Opinions on Consultation Services?

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
ebsteve

#1: Post by ebsteve »

I may be in need of the services of a consulting company. Was thinking possibly Bellissimo, but was wondering what advice any of you all could offer; Either from personal experience, or from having a relationship with such a company, or because you like to post your opinions :wink:. I have found a little info here and there, both here on HB and over at CG, but nothing all that conclusive...
Steve
Caledonia, Michigan

ebsteve

#2: Post by ebsteve »

My landlord would like me to move around the corner, and I and trying to figure out who to talk to about whether it's worth all the time and effort, and if so, I would like it to be well set up from the start! Current work flow patterns are Not efficient. Would love to hear from anyone who has had any experience with a consultant, or any other suggestions! Just would prefer not to pick at random
Steve
Caledonia, Michigan

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another_jim
Team HB

#3: Post by another_jim »

I can't say if you should get consulting or not. I can say that Bellissimo is one of the very few consulting companies with a major involvement in high end espresso, so they are an excellent choice if you decide on this route.
Jim Schulman

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HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

I have no experience in the industry, but will offer my 2 cents worth.

Soliciting the opinion/advice of an experienced "espresso consultant" sounds like a wise decision, especially if it involves something as critical as changing locations. Minor issues like signage placement can spell the end for a business (regrettably this is partially what did in Pheasant Creek Coffee, the only decent cafe within 10 miles of my house). In addition to Bellissimo, I'll point out long-time HB sponsor Cafemakers. Although Andrew lives in Hawaii, he travels the world to "provide strategic business counseling, training and coffee quality analysis and control services that help leading coffee businesses improve flavor, sales and profitability."
Dan Kehn

ebsteve

#5: Post by ebsteve »

Thank you Dan and Jim for your input - I do appreciate it!
I have read, and also seen first hand somewhat, how some very 'small factors' can have a much larger effect (either positively or negatively) than one would first think.

Dan: I did see someone (I think it was Marshall...) had recommended Andrew's Cafemakers in the past, so did look up his site as well.

Do either of you, or anyone else for that matter, have opinions on whether to go with a well known such as Bellissimo or Cafemakers; Or to go with a smaller company (aka: Less Expensive). Is it a direct get what you pay for relationship? I am on a tight budget, but don't want to play around when it comes to this sort of thing. I also tend to think the margin for error is slim right now. Part of the reason I ask this questions is there is a semi-local place that offers some barista training and cafe consulting. JP's is located about 45 minutes from where I am. http://ontrack.jpscoffee.com/ I tend gravitate toward the tried and true instead. Would the closeness of a local place have any advantages/disadvantages? Any thoughts?

Thanks again guys, this site is a wealth of fantastic information (Thank you Dan!) and thank you for sharing your wisdom with the 'less refined' such as myself... :D
Steve
Caledonia, Michigan

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Marshall

#6: Post by Marshall »

Tom Palm of Design and Layout Services in Wayzata, MN is probably the best-known layout guy in the coffee shop business.
Marshall
Los Angeles

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cafeIKE

#7: Post by cafeIKE »

ebsteve wrote:http://ontrack.jpscoffee.com/ I tend gravitate toward the tried and true instead. Would the closeness of a local place have any advantages/disadvantages? Any thoughts?
On Track's website hasn't been updated in a couple of years. They list Pheasant Creek as a client and if I read Dan correctly, they are no more. :cry:

ebsteve

#8: Post by ebsteve »

Hmm...doesn't sit well when you have a list of clients and at least a few of them are no longer in business. From what I see of the barista training it appears to be newbies to coffee and they are just getting them to delve into the industry. So - not exactly looking for newbie advice exactly. My take could be way off on all that though. On the up side - I have had a really good double espresso from there, and an Okay macchiato.

Marshall: I have seen Design and Layout Services ads here and there - Thinking back I believe that seeing their info is what made me really start thinking about the need for a professional in the case that I ever had the chance to change locations. Thank you for the reference.

Thing is, I know the space would be better, due to better visibility if nothing else. But it is not ideal - being as I would greatly prefer to be on the other side of the road (going to work side). What do you guys think about splitting between a design specific company for layout, and the actual cafe side of things with someone else? I know Nothing of negotiating a lease, and have other basic needs such as that. I've really decided that now isn't the time to try to shoot from the hip...

Michigan is pretty much a wasteland for good espresso - especially over here to the west. I'm pretty excited about MadCap's [http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2008/07/n ... house.html & http://www.madcapblog.com/] opening in downtown Grand Rapids (20 minutes North of where I am) this fall. They are bringing to the table exactly what I would've envisioned for myself out there in the future. I am excited for the overall West MI coffee education! Hmm...well, guess I'll just keep working at bringing quality coffee to the boonies. Triple White Peppermint Mocha's for Everyone! :wink:
Steve
Caledonia, Michigan

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another_jim
Team HB

#9: Post by another_jim »

I'm not sure anyone here on HB can help you with these details. I can give you the "hiring a consultant?" 101, since I think you may just want some hand holding here. If the consultant you hire writes a report giving you nothing but facts you already know, and then urges a course of action other than yours, would you take it? If you did, you're just admitting that your instincts are wrong for this business; if you didn't, you'd have wasted your money. In short, you hire a consultant to tell you things you do not know, not to interpret stuff you do.

So, do you think you've been missing stuff on how you ran the cafe before? On the move? On the interior design? On the new lease? Once you've figured out where the holes in your knowledge are, you'll know who to hire.
Jim Schulman

ebsteve

#10: Post by ebsteve »

I agree that Home Barista isn't exactly the right place to look - for either hand holding or cafe consultation :). Just figured I'd see if anyone had experience with a company either personally or through a friend or such.

You all have been very forthcoming with any information you did have - thank you for sharing!
Steve
Caledonia, Michigan