Cape Town-based Truth Coffee is disrupting the coffee scene. With Deputy staffing solutions, General Manager Ken Walton and his team can focus on delivering the best beans in South Africa.
At a glance
- Now saving 8% on salary and wages bill, month-on-month
- All staff management now streamlined with Deputy
- Each department manager can now schedule their own team
Truth Coffee’s mission is “The Joy of Extraordinary Truth.”
Such lofty ambitions are rare in the mass-market coffee industry, but general manager and coffee journeyman Ken Walton says Truth’s focus has always been on producing the very best there is.
“Our goal has been to say, ‘How do we produce joy in a cup?’” Ken says. “That’s the truth that we look for. Coffee should be about flavour. It’s that commitment to our art that we take very seriously. Can we buy amazing coffee and try not to get in its way.“
As the brainchild of David Donde, the road to Truth was a circuitous one, via chicken farming. From humble beginnings, the company has achieved phenomenal success in the past two years, with a popular Barista Academy taking hundreds of unemployable people and turned them into coffee professionals. With a pinnacle achievement of being named the best coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph.
But Ken believes the coffee should speak for itself, and it’s passion across all levels of the business that is integral to Truth’s success – from doormen to hosts, baristas to cleaners, founders to general managers.
“We live by what we call the ‘Truth Manifesto’. Living by first principles. From sourcing the extraordinary coffee beans through relationships, to roasting them meticulously without prejudicial beliefs, through serving them to bring joy. Giving up our pre-conceived ideas to make the world a slightly better place in our own small way.”
"We live by what we call the ‘Truth Manifesto’. It means sourcing the very best beans you can buy. It means roasting them to the very best of your ability."
Running a company with such a passion for coffee means the hiring and retention processes were different when starting out. For Ken, the biggest challenge was measuring skills.
“In our industry, it’s very difficult to measure skills,” Ken says. “When I’m hiring new people, I’m looking for character. I’m looking for people who can absorb our culture. Letting them become part of our culture is probably the next biggest challenge. It’s allowing them to essentially absorb who we are and not try to change what we do.”
But while Ken had a plan for hiring the best and brightest for his company, implementing more modern scheduling practices fell by the wayside.
“Very embarrassingly, we mostly [used] a manual timebook. From then it was manually transposed into Excel spreadsheets.”
And with innovation as the driving force behind Truth Coffee’s growth, there just wasn’t enough time to invest in improving that manual system.
“We didn’t actually try anything else because most of the systems were so flawed in some way or another, or there was a huge capex cost to it. Nothing ticked all the boxes.”
But as the months went by and the awards started to flow in, Ken realised scheduling was Truth’s greatest time component.
“Because of that, we just literally stuck with what we were doing – because we couldn’t find anything that worked.”
Something needed to change.
"In our industry, it’s very difficult to measure skills. When I’m hiring new people, I’m looking for character. I’m looking for people who can absorb our culture."
With Ken and his employees weighed down by slow scheduling practices and a lack of formality in team management, he needed a solution that was cost-effective, cloud-based and could allow employees to log in via their smartphones. In mid-August of 2017, Ken found the answer in Deputy.
“Scheduling is the biggest feature for us,” Ken says, adding that the universality of the app means he can get insight from all departments. “So the kitchen can see what’s going on. We can make notes with what events are happening. We can block out exactly – from a whole team point of view – what’s happening.”
The difference today is remarkable. Now running a company with 52 full-time team members, Ken can see the direct cost savings Deputy has delivered.
“Staff were being scheduled and were coming in either too early and then staying late, or management was overscheduling hours. Through Deputy, we’ve been able to cut back on all that. The direct benefit has been an 8% saving on our total salary and wages bill, month to month.”
For the future, Ken plans to invest the time and money saved in not only the Truth Coffee business, but its people.
“At our core, we are a hospitality business. We are serious about our coffee, and knowing our coffee, and serving our coffee really well. But if we can get our scheduling right, we are able to put that time into our staff. It makes their job more fulfilling, and overall it improves us from a business point of view.”
"Staff were being scheduled and were coming in either too early and then staying late, or management was over-scheduling hours. Through Deputy, we’ve been able to cut back on all that. The direct benefit has been an 8% saving on our total salary and wages bill, month to month."