Written By: Suzanne Penegor & Casie Brabham
Liberty Espresso owner Caroline Bruno-Hibler doubled her sales within six months of purchasing her business by making what she calls “small changes”. She thought it was the face lift she gave the kiosk that increased her sales but it is apparent from her personable attitude that her passion for coffee and customer service is the real secret to her success.
With two degrees from the University of Oregon in political science and business, Caroline had always wanted to own a local small business. She knew that customer service as a barista was her passion. What she didn’t know was where to begin when it came to financial projections and actually buying a business. She credits the Lane Small Business Development Center with helping to prepare her for purchasing Liberty Espresso, a drive-through coffee kiosk at 1380 W. 7th Ave in SW Eugene.
Specifically, she found SBDC advisor Larry Reed very helpful when creating estimates and financial projections, “Larry helped me crunch numbers, read financial books and made sure I fully understood the business I was purchasing.” She also made a point to mention the welcoming Lane SBDC staff who, along with Larry’s advising, helped her value the business she wanted to buy.
Caroline brought several years of experience as a barista in local espresso kiosks to her new business. Due to the help she received at Lane SBDC she had the confidence to negotiate the purchase of her kiosk from the previous owner. She also established a rental agreement for her location with a coffee roasting company and, in turn, uses their coffee for her business. Part of her business model also includes partnering with other businesses in our community. Liberty Espresso features local products such as pastries from Sugar Shack in Reedsport, Oregon. She also offers local gluten free and vegan products, chai tea, espresso milkshakes, infused energy drinks and eggnog during the holidays. Having a wide variety of offerings is important to Caroline as it ensures that all customers can find something to love at Liberty Espresso!
Caroline points out that there are still challenges ahead. She mentioned that with minimum wage going up she might find business taxes and regulations difficult to navigate. Her biggest challenge is that espresso coffee can be seen as a luxury item. However despite the challenges Caroline would like to open another Liberty Espresso location within the next two years. How can Caroline reach her goals and meet her challenges head-on? With the help of Lane SBDC of course! Maybe she could benefit from one of our HR classes to meet her employer/employee needs. Maybe our advisor, Kali Kardas, can help with marketing challenges for luxury items. Regardless in an ever changing, ever growing business, Lane SBDC is here to help small business owners like Caroline meet all her future goals and dreams.
When asked about her greatest advice she offered, “Make sure it’s a business that you will enjoy, not just for the money, but for the personal experience. If your heart and soul is in your business, it shows—both in your life and to your clients/customers. Make it fun and enjoyable for yourself, your customers and employees.” Lane SBDC’s help made it possible for Caroline to free up more time to be the hands-on friendly business owner she knew would make her business a success.
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The Oregon Small Business Development Centers are partially funded by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Oregon Business Development Department. Primary funding for the Lane SBDC is provided by Lane Community College. Lane is an AA/EEO/Veterans/Disabilities Employer. All services provided on a non-discriminatory basis. Accessibility | Copyright | Privacy |All Rights Reserved