As we approach the end 2018 its time to reflect a little on the year that was!  The reflection of focus for us is what worked well.  Those things that we need to continue doing, and then what needs to change as a business going forwards. This got me thinking on personal stuff as well, so here goes, a wee summary on the last 12 months. 

Time certainly fly’s. It feels like just last week when we were sitting in the cold office in January looking forward to the year ahead.  Both our families had grown at Christmas with the addition of 3 cats (myself with Paddy and Murphy, Niall with Mittens).  We found most of the conversations were around how silly it was having kittens. January was naturally quite as the world got back to the hum drum of life post the festivities.  We did however welcome a couple of new customers.  Plus we launched our retail tins into a high street convenience store which was amazing!

We are both involved at the local rugby club with coaching and developing young players.  We have no let up on this with training and fixtures continuing on Sunday morning in minus temperatures. As we started to thaw out into February, 2017 became a distant memory.  Business began to get back to some sense of normality as it does this time of year.

We entered 2 of our espresso coffees, Espresso Reserve and for a second year our Bourbon Select, into the “Great Taste Awards 2018”.  We delivered coffee training sessions and began work on updating the website and producing product brochures. The cats were still a talking point throughout this time.

Business in March and April

Business in March continued to grow both via our lovely customers organically and new business coming on board.  We did unfortunately lose one customer at this time. We are not sure why as we provided the same customer service we do to all our customers.

Products were delivered on the same day when they had forgotten to order.  Or the very next day as standard without charge.  We provided appropriate free training as and when required, including out of business hours.  Responded same day to adjust the grinder on a number of occasions after it had been tampered with to the point of no-return.  Offered all the products needed to run the operation and all maintenance when needed.  So hey ho, there is only so much we can do and we felt we did our best.

April was again a positive month with a few trade shows to visit. Customers were supported with mystery shopper visits. The end of rugby season arrived. We introduced our coffee bags into the hotel bedroom market. We also introduced Matcha tea and a granulated milk product for the bean to cup machines.  All this whist continuing with all the other day to day stuff.

May through to August

The month of May came and went fast.  But we did enjoy a Novus tea tasting masterclass with a couple of our customers. We also enjoyed tasting a range of the teas over ice ahead of the summer. June, July & August always seems to be a bit hit and miss in our business, Whilst 9 weeks of sunshine and no rain is delightful to be out and about in, it does effect the hot drinks market.  This being said a couple of Conti coffee machines were purchased for new store openings. We introduced a new bean to cup machine into our range and picked up a nice little customer close to the office.  Let not forget how we were awarded Great Taste awards for a couple of our coffees, all is good.

A few Hiccups

Unfortunately, in July my two cats became one. Murphy lost his brother which was a real shame and the kids and wife were understandably upset, I fell off a ladder cracking ribs, damaging wrists, knees and face so summer personally was an adventure.  Luckily both families did manage a holiday away. Come September the schools are back, the holidays are over.  My middle child was starting year 7, big boy school. Then we were back to rugby coaching.

We settled down with some new business that had been bubbling over the summer. Some good sales from existing customers come through.  We lost a close friend and one of my rugby coaches which was/is rubbish. October and November is the months when the weather changes. Warmer drinks are being ordered and the hot chocolate sales increase.  Christmas shopping starts, black Friday deals and a customer returned from18 months ago.  This was great news for us as they were not receiving the levels of service we provide which is wonderful to know.  So here we are in December already. 

The end is near

2018 has been a good year for developing relationships and working with our wonderful customers, which we are lucky to have.  It is always a bonus securing new customers.  We are already lining up potential opportunities for the early part of 2019. Plus a potential great partnership with some exiting products to look out for. We are really proud of what we are doing and achieving at Hessian Coffee in 2018 and our continued growth.

Thank you all, Have a great Christmas and all the best for a prosperous and healthy 2019. 

Neil.