It’s always going to be a challenge. But for us, we wanted to focus on developing people’s careers, not just hobby jobs. So a big part of it is having a development framework where people understand they can develop in the organization. We’re not perfect at it, it’s probably one of the biggest areas for improvement for us in the organization, but we're developing the Bluestone Laneways program launching in May where we’ll be committing to developing business leaders, and having a very prescriptive development program.
I think it’s so interesting that very few people manage a business that turns over $1 million dollars, and the opportunity to do that, to run a store that makes a difference to 1,000 people or more a day, I think it gets undersold, under-appreciated. And for us, that’s a huge message that we want people to appreciate, and we want our team to understand that it’s a terrific achievement.
You have to be focusing on 3 key leaders: purpose, why Bluestone Lane exists, why we make a difference, why we provide a genuine daily escape. Part of that is mastery, so constantly training, developing, and mastering. And then beyond hospitality, how to coach a team, how to develop people. And autonomy, for us that’s really about ownership, taking ownership of their small business, and thinking intellectually and critically about how they can drive performance, developing their team, while using tools in the Bluestone Lane system. Lastly, encouraging people to own their own career, knowing their role and executing it. It’s something you have to focus on all the time. The gig economy has made it really hard to retain talent, when you’re dealing with a regular schedule. But then a lot of gig economy jobs don’t have a team aspect to it, and the most critical component to be successful we see is that you have to LOVE working with other people - enjoying being on a team - and they must love serving other people, making them feel good and happy. If that’s missing, it’s hard to be successful at Bluestone Lane.
Ultimately, Bluestone Lane is about being part of a pure definition of hospitality, and for us, it’s about providing it to our locals every single day. We’re built on local retention. We’re built on serving the same locals. And that’s how it is for successful coffee businesses internationally, serving your same customer regularly. And you can only do that if your commitment to service is great. If the service is ordinary, it’s getting more difficult to sustain that. I know I expected a lot more when I moved to New York, I wanted premium service. The service must be premium and engaging. It’s a non-negotiable.