Q1. Hi Ben, welcome to our first blog! What better way to start than with the founder and co-owner of We Are Smart Bar! So lets begin, were did the whole concept of Smart Bar come from?
A. I have always had a love for coffee and about three or four years ago wanted to set up a coffee shop. Knowing that the coffee shops were shut during lockdown I realised that there was a need for a service to be brought to people as they weren’t able to go to their regular coffee outlets. I visited a drive-through and realised there was definitely a demand for Premium fresh coffee, teas and hot chocolates to be provided to both businesses and to local areas for people to buy.
Q2. When did you first realise your passion for coffee?
A. Who doesn’t love a good coffee or tea or hot chocolate! I think coffee has grown as an industry over the last 10 years and you only have to look at the High Street as to how many other coffee shops are around. I have always loved great coffee and even in my office have a coffee machine as well as the one at home. I think for me a good coffee is a great start to any day, mine is a double espresso which starts my day off with a real spring in my step.
Q3. Has it always been your grand plan to one day run a hot beverage business?
A. It was never really a plan, but I think when the world crashed in March this year I felt I had to do something as I’ve always been someone who is always busy and on the go. It just made sense for me to set up a new business with not only a passion but also my love for coffee. At that point I never knew it was actually going to be a business I just thought it would be a hobby and something to keep me busy and out of the house.
Q4. Smart Bar has grown rapidly in the past 4 months. Is this how you saw the business going?
A. When I first bought that Smart car one Saturday night and then started doing it up, never in 1 million years would I have thought that four months later I’d have four cars and be rapidly growing and needing more staff. I think it’s testament to the brand that there is clearly a demand for a local, great quality service which also offers amazing treats and hot snacks during these weird and wonderful times that the country is having to go through. Especially at the weekends we see people coming to the cars in their local areas and it becomes part of their routine as well as a way to socialise and see friends on walks as this is one of the few things that you can do during this time.
Q5. How do you think your customers would describe the Smart Bar Experience?
A. From the day I started SmartBar and with the other businesses that I run, it was always important to be led by people’s opinions and make sure that we appeal to the masses. Our customers have dictated the way our menu has gone as well as the locations that we attend. I believe we now offer a varied menu, appealing to as many people as possible which includes a variety of milks and dietary food related items. I hope that people continue to support the SmartBar team and that it remains an exciting weekend treat for so many. I also hope that our businesses continue to support the SmartBar Team as their weekly or monthly treat.
Q6. So what is next for Smart Bar?
A. I feel we are only at the beginning of a very exciting journey and what a 2020 it has been. In 2021 we have some exciting growth for the business. I’ve set myself targets to make sure that we have a larger fleet of vehicles and that we start spreading into more cities throughout the UK, initially targeting London whilst also saturating the Manchester market and surrounding areas. Earlier this month we agreed a contract with a business to support them throughout 2021 and service over 5000 of their sites with a welcome gift from them whilst also providing a complimentary hot drink and treat from SmartBar team. This has opened our eyes to our corporate partnership opportunities which we are so pleased to now explore, and this is just the start!
Q7. What would you say has been the highlight for you over the past 4 months?
A. From owning one car and never really feeling that this would be anything more than a passion, to see it now turning into a business has completely blown me away. I can’t thank all our customers, clients, friends and the local public enough for the support they have given, and helping SmartBar to grow as rapidly as it has whilst also keeping me grounded. I have realised that the growth of SmartBar has to be done in such a way that the business can be replicated and grow into other cities while still offering the same SmartBar experience at the highest possible level – this is what we continue to strive for.
Q8. And finally… the burning question, what is your favourite SmartBar Drink?
A. I think this is dependent on how long my shift is and at what time I started. It would either be starting with an espresso, or I’d be venturing into a cappuccino with maybe a shot of syrup but then again I might have a cheeky waffle just to get me through!