Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 2nd and final act of the exclusive interview with the owners of Mein Haus am See – Stephan and Claudia. I am pleased to see you all again!
After introducing the idea that is behind the concept of Mein Haus am See, I now want to give you some insight into the business in practice.
Would you say that your business attracts a specific group of customers? If so, how would you describe them?
Claudia: I do have to say that Stefan has excellent taste when it comes to interior design. He just follows his instincts for what he thought looks best – he/we did not try to be super stylish or follow mainstream design. So, we had no particular group of customers in mind when we opened Mein Haus am See.
Stephan: I think we can say that we mostly attract a younger crowd – Berliners as well as “non-Berliners”. I think the term “non-Berliners” is more appropriate than referring to them as tourists, since it is hard to distinguish between foreigners that have been living in Berlin for a long time and people that simply enjoy Berlin on their vacation. I think the best way to describe our customers is to say they are typical urbanites.
Claudia and Stephan: It might be interesting to add that more and more people like to live their lives like a play or movie. Mein Haus am See provides a stage for their self-display. It is about being seen and people-watching. Everybody can express his or her own style and meet people with all different kinds of outlooks on life. We love our open-minded customers.
How do you bond with your customers?
Stephan: First of all, we have our own webpage. We also like to advertise our events through classic media such as the radio. Even Facebook has become an important media to bond with our customers. It has many advantages compared over Qype. We really appreciate constructive criticism and Facebook gives us the chance to interact with our patrons in one-to-one situations. It gives us the opportunity to improve things and apologize to customers, as well as to revise criticism. Facebook also is a good medium for staying in touch with customers and for publishing events.
During my visits to Mein Haus am See as well as on your Facebook page, I noticed your regular use of English. How come?
Stephan: English is the universal language. We as owners do not participate in the day-to-day business but work with managers instead, many of whom are not native to Germany. Even our team tends to be very international and all of our servers speak German and English. Finally, it is often the language of our customers!
What is important to you regarding the service Mein Haus am See provides?
Claudia and Stephan: When we were planning our layout, it was important to us that we eliminate “hiding space” so that servers would stay on top of their work. Good service was a leading influence on our layout design, so we tried to create open spaces. For example, the coffee machine is on display and for everybody to see. Moreover, we tried to reduce the atmosphere of a traditional, countered bar, because we want to encourage outstanding service and minimize self-service at the bar. It is very important to us that our waiters and waitresses are communicative and friendly. After all, Mein Haus am See resembles a living room, so our service should mirror that of an attentive host’s!
Why did you decide to open Mein Haus am See at Rosenthaler Platz?
Claudia and Stephan: We personally know the area quite well and it actually is our preferred area for a night out. It also is an important junction and is right by the main street.
How would you describe business competition in Berlin-Mitte?
Stephan: The competition is extremely large. There are many startups around Rosenthaler Platz. I would describe it as the urban center in the Eastern part of Berlin. It has its own rustic charm and is not too overrun with tourists. The people and customers are down-to-earth. I believe that as long as you maintain your business values and are loyal to your style, you can still establish your own business at Rosenthalter Platz – I definitely see potential for new startups!
Do you have plans to expand?
Stephan: Yes, we definitely do. We do not want to become a chain, but would rather open very unique and individual businesses – maybe something in an American/French style. The night-life changes – it is, for example, diminishing from Prenzlauer Berg due to residents’ complaints about the volume. There, the crowd is changing too and there is an emerging trend of people becoming more selective. Nevertheless, I also see big potential for other neighborhoods in Berlin to flourish!
Do you have a word of advice for new startups in Berlin?
Stephan: First of all, you should make sure that your idea is new, and then remain true to it! Even if something seems absurd- dare to do it! It is important to find your own face and to distinguish yourself from others. It also might be a good idea to check out check out creative ideas from other countries and other people! We found it very helpful to actually talk to our potential customers. Go on the street and ask people what they would want to see your business do! Do your own research and then try to transform expectations into reality. And do not forget: Diligence and endurance are important ingredients to success.
Do not forget to check out Mein Haus am See’s amazing events! Great DJ’s and even extraordinary book readings are awaiting you!
At this point, I want to thank Claudia and Stefan again for taking the time to talk to me and being so welcoming!
And thank you, my attentive audience!