Baz Butcher of St Giles Cafe shares his thoughts on opening his own business

It goes without saying that the most important aspect of any business is the people. And, thus, choosing who to employ comprises the most crucial of decisions. Decision-making on prospective employees is, I think both an art and a science. And of course nowadays you can have a look at most people’s social media profile first.

For me the start point was to be very clear about my brand. Not just in name, but in look, feel, tone, style and above all sense of direction and purpose.

If this is relatively clear from the outset then you attract people who, before they even get to sending in an application, have taken an early stage interest in being part of something. A number of my early applicants for jobs liked the way I’d written a poster that I put up in the window, and specifically how that poster had been framed. Some very small things can speak volumes and help connections to be made.

Despite all the very many recruitment techniques, tests and interview styles, I am a firm believer that first impressions – that immediate gut feeling you get on meeting someone for the first time – is a very useful marker in helping to make a final decision. And this point is particularly relevant in the service, hospitality and catering sector.

Luck also helps. Within three days of advertising for staff, two people – who have turned out to be most crucial and critical to the success of the business – had walked in to have a chat with me. Hundreds of others also applied. One applicant even took to Twitter before her interview, tweeting: “OMG. Two job interviews #moneymoney ”. One of her followers replied: “OMG!! Who for?” to which she responded: “Only Sainsbury’s and St Giles café. #moneymoney”. Suffice to say, her interview was a rather shortlived affair.

Quite quickly I was able to find a relatively small group to invite into the café and spend a morning getting the place ship shape. I didn’t assign anyone specific responsibilities, but simply said what needed to be done and then observed all of them in their approach to work, the questions that they asked and manner in which they related to others. This was an early stage process to identify those who were natural team players and those who really cared about their work.

Within ‘opening week minus one’, I pretty much knew who was going to be part of the core team. All of these people showed from a very early stage that they cared, that they felt part of something new and that they could voice their opinions as to how we could go about things. After four months of trading, each week surpassing the previous, we’ve had many reviews. One word crops up more than any other in these reviews and that is “care”. We’ve somehow created a family-like team of people who really care about their work and their colleagues. I cannot thank each and every one of them enough.

TRY IT: St Giles’ Cafe, 52 St Giles’, Oxford Call 01865 554200 Opening Hours: Mon/Tues/Wed 8.30am-5pm Thurs/Fri/Sat 8.30am-9pm Sun 8.30am-4.30pm