Leveraging technology to reinvent the local coffee scene
Founded in 2020, Blank Street is a high-growth specialty coffee chain with over 40 locations across New York City, Boston, and London. It was built on the belief that great coffee shouldn’t have to come at a premium price.
This Brooklyn-based coffee chain understood that by leveraging technology, it could provide an exceptional customer experience, offer products at an affordable price, and improve operational efficiency. Doing so would yield a healthy profit margin and exponentially grow their brick-and-mortar business.
Blank Street came to us with a workspace built on top of our (now discontinued) Notion template, Entrepreneur OS. It was scaling initially; however, once they began onboarding 2-3 new employees per week, their processes began to break down.
Early on, the CEO, who built the initial workspace, onboarded new hires. But as more and more employees joined the company, their Notion workspace became increasingly disorganized from the lack of proper training, which resulted in endless Slack requests for links to pages and docs.
Blank Street's leadership team wanted to triple their business over six months, so they needed a solution that allowed new employees to onboard with Notion and be properly trained to use the workspace. Everyone on the team needed to know exactly where and how to create docs to increase the speed of opening new locations and training baristas.
Our Approach: Strategy, Implement, Document.
We first completed an in-depth audit of Blank Street’s workspace.
During this initial phase, we studied their Notion and Asana usage. We requested Looms, where team members pinpointed productivity issues, as well as their workspace needs and wants.
In typical Design Thinking fashion, we collected all the relevant information directly from the users (Blank Street's employees and team leads). We used this knowledge to develop and implement a strategy emphasizing a System Thinking approach that would simultaneously serve the company and their employees.
Build & optimize systems
Blank Street's Notion workspace needed to be organized appropriately for improved visibility and optimized to scale quickly.
One of the challenges the team faced was keeping track of (and finding) meeting agendas, notes, and follow-ups for 1:1s. So, to help improve visibility, we built a meetings calendar database with agenda, notes, and follow-up templates for each of their recurring meetings. We also created a 1:1s database and process that centralizes everyone's 1:1 notes while keeping them private to each pair of people.
The leadership team also needed a way to take field notes when they visited their various locations. This information was already being collected; however, it needed more visibility across the company. A clearer structure was necessary for the team to follow when taking these notes. To solve this issue, we built a Shift Notes database and template that one person would be responsible for maintaining while others added information to it.
Blank Street also needed a process and a space to document its policies, best practices, procedures, and technical documentation, so all employees could self-serve this accumulated knowledge quickly and easily. We revamped their Documentation database and built a Collections database to be able to organize their important docs into groups of related information (such as "Blank Street's Notion Guides" or "Blank Street's Travel Policies").
During this phase, we also focused on improving and organizing their workspace's information architecture by designing and building standardized yet tailored team pages. Each team had its own page that included curated notes, policies, meetings, and tools, which interconnected within a cohesive system, so the context was readily available and transparent. We also designed and refined workflows and templates the individual teams needed.
Our team also built a custom onboarding system in Notion and created several onboarding docs that would help new hires jumpstart the typical Notion learning curve. Our goal was to ensure that all employees could find important information quickly and independently within the workspace and improve efficiency and productivity across the organization.
Notion training for employees
Blank Street's rapid growth made training new employees on how to use their Notion workspace challenging. Throughout our engagement, our team continued to interview and train leads across their team, passing on the baton to a designated “Notion Champion”.
We also provided them with guidance and documentation on how to properly maintain their Notion workspace, and training to support their current and new employees. Doing so allowed their CEO to step back from this responsibility.
The Result: Ready to Scale
Visibility and organization were the key components to success for this workspace refinement.
With the introduction of new cross-functional databases, processes, and training, we delivered a Notion workspace optimized to scale and support their employees and the company's growth nationally and internationally.
“I found Optemization after using one of their, now discontinued, templates. I was hoping that they’d refine our existing Notion workspace. What they did was far more. They got to know the leads from every department – learning the ins and outs of Blank Street. They then worked with us in an iterative approach, constantly learning and evolving their work. Doing so, they helped us avoid dispersed information and fractioned communication.” Issam Freiha - CEO, Blank Street
Would you love to establish better workflows, automate systems and organize your workspace for optimal productivity that your team will thank you for?
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- UX Design
- System Thinking
- Design Thinking
- Centralized databases
- Custom templates
- Tailored team pages
- Comprehensive workflows
- Onboarding documentation
- Notion training
Hey there! I’m Natalie 👋 I live in Vancouver, Canada, and joined the Optemization team in the summer of 2021. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work in various industries and roles, which eventually led me into Digital Operations. I’m also passionate about People Ops and remote work.
Fun fact: I’m an avid traveler ✈️ After graduating from university, I spent a few years backpacking around the world — including living in South Korea and Australia.
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