Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brad Ewing LIVE Tomorrow Night!

Don't forget, Brad is playing live tomorrow night (Friday).
If you are local, come and listen to some great music!

Things are falling into place...

The contract is signed and I will be going back to Intel full time starting on Monday. I have been here at the shop until 1:00 or 2:00am every night this week trying to set systems in place or to wrap up loose ends before I go. I could use another full week, at least, to get all the things done that need to be done...

Here is what we have made progress on:
We hired our nephew James to work here, but he has too much of Starbucks ingrained in his way of doing things. It is our intention to serve a better product than Starbucks, and to treat people better than they get at Starbucks. We tried to teach him our way of doing things, and he decided to quit. That's OK, it was worth a shot for both of us.

With me gone from the shop next week, we were seriously needing to find a new employee pronto. Robert suggested a friend of his that has some coffee house experience. Her name is Vanessa and she has worked at Starbucks, and at Peete's Coffee. Prior Starbucks employees have the "McDonalds of Coffee" mentality and have lots of bad habits that need to be broken, but Peete's is a great environment, and used the exact same espresso machine that we have (La Marzocco Linea 3 Group). She came in and filled out an application. Tracy and I sat down and talked with her for a few minutes and we hired her on the spot. Our initial impression is that she is 'the perfect coffee house employee'. She is very pleasant and friendly, very laid back and east to talk to, very pretty, etc, etc... Just close your eyes and picture the person you want to buy your coffee from and it is Vanessa! We are looking forward to having her as part of our team. Hiring Vanessa takes care of our biggest issue with the schedule, but we probably still need one more person. Our morning business is growing, as is our lunch crowd, as is our bulk lunch catering. We did a lunch package for 17 people today for the Health Department. I still need to discuss food service deliveries for Premiere Global, which could easily account for $300-$400 in additional sales per day. If that is a good concept, we will definitely need another person on during the day.

We have been open on Saturdays from the start, and this location is just not a good Saturday spot. We are here from 6:00am to 3:00pm, and we do about $200 in sales on average. We really don't want to continue to ruin our weekends for such a small return for our time invested (not to mention the kids have to hang out with us all day on Saturdays). I believe it would be easier to build Sunday sales, as there are lots of churches within a one mile radius. I think we are going to hold off on that, though. We'll see how our daytime staffing works out, and if anyone steps up to the plate and shows promise like Robert has, we may go back to being open and have them run the store... We have events scheduled in the studio on Saturdays through mid October, then it is lights out for the weekends...

We wanted to put in a video surveillance system from the very beginning, but I didn't want to spend $1700 on a four camera system at Sam's Club. I got some quotes from local security system companies and they were expensive as well. I finally had time to do some research and found a four camera system with security software and a 4 camera capture expansion card for $770. I have extra computers, including a flat panel monitor to display out front, that I can use to operate the system. Basically, the unit at Sam's is very similar, but they are charging an extra $900 or so for a crummy Celeron computer and generic 15" flat panel monitor. That's crazy! It will take some time to install the system, but it will give us permanent video records of all activity in the store, and it will give us remote viewing capability. Tracy and I will be able to check on the store from home or anywhere else with Internet access.

I ordered a new convection oven and it is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. That will actually be a big help since we cook so many things here...

I have a million more things to do, so I'd better run...
Take care,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nemo's News 9-25-2007

We have had some incredible sales lately, or at least they seem incredible while still building up our clientele... A year from now it should be a different story.
We had slumping sales for the last four or so days. At first, I thought it was just a small slump. Then I noticed that our average ticket prices had fallen from the mid $4 range, down to the low $3's and nearly breaking down into the high $2's. That seemed odd, as it takes a great deal of data to skew the results so far from the established trends. I just figured people were buying brewed coffee instead of espresso drinks and smoothies.

We were having an especially slow day today, but I noticed that we are out of whole milk already, and we don't get another shipment until Thursday. As our sales grow, it is difficult to gauge how much we need of perishable items. We would rather run low and go pick some up ourselves, as opposed to having our vendors bring too much and have it go bad. I decided there is no way we are out of milk with sales in a slump. I looked at our graphing information in our POS system and a key item got changed about four days ago! It was tracking total margins (sales with product cost subtracted) instead of total sales figures! I corrected the setting and found out we are on record pace! That explains all of the milk being gone! We were starting to think our September sales figures were in decline over August, but it turns out everything is OK... LOL

I scheduled a writer's group in the cafe for the next six weeks, as well as a larger meeting in the studio soon, and a December Holiday party for them. I also have the district Mary Kay managers and consultants meeting in the studio every Tuesday night for basically forever...

I have the photography group meeting here at least once a week, and I just established a Photoshop group to meet here on Fridays. I have 17 members in the Photoshop group already, and I will be charging $3 per head, per meeting to help pay for a projector for the room. It will be needed to go through the Photoshop lessons.

Josh decided to play the saxophone in the school band, pretty much out of nowhere. He has never shown much of an interest in playing music before, although he loves listening to music. He goes to sleep every night with a CD playing in his room. He also decided to try out for the part of Beethoven in a school play. He has always been deathly afraid to be up in front of a group, so this was a huge shock! I'm glad he is trying some new things, and overcoming his stage fright. His stage fright in the past has been on the level of PRIMAL FEAR, so we'll see how things go. We rented a new sax for him and he has been playing it all the time! He is amazingly good, even without any lessons yet. I bought him a basic sax book at Barnes and Noble, and he has taught himself all the basic notes and has been practicing them... He likes to practice on the front porch, and our neighbors are managers at a local night club. They get home at 5:00am and pretty much sleep all the time they are not working. I'm sure they are enjoying his sax as much as we enjoy the late night parties they have every few weeks!

Josh, Jonah, and Ethan are in a club called Landsharks. It is a cross country running club, and they have had two meets so far. Ethan runs the half mile, Jonah runs the mile, and Josh runs 1 1/2 miles. I am really proud of them because they all run their races and finish strong. They are not in contention to win any races, but they are all very determined to do their best and finish with a sprint! There are too many kids who come to Colorado Springs to train at the Olympic Training Center, and there is no way for an average kid to compete with them. Some of them have been running competitively since they were three or four...

I have been checking out a couple of job opportunities and it looks like I am headed back to Intel in a few days. Another company was interested in me being their project engineer, but they had a project in Denver get cancelled, so they had a couple of extra guys. In the meantime, Intel has extended their production run to Q1 2008. I will be involved in the plant decommissioning after that, but I am going back on Monday as an Ultra Pure Water System Certification Tech. Having been a project manager at Intel for so long, I know what a tech position like this should pay. They very generously offered me about $7 an hour MORE than I expected, so I am very happy with how they are looking out for me... The other company called me a couple of hours after I agreed to work at Intel and wanted to proceed in bringing me on board... This other job would be best for me long term, but I have a lot of friends at Intel and I need to go and support them as best I can until the decommissioning slots open up for Project Managers/Construction Coords/Safety Engineers, etc...

Well, it is 10:30 and I still have to make burritos. gotta run!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nemo's News 9-21-2007

What is going on this week???

Well, we had a 'sort-of' record set this week. Last Friday, we did $968.42 to set a single day sales record. That figure included a $255 sale for catering on Monday of this week. That means our actual sales that day were approximately $713. We did $792.58 on Thursday of this week, which would have blown that record out of the water. But since we did have that catering sale, then $792.58 is just a 'sort-of' record. Either way, it was very encouraging to have such a busy day.

We followed that very busy Thursday with a horrible Friday today, with sales of $362! I guess everybody spent all of their money yesterday.

We are down to only ONE WEEK until Brad Ewing of "Unseen" plays here live Friday night. I listed the event in the Independent, the Gazette GO! Magazine, and on the on-line city planner events calendars. I will also be putting up fliers in the store this week, and I set it up as an event on my photography meetup group site (which has 94 members). We hope to see a big crowd here for Brad's show!

I have had lots of people from our photo group, and others outside of that group ask me to teach Photoshop classes here. I checked the website and there are no existing Photoshop groups here in Colorado Springs. There were, however, about 65 people who said they would like there to be a Photoshop group created. I bit the bullet and organized a Photoshop Meetup Group tonight. Our first meeting will be on October 12 (Friday night) at 6:00pm. I will be charging a nominal fee of $3 per person per meeting to help pay for a projector, and to cover printing costs for Photoshop user guides I'll be writing for each class. If you have ever wanted to learn Photoshop, this is your chance. If you are interested, go to and search for Photoshop groups in Colorado Springs.

We ordered a new Bunn G1 bulk grinder and it is sooo very cool. It is bright red and grinds coffee like nobody's business! We are going to have Neil Dana laser cut another menu board from steel stock, and we will get it powder coated and put it up in the shop. It is going to be our menu board for whole bean coffee. We would like to start driving whole bean sales. My initial goal is to sell two pounds of coffee a day in the first month or so. I'd like to get to where we are selling fifteen pounds of coffee a day by the first quarter of 2008. That would add $850 in sales per week if we can accomplish that goal.

We also ordered about $250 worth of small accessories and equipment for the shop this week. We have new steaming thermometers, a latte art pitcher, some cool blue mugs, logo shot glasses, logo 16 oz glass tumblers, a knock box stainless steel shield, etc coming.

I am also researching a new convection oven for the shop. We bake cookies, scones, brownies, and an occasional chicken pot pie here on site. We have been using a small oven provided to us for free by our cookie dough vendor (Otis Spunkmier). We joke around about it being our "Deluxe Easy Bake Oven". We brag about it having two light bulbs instead of one!! Actually, it is a non-adjustable electric convection oven pre-set to 285 degrees. It has served us well so far, but it is starting to cut out without notice. 1/2 size counter top convection ovens run anywhere from $800 to $1300, depending on size, programmability, and other options. I think I am going to go with a basic model without the programmable LCD displays. Heck, we have made it for 5 months with an Easy Bake Oven, so why spend the extra money now??

Well, I need to close the store and go home and SLEEP!!

Take care,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Weekly Records

OK, the week is over. We set new records for most cutomers in a week with 806, and highest total sales in a week at $3900!

I did another senior photo session this morning, and I also did one yesterday. I have to say, of all the senior photos I've done this year, the one today was the most fun. Taylor is a kid we know from judo at the Olympic Training Center. He is very athletic, but also has a fun creative side. I'll post a few shots after I get some editing done on Monday. I have more phone calls coming in with people asking to set up appointments for senior photos... Woo Hoo!

Gotta run... I'm taking the boys to Skate City and then we are working in the church nursery tonight.


Friday, September 14, 2007


Once again, it is late and I still have lots to do before I can leave, but I wanted to post the fact that we absolutely shattered our single day sales tally record!
Today's final sales were $968.42!! Woo Hoo! We had never been over $800 a day, and we skipped that and went nearly to $1000!

I also had a meeting with Robert and I am very happy to say that Tracy and I hired him as our Assistant Manager. He is giving notice at his other job and will begin officially as AM on Monday September 24th. We promised him a coffee roaster to experiment with, so I will be researching and purchasing a counter top roaster next week.

We are also speaking to James (our nephew) about working here on morning shifts starting next week. He will be here Monday to work a shift and we will work out scheduling for him... That should fill all the voids in our schedule now, and free me up to finish the rental house remodel, continue developing Nautilus Photography, and to possibly pursue a day job...

OK, gotta run...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Records Galore!

I only have a few minutes, but Tracy and I are excited about some new records set today...

New highest one day sales total record of $703.44!!!

New single day highest customer count at 168!!

We are on record pace for most customers in a week and highest sales total in a week. I'll report that at the end of the week...

Gotta make the burritos.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New Milestone!

I almost forgot...
We surpassed the $50,000 in total sales today! Woo hoo!!
April 26 to September 12...
That is 116 days open for business, resulting in an average of $431 per day since open!

It is 10:40pm and I need to get some sleep!

Nemo's News 9-12-2007

We have had a strong week so far. We have exceeded $600 in sales all three days this week, and we are headed for a record week provided Thursday and Friday are not disasters! We never did pull the trigger on any advertising. We started trying to figure out how to get new revenue growth, and it just started taking off by word of mouth again. Much of it has been our success with getting groups in here at night to utilize the studio as a meeting room. It is booked SOLID, and has been for the last month. I used to get excited every time we booked an event or group. Now I get excited if I can find an opening to book an event or group!! That drives sales during those events, but better than that, it brings people in the door. We interact with one person to book an event, and 10 or 15 or 20 or 30 people involved with that event walk in the door. Some of them become regular customers, and others spread the word about our shop by talking to people in their lives. It is fun to ask first time customers how they found out about us. Maybe 1 in 20 say they drove by and saw us. Most say they heard about us from someone else...

I booked a catered event today for Monday morning. They need coffee service for 15, plus breakfast items. They also need lunches and drinks at mid-day. I put it in the system and it is a $195 sale. They are going to call on Friday to let us know if their attendees have increased in number... Could go up...
Monday may be our chance to break our single day sales record of $702.12. We have been consistently hitting the upper $600's. If we do 650 Monday, plus this $200 sale, it will be our first time over $800 in a day...

We spoke with Premiere Global again and we are getting closer to being dialed in on a food service to their building twice a day. That could easily add $250 to $400 a day in sales Monday through Saturday! If we build that business and it is consistently successful, I will not need a day job!

I submitted a resume to the company that is interested in hiring me as a Project Engineer. It will seem weird to extract myself from the shop and go work a day job again. It will also mean putting a hold on the photography business. I had two photo shoots today, and I am getting more phone calls daily by referrals. It has been highly successful for just the short time that I have been trying to market it. To put the skids on it now will seem counter-productive, but I will be able to build it again in the future. If this job opportunity does not work out, Intel is still interested in me participating in their plant decommissioning. Potential positions are Project Manager, Construction Coordinator, and Safety Professional. The Safety Professional position sounds interesting to me because it is something I have never done before. I would be involved in training the incoming contractors on all safety requirements and procedures. They also supervise operations in the field to insure saftey requirements are being utilized and enforced. They also participate in design reviews to insure safety is considered at the very onset of a project. They inspect work being done to confirm electrical, gas systems, chemical systems, scaffold, etc etc are done correctly. I have been on the project manager side of all these tasks, but it would be interesting to do them from a safety perspective. Intel believes that safety is a value and a culture, not just a job requirement. I'm absolutely sure there is no other place on Earth like Intel when it comes to creating a safety culture in the workplace.

We have taken some steps to create a stable condition at the shop if I leave to go work a day job. Our most recent hire (Robert) is an incredible asset. He only works two days a week for us because he has another full time job. He used to run a shop called Daz Bog on North Academy, so he has management type experience in a coffee house. He is completely and utterly passionate about coffee. He is especially interested in roasting, and has been saving up to buy a roaster for himself. He is always reading about developments in the coffee industry, and always has the cutting edge knowledge about new technologies. He is an incredibly hard worker and we never have to give him direction. If there is a lull between customers he always finds something productive to do. We literally NEVER have to give him any guidance or direction. He is the optimal employee... We spoke with him briefly about creating an Assistant Manager position, and asked if he would be willing to work here full time. We told him we are willing to purchase a coffee roaster and that he can experiment with roasting coffee here at the shop. We would also match or exceed his current salary at his other full time job. He said he is definitely interested, and we are going to meet with him on Friday at 7:00pm to discuss it further.

We also have identified two other individuals that we would be interested in hiring. One is currently a Starbucks Shift Supervisor, and the other is a senior in high school (actually, I did her senior portraits - scroll down to older posts and look for Laura's photos).

Tracy and I were very concerned about the transition that would be required for me to take a full time job outside the shop. God provided three great prospects out of the blue for us (well, two out of the blue, Robert was already here). From the very start of this effort, things have always fallen into place when needed. We have not really experienced any kind of crisis. If you are one of the people out there who have been praying for us all along, thank you, and keep praying!

Josh went to the eye doctor today and has to have glasses. He has been having trouble with his school work this year, stating that he does not know how to do his homework. It turns out that he cannot see the board, so he has been listening, but not seeing any of the school work! If this helps him, then it will be $400 well spent...

I have to make 20 burritos and finish up some closing duties. Gotta run...

A few additions to our prayer list:

Alex, who has pneumonia (he is a dialysis patient as well)
Heather - Arnie's daughter who is having a C Section in Oklahoma as I write this!
Terry - one of our regular customers who has had trouble breathing lately. They put him on Oxygen and are trying to figure out what is wrong...
Sharla - a friend from church who was recently diagnosed with cancer
Kelly - a friend of mine (active duty Army at Ft Carson) from my photo group who recently had to notify a family that their son was killed in Iraq
My brother Aubrey and my neighbor George who are both serving their third tours in Iraq

Monday, September 10, 2007

Data Points

Just a quick update:

We are consistently breaking the $600 per day barrier. Of the last 18 weekdays, we have had over $600 in daily sales on 9 of those days. We are consistently performing at the break even point with all overhead included (rent included). this does not account for any photography revenues. I have about $1200 in invoicing to do for August, and that is extra income on top of shop revenues.

We are still seeing growth, and new faces daily. Most of those new faces are developing into new regulars, which is what we need for sustained growth.

Premiere Global is a company in the building behind us with about 400 employees. They spoke to us last week about coming over to their building with a cart of sandwiches, burritos, pastries, cookies, as well as coffee and lattes (pre-made). They are an international teleconferencing company, and most of their employees are not able to leave the building during their shifts. Vendors who bring food typically sell out in 15 to 20 minutes. We have discussed bringing items to them at 9:30 am and again at 1:30 pm. This could boost our daily sales by $200-300 each day if it goes as well as they think it will!! Woo Hoo!

Basically, the 'health' of Nemo's Coffee is good, and getting better all the time. With that said, we have not had an income since before Christmas. I have been offered a couple of jobs recently, and Tracy and I have discussed me taking a job and hiring additional staff to help her with the coffee shop. That seems to be the right answer for now, and I think I will pursue the opportunities that have been presented. Both jobs are in the $30-35 per hour range and would really help us until the shop is creating enough revenue for us to pay ourselves. We have a person in mind to offer an assistant manager position to, and we are hoping it will work out well. We would still have to hire an additional person, possibly two... If you are local and know someone who would be a good fit for a coffee house, please give us a call!

Well, I've been up for 18 hours and I still have a few closing duties to finish before I go home. I'd better run...
Take care,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Colorado Balloon Classic

The hot air balloon festival was this last weekend...
Here are a few of my shots: