Now before you go thinking that this will be some long, conceited, rambling self congratulatory blog post about Pettigrew Tea Rooms hold on and move your mouse well away from the angry cross.
The award I deserve is "Longest Period of Maintained Procrastination Followed by Complete Digital Silence". This probably needs a little work, but I am sure there are many other writers out there feeling the January pang of guilt for the lack of input on their blogs, who would be up for a nomination.
Now to business. I have been asked quite a few questions about the Tea Rooms particularly from those who aren't lucky enough to live in or around Cardiff and haven't made it to us yet, but who followed my story up to the point of opening the doors.
For my first blog post in a wee while I thought it would be good to answer some of those questions. This will as ever be a candid and personal view that you won't catch anywhere else. If you have questions let me know in the notes at the bottom, or on my varied Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter outlets and I will answer and add them to this post.
What did I feel during 2012?
Petrified. I decided this morning to chart my three main emotions to give you a visual representation here:
I adore excel, it is the backbone of my business.
Now to give this come context, I did not spend this year a gibbering wreck on the edge, well not often. There were only two times to memory that members of my team had to physically retrain me (now that is a good story perhaps an additional question). But fear is a great motivator for me. As I have gown up I have come to know fear and use it to get things done. Fear stimulates momentum and helps me break inertia often leading to the highest feelings of joy and accomplishment. These emotions can be felt all in the space of a day.
So it is no surprise that on January 26th 2012 when I received the news my dream was to actually become a reality I had somewhat of a 'fear spike'. Following the huge success of the launch and opening of the tea rooms it wasn't until the bad weather of May and June that the receding fear took an upward swing. You see my focus up until then had been to open Pettigrew's and get it right from the word go. After all my preparation and lengthy debate using this very blog to tell people about how I was going to 'do it right', I had very little wiggle room to mess it up and tweak it better. This new fear following the opening is the fear of being passed your best.
Passing your best is the odd fear that you have accomplished the best you could without really noticing it and it isn't until the slide that you look back and can see the peak. We had less people coming through the doors at the start of May and for one week while storms gripped the UK I thought (somewhat irrationally in retrospect) that we had seen the peak of popularity.
In June we were covered with scaffolding while some rather unexpected work was carried out, this helped neither my nerves or the customer head count. With the removal of the scaffolding and the arrival of mid July my fear receded and switched to how to manage the flow of customers now we finally appeared to be on the map.
From July on it was back to the job of delivering the very best experience we could every time. Now we don't always get it right, but our motto is to deliver you the little things done right and we will always strive to do this.
I now sit at a happy equilibrium, fueled by a little fear, enjoying the experience and confident that my business is healthy and loved by our customers.
What was the High the Low and the Average?
The High has been the excitement at every milestone. There is an outrageous physical surge of pleasure that I have never experienced as frequently as this year. I can not single out one occasion and the trigger can vary. Off the top of my head; when I realise that I am an employer providing 4 full time and 6 part time jobs I feel it. When we were on The Great British Bake Off on BBC2 in October I felt it. When we recieve a 5* Trip Advisor review I feel it. When a customer says that was the best coffee they have had in Cardiff I feel it. When we were awarded our 5* Food Hygiene Award I felt it (go and look who has a 0,1 or 2 shocking!). The highs bring with them an overwhelming sense of peace which lasts and acts as a great reference for when the lows arrive.
I live for the lows, it is in my nature. If you receive 100 compliments and 1 person gives the gift of complaint it is the complaint that will echo around in my skull for the remaining waking hours. Remember the highs and learn from the lows. Move on. There is a very personal low I experienced in 2012 which crept up on me slowly and only came into sharp relief at Christmas. My partner and I have given up a lot to live this reality, financially and emotionally. We miss our friends and family especially those living further away. If any low exists it is the low of missing the closeness with the ones you love due to distance and time.
The Average was my secret fear for this project all along. I never voiced it prior, but I thought what happens if I get my dream and I feel the same? No day is the same. Yes there are average days, but those days are varied and challenging in their own little way. As I am VERY fond of telling my staff, "there is always something to do, especially cleaning".
This final question only gets a brief answer here. I want to tease you. I enjoy teasing you. I have teased around 100,000 of you since starting this blog a few years ago.
I have news, but I cannot share it right now...
It is BIG exciting Tea Room news that will make you get up and dance!
For now though if you want any clues there are only two ways to get them.