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THE COFFEE CLUB
INVESTING IN THEMSELVES
The Coffee Club’s newest franchisees swapped family home for dream business
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Kalena Hovelle, The Coffee Club's newest franchisee. 'I knew it was the right fit straight away'.
Kalena Hovelle may be The Coffee Club’s newest franchisee, but just four months after opening her Tauranga café she already plans to expand her empire.
‘Having my own cafés has always been my dream, and after 11 years in hospitality and a further 10 in business administration, I was sick of having a boss,’ she explains. ‘When we sold our house, my husband Chris and I decided the time was right to look into investing in a business rather than another property.’
With son Christian (16) and daughter Amy-Lee (12) right behind her, she just needed to find the right business – and it didn’t take long to realise The Coffee Club was perfect for her. Having worked in a franchised café before, Kalena already knew the value of a good brand with established processes and systems for a first-time business owner.
‘I looked at other franchises but I was really impressed with The Coffee Club right from our initial contact.’ Within two days of Kalena emailing the company about her interest in purchasing a franchise, Brad Jacobs (one of the co-directors of the company) drove down from Auckland for an informal discussion. ‘I’m one of those people who knows what she wants, and I knew it was the right fit straight away,’ Kalena laughs.
Kalena got a lawyer and accountant to check over the details then it was full steam ahead. Since opening day in July, though, she’s discovered that no amount of experience quite prepares you for the realities of owning your own café.
‘We had a delayed start dealing with permits and things, then when we did open it all went off with a bang! After a couple of great weeks, we realised we needed to change the staffing mix to cope. Now things are starting to go smoothly, business is growing and we’ve already got a base of regulars. Our central location in Elizabeth Street attracts everyone from shoppers to business people.’
The Coffee Club franchisees come from a variety of backgrounds and include spouses, parent-and-child teams, individual owners and business partners. In Kalena’s case, ‘Chris still has his own career, so although he and I bounce business ideas off each other, I’m the one making the decisions. And with Christian working Saturdays, it’s very much a family business.’
Thorough training for new franchisees covers all aspects of running The Coffee Club business, so although Kalena had hospitality experience, it’s not essential. ‘I was lucky enough to train with three different franchisees, all with their own personalities and markets, and that gave me a clear idea of how I wanted to operate as a boss.
‘The in-store training was intense and I learned a lot. I spent two weeks in the kitchen, where I have least experience, and it was awesome!’ As well as learning The Coffee Club products and processes, Kalena also found other franchisees were an invaluable resource for learning the business. ‘Wherever I went, I had my book of questions ready,’ she laughs. ‘The other franchisees said, “Wow, you really want to know!” Yes – I do!’
With on-site support from The Coffee Club’s training team for the first 10 days, Kalena found her feet quickly, and regular visits from a Business Development Manager helped monitor growth and keep things on track. ‘I’m a bit of a control freak but I learned the hard way that I had to take a step back sometimes and take a day off every now and then,’ Kalena says. ‘The support is great – I have constant phone/email communication with the support team and they encourage me to ask all the questions I want to help my business grow.’
Founded in 1989, The Coffee Club has over 390 stores internationally with 63 in New Zealand. Some, like Kalena’s, are straight cafés, while there is also a larger café-bar-restaurant option. ‘They’re stylish but not all the same,’ she says happily. ‘My café is a little bit different in its design, and The Coffee Club was happy to reflect my vision.’
It’s a business model that works. In the last 10 years, The Coffee Club has won 14 Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards, including winning the Supreme Franchise System of the Year title twice and Supreme Franchisee of the Year three times.
For a first-time business owner like Kalena, such success is inspiring. Although her café has only been open for four months, she’s already working on her five-year plan. ‘The goal is to own another two stores, which is totally achievable thanks to The Coffee Club’s proven systems.’
Brad Jacobs says The Coffee Club is due to open at least six new stores around New Zealand in the next year. ‘Investment levels range from $350,000 to $400,000 depending on location and store model, and the potential rewards match the investment.’ he points out. ‘We’re on the lookout for the right people, whether they have hospitality experience or not. If you have determination, commitment and love the buzz of making people happy, we can help you learn the rest. To join our successful and growing brand, give me a call.’
See this advertorial on page 13 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 26 Issue 4
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