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Expecting the Unexpected in Small Business Expansion

Season 1: Episode 96


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Most small business owners dream their business will become successful enough for them to open a second location. For The Candle Pour owners Misty and Dennis Akers in Tampa, Florida, expansion came after months of planning and setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, learn valuable strategies for surmounting challenges as you pursue your expansion goals.

On the Yelp Blog: Planning to expand your business? Grab the checklist that helped Misty and Dennis Akers achieve their goal of opening a second location.

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s small business expert. Typically I share a story featuring conversations with a business owner as well as someone who wrote them a Yelp review. But this week we’re doing things a little differently. I’m sitting down with Dennis and Misty Akers – owners of The Candle Pour in Tampa Bay, Florida. When I first met Dennis and Misty, the pandemic had just started and they were a little over a year into their first location. They had been on a wild ride, and really became popular in their area. Our first episode together was episode #5. Their customer Michelle shared her experience popping in on a whim, and what a delightful surprise experience the candle making was. After that conversation, I brought Dennis and Misty back on the show to deep dive into an important topic: hiring and firing staff. They had learned many lessons and shared some honest truths about how to grow a team with longevity, and what to avoid or nip in the bud before it becomes a problem. That was episode #18 so definitely check that out if you have or are planning to grow and develop a team. 

Today, we’re talking about business growth and expansion. When I first dreamed up this episode it was to discuss the process of opening Candle Pour’s second location. But as in life, and especially business ownership, the timeline took a turn and this conversation ended up being about all the roadblocks and curveballs along the way. Misty and Dennis dig into the benefits and silver linings they uncovered during the experience—and give some insight into things you can consider and plan for if you want to open an additional location or maybe just relocate to some place larger. Let’s give our conversation a listen. 

EMILY: When we last spoke, you were deep in plans to open a second location, and then of course the world shut down. Tell me about that time. 

DENNIS: Well, originally when we first shut down, we were navigating that lease to finalize that week. Was it that week? We were almost finalizing it. So we were like, that’s like pretty pre-pandemic, that whole deal. So we were definitely ready to do that then. And then again, the whole world happened. 

MISTY: We basically just put it on pause, not knowing what our business, especially because it was the touching, the smelling, everything was so interactive with our team and, early on it was, you didn’t know if that would ever be normal again. I remember Dr. Fauci at one point saying like, ‘You’re never gonna shake hands again.’ And I’m like, what the heck? So we just weren’t sure. The landlord was actually very nice about that. Like they just said, ‘Take care of Tampa, you know, get your business. And then we’ll just revisit this.’ We don’t wanna put you in a rush cuz our whole thing was all right, we know we’re gonna be closed.

Why don’t we focus on the second location, possibly franchising, all of that while we’re closed. So we have stuff to work on and then we’re ready. It’s just gone much slower than we anticipated. 

But once we realized that people were comfortable getting back to the norm, being around other people. And it was slow, but still. You know right now, I would say everything is pretty much back to normal. 

DENNIS: When we first shut down, I guess a word I would use, or words I would use, would be like a well-oiled machine. Like we were running, the staff knew what they needed to do. We were executing, and things we’re getting to where again, with that second location, you need number one to be running and be pretty self-sufficient. I feel like we’re getting there again now just with all the hiring and she had to do additional hiring cause it’s a bigger place.

And of course we could probably use two or three more people, but I feel that we’re at that point again in some odd way. let’s just hope the world stays open, but we’re at that point again. And I think we’re definitely ready. We were ready before, because we were just grinding, you know, it was just like, let’s just keep this going.

Then when everything shut down and it just changed that mentality a little bit. 

EMILY: Is franchising still the ultimate goal? 

MISTY: Expanding is, but we’re toying around. We already have everything set up if that’s what we’re gonna do. The financial part is difficult because we haven’t had a normal year. Like our first year was our opening year.

So we were only like late, late April through December. The next year we shut down from March to August and then by 2021, we were very limited capacity. And then we closed again because we had a relocation. So 2022 is our first true January to December year that we can actually say, cuz our team will be like, well, what are our goals?

I’m like, Ugh, you’re going up against us being closed. And then the next year, us only allowing six people in and then the next year we were closed. There’s just no consistency, but we pretty much know based on what we’re doing now. We’re more comparing month to month than year to year.

EMILY: That sounds like a bit of a roller-coaster ride, and not in a fun way. You had plans, you grew the business, you know, just throw a pandemic in there, and then moved. As you said, you’ve been open for four years but you’re just closing the first quote unquote normal year in business. 

It seems from my perspective you two have been really good at leaning on each other and figuring out solutions together, but it has to have been an emotional time as well as a challenging business time. How have you handled that? 

DENNIS: Before that even happened the kind of the saying—‘cause we were always trying to grow and adjust— was: ‘The Candle Pour is synonymous for change.’ And that’s not to say a bad thing, but it’s the ability to again, adjust. And I never knew that mentality or that culture would actually make way more sense when we hit something as big as a pandemic or even something that doesn’t sound like the biggest deal ever, but we shut down the second time to do our expansion September 1st. And then we didn’t reopen until December 1st and we actually had to force the reopening because it wasn’t technically done yet.

So you’re looking at a massive portion of a year, which is the holidays, which this type of business, that’s a huge part of, no matter what you do, like you focus on that. We literally missed out on October and November, and it’s not only the sales, it’s the ramping up to Christmas. So it’s like getting everyone still excited to move into that.

When we opened December 1st, it was like, we’re open, come, come back, please. You know, it wasn’t like, we were like, oh, we’re moving into this thing. Cause we were just trying to figure out the space. Because we had never used the space. So you don’t wanna go guns a-blazing. And the next thing you know, it’s like something’s off in the space and people have a bad experience.

And then that starts to spread and that whole deal. 

MISTY: Yeah, we had cabinets missing, you know, there was just all sorts of stuff that we wanted to reopen and we knew that people knew us. So like for them to walk in, they would be able to tell if there were key pieces missing, decorative or whatever it was.

So we had to, we delayed a lot just from millwork. So that was like an additional six week delay. Which we’re still dealing with their poor performances. 

DENNIS: Yeah. You asked how it feels. It feels like when we’re hundred percent committed and the team’s a hundred percent committed, but you don’t have someone doing millwork or a contractor that’s hundred percent committed makes it feel worse because it’s like, it doesn’t feel like they’re on the same page, what they might be.

It’s just when you’re like 100% all day. That’s what it feels like. You’re like, wait, this isn’t done. Why isn’t this done? Oh, well X, Y, and Z. You’re like, we gotta open. Every single day, every single week is more than any penny you’re saving on getting a cheaper contractor or whatever, you know?

MISTY: Yeah. One of the things we always talk about like, we can’t afford to have a candle delayed by two days. We give people a time they’re expecting it or we’re promising an experience or, you know, that’s what they’re reading about. And they come in and they don’t get it, we get blasted. We constantly have to be on our A game and just one little mix up and it’s such a big deal to us. We talk about it all the time. I just wanted something where people can’t criticize us all the time. Yeah.

The nice thing is, the majority is five stars and, you know, it’s things like that. And it is people talking about their experiences, but we’ve talked about this too Emily, is with COVID, if you go through our poor reviews, most of them are about wearing a mask.

They’re about stuff that’s not related at all to what we do or anything that we could control without doing what we thought was in the best interest of other people. And we give people a heads up, this is what it’s gonna be like and still they’d go on and on like, but that happens, but it is frustrating when you feel like you’re giving above and beyond and you’re giving a hundred percent all the time.

And then you have, whether it’s a contractor, a painter, they either do poor work or they don’t show up and it’s just like there’s no repercussions. Then they just go to the next job cuz they’re in such high demand. 

EMILY: Even through all of this struggle and the work and the delays, you’re still showing up for your community. That could be something you put on the back burner, and certainly everyone would understand, but clearly that’s not what you thought. Can you talk about some of the fundraising you’ve done and the impact it might have on your relationship with the community and your customers? 

DENNIS: From inception, one of our goals was to give back and it was actually hard the first year, because I don’t mean like to brag or whatever, but we got pretty busy and we were in the shop every day.

So you couldn’t do a lot of the outreach. Cause the time you could talk to people, you were working, you know. But the dream and the idea is to give back to a community that gives so much to you and we’re born, I’m born and raised here, she’s from here. So it would almost be silly not to be able to give back to that community cause without the community we don’t exist.

And if you put that in the DNA of the company, as you expand, you know, you want to be part of the community, not like cheesy, you’re part of the community, but you wanna be thankful for what you have. And part of that is the community that supports you. We shut down and people were for, I dunno, eight months, straight, 10 months straight, they were doing the experience with masks on.

And I know we talked about that could be a bad review or whatever, but in my opinion, that was just people supporting us, cuz it was not easy to do the process huffing through a mask. So we were extremely blessed. So to be blessed and now you have the time to actually give back is pretty cool.

EMILY: Let’s take it back even further, to pre-pandemic. You were experiencing pretty amazing growth for a new business. How did you know even then that expansion was even possible for such a young small business? 

MISTY: Yeah, I think a lot of it was just the response. We weren’t sure what we were gonna get. It was a new concept to the area, pretty new in general to anywhere. So we got a great response initially. And as we made it through, we opened in late April, so as we made it through the rest of the year, it was just listening to people say, oh my gosh, this place would be, it would do amazing in this area. It would be so great. I’m from California, or wherever it was. Really just listening to the customers. And that’s part of what we enjoy is we really do. We’re not just like a quick interaction. We spend so much time with them. They spend a lot of time with us. And I think most people would come in and be like, oh, what franchise is this or you know how many locations?

And we’re like, oh, this is the one. And the response was cool, cuz it was, I think, where we felt like we were still growing and learning, people would come in and they didn’t get that. They felt like it was something that had been around a while. It was organized. So that was a big compliment to us.

The first year was kind of learning and then listening, of course, and then just knowing what our bandwidth was. St. Pete is the next big market to us. So I think being able to stay close to where we’re still gonna be a part of it, that was part of the decision was just having easy access to our second location to make sure, as we still are learning, that we can go and do this concept again and duplicate it, replicate it it’s and it’s gonna have the same impact. So kind of keeping the baby close to home

EMILY: And I think, you know, there’s something to be said about the experience you were creating and how easily identifiable it was to customers, everything from the customer service to the way your team looked. I mean, even still today, when I think of Candle Pour, I picture the aprons that your team wears. Can you just describe what that whole experience you were curating was? That connection with the customer and how you were really bringing them into your venue and why the business itself, the brick and mortar was so important to what you were creating and doing with your customer before you obviously shifted to online and all that other stuff.

DENNIS: So, uniform and the brand from the get go, the mindset was bigger than just a single location. And in doing that one of the ways to keep everything on brand is to have some type of uniform. Not only does it make our closet decisions in the morning easier, but it does help the team just kind of stay focused – on task. So white shirt, black jeans. We all wear chucks. Now we’ve been getting a little lenient on the white and black chucks. We have some different colors now. and then, yeah, like you said, the apron, and honestly, that could be one of the things that as we grow, it just wasn’t necessarily thought of at the very beginning of like a staple piece, but it kind of turned into one. We have you know, the wall that has them hanging.

Everyone’s like, oh, do I put that on? I’m like, no, that’s actually like an art piece, you know, is it literally like, as part of our space is the apron. So yeah, that was, that was definitely one of the ideas was in expansion is to be able to create turnkey solutions is to have things that were built from the get go that could be expanded on.

EMILY: So bring me to that start of year two. You were going to expand, It obviously didn’t roll out the way we thought. And I think a big part of this story is everything that didn’t happen, honestly. 

MISTY: I think the expansion talk started in fall 2019. So we had kind of identified, we did wanna be in St. Pete. We kind of knew somewhat of the area, not like pinpoint, we wanna be Hyde park. We really felt like we wanna be right here. St. Pete’s a little different, it’s more spread out.

So we were open minded, but we did start a relationship with our current landlord to try to figure out what a good space was for us. It was really from there just going back and forth with them, starting the lease, things like that, and then March hit, and, part of it was, we were in the holidays, it was our first season. It was really crazy. It was busy. So we didn’t have a ton of time to spend on St. Pete. But we knew like after the first of the year, that was gonna be one of our big focuses and, January February started hearing more about the coronavirus and all of what was happening mainly in China, but then it started to trickle here and then it just got worse and worse.

And we made the decision early, early March, that we just, we had a business that was different. I know we talked about this before, but it was something that we felt was the right thing to do and not contribute to the spread and not be like a hub for people getting sick. So we decided to close. It didn’t stop the idea of expanding, but it definitely paused it because we, worked with the landlord, spoke to them and their big thing was, we don’t wanna get you in over your heads, especially when no one knows what’s gonna happen, especially with the nature of our business.

We weren’t sure if we would survive at all just considering what we do. Without smell, without touch – it really changes the whole concept. So we just put everything on pause.

EMILY: In putting that stuff on pause, I know it freed up some energy to really focus on the one location and what you were gonna do there, but you also started doing these online orders. And I think that probably took your attention for a while. Can you just share with me what that period was like, how you maybe back burnered that dream, but didn’t stop doing things in the existing business that were gonna allow you to return to the concept of expansion? 

DENNIS: To pivot in that time, as she was saying, you know, our company was built around bringing people together, number one. Number two, basically smelling with your nose, a bunch of candles that everyone’s touching. So you’re like, well, we gotta do something. I give credit to her for being extremely creative during this time. To kind of have an open mind to the pivots that had to be done while kind of staying focused on the task. Cause me, I was just like, wait, what’s going on? What are we doing? I was like, I was dumbfounded. So you mentioned us leaning on each other. I was leaning on her quite heavily. Cuz I had no idea what to do. I’m like what is going on with this? Like, it’s just like, everything’s shut down. This is our business! 

Anyways, going to online. We were supported by the community because obviously you can’t smell online. So a lot of people had come through our doors. And when we were releasing information about these different ideas to kind of keep our team paid, kind of keep us going, it really was humbling to have the support, to get these online orders, to keep us open. And it made us learn. I mean, we started learning how to just package candles better. Little things like that. Like how do we ship these things and get that more efficient? I mean that snowballed into us having a warehouse today. So there’s little things. There’s silver linings in every little hiccup that we came across. You just gotta find those silver linings.

MISTY: We had a six month old when we opened, so she was young and the first year was crazy. One of us was at the shop from open to close pretty much seven days a week, or both of us. Once that did happen, it was kind of nice to just have that slow down. The whole world kind of stopped and it was not a blessing, but in some ways, it was really us spending a lot of time together as a family and being with our kids more. So as hard as it was, it was very nice to have that extra time.

EMILY: The silver lining status, like you said, is much easier to find when you’re further away from the storm, right?


EMILY: Where are we at right now? You had to move the original location. And then what’s the plan right now for number two? Where are we at today? 

MISTY: We did. So we had decided, I think also in the fall, that we had outgrown this space quite a bit. Especially once we started realizing, our first couple months, people had never heard of us. Social media picked up people just in Hyde Park Village. So word of mouth picked up and we were getting a lot of people coming in and we realized on a Saturday and Sunday, we had a shop that seated around 16 people at one time. And we would have 40 people in the space, trying to get in and wave and smell. And so it was just, it was chaos and it was a very small area.

So we knew that we needed something bigger. I think the Hyde Park management team also, because the concept was new, I think they put us in a space that was a little smaller than what we should have been put in, but it was more, they didn’t want us to fail because we were in this giant space and no one knew what was going on.

So that was pretty early on when we realized that we were in a space – it was just under a thousand square feet – and now we’re around 1700. So that was in the works of us moving. And then that got put on hold as well. We just weren’t sure. But then, once things started to get back to normal, that extra year, we picked up the conversation with them again to move. So we did have to shut down once again. So August 31st was our last day open and then we closed for three months. Again, just focusing, we by then had more team that we had to keep busy. So we actually didn’t lose. I think we had 12 at the time we didn’t lose any employees, but we started doing a lot of things like outside markets. We did some pop ups, things like that just to keep them busy. 

So the time of year—as rough as it is, because that is the busiest time of year for us—it was a blessing because there was a lot of stuff that we were able to get creative and do. We opened a warehouse, so we were able to house all of our oils and glass and all the products that we have, and then just focus again on wholesale and online and just do the best we could.

DENNIS: Yeah, we shut down, like she said at the end of August, literally the day after we are preparing 30,000 pounds of raw material to move from Hyde park to the warehouse. So we, the team, we joked again, being synonymous for change. The team had to kind of pivot as well, and they became really kind of organizing the raw materials, prepping it on pallets. I mean, again, 30,000 pounds. So we had pallets everywhere. We had this entire space full of pallets that were all perfectly prepped. They did a great job. Then when we go to move it, no one will move it. So we spent the next couple weeks trying to find someone to even bring a truck out there. Cuz I thought throwing ’em on pallets could make it easier, but no one would touch it.

So again, the team was awesome. Get everything on pallets. One gentleman, his name’s Travis, literally me and him pushed 30,000 pounds of pallets on these craziest fricking mortar roads ever just to get him onto trucks, get everything to the warehouse. That was like a huge momentum builder for us because once we were finished, I remember, we’re all sitting there. It was almost like basking over what you’ve done. The warehouse was full of glass and we all cracked some craft beers that one of the staff members picked up and it was really like, like a rejoice thing. It’s almost like that movie Shawshank where they’re on the top of that roof. And everyone’s just kind of like basking in what we’ve just done. It was awesome. Again, that’s the silver lining. We got to focus a hundred percent on getting a warehouse, prepped and ready, and then positioned us better for St. Pete, cuz without that, the way we order stuff, you have to have room for it.

So now we have the space to where we can be prepped for two stores and keep ’em running efficiently. 

MISTY: Yeah. It also helped us just with our team in general. If you have a company you’re working for and they’re telling you they’re gonna be closed or, you know, just their buy-in. For us not to have one person that left. You know, we did find a couple little unique things in them. Like one of them still nannies for us, but she started helping out with babysitting. A couple of them went and helped another retailer, which is my sister in Hyde Park. She was a little short staffed, so they went to help her out. So we tried to find things. But to have a group that’s so invested in what you’re doing and in us, it was really, really humbling to have them just step up.

And it was instead of like, well, what are we gonna do? It was like, what can I do? Yeah. What can I do to help? You know, I’ll do this, let me handle this. So they really all just stepped up and, you know, hung in there and got it done. So it was really, it was incredible. 

EMILY: I think there’s this whole, ‘a change in a plan isn’t the end of a plan, right?’ As long as you’re willing to try to find a solution, you can probably find one. You just have to be flexible.

MISTY: I always am just a firm believer – you kind of go with the flow, you know? I’ve never been the type of person that I wanna do this. It’s gonna happen here. It’s this and this I’m gonna be married by the time I’m this. And kids. It’s always just like what life puts in front of you.

And I think with our business, we have just had to, like Dennis said, do some pivots. We’ve had to adjust what we initially thought we were gonna look like, which is completely different now, but in a great way. And it was because really we listened to our staff. We listen to the customers and that’s a big part of where I think a lot of people just have it too set in their head of what they wanna be or do. And, and that can handcuff you a little bit at times. 

EMILY: So Hyde Park is a new location, tons more space, up and running. What’s going on with number two, right now? 

MISTY: So we just got our permit approved about two and a half weeks ago. You think it’s great, but we submitted in late January, early February. It has taken a long, long time with, you know, little notes that they would come back and then it would be another four to six weeks before, you know, we’d respond right away and then wait for them to say yay or nay. And then having to go back. Everything we had done I think was very well put together. Our team did a great job; architect, engineers, and knowing what we needed to design. But the city had just had like a couple little things of which way the door opened that once they came back with that note and that’s the only thing, it was then another six to eight weeks to be able to like, okay, well, we’re gonna put it back in the pile.

So, we did finally get approval. So we are probably realistically, if we decide that opening in December wouldn’t be like the worst mistake we’ve ever made, which I think it would be, we’re probably looking at early 2023. Our move took three months. Our original build out took six. So We’re using the same team. New mill workers, but we just know like, everything we have is built for us. It’s detailed. It’s not like we can go to Ikea or restoration hardware and just say, hey, this is what we need. Everything is custom made.

DENNIS: So maybe positive again. And this is weird, right? I’m usually like a negative Nancy. A positive to potentially delaying an opening of a second location, especially during the holidays would be the ability to hire people for said second location, train them during one of the craziest times of years.

So when we open, let’s just—I don’t wanna open in January, January or February. Let’s pretend that happens. If we open in that time period, that should shrink the curve to get it self-sufficient to focus on whatever the heck we do next. So that could again be a potential silver lining to an issue like that.

Like everything else we’ve done, if that’s a hiccup, that’s a small hiccup compared to the last, you know, chokes that we’ve had to deal with. Not hiccups, you know, like where you could have easily gone south real fast. So we have, we’re blessed to, I believe the landlord is working with us cuz they understand we’ve done our due diligence. You know, we didn’t sit around on something. So if they work with us, I think we’re a good anchor tenant to bring more business to surrounding businesses. So it should definitely be a factor when they think about us. 

EMILY: I want to circle back to your community involvement. Even through all of this struggle and the work and the delays, you’re still showing up for your community. What makes that possible in the midst of everything else going on?

DENNIS: Yeah, again, since day one, that was one of the goals. One of our first big pushes to at least see what we could do would be that first pride week. And that, it is just a great experience to learn how we could help that portion of the community. But moving forward, like we work with the children’s cancer center, we work with Moffitt cancer.

We’ve done things as simple as working with Mecham farm here in Tampa, which is a two acre farm, literally in the middle of downtown Tampa that was just up and running. So it doesn’t hurt to not only help financially, but to even gain some recognition from a social standpoint, give them some eyeballs on what they’re doing. Cuz I think we’ve done a good job getting eyeballs on us.

So that does get tough, but it’s tough in a good way. We’re helping the children’s cancer center, any penny that goes their direction – and Misty brought this to my attention, which I never even thought about this way, but it’s a good way of putting it. Like during pride, we raise money for an organization. Like when we sell something that goes to them, we’re not just making some rainbow candle and just saying, we’re proud. Like we are actually giving back to the community during these times. So sometimes you don’t wanna feel like you’re hopping on some cool, like, like craze where it’s, oh, we’re all doing rainbows this month. I want everything that we do from that standpoint to be genuine. And even if we do it at an event, and let’s just say someone doesn’t want a ton of attention. They just, you know, we can raise money in the background for someone I wouldn’t even mind doing that, you know? 

MISTY: Like Dennis said, it was when we were putting together our business plan, it was something from the start of organizations locally. We donate to the USF stampede for women. It’s the athletic department to give them an opportunity for female athletes to have something during and after play, because it is, you’re an athlete. You don’t have time to do internships. You kind of feel lost when you’re done. So that was important. I am a former athlete at USF. So giving back to the school that we both went to, and then just that organization in general, it’s a newer thing that they put on and it’s incredible. It gives the female athletes a chance to have life after, they’re done with their eligibility and, you know, give them a little boost in their career or prolonged school. If they’re wanting to go to grad school their fifth year, they don’t get scholarships their fifth year. So, you know, it helps in many ways for those athletes to just kind of get on their feed after they’re done playing. 

EMILY: One of the many of the things we’ve talked about together is that hiring the right people is a long game and you guys were doing all of that hard work prior to all of these challenges you’ve had the past 12 months. 

No matter what location you’re in, however many you have, people are a huge part of who you are and what you do at the Candle Pour. It sounds like now you’re in a place where the family is built – the structure and the culture are there – and it’s just about finding what they’re gonna be doing. How have you built that up again after all the recent changes? 

DENNIS: From day one, like you have to think bigger than the shop. We knew from day one that one location wasn’t going to serve what we thought we wanted to do, you have to have multiple locations feeding into this thing to grow it the way you want to grow it, to be able to help who you want help or do the crazy idea you want to do.

You have to have multiple locations to fund it. And it is hard. It’s hard to keep a steady brand. And buy-in as you’re growing. What I’m starting to see now is we’re hiring new people that aren’t on, like the moving warehouse team we’ll call them. So you almost watch them adjust to coming in.

One of the biggest compliments we had was this gentleman came, he’s working with us and at the end of one day, he’s like, you guys work really hard. Not even to us, I mean, yes, we were there, but to the team, like he was astonished from 10:00 AM till 8:00 PM that night there’s tasks to do. We’re not fiddling with our watch. We’re not playing with our phone. There’s things to get done throughout that workday and all those little tiny things add up to be the big thing. And once you get the new guys buying in on that, you start to see them kind of change their mentality. It is retail. Some people have that mentality going into it. But if they can understand their part of something a lot bigger than what’s going on, I think it helps keep them on track as well as we grow. Cause Misty and I aren’t gonna be in the shop working 24-7 setting that tone. But we have people who’ve seen it and we have people who are managing it.

And as we grow, they’re gonna be the people people are watching when they come in, as we hire, you know, that’s not gonna be us, we’re gonna be part of it, but they’re gonna see the leaders that are being put in place and they’re gonna have to set the tone and we’re gonna have to make sure we keep a pulse on that.

MISTY: Yeah, it’s nice to have seen, like our expectations become their expectations. So as they’re training, as their new people, it’s now the culture where before it was like, take your cell phone out of your apron. This is why is, I don’t want you to walk into a store and there’s somebody sitting on their phone, they ignore you because they’re finishing up the text, a bartender, a server, you can see ’em around the corner, you need something and they’re there texting. It makes you feel like you’re not Important. And that is the opposite of what we wanna do. I’m also paying them, I’m not paying you to communicate with your friends, your family, whoever it is. We’re paying you to represent and do the very best that you can for the Candle Pour. Hopefully, like with this, we do have a lot of younger employees that are either in school, just finishing, some haven’t started yet. But hopefully for them to learn. 

I remember my first job was with Outback steakhouse and they were just so organized and everything was what you knew, what you needed to do. And the expectation was high. And it was when Outback was one of the big steakhouses. Now there’s just so many out there that are non-chain. But at the time that was like the place to go. And so I had that pride of working there, ‘cause I knew it was very hard to get a job there and people waited years just to serve. And I’m hoping that what we’re doing is teaching them for their careers—if they stay with us or if they’re moving on—is just the discipline of being a good employee. And I think most of them have a lot of pride in what they do. Every candle that goes out needs to be perfect. Every experience should be a great one. 

And sometimes we know we’re off and it’s better for us to reach out to someone and say, we are so sorry. We realized you came in, we were a little behind, you know, how was everything? Reaching out and apologizing before it becomes a problem. Or sometimes they don’t say anything, but we would rather apologize ahead of time, than leave them with a sour taste. To let ’em know, hey, that wasn’t our best, come back and see us when it is.

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