How Plus by ASB can add to your business: Cat Lounge

13 February 2018 / Published in Business

After experiencing the joys of a cat café overseas, Mike and Vicky decided to bring the concept to New Zealand. Despite encountering numerous challenges, two years ago the pair opened The Cat Lounge, the first cat café in the country. They spoke to us about the ways Plus has helped them on their journey.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you got started?

After seeing examples of cat cafes overseas in Tokyo we were excited to visit a local cat cafe, only to discover there weren’t any in NZ!

Now, I don’t like not getting my own way. So, we decided that if no one else was going to do it, we would step up and bring this exciting concept to NZ. 

Between us we have business, banking, management and hospitality experience and we were confident we could pull it off, or at least give it a damn good try! 

We've now been in business for over two years and have had numerous successes over that time.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered operating a small retail business in NZ?

There have been many, many challenges…

1. Being turned down for finance.

2. Reading in the food control laws at the time to discover that only one cat was allowed at any business premises, purely for pest control. However fortunately in 2015, changes were slowly happening in the background by MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) in which meant we could do it.

3. Trying to design and launch a "first of its kind" in New Zealand with no one to turn to for help/advice. 

4. Staff can also be a bit tricky to find for the limited hours we need them for. For example, as we work in the business ourselves, we need to hire staff just for the days we aren’t working, and it can be tough to find someone keen to work one to two days a week.

5. One of the hardest things we found was trying to get in to a site to actually do this. There was almost nothing that ticked all of our boxes. When we did find something that could work, the landlord wasn’t too keen on us moving in 20 cats.

Which apps do use to help run your business?

Xero for accounts, Vend for POS and no e-commerce but we occasionally put merch or passes on TradeMe.

What were the pain points you were encountering in your business before you started using Plus by ASB?

I had no way of seeing how busy the cafe was or how we were tracking on the weekends and my off- time, unless I was in store.

How has Plus impacted your daily productivity? How often do you find yourself using Plus?

Most weekdays, I’m the one running the café but every day I’m away from site (weekends and occasional weekdays) I always check in on my phone at about 2pm or 3pm to see how busy the café has been. Plus gives me the info I need in one to two steps, it’s great to see they are having a nice busy day!

What is your favourite Plus insight or feature?

When I open the Plus app, at the very top I can swipe across and see my cash available across different accounts and the daily Vend balance and average value per sale. I love having it all right there. I also just found out that I can see any support emails sent from to and from my desktop email system on Plus, even when I’m away from my work email, handy.

From your experience using Plus by ASB, which types of businesses do you think would also benefit from using Plus?

A small business whether that’s a hands-on owner and operator or not so hands-on owners that can still login and see how things are tracking easily.

What advice do you have for other Kiwi businesses wanting to be a success?

If you’re willing to put in the hard yards and really work at it, then it can be done. Just be prepared for no life for a couple of years!

Also there will be roadblocks you will encounter. People will tell you your idea is crazy, that it can’t be done.  If you are determined enough there are ways around any problem. You can do it! 

Lastly, summer is a crazy hectic time for retailers. What are your top tips for retail businesses during this busy season?

Make sure staff keep on top of things for example stock, consumables and also the little things like having enough cutlery rolls before a lunch service or takeaway containers. Also keeping up with the dishes and the premises clean. Not to mention, staff who are proactive and care about your business, are like gold!

Find out more about how Plus by ASB can help your business here.


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