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!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Sent to chase a wild goose

I would have never imagined how many things can go wrong simply by choosing the wrong floor for a professional kitchen. If you are half as naif as me and believe you would be safe by simply asking the contractor, you are in for a big surprise...

Last week we met our contractors for the first time and they kept on asking us questions we had not yet thought of. One of the many was about the kitchen flooring. They recommended "epoxy" but before we said yes I, the tireless researcher, thought we better did some research before confirming our choice. This decision unexpectedly triggered a chain of field trips, meetings, findings and surprises that kept us busy for the week.

Our goal is finding a flooring solution that stands the test of time, resists chemicals, spills and stains, it is hygienic, easy to clean, anti-slip, affordable and looks good. Secondary research showed a few options which we narrowed down to three, and a deeper look into them proved that each had unique pros and cons. Let me enlighten you:

Epoxy quartz floor

It is applied in multiple steps. First a resin is painted on the floor, then quartz is broadcast into the resin. The dry quartz then soaks up much of the resin that would otherwise soak into the floor. After it cures, an epoxy is painted over the quartz.

Pros: it is highly resistant, hygienic, exceptionally durable and soft on the feet.
Cons: it is quite expensive compared to the other options, it chips so it needs to be replaced periodically, it could be slippery and the biggest con of all, it requires a very long time to prepare both the surface and each layer, and extremely skillful labor, quite scarce here.

These are some of the scary consequences of a poorly applied epoxy flooring:


It is usually made out of natural clay and applied to the floor with a troweled-on cement based mortar. 

Pros: it is comparatively inexpensive and easy to install, can be individually replaced and readily available.
Cons: it is very hard on the feet, it is a porous material so can easily grow bacteria (specially in the grout joints), it breaks quite easily both under impact or as water eventually goes through it and the grouts are very difficult to keep clean as grease, water and food particles get trapped.

Vinyl flooring

This is a finished flooring material used primarily in commercial and institutional applications. It is made up of a mixture of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers pigments are added for color. Vinyl flooring is usually flexible, fine textured and appears to be relatively non-porous. It is applied to a smooth, leveled sub-floor using a specially formulated vinyl adhesive that remains tacky but does not completely dry.

Pros: it is soft on the feet, it looks good when new and is cheap. Also it is quick and easy to both install and clean and it has high resilience to abrasion and impact damage.
Cons: it does not work very well at all under wet conditions. Almost always, the water gets underneath and the floor starts coming off.

Lost in these lists of advantages and disadvantages, we decided we needed to better understand our options in Bali so we visited several professional kitchens around the island to see what they were using and get their opinion. The outcome was a myriad of advice. Our decision would change every time we ended a conversation or faced the disturbing truth of a wrong choice.

Will keep you posted on our decision but as you can see, there is never a dull day in our adventures in Bali.