we were going to be, the weather conditions, the wind, etc. he helped me set it all up, put the flag up, get everything ready and checking the van that it was all pressurised and that the water levels were good. He helped me get into the rhythm. When he left, Gareth (the director of Coffee Blue) arrived. Gareth took over that too, and he was even helping me make drinks!
I was making the bulk of the hot chocolates and he was to my side doing the last little bits with the sugar, stirrers, cream and sprinkles. I had my two kids there too, and they were helping me manage payments. As the day went on, we created a production line and had a really good flow. I think everyone wanted to support me and they all bought into the ethos of why we were there. It was great.
What was popular on the day?
It sort of went in phases. At the beginning, people wanted tea and Americanos, then people found cappuccinos and lattes. The hot chocolates were a winner, particularly the flavoured ones. I had a few flavours – orange, amaretto, white chocolate and mint. The mint one was quite popular, but not everyone was that adventurous! I think people just wanted a good product; Once they got it, I had a few returning customers.
What went well?
The production line was a big win. The van was just quality. The quality of the van came into its own and everything was where I needed it. It’s very well thought out with regards to where it is and I think the van brought people over. They were interested in what was there.
I think one of the things – until you’re in it, you don’t really know – you think you know everything and before I went in I was confident in the van and its ability. But then actually being in it and on the ground, the van does exactly what you think it does. It’s that realisation, I suppose. That confirmation that what you’ve got is really good.
You said the lights brought people over too?
Yes! The blue lights! At first, the beginning of the day was obviously daylight and as it went on, it got darker. Towards the end, the blue lights were shining – people were attracted by it.
You’ve been to a few other events, what did you learn from your first event at the Ynysddu Welfare game that you’ve carried over to the new ones?
I think from doing the first one – the first one was probably the hardest one because that’s when you overthink everything. Do I know the coffee drinks and do I know what is made in what order and how that is – but once you get that under your belt, it works.
I think it’s just about maintaining quality isn’t it? From each of the events, no matter how busy you are, the customer still wants a top quality product and a top quality service. It’s just maintaining the standards, I think. Don’t rush things and get a rubbish coffee out.
What advice would you give to someone about to do their first event?
Trust yourself, trust the equipment and throw yourself into it. You can’t go into it half-hearted. You have to make sure you’re organising, that you’ve got support helping you. Get your conveyor belt and your line sorted. If it gets really busy, knowing how you’ll stock orders up. If it gets busy, saying to people “does anyone just want cold drinks/sandwiches?” so you can filter them through. Take the orders down and writing them on the cups. Embrace it, give it your best shot and trust the equipment.