Client Spotlight – Jane Peters & Crema Coffee Garage

When you walk into Crema Coffee Garage in Broadmeadow, you are hit by the warming aroma of amazing coffee.  Whether you drink coffee or not, Crema is a special place, taking you through the journey of green coffee bean to your favourite brew (hot or cold!), and all you need to create your perfect tea or coffee brew.  The team’s passion for all things ‘brew’ is palpable when you meet Jane Peters, Co-Owner of Crema Coffee Garage, as her eyes light up talking about all things coffee, business and people.

Here’s our first Client Spotlight Interview, with the wonderful Jane Peters …

  1. Tell us a little about your business?

We inspire your ultimate brewing experience.  I know that’s a funny statement, but it’s the core to everything we do.  We’re a speciality coffee roaster, doing everything from bean to machine.  We’re a small to medium business with a team of 25 team members, over 2 locations, and we’ve been operating for 15 years.

We’re small minded, in that we have a focus on being family and not being a big corporate – this is really critical for us.

  1. What are you passionate about?

Coffee and culture!  Creating memorable coffee moments for everyone, no matter your favourite – and having a great time doing it.

  1. How would you describe the culture of Crema Coffee?

Internally, we want to create a work environment where all our team members feel like it’s not really work.  Whilst we’re not perfect, we strive for it every day.

From a customer perspective, our culture is our fanatical support of everything we do.  We can talk about how cafes can be more efficient, how to create a great customer experience, creating the social experience that should be coffee – we are fanatical about enabling our clients to meet their business goals.

  1. What have been the biggest achievements for your business?

As I mentioned before, our biggest would be the creation of a work environment where all staff feel like it’s not really work.

It’s also been about having a zero-debt company (up to last financial year, where we’ve needed to invest in our growing operations in Queensland!).  We’ve always had streamlined liabilities; this is an achievement as you can really get yourself into strife if you don’t keep an eye on this as a small business.

And finally it’s been about our growth – being able to tap into the Brisbane market, whilst still keeping our eye on the ball for our Newcastle and Hunter market.  We needed to grow in a location that felt as comfortable as Newcastle, without losing ourselves.  We find Brisbane to be personable, seeing the same loyalty and patriotism that we experience in Newcastle.

  1. What would you say have been your biggest ‘people’ challenges since starting Crema?

I think it’s got to be, being a small business, and having four different distinct departments which all need to operate quite differently, but then creating an understanding of that bigger picture for our people.  You hire somebody for a role, and they may be a coffee roaster or a barista, but because you’re a small business, they need to work across the business.  We have to create ‘the spirit of cooperation’ and instil this for all our team members.

The other thing is time – HR is a role in itself and there’s quite a lot to know.  To focus on that, you could create a full time role.  As a small business, it’s an expense – whilst essential, you need to manage it in an efficient and economic way.  You can’t just create a department, and because you don’t have a department or specialist in-house, you need to learn it – or get someone in who knows what they’re talking about.

  1. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to start their own business?

Having business consultants, including our business advisor, has been so important for us – someone to teach you about business acumen, strategy, but also about HR, leadership and people management.  Read books, learn about these things – whilst you might be good at something in particular, you don’t know it all.  Entrepreneurs generally need to hire staff eventually, so you need to make sure you that have your tax, HR and business law covered.

  1. What do you think are the 2 personality traits that creates a ‘successful’ entrepreneur?

The two big personality traits you need are perseverance and grit – you need to be a duck on water.  At a Jura Conference (one of our coffee machine manufacturers) in Melbourne, Roger Federer was speaking.  Tim (Co-owner of Crema Coffee) asked Roger, “What is your mantra?”  His response: ‘Something that my mother taught me, “it’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice”’.  This has really stuck with us.

  1. How has this mantra influenced you in running Crema?

Helps me to be firm but fair.  Helps me to understand that, being a leader in our business is important, and I have a great responsibility.  In having that responsibility, I have to be nice about it.  I have to create an environment that makes people want to come to work and want to work for us.  If I’m an ice queen and a dictator, people don’t want to come to work – this is not the culture we want to instil.

  1. Can you briefly describe the project that you sought Seed’s help with?

We needed Seed to come in and create an understandable structure, to ‘black and white’ it for us.  To give us some systems and procedures to move forward into a growth period.  That involved redoing everything from the ground up, helping us to choose a new payroll system that was right for us, set up new contracts, new position descriptions (which we call Role & Person Profiles) and also consulting to us on best industry practice on how we should approach things.  Seed also helped us navigate some intellectual property and legal loop holes within our HR framework, to make sure we’re protecting our business and our employees.

  1. How did working with Seed add value for your business?

It’s funny, I probably could have had somebody in to do this role, but now we have a system and templates, such as tick boxes for onboarding and terminating, it’s just part of a manager’s role, so now I don’t need a dedicated person to do it.  We’ve automated our systems, which have created time and clarity for me and the Leadership Team.  Now, when we hire new people, I can do it in a pinch – I just update my template, reread it and make sure it’s relevant – I don’t have to start from scratch.  This has been invaluable.

  1. How would you describe your experience with Seed in 3 words?

It’s hard to stick to 3 words!  Top 3 words would be:  efficient, customer-focused (Seed prompted us with questions that we hadn’t thought of, coming to the plate with an understanding of what we need) and tailored (Seed got to know our business, and then made sure we had what we needed).  Seed took the ‘fluff’ out,  really, which works for us.

  1. What’s Crema focusing on at the moment?

Apart from our expansion into Brisbane and the building of a new restaurant and retail outlet there, we’re doing some great corporate deals.  We have a number of machine lines which are great entry-level corporate machines, as we have a new range coming out next year.  These ‘professional automatic machines’ are just perfect for a corporate/office environment, and we’re experiencing continued growth in this space.  With our passion to ‘inspire the ultimate brew experience’, we want to make sure that our customers have the right machine for their needs – it’s not effective or efficient to put a domestic machine into a corporate environment.  So we have some great deals in the corporate space at the moment – contact us if you’re keen to know more!

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