HITTING A MOVING TARGET
Columbus Coffee offers ambitious young couple the opportunity they've always wanted
Leonardo Rojas always had an ambition to own his own business by the time he was 25. He met his wife-to-be, Belen Sanhueza, before leaving Chile eight years ago, and the couple decided to travel the world together. As trained chefs, the hard-working couple never had any trouble finding employment wherever they went, but they always had their eyes out for a good business opportunity. It wasn’t until they got to New Zealand and discovered Columbus Coffee, though, that they found what they were looking for.
‘I thought Columbus was doing really good things and that’s what hooked us both,’ says Leo. ‘We’ve seen so many failures in the hospitality industry from people who don’t have a system in place, and although we are trained chefs we knew we had little knowledge of the other aspects of running a business such as managing cashflow, staff and marketing. These are areas in which Columbus Coffee excels, and they offer superb training to teach their systems to others, too. They can’t promise success – that’s up to the franchisee – but if you follow the systems they’ve set up, it will work.’
Leo and Belen have proved that twice over. The couple took on a small Columbus Coffee store at Gate Pa in Tauranga just under four years ago and rapidly achieved a reputation for first-class service and high standards. ‘We took over an existing café that had not been using all the Columbus tools but we embraced what we had learned, followed the food and operating plans, and quickly saw an increase in sales of 11 percent. It’s gone on growing ever since. Because of its size, Gate Pa might not have the biggest turnover in the Columbus Coffee network but, having been named Runner-Up in the Best Restaurant category of the Restaurant Association Bay Hospitality Awards, it’s one of the best cafés in the North Island,’ Leo says proudly.
With Gate Pa thriving, Leo and Belen were soon impatient for the next step – a second café. ‘We’d built a great relationship with Columbus and, because we’d proved we could deliver results, they helped us towards our next goal.’
Leo and Belen were offered a much bigger café – the Columbus Coffee at Mitre 10 MEGA in Dunedin. ‘We realised that it wasn’t exactly the most convenient location for us,’ laughs Belen, ‘but, as Leo always says, if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices on the journey then you aren’t going to achieve your goals!’ And so the couple moved south, along with one of their key staff, leaving their well-trained team and managers to run Gate Pa. Cloud-based management systems mean the couple can still keep an eye on key performance measures and look after their investment.
‘We’ve always been passionate about the quality of our food. It’s Columbus policy to have everything fresh, made on site every day, and that was one of the stand-out reasons for our choice in the first place. But what we’ve learned through the franchise is to become as passionate about every other aspect of owning a café business.
‘We set high standards and train our staff to maintain them. It‘s paid off because we know we can trust our team to run the place exactly the way we want it. We like to be sure people will be friendly and smiling all the time. If I’m hiring staff, I’ll choose a bubbly person whom I can train to be a barista before I’ll take a barista who doesn’t smile! The personality is far more important because you can always teach technical skills but not how to be happy and make people welcome.’
After four years and two cafés, Leo and Belen are very happy with the choices they’ve made. ‘Columbus has never let us down,’ says Belen. ‘We want to keep on growing, and we’ve found the right business to do it with. We’ve had to take things step-by-step and be patient and flexible but we have lots of opportunities with Columbus, including another store one day... Just give us a year to establish this one first!’ she laughs.
Columbus Coffee is a 100 percent New Zealand-founded, owned and operated franchise with over 70 cafés throughout the country. Continuing growth means opportunities in both high street locations and the exclusive sites within Mitre 10 MEGA stores are available from $280,000 to $380,000.
General Manager Peter Webster says, ‘Columbus has a very strong culture around the art of coffee, valuing our baristas, our staff and franchisees alike. Leo and Belen are very hard-working people with very high standards who lifted the performance of their first store beyond our expectations. By sticking to the system, and our core values, they have been able to achieve the business success they always wanted.
‘Leo and Belen have always made it clear they wanted another café, and their willingness to embrace change to achieve their goals has enabled to them take on a much bigger café in Dunedin. If you share their ambition for success, I’d love to hear from you. We have potential new locations available around the country right now.’
See this advertorial on page 90 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 26 Issue 3
Contact details for Columbus Coffee
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advertiser info: franchise business opportunity
|industry food and beverage||investment $250,000 - $450,000||number in NZ 71 and globally 71||FANZ member yes|
|contact Peter Webster
p 0-9-520 1044 m 021 883 852
|telephone||listing funding info evaluate|
|industry||food and beverage|
|investment from||$250,000 - $450,000|
|number in NZ||71|
This material is copyright © Franchise NZ Marketing Limited, Franchise New Zealand ™ magazine and Franchise New Zealand On Line . While it may be downloaded for personal use, no part may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the specific written permission of the publisher.