As you are getting ready to open your new coffee shop, you will likely begin to hire new employees. Even as your coffee shop is in the beginning stages, you will need to hire help to assist you with ensuring your operation runs successfully. Creating an employee handbook is essential to help things run smoothly with your new employees, by making sure both sides understand what the other expects. If you have never created an employee handbook yourself before, we have the 4 essential steps to follow to create your handbook.
To create the ideal coffee shop employee handbook, you need to discuss the company culture and your vision for the business, outline your expectations for all employees, and cover the critical safety policies and procedures for the shop. Once you have created a rough draft of your employee handbook, we strongly encourage you to invest in legal guidance and have a legal professional review your handbook.
Discuss Company Culture and Your Vision
The first topic that your employee handbook should cover is your company culture and your vision for the business. For your coffee shop to run smoothly and efficiently, it is critical that all staff members are on the same page when it comes to the culture and the vision for where the company is going. If a staff member does not understand the culture and the vision, it can cause problems to develop down the road.
When discussing the culture, you want to include a description of the overall atmosphere you want your customers to have when they visit your coffee shop. The culture could include how customers should be treated, along with how employees should treat each other at all times when they are in the coffee shop. If an employee fails to treat others as you mentioned in this section of the handbook, you could later meet with the employee and show them the part of the handbook that they have failed to abide by.
As you discuss the vision, you could even include goals of what you want to work towards and the changes your staff can work together to make. For example: If your business volunteers or donates money towards a certain cause that is a part of the company mission, you could include this under the vision for the business.
When it comes to the culture and vision in your employee handbook, the goal is to show your employees what makes your coffee shop different from your competitors. Employees should have a very clear understanding of what the business stands for and where the business hopes to go in the future. It should clearly and regularly be able to remind your employees why they made the right choice to work at your coffee shop.
Need help writing your vision statement? We’ve got an article just for that!
Outline Your Expectations for Employees
In order for your employees to be able to perform their jobs properly, all staff members need to know exactly what you expect from them. If an employee does not know what the expectations for their position are, then they are less likely to regularly meet or exceed those expectations, which can cause confusion and disappointment in the future.
When you outline your expectations for your employees, we recommend covering job responsibilities for each role in your coffee shop, along with expectations for things like attendance and dress code. For the job responsibilities, you want to make sure you include a detailed description of the minimum expectations, along with the ultimate goal that every role should be striving for as well.
For example: Do you have a goal when it comes to the amount of time each customer waits for a drink order? You would want to clearly outline that wait time under the expectations for your employees. You could also include your expectations for how many drink mistakes an employee makes (since everyone is bound to make mistakes here and there).
For attendance and dress code, you want to clearly outline what you expect from your employees and then also include the consequences that will happen if an employee fails to meet those expectations. For example: If an employee calls out multiple times within the same month, they should have a clear understanding of what will happen (like if they will be written up or if they will lose their job after a certain amount of times they call out sick).
Need some help hiring the best baristas? Check out this article for some tips!
Cover Safety Policies and Procedures
Every employee handbook should cover safety policies and procedures, especially when it comes to handbooks for coffee shops. While working in your coffee shop, your employees will be working various types of equipment (like your espresso machine). To help ensure that your employees remain safe, it is critical to clearly outline all of your safety policies and procedures, including how to properly operate the equipment.
If not used with safety in mind, an espresso machine has the ability to harm your employees, especially from the heat it generates. If an employee is not careful, they could end up burning themselves from the water that comes out of the espresso machine or on the steam wand. If an employee messes around on equipment like a ladder in the stock room, they could also put themselves in danger of getting hurt as well.
When an employee gets hurt while working at your business, medical costs will ultimately be your responsibility. Therefore, it is important that every employee knows how to operate every piece of equipment safely and that they also know what a big deal safety is in your coffee shop. If you act like safety is not important to you (by not including it in your handbook), then your employees will be less likely to treat safety as a big deal.
Along with clearly outlining safety procedures for each piece of equipment, you also want to include what to do in case of an emergency under the safety section of your handbook. This should include what to do if an employee gets hurt, along with including an emergency exit plan for the building (in case a fire ever takes place in the building). We also recommend including some emergency phone numbers in this section for employees to have on hand (like the local police and fire stations).
Invest in Legal Guidance
Once you have completed your rough draft of your employee handbook, we strongly recommend investing in legal guidance and having a legal professional review your handbook and make any suggestions that come to mind. When you are running a business, it is essential that everything is done legally. By investing in legal guidance, you can avoid any legal trouble that you could face if you do not have someone with legal experience review it.
Your legal professional will be able to find anything included in the handbook that should not be included, along with adding things that you should have in your handbook for legal purposes. For example: If one of your policies does not follow your local city’s laws on employee breaks, your legal professional would likely catch this.
When it comes to operating a business, it is always better to make the investment in legal assistance. By having someone with legal experience review your handbook, you could end up preventing a lot of headaches and trouble in the future.
By creating an employee handbook for your coffee shop, all of your staff members will be on the same page and will clearly know what you expect from them. It will make managing your staff a much smoother process. By following the four steps we have included above, your employee handbook with have a solid foundation and will be a critical tool for your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, every coffee shop (and every business for that matter) should have business insurance. This is especially true for businesses that are providing customers with a physical product (like coffee) and employing other individuals. Insurance acts as a safety net for your business.
When you open a coffee shop, you will need multiple types of insurance. Not only will you need liability insurance, but you will also need workers compensation insurance to protect all of the employees that are working for your shop.
The very first step you should take in opening a coffee shop is coming up with a clear plan. Opening a coffee shop will require an investment of both money and your time. Your plan should include how much funds you currently have for the business, how much funding you will need to find, what type of location you want and your overall vision for your new business.
Yes, we recommend investing in an accountant when you open a new coffee shop. An accountant will be able to ensure that your business finances are going in the right direction. They will likely catch any mistakes or warning signs that you may not catch yourself.
An accountant is also critical when it comes to helping you prepare your business taxes. Your taxes are an essential part of your business and we do not recommend doing them all on your own. Investing in a professional will make sure you are filing your taxes properly.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!