Monday, October 27, 2008

Nemo's Update

Things have been hectic lately for us. We recently did a round of interviews and wanted to hire just about everybody, even though we only had one definite spot to fill. We hired two and were really happy with our picks. Jessica received a call from her previous employer who asked her to come back. So after just one shift, Jessica was gone...
We quickly brought another great interviewer on board, and Matt is doing awesome! He is taking Megan's place as our closing supervisor.
Josh is our other hire, and he has close ties to the local music scene, and he will be a great asset for building our live music.
Tracy also hired another Megan, and I have not met her yet...

We just finished tonight's Bluegrass Music Jam. We had 15 musicians tonight, and a packed house for spectators. The local newspaper ran the event for three days in a row last week, and it has really increased our turnout. We have people that drive 2 hours every Monday to get here from Boulder, Broomfield, Pueblo, etc...

We are in the biggest financial turmoil in nearly a century, but we are on pace to have our highest sales ever. We should just barely get over the $15k mark for the month of October. We have never reached $15,000 in sales for a month before, so this would be a great milestone, and it would be very encouraging to see that happen during such financial destruction in so many areas. God continues to provide, and that is where we put our faith and trust.

Our new lighted sign should be going up in two or three weeks. I'm looking forward to that!

I have two more video projects underway for building commissioning and turnover for the Army Corps of Engineers. These video projects are going to provide an extra dose of income on the side this year. It will pay for our lighted sign and allow us to have Christmas! I have been keeping my eyes peeled for good deals. I bought the boys a $200 Meade telescope with tripod and planetarium software for $20 (found it on I found $120 skateboards on sale for $14.99 at Amazon yesterday, so three of those are on the way. Josh already has an air rifle with scope (bb/pellet gun), but I'm looking for two more for Jonah and Ethan. I'm hoping to find some on sale soon... I also loaded up on some Nerf toys from Amazon ($24 rapid fire nerf dart guns for $8, some Bionicle figures (normally $10 for $2), and some Army guy action figures (like GI Joe, but different brand) for $2 each, etc). Yes, this year is "Internet Clearance" Christmas.

OK, it is after 9:30 and I still have to close up shop and do payroll.

Take care, and DON'T FORGET TO VOTE next week. I honestly believe the outcome of this election will have ramifications that could last for decades. Whichever side you support, GET OUT AND VOTE. I believe this election will go down in history as one of the most important during our lifetimes. Don't miss it.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Nemo's Update

Well, this week turned out surprisingly well, considering how it started. Monday was one of our lowest sales days in many, many months. Days like that kind of scare us... However, Tuesday through Friday all rebounded with strong sales and higher customer counts! We ended the week in good shape, which I did not expect after Monday's dismal showing.

A couple of random stats:
Since our opening day April 26, 2008 until today, our total sales have been $228,594. We act as a distributor for the Solid Rock Cafe, and we earn 15% on those sales. We also have a number of catering events for Premiere Global, Time Warner, the El Paso County Health Department, etc. Those events get invoiced through QBPro, and do not show up in our sales history in QBPOS. Our total customer counts have been 48,682! That is an average of 2863 per month, and 130 per day. I would really love to get that up to about 165 a day, consistently. As it is, we are still nervous about making it or not. If we can boost our daily customer count by even 20 per day, we'll be in the clear.

I have a very busy weekend ahead of me. I have approximately 20 hours of video to edit and create 12 DVD movies from. They are training videos from commissioning a building that my company just completed. I have to create custom DVD menu's with navigation, custom labels, and custom DVD case inserts. On Monday, I start two more major video projects, and a third following two weeks behind that. I also have to complete some wedding edits, and create a DVD movie set to music, using motion effects on the still photos from the wedding. I also have a photo shoot on Sunday, and I'm going to do school portraits for the boys at the same location. There are several other families who are interested in having school photos done as well, but none of them have confirmed for Sunday yet.

In my "spare time" this weekend, I will be working at Nemo's Saturday from 6:30am to 2:30pm, and then Tracy and I are dropping the kids off at a birthday party/sleepover, and then Tracy and I are working the espresso bar for our church's Saturday night service. I also have to finish making Jonah's Halloween costume, and I think Josh wants me to make a costume for him too.

That should be enough stuff for this weekend... I don't see much sleep in the next couple of days...

Take care,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Who to hire?

Tracy and I had a number of interviews on Saturday, and we have another tomorrow night. We had about 60 applicants from a 3 day Craig's List ad. So far, everyone we have interviewed are keepers. How do we decide from there, how to fill two spots? I guess we will narrow it down by what our schedule needs are, compared to what their availabilities are, and how many hours they want. If we have a 25 hour per week position to fill, and someone says they need 35-40 hours, then they are out... Usually, there are one or two standouts from a group of interviews. This is the first time we have ever wanted to hire EVERYONE we talked to...
We will be making a decision on Tuesday or so. Stay tuned...

As for the financial turmoil, who really knows what is going to happen? This is kind of scary for us. Starting a business 18 months before a global financial meltdown is about as bad as it gets. Right now, I have no way of predicting whether or not we can ride it out and make it. Our sales dropped a little last week from our recent averages. People are leery of parting with their money right now. We'll have to see how things go, not just for us, but for everyone out there...


Photos from today...

We drove to Manitou Lake, a few miles outside of Woodland Park, today to let the boys run around and do boy stuff. They had their hearts set on catching garter snakes, but it was a little chilly and no snakes could be found. Instead, they had a blast with cat tails!
Click on any of the images to see a larger version...


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Craig's List

Craigs List is a wonderful thing, if you need to get word out quickly that you are hiring.
Megan is going back home to Arkansas, so we need to replace her. She has been one of our most solid employees, working a larger number of hours per week, and being a key holder for closes, including counting out the drawer. With her leaving, we need to fill the void.

I placed an ad on Craig's List this afternoon. Within 15 minutes I had seven replies by email. It is now 8:30pm and I have 17 responses by email. Megan said five or six people came into the shop and filled out applications during the afternoon before we closed.

Did I mention that Craig's List is free? Our newspaper ad when we first started cost over $300 and got us about 12 applications over the course of 10 days...
The new generation communicates differently than all us 40-somethings and older. Knowing how to reach them can save time and money.

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

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday 10-6-08

We had a pretty good day, above average, thanks to Tracy's catering at lunch and our live Bluegrass Music Jam tonight. It doesn't matter where it comes from, just as long as it comes! Every dollar counts!

I had a meeting with a representative of the lead (most popular) local television channel. They are pitching television commercial advertising to us. My gut feeling is that it is not a great deal. They want to charge approx $3500 to create a 30 second commercial (one that Tracy and I are responsible for the content, script, and speaking parts -- nothing fancy or overly helpful) and two minutes of air time a week for three months (Nov, Dec, Jan). The commercial would play between 5:00am and 6:00am (when no one is watching TV). If we had money coming out of our ears, we might do it. Since we don't, we'll probably take a pass and find some other way to spend our advertising dollars. I'm not opposed to TV advertising, but not for that chunk of cash and that time of day for air time. Let's see... that is $9.72 per second, and $583.33 per minute. Naaahhhh....

It's late...
Gotta run.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stealth Bomber in Colorado Springs

The US Naval Academy is playing the US Air Force Academy today in Colorado Springs. They have fly-overs for all of the AF games, but have amazing fly-overs for games against the other military academies. This is a shot of a Stealth Bomber in a high banked turn, going South to come around on the Air Force football stadium. That is Pikes Peak in the background.
I was driving home from Nemo's and saw this guy coming. I pulled over and snapped a couple of shots with my Canon G9.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Early October Update

Not too long ago, I mentioned that I did not believe we had seen the worst of financial failures yet. The last couple of weeks have confirmed what I thought… Our whole economic system is on the brink of failure, and many foreign banks have invested heavily in US securities, backed by failing mortgages, resulting in a global economic issue. How will all of this pan out? Who really knows at this point? Our dysfunctional government is acting like they are going to do something about it, but it failed in its basic form as a rescue plan during the vote in the House. It didn’t pass the Senate vote until hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest pet projects were added. If a representative of our government, elected by the people, refuses to do what needs to be done unless they can get millions of dollars in fraudulent spending added for their state or their district, then how can any of us have faith in our government? The founding fathers believed that ‘the people’ need to run the country, and that the federal government was a necessary evil for basic services such as national security. Our government is so bloated and corrupt; many great men in our nation’s history would roll over in their graves if they knew what has become of us.

OK, enough ranting…

How does all of this impact Nemo’s Coffee?
We have not had any sales growth for quite awhile. When the worst of the financial crisis news hit about ten days ago or so, we had some of our worst sales days in a long time. It was quite discouraging. However, sales have rebounded this week and are back to where they have been averaging for the last several months. The dire situational news really scared people for a few days there… I still think things are going to get worse, but for now, people have gotten over the shell shock of last week’s doom and gloom announcements and have gone back to their normal spending habits.
There is a ballot initiative on the November ballot for Colorado Springs to raise the sales tax by another 1%. That doesn't sound like much, but that would raise our sales tax rate to 8.4% overall. The county is talking about having a $40,000,000 budget deficit without this increase in tax revenue. I am going to vote no. If they can't run the county on 7.4%, then they need to fire some people and go back to the drawing board. We don't need our prices to go up in our shop, and have the increase go to the county. Our customers do not want to pay more.

We have approved our new lighted sign, and it will go into production soon. It should be installed sometime in November. All the other businesses in the center already have their sign, but we had a prolonged ‘dialogue’ with the ownership over costs of the sign, and who was to pay for it. We lost, but the ownership is going to pay for half.

The construction at the center is still progressing. Intellitec’s new building is up and boxed in. They have nearly completed the outdoor cafĂ© by our storefront. The wall is complete, the patio slab is poured, and all it needs is outdoor furniture and landscaping in the planters. They are now working on the parking lot, to reconfigure the parking scheme, add landscaping, and new blacktop.

I have been averaging about $1350 per month in photography and video projects on the side, which is helping since we are operating at a slight loss. The added income will cover our cost of the new sign as well. I just signed a contract this week with a local company that wants to use my photography for their website and marketing materials. I am charging them an annual flat rate, and it works out well for me and for them…

I had a meeting and signed a contract with an accountant earlier this week. I have learned the basics for payroll, sales tax withholding and payments, unemployment withholding and payments, etc… However, there are accounting responsibilities that need to be done, and will help us more accurately determine our profit/loss status. Our accountant also has a Masters in business, and has some marketing ideas for us. We can use the help, since we are just a couple of amateur hacks!

Tracy has more catering events scheduled for next week. One is at a medical facility on Printers Parkway, which is one of the areas in the block south of us that we want to break into. The other event is at Memorial Hospital, which is just a couple of blocks to the Northwest of us. The more we branch out to these large facilities, the better…

Here are a few recent photos… Click on any image to see a larger version.

We drove up into the mountains, to Cottonwood Lake outside of Buena Vista to take photos of the Aspens last weekend, but the weather conditions were poor. It was very overcast and windy, and not very good for the type of images I wanted to get. When we drove back down in elevation and were headed out of Buena Vista, the sun burst through the cloud cover and lit up this area along the Arkansas River. I stopped and set up my tripod and took a series of photos, bracketed from -4 stops to +3 stops (above and below an average exposure for the scene). I then used Photoshop, and a high dynamic range software called Photomatix to merge the seven exposures into one image, as you see here:

Some Aspen trunks shot in overcast, low contrast conditions...

The three coolest boys on the planet (slightly biased opinion)

Close up details of a dead tree trunk

Ethan hanging out on the railroad tracks...

Josh is really not this serious all the time, but he doesn't cooperate so much anymore for photos...

Cropped section of a sunflower. I played with it a little in Photoshop.

Cool leaf, in Black and White

...and to all a good night. or a good afternoon, or weekend, or whatever works for you.