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What’s the Plan, Stan?

Published Date: July 26, 2023

Yup, you will need a business plan.

Having coached in the hospitality and cafe industry now for thousands of hours, we’ve noticed something curious: when the word “business” is added before “plan,” it often triggers either a panicked expression or causes the recipients’ eyes to glaze over. Nowadays, we simply refer to it as “having a plan,” which appears to go down a lot better.

But rather than trying to persuade you that you need to have a plan (because you do) and then bullet the same old highly googled areas you can just get offline, we’ll just tell you about some scenarios we’ve encountered with clients who had similar business models and were in similar situations but who had vastly different outcomes, depending on whether they did or did not have a plan.

The following points represent several clients, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to them as Jan-WITH-a-plan and Stan-with-NO-plan.

Prior to Covid 19, both Jan-WITH-a-plan and Stan-with-NO-plan were running their cafes and locked into a long-term lease. They’d each built a reasonable customer base and were busy running their business. Then Covid 19 with all its uncertainty and turmoil arrived. Pretty much overnight, everything changed. Within a short space of time, both businesses had to deal with an entirely new business landscape.

Here is where their story differs.

Jan-WITH-a-plan was able to turn to her operational downturn plan and put it into action.

In doing so, her risk was mitigated and minimised. In the very early days, she spoke to her landlord and reached a satisfactory arrangement. She also contacted financial institutions and government departments and was able to make good use of the services and support offered to her business.

But Jan-WITH-a-plan didn’t stop there. Remember that buzzword of the Covid era – pivot? That’s exactly what Jan-WITH-a-plan did. She contacted her customers using every channel of communication she could think of. She told them how her business would operate during this time, what she could offer them and how they could support her endeavours. As a result, her business came through with far less long-term damage than many other businesses.

Stan-with-NO-plan was not so fortunate.

He was unsure how to handle the situation and spent far too long trying to work out the best road forward. Every delay meant he lost more and more money, which led to more panic and indecision. When he finally did contact his landlord, the outcome was not ideal for the landlord or tenant. Similarly, his dealings with financial institutions and the government did not go well either.

Stan-with-NO-plan didn’t so much pivot as struggle to stay afloat. He had no idea what new systems and procedures he should implement and was making it up as he went along.

He was slow to communicate with customers and had no solid suggestions as to what he could offer them or how they could support him. Far too late, he turned to social media, but he had neglected that for so long that his online presence was not visible enough to make a difference. Consequently, nothing gained any real traction, and he eventually had to close his business. He is still suffering the financial consequences of his lack of planning and poor risk analysis.

The moral of the story is it makes good business sense to be more like Jan-WITH-a-plan than Stan-with-NO-plan.

We’re not trying to fearmonger here, but many cafe owners take on large loans or put their life savings into starting their business, so having a solid business plan makes sense.

We suggest dedicating a minimum of 2-3 days to crafting a robust plan. Yet, it’s important to note that today, planning need not entail a lengthy 60-page PDF. The approach has evolved into a more contemporary and streamlined process.

In this regard, please consider our specialised cafe planning and business software, ‘HospoSure.’ This dynamic and cost-effective tool is tailored to assist you in your extensive financial business planning and modelling needs.

You can learn more about HospoSure and view the free Demo by visiting the website. When you subscribe and create your cafe Venue, you’ll receive a complimentary online. This tutorial is designed to guide you through the platform in greater detail, helping you to fully explore its features and functionalities.

Introducing the HospoSure Foundation Membership Program!

You can now apply to become one of the 50 members who will get to use the tool for free for 6 months! Find out more by visiting the HospoSure page in our Education section.

In the cafe world, challenges are part of the mix, so making a strong plan is 100% essential.

We want you to reach the finish line in whatever form that suits you. So, reach out and let’s discuss how we can assist you.