WOULD YOU LIKE A FLAPJACK WITH THAT?
A story about things that happened in my coffee shop. In the course of two day shifts – 17/04/10 ( Friday late shift from 13.30 till 19.30 ) and 18/04/10 ( Saturday early shift from 6.30 till 14.00 ) the busiest days of the week. I also include some information which was collected outside those times. Because interesting things happen unexpectedly. I have worked in a coffee shop part-time for almost two years. It’s based in the Temple Meads railway station. The main group of customers people who travel. The book is about my workplace, everything that’s important. Everything about one thing, a place; a coffee shop.
I usually arrive at 13.15, thatâ€™s 15 minutes early. This allows my colleague who works on the early shift enough time to count his float and fill in all the papers. It takes no longer than 30 minutes.
Black hat provided by employer
Black trousers which I bought
Permission to work in the station
Black shoes which I bought
Uniform I clock in, put on my uniform which includes: black trousers and shoes, special company T-shirt or sweater and a black hat. Other very important items are the badge with my name on it and a permission card which I have to wear all the time at the station for security reasons.
I have two nice colleagues, Morris 55 year old from Zimbabwe and his 18 year old daughter Faith. Itâ€™s so easy to communicate with those guys that usually I forget that I am in the work place at all. On Friday afternoon I change with Morris and on Saturday Faith comes to take my place. We are required to leave a tidy and well prepared place for someone who comes after, but I never mind helping to do that, having in mind that Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest.
Hot food counter products must be checked, stocked and recorded in the customer peak time folder.
At the very beginning I have to read the Issue section in the Shift Standards Planner, to know what to start with. Usually there is something written about broken machinery, dates of the special items to be checked, at what time to expect special visitors, what areas of the shop to clean and so on. The next very important thing is to check the resources of milk, hot chocolate mix, coffee beans and throw away used coffee from the drawer, otherwise the machine wonâ€™t work properly or even get stuck, and custoers will have to wait in the growing queue. Lids, wooden stirrers, cups, napkins, three types of sugar and tea bags must be prepared for the next few hours.
4 hours for all pasties Then I check the temperature of the fridges and after that all the dates of the sweets, crisps, cakes, drinks, sandwiches, syrups etc. The temperature of the hot food is measured with a special tool called a Microcomputer Thermometer, it must be done and recorded every hour. Itâ€™s allowed to keep all the pasties on display for 3 hours only, because later they start to look less appetizing. I receive a certain amount of hot food every 3 hours, and place this into a special heated machine, then placing the names close to the grouped pasties. We have a reminder sheet for hot food, which is good to have to remember this small but important part. All waste must be counted and written into the till clearance book. At the end of every week all the money is counted and we establish the balance; how much money is missing.
Scanned inventory plan
Last but not the least preparation work is to fill all the shelves nicely with all the stock for the weekend. All new items must be placed behind older ones, all empty boxes must be smashed and collected in one place to put them later into the recycle bin. It takes around 1 or 2 hours of rush. Customers wonâ€™t wait for me until I finish, so I have to run constantly... ...at least time goes faster.
Every few months we are Every few months we are visited by the food hygiene visited by the food hygiene control service, but we donâ€™t control service, but we donâ€™t have to worry much about it,it, have to worry much about because they inform us at because they inform us at least aa day before, soso we get least day before, we get 44 stars easily. stars easily.
We also have an excellence check list for coffee. This list We also have an excellence check list for coffee. This includes various things I have to do, from cleaning equiplist includes various things I have to do, from cleaning ment to the coffee temperatures and thickness of capequipment to the coffee temperatures and thickness of puccino foam. cappuccino foam.
Break time 16.30 16.30
The best part of the day is the break. It is the law to have a 30 min. break per shift, that’s 6 to 7 hours. Last year we had difficulty with our management and while being paid for a break, I didn’t get one, which is unfair. We have the right to take a few items from a small list. I usually eat baguettes with a tea because other stuff is not so healthy. I find time to read a book or do my tasks for university. We have a special staff room, which is good in summer. It doesn’t have windows, it’s cool, small and personal. In winter I go to the bigger unit, with comfortable sofas and Christmas songs. So, time is up, let’s get to work.
Peak time time Peak It’s called ‘customers only time’ between 5 and 6 o’clock in the evening. Time goes It’s called ‘customers only time’ between 5 and 6 o’clock in the evening. Time goes very fast. I am prepared psychologically and physically for a whole hour with a very fast. I am prepared psychologically and physically for a whole hour with a queue, serving and filling stock at the same time. queue, serving and filling stock at the same time.
IIwould wouldlike liketotoinclude include some somedialogues dialoguesfrom from aaperiod periodofoftwo twoyears yearswhich whichhave havestuck stuckininmy myhea hea Two Twoyoungsters youngsterscame cameononSaturday Saturdaymorning morningand andshared sharedtheir theiropinion opinionabout aboutthe theprices: prices:
Guy Guynr1: nr1: Guy Guynr2: nr2: Guy Guynr1: nr1:
“ Take “ Takeall allmy mymoney, money,take takeall allmy mymoney moneymate mateit’s it’sridiculou ridiculo “Chocolate “Chocolatebrownie brownie£1.69 £1.69I can’t I can’tbe behere hereanymore” anymore” “ You “ Youdon’t don’tset setthose thoseprices, prices,do doyou?” you?”
Me: Me: Guy Guynr1: nr1:
“No “NoI don’t” I don’t” “You “Youagree agreewith withme methat thatit’s it’sridiculous?” ridiculous?”
“Yes, “Yes,I know, I know,but butwhat whatcan cancan ca
A Avery Just verysimilar similarconversation conversationI had I hadthis thisspring springwith witha ablack blackman manininhis histhirties. thirties. Justthe theendin endi placed them on the counter and using eye contact asked how much? I told him it was placed them on the counter and using eye contact asked how much? I told him it was£4.50 £4.5 He then “how Hetook tookoff offthe theearrings earringsand andlooked lookedatatme mefor fora awhile, while, thenasked: asked: “howmuch muchisisthe thedrink?” drink?
Me: Me: He: He:
”£1.09” ”£1.09” “And “Andthe thesandwich?” sandwich?”
He “fuck and Hesaid said “fuckit”it” andleft lefteverything. everything.
The otherwise Thebest bestthing thingisistotobebecalm calmand andconfident, confident, otherwisesome someofofthe thecustomers customerswill willfind finda awa w I’ve noticed one thing, that the most complaints I hear are from the black males. I could I’ve noticed one thing, that the most complaints I hear are from the black males. I couldses
A quite awkward situation: A quite awkward situation:
“can I pay by card? “can I pay by card?
Me: Me: Driver: Driver:
“Sure” “Sure” “Give me some chewing gum” “Give me some chewing gum”
Me: Me: Driver: Driver:
“Here you go, it’s 65p” “Here you go, it’s 65p” “Can I use my Bite card?” * “Can I use my Bite card?” *
Me: Me: Driver: Driver:
“I think the item is too small, b “I think the item is too small, “Never mind, I will leave it” “Never mind, I will leave it”
I always because Even I alwaysneed needtotobebeononthe thealert, alert, becauseofofallallkinds kindsofofthieves thievesand andcheats. cheats. Evencameras camerasd When I have a queue it’s much easier to confuse me. For example a nice looking middle When I have a queue it’s much easier to confuse me. For example a nice looking middleage ag ofhalf it inside: of it inside:
“I“Ibought boughtthis thispasty pastyhere, here,and andititwas wasempty. empty.I want I wanta arefund refun
Me: Me: She: She:
“It’s “It’snatural naturalititmust mustbe beempty, empty “No, “No,ititwas waslike likethat” that”
“All “Allhot hotfood foodisischecked checkedafter afterc
Voice, faceand andbody bodylanguage languagemust musthave haveconfidence, confidence, otherwisecustomers customerswill willfind finda away wayt Voice, face otherwise Anotherwise wiseguy guyininhis hisfifties fiftiescame cameatatpeak peaktime timewhen whenI was I wasworking workingalone aloneininthe thebigger biggerunu Another stoodininthe theline: line: stood
cleanedall allthe thewindows, windows,you youowe oweme me£20” £20” “I“Icleaned
“Sorry,nobody nobodyinformed informedme mea “Sorry,
“Here’sthe theamount amount( written ( writtenon ona ascrap scrapofofpaper paper) )you youmu m “Here’s
amafraid afraidyou youhave havetotogogoand an “I“Iam
He: He: Me: Me:
“Noyou youhave havetotopay payme” me” “No can’tdo doanything, anything,sorry” sorry” “I“Ican’t
Thatman manargued arguedwith withme mefor for1010more moreminutes minutesuntil untilhehegave gaveupupand andwalked walkedaway awaysaying: saying: That “O“
* Bite car is a 20% discount card used in the same station coffee shops all around * Bite car is a 20% discount card used in the same station coffee shops all around E
but I will check it for you. No, you get no discount, sorry” , but I will check it for you. No, you get no discount, sorry”
The people sdon’t don’thelp. help. Thebest bestthing thingfor forprotection protectionisisa aqueue, queue, peoplelike liketotowatch watcheach eachother. other. ed woman bought a chicken tikka slice and came back after 10 minutes with ged woman bought a chicken tikka slice and came back after 10 minutes withjust justa ahalf
y,because becauseyou youate ateit”it”
cooking, r cooking,and andI remember I rememberthat thatyour’s your’swas wasalright. alright.Sorry, Sorry,madam, madam,no norefunds” refunds”
ytotofool foolyou. you. Mostincidents incidentshappen happenwhen whenI have I havejust juststarted startedtotowork. work. Most unit and started cleaning windows, outside walls and other stuff. Thenhehecame cameininand and nit and started cleaning windows, outside walls and other stuff. Then
aboutyour yourvisit” visit” about
must putthis thisininyour yourtill tilland andgive giveme methe themoney” money” ust put
ndspeak speaktotoour ourmanagement, management,which whichisislocated locatedon onplatform platformone” one” d
“OkI’m I’mgoing, going, butI will I willreturn returnyou youwill willsee”. see”. Buthehedidn’t didn’t.. .. Ok but But
d England England
A lot of people are in a rush, it’s natural, they are in the station, but some are in a bigger r A women stood for 10 minutes looking at the food and prices then saw her train coming a ordered 3 large cappuccinos and ran for a few more sandwiches, then chocolates, while s
“ Quick it’s my train!”
“Doing my best” “How much is that!?”
“Just a second”
“Quick, there’s no time! How many coffees did you make
“Ok than I need to cancel oth “ Ah! No, it’s already going, give me the note back!”
“You still got time, don’t worr
“Give it back!” took it and ran away. The train stood ther
Sometimes people can be too polite. For example an old driver, who comes regularly, choo
Driver: Me: Driver: Me: Driver: Me: Driver:
“ Thank you” “£1.30 please”
“Thanks a lot” gives me two pounds and says: “thanks, t “Here’s your change sir” “That’s great, thank you, thanks a lot” “Do you want your receipt?”
“Oh no, thanks, have a good day, thank you, thank you, th
Some customers like to get something for free, if I can call them customers… An old blac doubts if she was travelling at all. After a while she came to me and started a conversatio and so on. I made a drink and she was gone instantly. I don’t mind making a free tea for a just to ask. I have customers who like to talk and talk and talk, then it becomes boring. In bought a few chocolate bars with a card and brought his card machine to compare with m with unknown people. In this job you must talk, at least to be polite and suggest some ex not only the salesman and barista, you must assist as well if you want to work in this plac
rush then anyone else. and suddenly grabbed random items, shouting:
e? Give me just one!”
re for 10 more minutes
oses the chocolates and gives them to me:
hanks a lot”
ck woman stood near my unit for 30 minutes, observing everything, I even started to have on, and asked me for a tea, explained that she had no money, mentioned her long journey nice person if I don’t have a queue, but there’s no need to pretend something; it’s better n my spare time I try to concentrate and generate ideas for university projects. One driver mine and have a chat. I am not one of those people who likes to talk much, especially xtra items otherwise you’re not a sales assistant. As an old manager once said: “you are ce”. I fully agree with him.
It’s better like that than the opposite. A woman with a baby in her arms and a push chair:
“What time and platform is the train to Birmingham?”
“Sorry, I have no idea, you mu
“How is it possible?! You work in the station and know n
And she walked away all angry, talking to herself.
There is one question which can be right or wrong at one and the same time. It’s about ch
Me: Woman: Me:
“Do you want chocolate on to “What a silly question! Of course I want it!”
“Well, a lot of customers refu
At least 30 times a day I hear the same question, “do you have a bin?” Sometimes, they do The station is a very safe place, it has hundreds of signs saying to be careful, of stairs, co
ust ask those officers with yellow jackets, they will tell you”
nothing about the train schedules?!”
hocolate powder on the cappuccino:
on’t need to ask, when they walk in circles with an empty cup. orners and low ceilings. It’s 6.30 and I am starting to prepare for closing.
End of the day And finally, 18.30, I am closing in 30 minutes.
I partially close the shop atat 19.00. It It takes 2020 I partially close the shop 19.00. takes minutes to clean all equipment, fill in the papers, minutes to clean all equipment, fill in the papers, check the dates and throw out some food. Now check the dates and throw out some food. Now the unit is prepared for the morning shift. the unit is prepared for the morning shift.
Till variance report 10minutes minutesleft leftto tocount countthe themoney. money.IfIfI Ihave havegot got 10 £2 up or down I need to fill in the till variance £2 up or down I need to fill in the till variance report.IfIf£50 £50or ormore moreisismissing, missing,for forany anyreason, reason, report. investigationisisproceeded. proceeded. investigation
Doors were half closed and I was looking for the keys, when somebody stuck their head through the small gap and asked:
â€œAre you closed?â€?
Me: “What do you think?”
Float It’s nice and quiet in the morning. We’ve got three cameras which record nothing, and one alarm with function unknown. I use it as a clock. It’s time to bring some hot food and count the float. It must be £72 in total.
Milk resources checked
Sandwiches Our company orders cold pasties and sandwiches from Ginsters. A few months ago we had to make them. This action took off a lot of pressure.
My opinion I endorse the companyâ€™s policy which set such big prices, because all unit profits in the station depend on the trains and their schedules. We have days with few customers, because of the rail construction or some accident. All this needs to be compensated for one way or another.
Where Wherecan canIIsmoke? smoke? Man in his fifties: Man in his fifties: Man: Man:
“20 Richmond Superkings please” “20 Richmond Superkings please”
Me: Me: Man: Man: Me: Me: Man: Man: Me: Me: Man: Man: Me: Me: Man: Man:
“Here you go” “Here you go” “Where can I smoke here?” “Where can I smoke here?”
“I’am afraid nowhere in the statio “I’am afraid nowhere in the stat
“That’s interesting, you sell tobacco, and it’s not allowed to sm “That’s interesting, you sell tobacco, and it’s not allowed to s “ I know, silly isn’t it?” “ I know, silly isn’t it?”
“Can you give me a less disturbing pack? This one with the tee “Can you give me a less disturbing pack? This one with the te
”Well, we have one with the a tum ”Well, we have one with the a tu “Dead guy is alright, thank you” “Dead guy is alright, thank you”
on - health and safety..” tion - health and safety..”
eth looks really awful” eeth looks really awful”
mour, open lungs or a dead guy” umour, open lungs or a dead guy”
Whoisishe? he? Who
He’s like a God who watches you and evaluates your performance in He’s like a God who watches you and evaluates your performance in serving serving customers with whatever they want. You can never know when customers with whatever they want. You can never know when and how and how you will be caught on record. It’s basically two important things: you will be caught on record. It’s basically two important things: salary and salary and received percent which determines my and the whole unit’s received percent which determines my and the whole unit’s performance. performance. It’s quite difficult to keep up to a good score, because the It’s quite difficult to keep up to a good score, because the staff change very staff change very often and those who come aren’t qualified, they have to often and those who come aren’t qualified, they have to start from the very start from the very beginning. beginning.
First criteria - upselling At the moment the most important criteria is upselling. That means that every time a customer comes, apart from smiling and taking their order, I have to try, to convince people to buy even if they’ve already decided what they want. As a reminder I have two questions stuck to my till: Do you want a flapjack with this? Would you like a hot drink with that? For me it’s stupid to ask similar things every time, especially when a train arrives and I have a big queue. Now I identify people from their gestures and voice to decide whether I need to try up selling tactics or not. Very good customers end their order with words: “Just that please” or “how much is that?” And obviously if a man runs in all wet and says – “Quick, it’s my train leaving!” or somebody who comes with some change in their hands there is no need to disturb with stupid quetions. What I don’t like is people who start to act like they have seen something terrible happen because of the prices. I know that prices are twice, perhaps even three times bigger then usual, but that’s the rules of the game. People who travel know that in the station you won’t find something cheap, like a coke for a pound or sausage roll for 90 pence, there’s no need to blame me for such prices. When that happens, I say: it’s not me who made the prices, and if there’s still some doubt I use a time proved phrase: “it’s not a shopping centre, go and find Asda”.
Second criteria Cleanliness The Thesecond secondcriteria criteriaisiscleanliness cleanlinessand andfood foodstandards. standards. All Allthe thedates dates on on food and drinks must correct. Floors, couter, shelves and thethe food and drinks must bebe correct. Floors, couter, shelves and everyeverything else cleaned. I keep hot food in a special hot surface and thing else cleaned. I keep hot food in a special hot surface and display display for 3 otherwise hours, otherwise wonâ€™t look andperfect. taste perfect. only foronly 3 hours, it wonâ€™titlook and taste All Allshort shortterm termfood foodcontaining containingmeat,eggs, meat,eggs,vegetables vegetablesor orcheese cheesemust must be bekept keptin inaafridge, fridge,as aswell wellas asjuice juiceand andyoghurt. yoghurt.My Myuniform uniformmust mustbe be clean cleanand andinclude includeall allthe theattributes attributesmentioned mentionedbefore. before.
Third Thirdcriteria criteria--Timing Timing The third criteria is timing, in this job you canâ€™t be The or third criteriaEye is timing, inis this job you slow romantic. contact needed to canâ€™t keep be the slow or romantic. Eyeand contact needed customers in the line, suchis words as: to bekeep with the you customers in the line, and such words as: be with you in few seconds makes every customer feel important. in few seconds makes every customer feel important.
Over Overtwo twoyears, years,I’ve I’vedeveloped developedaaspecial specialsense senseabout aboutthese these spies. spies.ItIttakes takestime timeand andattention. attention.All Allofofthem themtend tendto toask ask some somespecial specialquestions questionsabout aboutthe thelocation locationofofsome someplaces, places, and andbuy buysomething somethingat atthe thesame sametime. time.They Theytry tryto tokeep keepeye eye contact contactand andcheck checkeverything everythingmore morecarefully carefullythen thenusual usual cuscustomers Conversation starts with their initiative. tomers do.do. Conversation starts with their initiative. So when I hear a special question, I start to up So when I hear a special question, I start to upsell. sell.The Theonly only weaker weakerside sideininmy myevaluation evaluationisisup upselling, selling,apart apartfrom fromthat thatI I usually usuallyget get100 100percent. percent.These Thesepercentages percentagesthis thisyear yearhelped helped me to get a special reward, extra money per hour. me to get a special reward, extra money per hour.So Soit’s it’s worth worth the best. beingbeing the best.
The The Bristolian Bristolian This Thisold oldtrain trainattracts attractsa alotlotofofpeople peoplefrom fromallallover overthe thecountry. That makes my coffee shop work full power. People country. That makes my coffee shopatwork at full power. come twocome hourstwo before the train the leaves the station, People hours before train leaves thethat’s station, 10.00 o’clock. is our peak time. that’s 10.00 This o’clock. This is our peak time.
The station is a safe place, at least 30 people per shift ask the ame question:
â€œAre there any bins around the station?â€?
The answer is always the same:
â€œAll bins are locked, for safety reasonsâ€?
Before Before weekend weekend starts starts My duties are: take the rubbish out, fill My duties are: take the rubbish out, fill all the papers, count all money, prepare all the papers, count all money, prepare unit for my coleague and tidy up. unit for my coleague and tidy up.
Lastchat chatwith withthe the2020years yearsold oldcustomer: customer: Last Customer: Customer: Me: Me:
“you know what I gonna say? for sausage roll insan “you know what I gonna say? £2£2 for sausage roll isis insane “Yes” ( smiling “Yes” ( smiling ))
ne... I can buy Gisnsters sausage roll Tesco only for 50pâ€? e... I can buy Gisnsters sausage roll inin Tesco only for 50pâ€?
Hereâ€™s your milk, and see you next week
“Ding “Ding dong dong ding. ding. Dear Dear pass pass cases cases unattended unattended anywher anywher Any Any unattended unattended articles articles wiw without without warning”. warning”.
sengers, sengers, donâ€™ donâ€™tt leave leave your your rere inin the the station. station. willill bebe removed removed