We caught up with Seb about what’s behind this killer concept space, and how the boys use Kounta to juggle such a supreme amount of awesomeness at all hours while still maintaining an enviable work-life balance. Yes Please serves up five-star quality fare (think crispy skin pork belly with cookies and cream parfait for dessert) and slings smashing cocktails until 2 am on weeknights and 3 am on weekends, and yet the crew still has time to squeeze in 18-hole rounds of golf on the regular.
For starters, who are the guys behind Yes Please?
There are four of us – myself and Steve are sort of the main two dudes of the venue, and then we’ve got one of our mates, Callum, on board who we’ve worked with in other bars. And then we’ve also got Steve’s brother, Josh, and he wanted to pass along some investment so we said yeah, cool, you can give us some money – that makes everything better! That’s the story of the four of us.
And what’s your background, pre-Yes Please?
I’ve always worked in hospitality, and I started out at eighteen when I was fresh out of high school. I’d always wanted to be a bartender, so I got a job at a bar and I worked my way up. I got into it and then I thought, “ah, this is really good.” I was also at uni studying marketing and management, and eventually, I just decided that I liked working in hospitality too much, so I paid all my uni fees in full, left uni, and just went full time in venues. After that, I thought to myself, “oh, hey, it could be fun to save up and do something for myself.” I figured I’d be able to make more decisions – you know, those decisions where you’re like, “it would be pretty cool to buy some beanies or scarves, or go for a massive party somewhere,” but you’re obviously not allowed to do that when you work for other people because they’ve got your money in their pocket. I was lucky enough to meet Steve in a bar – he used work in London, and he’d run some pubs before. Then, he got back and we worked in a bar together. Belinda Carlisle came on the radio one night, and we both started singing along. I said, “hey, Steve, you like Belinda Carlisle, too?” And then, we just became best friends and decided that when the time was right, we’d open a restaurant together.
So, Belinda Carlisle brought you guys together?
Pretty much. Yeah, you know, you could say that – Belinda Carlisle and beer.
We read that your partners weren’t impressed with the Yes Please space when you first found it, but that you were the one who convinced them. Would you say you’re the one with the design eye out of the four of you?
Yeah. I worked briefly for a couple of years for Young Henry’s. I worked in sales, so I’ve always just sort of been the dude that asked different questions. You know, how everybody talks a lot of talk and they say things like, “yeah, how cool would it be to do a video of swing dancing cats?” But, then, they don’t know how to execute that. I’ve always been the guy who walks around and just asks people the right questions. You know, like, “hey, you’re a vet, do you know how we can get in touch with swing dancing cats?” It helps make things happen, you know?
In terms of the site, I called a couple of real estate agents and said that we were on the hunt for a site. We went and looked at a couple of places in Northridge and a couple of places in Perth CBD. Nothing really gelled, and then I went and looked at this place at 182 James Street. We’re right next to the park, and it’s a little bit out of the way. It’s kind of at the wrong end, if you like, of James Street which is the main drag in Perth. Initially, to be honest, we were thinking that this place looked like a shithole. But when we looked past all the crap, we saw we could definitely put a new fit-out in there, and we were like, “you know, this could be cool.” So, I took the boys down and had a look. Initially, they weren’t very impressed. Then, I got on my Pinterest which is what I do when I want to design things. I came up with the design along with the real estate agent and a builder. I said, “just picture this,” and I walked them through the whole thing. From there, everyone started warming up to the idea, and then I got them more and more excited. Eventually, they all said, “yes, let’s definitely do this!” So, it wasn’t a bad move.
Tell us about your late-night hours?
So, Sunday through Thursday we’re open until 2 am, and then on Fridays and Saturdays, we’re open until 3. That was kind of an afterthought. We wanted to do dinner and drinks, and just have the late hours for all of our friends in the industry who wanted to come down and have a feed and a drink after they finished work. You know, like 11, 12, and 1 o’clock. And, it turns out that initially that period was much more successful for us than the dinner trade, so we pretty quickly became known as a late-night venue with dining options as well. It’s a weird one. You never quite know what you’re gonna get, but you always make the most of what you do get.
Before Kounta Purchase, how did you order your stock?
I just sent friendly emails to all my suppliers and if I liked them more than the other suppliers, then I’d call them. And then, I’d write it all down on a piece of paper with a pen, and I’d hang it on a clipboard in the storeroom.
It’s pretty obvious, but can you explain what was inefficient about this process?
Oh, everything was super inefficient! Like, if I had to hand that over to someone that I employed and I was to say, “can you do the ordering now?” They’d have absolutely zero clue what I was talking about.
And, if you continued purchasing this way, what would be the biggest risks to your business?
Probably over-ordering. It’s actually a combination – over-ordering, and not being aware that something hasn’t rocked up. So, you’ve ordered something and you’ve got an invoice for it from the accountant, but then it hasn’t rocked up. And then you sort of go, “why have we spent all this money, but now we don’t have any stock for it? Oh yeah, that’s because Seb’s system was shit! Let’s use Kounta Purchases, yeah!”
Can you describe how you and your team use Kounta Purchase in day-to-day operations?
It’s super easy. So, we’ve obviously got all that product in the system. We do our stocktake – I like the Par Levels function as well. So, we set the Par Levels and then we order what we need. Then, when it comes in–we use our iPads–everybody knows to log into Kounta Purchase and just click, then receive. It’s super easy. I do all the ordering on a Sunday night, generally, and then all of the stock will come in on a Monday or Tuesday. Then, everybody knows how to put it away. It’s just so good. I really, really like it.
How has Kounta Purchase improved your business?
It has improved it in the sense that we just have so much more time to focus on marketing, you know what I mean? We’re not balls-down doing stock control. It’s just automatic.
Can you quantify any of these benefits?
We get 20% more time to play golf!
Are there any other ways Kounta Purchase has improved business for the better for you guys?
Yeah, by streamlining the process. It means that when we move on and do another venue, we can just roll that venue into a system that works while we focus on marketing from the start. I guess, you know, we might be able to bump “X” amount of dollars more in the till because we haven’t had to spend the first six months setting up the stock control system and the till system.
If you were to recommend Kounta Purchase to a friend, how would you describe it and what it can do for them?
I would say, “mate, I think you should use Kounta Purchase because it helps you with your stock control, saves you five hours worth of work a week, so then you can go and play eighteen holes of golf in that space. It’s super easy to keep track of, and it makes you look more professional than you really are, so there you go. Happy days!”