Sweethart case study


About Sweethart

Builder Mark Hart has had an interesting career path into the culinary world. A builder for twenty years, Mark never forgot his childhood love of baking and in the evening would hang up his hard hat and put on his pinny.  A much-admired volcano cake Mark made for his son’s birthday led to commissions for friends, then a back operation persuaded Mark to leave the building trade and turn his passion into a profession.

He took the plunge, remortgaged his house and set up Sweethart Coffee & Cake in his home town of Blackhill, Co Durham in 2012. Within 18 short months he won a coveted Gold at the “Great Taste 2013” awards then appeared in the ITV show “Britain’s Best Bakery”.


While a very talented baker, Mark had no experience of the hospitality industry, how to run a business or how to manage staff. He realised that to grow and develop he needed expert advice, support and guidance, and called Victus Consultancy.


  • Establish staff roles – who does what when
  • Staff training
  • Clarify the offering – what to focus on
  • Establish efficient operational processes


What we did

Victus first carried out a ‘phone consultation with Mark, getting a better understanding of what Sweethart is all about – how it started, how it has evolved and what it wants to be. Mark was very open about Sweethart’s issues and challenges, and Victus established that staff training was key. We then read the many on-line articles and features about Mark and Sweethart Bakery for additional background information.


Victus’ project with Sweethart Bakery & Coffee Shop involved consulting with senior members of staff then training the wider team on topics such as:

  • Providing excellent customer service
  • Service recovery
  • Taking an order
  • Communicating with the kitchen
  • Catering for customers with allergies & food intolerances

This was achieved through a variety of sessions which included:

  • Training workshops
  • Role play
  • Question & answer sessions
  • Feedback time


As follow up, Victus prepared key documentation such as service sheets, handover sheets and allergen guides, host check sheets and opening / closing check sheets to help staff further improve their service standards.


“I’d always resisted getting outside help, and particularly using a specialist consultancy, but my business had plateaued and Victus came so highly recommended that I knew the time had come. My fears were groundless as it was easy to confide in Andrew – he quickly gained the respect of my staff and his advice and guidance have proved invaluable. As a direct result of this project I feel that my team has much more clarity and confidence, and as a business owner I feel more self-assured about what I’ve being doing while having a clear plan for the future”.


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