J&D Café was opened based on the memories of a lost loved one. The place hires 15 staff, and serves up to 100 guests every day. Jared—the owner—manages his staff and business on Google Sheets. When he found out Camelo, he finally said goodbye to the silly mistakes due to back-and-forth jumping between different spreadsheets and tracking things manually.
Just like every university graduate, Jared quickly hunted for a white-collar job in New York City. The salary and benefits were attractive to Jared, but he quickly realized his youthful passion was gone.
"I sat for 8 hours at the office every day in misery. Typed stuff on the computer, reported to my manager, made some social conversations with my colleagues, tried to survive the day," says Jared.
"My dad and I are coffee lovers. We tried different varieties, from different countries. We often shared our stories and life updates over breakfast, with 2 cups of coffee," Jared shares.
Jared thought he would have to live that tedious corporate life forever. One day, his dad got away in a car accident. Jared felt empty. "Life was too short and unexpected to settle for something I wasn't passionate about."
"I don't know, the idea came to me when I was in the shower," he laughs. "It was weird, but it was like a spark in my mind. I missed our coffee mornings and conversations, so I wanted to recreate those moments for other people."
The man knew he had to be prepared for the whole exciting, yet uncertain journey ahead. "I dug every corner of the Internet to find out how to open and run a small business, how to hire and communicate with staff, how to serve customers, challenges, stories, and the list of questions are endless. I'm still trying to answer every one of them now," Jared says.
He did research, made plans and calculations every free moment he had. He made trips to different coffee farms every weekend to find the best coffee beans that suit his budget and meet his standards.
Jared finally quit his suit-and-tie job after lots of hesitation and even procrastination. He says, "I was too scared things wouldn't turn out well, but I finally opened J&D Café".
At first, it was just Jared and another staff. He woke up at 3:00 a.m. to roast coffee, clean the shop, and arrange the tables. By 8:00 a.m., his staff came in to help with the brewing and serving. There weren't too many guests, so even though things got hectic, they could manage to serve their customers well.
"My staff left at 5:00 p.m. And there was just me until the coffee shop closed at 9:00 p.m. I then had to do some cleaning and accounting until 11:00 p.m. Months of sleep deprivation and exhaustion, but Jared could feel the passion and the willingness that he couldn't feel in his previous job.
The place started to attract more guests. The man had enough budget to hire more staff, but never really had extra time. Jared says, "I still slept 4-5 hours every night because I spent all of my free time managing my staff and budget, looking for ways to upgrade the service quality.
Jared stored his staff's information, shifts, availability, and skills on Google Sheets. One sheet for staff information such as name, age, qualifications, skills, preferred work hours, availability, and contact info. One sheet for the weekly schedule, which he shared accessibility with all of his workers. One sheet for time-off requests. And one for on-call staff, which he can call in urgent situations.
"I jumped back and forth between different spreadsheets to make weekly schedules. For example, I had to find someone with barista skills to replace the absent barista, and someone who's available in the morning to cover a morning shift," he says. He wasn't always accurate. Sometimes he forgot to find a replacement, or put a waiter in to cover for the barista. He had to step in and cover the shifts by himself if he made similar mistakes.
"I knew employee scheduling software was a thing, so I tried a few options out to see what fitted. Camelo was my final decision. It allows me to assign shifts quickly on my smartphone. I can keep track of the staff's availability and skills. Time-off requests can be sent and approved on the app, too."
Jared loves that there's a list of suggested staff who can cover for the off-employees so that he can select right away. And if someone has questions or wants changes, they can text him right on the app and they can figure things out quickly together.
Jared's staff are fond of Camelo because they can ask for time off without many emails back and forth or complicated documents. There are shift cards that they can view when opening the app, plus reminders, so they never miss their shifts.
Jared's planning to expand his coffee shop to another location near his dad's house. It's his way of saying "Hey Dad, this is for you!". Running 2 coffee shops at the same time isn't challenging anymore because Camelo lets Jared manage multiple locations on the app, plus he's planning to hire a new manager to help.
"I still had thoughts like "Hell, why did I choose this path?"," Jared admits. "But the doubts quickly disappear. I just keep moving."
"I have more time for other important matters. Everything is on the right path, and I hope all goes well."
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