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THE COFFEE GUY - FROM BANKING TO BEANS...

by The Coffee Guy,
last updated 21/11/2014

Former banker and coffee novice Christine Brown brews up a profitable business

What does a coffee bean look like before it's roasted? Christine Brown, The Coffee Guy's first Christchurch franchisee, didn't know coffee beans were green. But then, she didn't get into the business because she was a coffee expert.

Before joining The Coffee GuyTM, Christine had only ever had one full-time job. ‘I had a very secure banking career, which I liked, but I had started feeling a bit stale. I decided I needed to get right away from banking to make a significant change.'

Her banking background gave Christine a unique insight into franchising. ‘I know that banks often look more favourably on someone starting up a franchise than they do on someone starting a business from scratch,' she says. ‘A good franchise offers the security of well-laid-out business plans, strong marketing strategies and immediate business.'

Although she had read good things about The Coffee Guy, Christine admits she wasn't initially sure it was for her. ‘I could see that there would be money in coffee, but was there a market for a mobile espresso service in Christchurch?' But after a meeting with Richard Karam, founder and creator of The Coffee Guy franchise, and Tim Thorburn, the company's franchise manager, she had no doubts. ‘Richard is an inspiring ideas person and Tim is excellent on details so they're good partners. Once they explained how the business operated and what it offered, I thought it sounded fantastic.'

Income To Match Your Effort

With The Coffee Guy, an investment of $37,500 + gst gets new franchisees full barista training, an exclusive territory and a guaranteed minimum income after three months. The branded mobile espresso van can be purchased outright or on favourable pre-approved finance terms. ‘Our approach consistently generates a turnover in excess of $100,000 a year,' Richard says. ‘As a result, although we offer a guaranteed income not one of our nearly 40 franchisees has taken us up on it.'

As a prospective franchisee, Christine found the guaranteed income reassuring. ‘I could see how I'd be making money from Day One,' Christine explains. ‘You start on a Monday, sell some coffee and finish the day with money in your pocket. If you don't, then you have the guarantee to fall back on. But I never needed it, because I made more money much faster than I'd expected.'

Christine credits The Coffee Guy's intensive hands-on training programme for getting her business underway so quickly. ‘Having The Coffee Guy people out on the road with me for the first two weeks was invaluable. Of course, I wasn't 100% up to speed after the initial training but I certainly had all the customers I could handle! And as I get quicker at making and serving coffee, I create gaps in my round that I fill with new customers.'

Variety, Efficiency & Opportunity

Christine visits businesses as large as the massive Air New Zealand base at Christchurch Airport and as small as a three-person hair salon. ‘I visit freight forwarders, computer companies, real estate agents, accountants, rental car companies... and I love my customers. ‘Sometimes I think the hardest part is making sure I don't talk too long!' Christine laughs. ‘I work to a schedule and my customers expect me to arrive on time.'

After four months, Christine says that the business has become easier. ‘I still work really hard but I'm getting more out of it all the time,' she says. ‘And my husband, Robbie, helps me at weekend events too.' Christine and Robbie are now taking steps towards becoming South Island master franchisees for The Coffee Guy. ‘I'm already a contact and support person for two other Christchurch franchisees and will be fully responsible for training a third.'

So what does it take to be a successful ‘Coffee Guy?' Christine doesn't hesitate: ‘You've got to be organised. It's a very busy business, and if you're not prepared, you'll waste time. You've also got to be a people person. With the right training, anybody can make good coffee but in this business, you are your customers' coffee break and it's important to connect with them.' Of course, a good ‘Coffee Guy' also has to get out on the road. Rising petrol prices might seem to make that a problem but Christine says that's not the case. ‘For one thing, the vans we use are very economical. Secondly, we keep our territories as compact as possible. This means we can service our clients daily while keeping our running costs down.'

Christine encourages people interested in the business to give Richard and Tim a call. ‘They're approachable, they've "been there" and they're incredibly driven. The franchise has grown quickly but there are still lots of opportunities.'

And while Christine knows a lot more about coffee than she did last year, she actually drinks a lot less. ‘As I get busier and busier I find I'm making over 100 cups of coffee a day but only have time for one or two myself. That's a reflection of just what a great business The Coffee Guy can be.'

This advertorial is taken from Franchise New Zealand magazine Volume 17 Issue 2

Contact details for The Coffee Guy

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