Wednesday 30 January 2013

A day in our sandals

You may be wondering how our days pass by on this beautiful island and how busy can we be if Cuca is not even open. Being distractions dangerously reachable, it may well look like we are spending our days getting a tan and drinking mojitos.

Well, this post is going to reveal the truth of our island life. While all the Balinese walk around giving away their gorgeous smiles, telling us to relax and being a living proof of balance with their environment, we must confess that we struggle to follow their example and advice. This is what a very typical day in our new world is like:

  • Alarm kicks off at 6.30am. We need to get up to beat the jam! 
  • 7.15: we jump in the car and make our way flowing among rivers of motorbikes going to work, women carrying market products on their heads as they make their way home, ceremonies filled with beautiful white costumed worshippers… 
  • At 8.30 we arrive at our first destination, a company where we are asking for a second quotation for our uniforms. We meet a lovely lady who spends an hour telling us about options and their respective pros and cons.
  • It is 10am when we walk into our printer’s shop. We have brought them our designs and today we need to select the colors from their Pantone. It seems they cannot make round stickers in small quantities as they require an expensive custom-made knife. The containers we have chosen for our retail products are round so after discussing for long and looking at different options, we have no choice but to make thousands of labels… we hope you all support us as we have stickers enough for everyone.
  • We now meet the company that is going to engrave our cutlery. They have prepared a sample but unfortunately the result is not as good as we thought it would be. We need to find a solution… what about painting the engraved logo to cover the uneven wood? “It may work”, they tell us, so we need to go back to their workshop in a week time to see the new samples. 
  • Time to collect our “beloved” round containers… This is a hectic Arabic run shop where everyone is immersed in captivating tasks: they make and bottle perfume, among other products, so their job is to smell and smell again. While we wait for our receipt, the owner comes to us and asks us if he can help us with something else… we look at each other and come up with an amazing idea. You will have to wait to find out more…
  • We speed towards an area called Kerobokan, where all the interior design shops are located. We need to find hanging lamps for Cuca. Our designers have come up with a few proposals but they are completely out of our league (designer lights from Italy…) and we really want to find Indonesian alternatives as part of Cuca’s philosophy of going local. After visiting 5 or 6 shops we find one where the owner tell us he can custom-made all type of lamps. We can’t believe our luck! It usually takes us weeks to find the suppliers we are looking for! We get his contact, shake his hand, returned his smile and tell him we love him.
  • Our empty stomachs strike at 4pm… we don’t have time to stop for lunch so we buy some bread and eat in the car on the way to the construction site. We want to have a look at the progress and at the same time collect some paper samples for our menus. 
  • On our way home we stop at a servicing centre. Our car has been working as hard as us and needs a little oil change. 
  • We get back home at 7. Time to check our emails and get back to suppliers, interior designers, contractors… We also send emails to everyone we met during the day recapping our meetings and “gently” reminding them of the looming deadlines. 
  • I check once again our “to do” list and take the last few decisions of the day while Kevin starts preparing dinner. 
  • We smiled at each other and tell ourselves we need to take it easy. Things will only get more hectic when Cuca opens and we will need to be rested… Sigh. 

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Can I get a menu, please?

One of this week´s missions was finding our menu holders. This is an item that has taken us long to design because we wanted something different than the typical leather folder.

We squeezed our brains to come up with an idea that we were happy with both functionally and esthetically. Apart from looking good, the holder must be easy clean, long lasting and with a simple system that enables us to change the menu pages frequently so they always look fresh.

We spent months discarding lousy ideas until we found the right one and when we finally did, we still had to see how to produce it. We then went from shop to shop asking for what seemed impossible and after being met with nothing but confused Balinese faces and even considering to make it ourselves, all our problems were miraculously solved when we walked into this shop, recommended by another of our suppliers. Despite having literally hundreds of menus on display, it was great to see nobody had thought of our idea (this made us smile… it is so damn hard to be original nowadays!) but they still were willing to help us by producing something from scratch.

We now know where to have our menus made and only need to understand the sizes of paper available in Bali (yes, this is not “paperland”) to finalize the measurements of our holders. Can’t wait to see them finished and more so you holding them!

Saturday 19 January 2013

The faces of Cuca

We are now focusing on analyzing our staffing needs to start advertising the positions we want to offer. This may sound pretty simple but we need to create the foundations for a solid human resources structure that attracts great talents to Cuca.
We have started by drafting our organization chart in which we establish departments (culinary, marketing, etc.) and levels and classes within each of them to make clear the reporting line and the respective compensation packages.

The second step was to identify the stages for the hiring process. For example, we will first need someone who works closely with Kevin to test and study his recipes. We will then need a core team to be trained under Cuca’s values, products and services that later will be able to train the rest of the staff. The size of consecutive teams will depend on our sales forecast for each period and increase as our business does.

Another task is then to describe each position and define its respective job scope and remuneration. Finally we will also have to compile this plus other relevant information into an Employee Handbook that will work as a reference tool for all our staff.

The greatest challenge for us now is to design packages that are attractive enough to appeal to great employees (Cuca bets for on its people) and at the same time try to keep costs low as we are obviously working only with sales projections and not actual revenue. It is also difficult to decide the exact number of staff for each stage: we may be busier at the beginning with guests who want to try out Cuca and thus we would need to be ready for high numbers or we may be less busy until we get better known.

Well, at this stage we are getting used to face option after option. We are learning to overcome uncertainties by trusting our knowledge and experience and to move forward despite the obvious fear of making mistakes. What a journey…

Wednesday 16 January 2013

New Year, First Guest

How have you all started this promising 2013? Ours kicked off in a big way… Our first guest showed up a bit earlier than expected in the midst of Cuca's newly dug foundations!

Yes, as you see we have finally started construction.

We witnessed the first days of the digging in awe, hardly believing this is really happening and getting goose bumps looking at so much action, all directed to build up our dream.

Now the clock is ticking and although we are walking towards the right direction, we realize there are still hundreds of things to be done.

Prioritizing is key, especially because being in an island the lead time for almost every product is 3 months so we need to make sure we place on time the necessary orders.

On the other hand, decisions made from now on are critical since there is now way back as the digger moves unstoppably.

As our adrenaline is peaking up, please expect continued excitement attacks from us!