Chazzano’s Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo Shares Advice for Entrepreneurs
(Cheryl Weiss, Dec. 26, 2018)
Ferndale, MI – In today’s world filled with nonstop technology, hectic schedules, and long work days, it’s not easy to find balance and have a well-rounded life. This is especially true if you are an entrepreneur with a successful business. Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo, Owner, Founder, and Master Roaster of Chazzano Coffee in Ferndale, has learned the secrets to building a business you love while maintaining a healthy balance between work and family time.
In his first career, Lanzkron-Tamarazo was a Cantor at synagogues in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. He learned the importance of creating community in a place of worship, how to connect people, and the joy of keeping the Sabbath. However, he loved coffee, and developed a healthy obsession with roasting the perfect cup, starting in his garage after he got home from synagogue in the evening with a small roaster about ten years before Chazzano. Tens of pounds led to hundreds of pounds of coffee beans, and eventually his passion led to Chazzano, which has been honored as “Best Coffee Shop in Detroit”, “Best Tea Shop in Detroit” and “Best of Ferndale”. The name Chazzano comes from the Hebrew word for Cantor, which is Chazzan, and in a nod to his Italian background, the letter o at the end, to make a perfect mix of his Jewish-Italian heritage. The Chazzano slogan is “Carefully chosen coffee for carefully chosen people.”
As Lanzkron-Tamarazo prepared to open his business, he studied the best and worst in customer service, and applied that to Chazzano. He thought through every detail, from how the employees will answer the phone, how quickly the staff will greet customers to how far a customer would walk from the door to the bar. He wanted to make the café as welcoming as house of worship should be. Just as members of a church greet you and welcome you when you arrive, that same atmosphere needed to be at Chazzano.
“We are all about community,” Lanzkron-Tamarazo said, “Creating community, the connections between people, is the passion that drives my business and my life. When someone enters Chazzano, they become part of the family. We bring people from all walks of life together as a community and provide opportunities to create relationships.” One way of combining community with business success is his practice of asking for business cards, and asking what people do for a living. He then can connect people. Do it out of the kindness of your heart. For example, if a customer mentions they need a plumber, he can recommend another customer who is an excellent plumber. The person who needs help receives it, and the plumber gets a new client. Then, in appreciation for Lanzkron-Tamarazo’s referral, the plumber may purchase a bag of coffee and bring it to one of his business connections, sharing how wonderful Chazzano coffee is. That, in turns, creates more customers for Lanzkron-Tamarazo, and his business continues to grow with each new connection.
Regarding growth and advice to entrepreneurs, Lanzkron-Tamarazo says, “From Day 1, you need an exit strategy: where do you want to be in five years? Do you want to sell? Keep the business going for your children? Start a new business? What is the goal for your life? What do you ultimately want to do? Write books? Go back to your passion?” If you know where you want to be, you can create a plan that will help you reach your goals.
He also is a firm believer in considering “How do I kill myself off?” In other words, get to the point where the business doesn’t need you. At Chazzano, he trains and teaches his employees to be effective problem solvers without depending on him every time a challenging situation arises. For the last two years, Lanzkron-Tamarazo has lived in New Jersey while running Chazzano from there. He spoke with his employees daily and taught them how to manage the large and small issues that came up. One strategy he uses is to develop and teach Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). He writes a step by step process for every possible business situation and teaches them to his employees. By having a written procedure, the staff is prepared to effectively follow routines that he has created. “I am constantly educating employees; it is a continual learning process,” he said.
He suggests that fellow entrepreneurs consider what he referred to as S.W.O.T., which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threats. Know yourself as an entrepreneur; know your strengths and weaknesses. If you know that you are not good at accounting, hire someone to do it for you. “You’re so busy at first, always worried about cash flow, payroll, and working with a smile. You’ve created something unique. You have great joy and passion at first. But after 5 years, some owners are still making cupcakes at 5am. The business is supposed to work for you; work hard, then delegate, step away, and look at the big picture,” he advised.
According to Lanzkron-Tamarazo, one lesson that is rough for almost everyone when they first start is setting prices. Almost no one prices their products right. “Look at your prices. Where do you want to go? How much do you want to have in the bank? You need goals. If no one is complaining, you are too low. If everyone complains, your prices are too high. If some complain, it’s perfect,” Lanzkron-Tamarazo said. At Chazzano, he raised prices after three years by ten percent. He lost only five percent of his wholesale accounts. He explained that those lost customers are the ones who don’t appreciate your product enough. Then more new customers filled in the holes. As the coffee sold well, they were making more money and were able to raise salaries. This cut away the fear of payroll, and other nightmares other entrepreneurs have.
Quality is a top consideration at Chazzano. What makes Chazzano unique is that they have high quality fresh roasted high-quality coffee. “It’s almost impossible to keep the quality when you are a large company. We’re a boutique. We’re not going to be a billion-dollar company anytime soon, that’s not the goal,” he said. All coffee not sold in three weeks is donated to homeless shelters. They also pull all Chazzano coffee from Plum Market and replace it with fresh coffee at Chazzano’s expense. “That does not make good business sense, but we don’t want anyone to get stale coffee. Big companies can’t afford to do that,” he said.
Mistakes inevitably happen in business. On a recent day at Chazzano, Lanzkron-Tamarazo asked an employee for a macchiato, but she made him a short latte; it had too much coffee and too much cream on top. He explained how to do it correctly and sent it back. “I’m going to get it right!” she said with determination. It took a few tries to get it exactly right, but each time he calmly and patiently explained what the macchiato should look like. “Let me try it again,” she said. And in the end, she did make a perfect macchiato. “You need to allow your employees to make mistakes,” he said. “Employees learn from failure; they learn more from that than from success. You have to empower them to learn from failure.” Reflecting on his own experiences, Lanzkron-Tamarazo said, “I’ve made lots of mistakes. The failures feel awful, you feel like an amazing failure, but they are the best things that could ever happen. You’ll never make them again. Learn more from that than from anything.”
So with all the time entrepreneurs must spend on their new businesses, how do you find balance in your life? How do you make time for family, friends, hobbies? “Stay true to yourself,” Lanzkron-Tamarazo said. “Always remember family comes first. Business is a servant to family life and happiness. The goal is making enough to make you happy and grow the lives of your staff. He refers to VCP, which stands for Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. Visibility means in any relationship, you need to be visible. If you never see your spouse, that’s not going to be a healthy relationship. Family comes first; be sure you are visible to your loved ones. Credibility means when you say you’ll be home, you must be trustworthy. Your family as well as your employees and your customers must trust your word, trust your product, and trust you. Profitability means when you’re in a business relationship or a friendship, it must go both ways. Are you both getting something out of the relationship? One-sided relationships are not healthy and will not last.
In some ways, a new business is like a new baby. When you have an infant, you need to take care of every single thing for the baby. You have to learn what to do when the baby cries, and you don’t always know what you are doing. It’s the same for business. You have to learn along the way, and you don’t always have the answers. As the child, or your business, grows, you gain more confidence. You teach your teens how to live on their own, how to be independent. And you grow your business into a mature business that can run on its own. According to Lanzkron-Tamarazo, that has to happen.
Finding balance can be difficult, but it is important to make sure your business does not hurt relationships, because you can never get that back. “I’ve always had many passions. My dream life would be playing video games all day long, going to bed at 5am, get up at noon, play video games. You need mental sorbet. You cannot focus your energy on one thing; you need space from it. You need that break in your day. You may be busy, working 70-90 hours a week so you need to find that peace and tranquility, or your business and relationships suffer.” For Lanzkron-Tamarazo, that is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Chazzano is closed on the Sabbath. “Having that day filled with study, and you’re forced to spend time with family, play games together. You’re not supposed to drive on the Sabbath, not supposed to write, draw, play instruments. Employees can’t do anything for me on the Sabbath. You have a fantastic Friday night dinner with family, and you have Sabbath to reconnect with friends, sit in a house of worship and pray to God, and have that spirituality. You have to have that happy place for anything you do in life. Life can be short. You have to enjoy it. You have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow, so you have to enjoy life.”
Lanzkron-Tamarazo is working on new plans for his business and moving back to Michigan. He was at a crossroads; the business was doing well without him here, so his choices were to sell the business; let it keep going; or franchise. He is investigating plans to franchise Chazzano, as well as working on new products, such as coffee soda, which is cold brewed coffee, carbonated, and tastes like beer. It has no preservatives, and no sugar. Another product is a soda from the fruit of the coffee bean, also carbonated. He also founded God and Coffee Consulting, LLC, in which he counsels business owners, friends, and job seekers on how to grow their businesses and grow their lives. Most importantly, he guides them to follow their passions. Lanzkron-Tamarazo is also working on his third book about balancing your life and achieving all of your dreams. His other books include God Cries and An Angel Loses Its Wings: How to create community in your business (2013) and You Don’t Want Dessert, Do You? (2015) about how to achieve excellent customer service in your business.
As he will share in his upcoming book, Lanzkron-Tamarazo believes in having crazy dreams. His dreams include having Oprah drinking a cup of Chazzano coffee on the air, saying it’s the best coffee she ever had. Another dream is for the Pope to hold up Chazzano coffee after the Easter mass, and say in Latin how wonderful it is. Finally, his dream was to have a local upscale restaurant sell Chazzano coffee, and that has happened. Bacco restaurant sold his coffee. He is still holding on to his dreams of Chazzano coffee reaching Oprah and the Pope. And dreams can come true.
Check out Chazzano at 1737 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220, and online at http://www.chazzanocoffee.com/.