Solidarity, fortitude, unity, and resilience. Even with these unprecedented, multi-billion dollar stimulus packages, Singapore’s circuit breaker was a period of extreme adversity for F&B companies. We’ve had to dig into our own resilience, find fortitude, and build solidarity and unity within our teams to come out stronger. For the Bettr Group, the closure of all of our retail outlets and our academy left us at a crossroads; what would our baristas, our events team, and our trainers do?
As each outlet shut, roles were reassigned. Our baristas became cold brew production experts. Our academy team learned the ins-and-outs of running Zoom classes for all our modules. The events team regrouped and applied their zeal to running our online retail store - a more important platform than ever. The roastery, the bedrock of our operations for the last few months, was fired up to meet the coffee demands of a growing community of homebrewers.As the country begins to reopen, we’re recounting what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. In brief, we:
- Launched our non-profit arm, Bettr Lives
- Opened a new cold brew team
- Prototyped new delivery services and products
- Released new single origin coffees
- Taught blended learning classes
- Hosted a new series of webinars and interviews
Behind all of this, we simply tried; adjusted; and kept trying. The second blow of the extended circuit breaker forced us into a marathon of adjustment. To keep the entire Bettr family gainfully employed, we formed new teams, working with different tasks, under abnormal circumstances.
For our retail team, customer interaction is a cornerstone part of their role. They’re comfortable running the espresso bar on their own (solo bar), but during the last two months our baristas came together, as a blessing in disguise, to form the cold brew production team - a new favorite delivery during circuit breaker.
Our delicious cold brew
Shirley, retail area manager, came to embody the resilience of adjust and try again as she did the R&D for a new drink delivery subscription by testing the drink’s optimal heat, delivery window, and packaging. The Bettr van became a living laboratory for test runs to determine how to best keep the drink’s flavour. Then the circuit breaker tightened, and the drink deliveries converted to cold brew production.
Esya assumed new responsibilities, in charge of cold brew production to help share the new workload with Shirley. The new set up actually presented a silver lining. “At the retail bar, we’re separated sometimes when running it solo. Now, we can meet and sit together - a meter apart - and eat for an hour.” With a lot of our soft skills and workplace training taking place virtually, Shirley shares that the team spends a lot more time together doing different things.
Cold brew production with Esya
“We have our emotional intelligence training, buddy training, and exercise sessions online. It’s not just work. We actually missed out on that during our day-to-day operations all over the island. This time is making us more understanding towards each other. We’ll come back stronger.” Physically, too: “It’s more than 8 liters of cold brew that we’re moving at times. We’re building up the muscles of the ladies!” adds Esya.
Cold brew team member Umirah misses working the espresso bar. January was the last time she worked in her regular position at Bettr Coffee in Plaza Singapura. “I spent a long time behind the bar, it took awhile for me to get out of my comfort zone. Now I’m here though, and I’m learning new things.” With these new skills, the job scope widens for the team to continue cold brew production after the outlets reopen.
Jenn took on roasting responsibilities
Jenn was inducted into roasting right around the time that restrictions came into place. “The roast team has shown me their team spirit. We know our practice and the roles among us. Communication is important since we have to split into alternating teams, but I think our Bettr Group will be even stronger. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Look at our online marketing, our virtual learning courses. Nothing is impossible right now,” she says.
Learning coffee virtually may sound counterintuitive, but our academy team figured out a way to maximise theoretical learning with a later practical session. Shaun, head of academy, shared how circuit breaker propelled plans for blended curriculum, which were already in the works.
“At Bettr, we review our curriculum twice a year - we are constantly trying to figure out how we can improve to bring more to students. Going blended was our solution to provide our students more knowledge while working around the constraints of attending a physical class. With our new blended learning and distance content, I’m glad to say that students now get even more content for the time they spend with us.”
While we’re not out of the woods yet, we also used this opportunity to release our first ever annual report from 2019. Looking ahead, we hope our 2020 annual report will chronicle how each team navigated completely new circumstances, and emerged as a stronger, Bettr Group.