Good Coffee & Covid-19 - part 3 of 4 / getting through
As of March 16th we had shrunk our team size by more than half. We were hunkered down to a skeleton model operating 3 out of our 4 cafes (take-out only). The cafe hours had been adjusted 7am-2pm. Our roasting & bottling operation continued as well. At this point we were pouring all our energy into a small goal set:
Operate at this scale with a heavy focus on both staff + guest safety.
Gather cost + revenue information as quickly as possible to figure out how long this can last — existing at this scale to both save jobs + service overhead.
Folding down to this reduced model was difficult, but some of the most trying weeks were still ahead. Keeping things together (and smooth for the staff & guests) was complicated. Everything was changing so quickly. Our model evolved daily as more and more guidance came through local and national health channels. Our team would bring constant feedback of what was working, and what could be improved.
In terms of modeling the fiscal viability of all this, we were shooting in the dark. I was putting together 3 to 6 month models on 2 to 3 days worth of data. We were going on anything we could. There was no choice. We had to make decisions.
After a week and half we began to see the need for another shift. We started to seriously consider folding down smaller. So much was changing day-to-day. In the middle of all this the Governor had declared a state-wide stay at home order, and while we were deemed an ‘essential’ business, and allowed to continue operating… being able to evolve at the rate necessary was proving too difficult at our current scale. Our team was split on multiple fronts… some wanting to work, some wanting to shelter. We were again faced with the difficult decision of saving jobs now, or continuing to think long term. It was becoming abundantly clear that if we didn’t start to find some time and resources to play the long game, we might not make it out.
There was a lot of talk with our team members leading up to the week of March 23. These conversations revealed competing ‘best case scenarios’ for everyone — to be expected when 15 people (with specific individual needs) are navigating (together) something as wild as COVID.
We finally made the call and let our team know we would be shrinking again. Ultimately it was in everyone’s best interest. Running a coffee company in the midst of COVID-19 was beginning to feel like a high stakes game that was running us out. Bouncing back and forth between health concerns, staff needs, guest expectations and money management over the last weeks had been an exhausting game of whack-a-mole.
I can pinpoint the week of March 23 as the week we finally felt like we landed the plane.
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The next two weeks were spent catching our breath and showing up to work every day (day-by-day) to focus on the ‘now.’ Finally we were allowed much needed time to re-adjust our expectations. We were able to grieve the layoffs, spend time missing the day-to-day interactions we used to have with team members, grieve (and let go of) the company we used to be— and also important, find some emotional energy to imagine the shape of Good Coffee (the company) that would come out the other side when COVID-19 had run its course.