We Do The Best.Tuesday 23rd February 2016
When starting, operating and running a business you have to make daily decisions that fundamentally affect the look, style and the feel of the business. There are constant pressures guiding you in different directions and this is what makes running a business so hard but equally so rewarding.
The biggest issue you are faced with when running a business is, of course, your bottom line and your cash flow. The really difficult thing is sticking to your principles in the face of inadequate profit margins.
I started Café Môr in 2010 as I wanted to run my own business celebrating the best of local and sustainable seafood in an innovative way. These are still my guiding principles and when I am trying to find an answer or a solution to the countless questions and decisions I have to make every day, I rely on my principles to guide me.
And it is these principles which I hang onto when I go and see my accountant at the end of every year. Every year he shakes his head at me for my low Gross Profit Margin at Café Môr. Yes, it is about profit, you need profit for the business to survive, but it is also about the very reason you started the business in the first place and that is something I believe you should never lose sight of.
I face these questions at Café Môr Freshwater West every year. For if I was purely a numbers man, then Café Môr would have to close because in truth the Café Môr numbers do not stack up. In essence, the overheads of running such a place while serving such expensive ingredients does not equal good profit. It means that my hourly rate is £4.25, a lot less than the “National Living Wage”. It means that margins are tight and the pressure for finding cheaper alternatives is constant.
But I am not an accountant and I see Café Môr in a different light, I see going to work at Freshwater West beach every day as a dream come true.
I see that serving the best food I can source as a privilege.
I see cooking with that view everyday as an honour, which money cannot buy.
Café Môr provides the best food we can possibly offer, sourced from the best producers in the area.
Once you have decided to be the best, then decisions on your ingredients are easy:
Q. Do you want this cheap roll for £0.05 OR this amazing roll for £0.50? I’ll have the best please.
Q. Do you want burgers from a can at £0.05 each OR this burger which is made from the best local meat from happy and beautifully looked after livestock and lovingly shaped by Andy and Dani at Yerbeston Gate farm? Umm, I’ll have the best please.
Q. Do you want this frozen Canadian Lobster for £5 which has traveled halfway around the world or do you want Pembrokeshire Lobster which has been freshly steam cooked by Danny at Dash shellfish in Little Haven. Claw, knuckle and tail meat all separated out, but it’s twice the price? I’ll have the best and most environmentally friendly please.
(Danny Curtis supplies simply the best lobster and crab I have ever seen and tasted. In fact he is such a perfectionist he cannot trust anyone to pick the crab and lobster, he does it himself; he may not be the cheapest, but he is a perfectionist and these are the people I want to work with because we do the best).
See, it is easy:
I want to sell the best lobster roll in the world.
I want to sell the best burger in the world
I want to sell the best bacon butty in the world
We do the best and we are proud of it. We do not do the cheapest, we do the best. We do value for money. We do quality. Because I made that decision to stick to my principles we have won best street food in the UK in 2011 and 2014.
Achieving the best is almost the easy part, the hardest is trying to translate this to every customer you have. 90% of people get it, 10% don’t. 10% ask why they’re paying £10 for a lobster roll and £5 for a burger. My answer is always the same: because we do the best. Of course things happen day to day, things break, stock runs out etc. etc. The queue may be long, we may have run out of something, but our guiding principle is always to be the best.
We should start asking why food is so cheap rather than why it is so expensive, start asking if we’re getting value for money here? Start asking who reared that animal, who made that burger, we should just start asking anything apart from why is this expensive, because in truth it is not. In truth, Café Môr as a business should be closed, in truth I am earning £4.25 an hour.
Come to Café Môr to expect the best not the cheapest (there are plenty of places doing that). We should stop asking & start understanding, start demanding quality, and enjoying the best food with the best view, because life is too short for anything less.
See the best this summer at Freshwater West.
by The Captain