Business Profiles

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 14/12/2016

Columbus Coffee
moving with the TIMES

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 14/12/2016

Constant development is part of the Columbus Coffee culture

Columbus Coffee continues to attract budding entrepreneurs into its award-winning franchise network as the power of the brand goes on growing. ‘Franchisees recognise they are getting value and experience with Columbus Coffee, as well as constant development to stay up with the trends. That’s vital in today’s ever-changing market,’ says marketing manager Anna Walker. 

Back in 1995 when Columbus Coffee opened the doors on its first café in Auckland’s High Street, New Zealand was still predominantly a tea-drinking country. Ever since, Columbus has been a major player in the development of our vibrant café culture, and now has close to 70 outlets nationwide offering not just great coffee but a great range of freshly-made food. 

‘21 years on, the market is much more competitive – and consumers much more savvy,’ Anna says. ‘But because we recognised the need to keep innovating, we’ve been able to deliver an attractive and sustainably profitable opportunity to our franchisees. Two decades of hard work and experience have also been recognised with multiple franchise system and franchisee awards.’ 

the science of success

‘There’s a good reason Columbus Coffee has won so many awards,’ says Jane Merai, who is franchisee for both Glen Eden and the Mitre 10 MEGA Westgate cafés. ‘Not only is it a well-respected New Zealand brand but there is always a big commitment to moving with the times. For us as franchisees, this ongoing commitment by the franchise is extremely important.’ 

That commitment was demonstrated when the brand underwent a full refresh recently following extensive research among consumers and franchisees. ‘Every aspect of our brand was reviewed to enhance the experience for customers – everything from store environments, uniforms, menus and drinks to marketing and all things between,’ says Anna. ‘That meant some big challenges, and our franchisees embraced the changes with excellent results.’

In fact, Columbus franchisees were at the heart of the TV and online campaign that won yet another award – the Media Campaign of the Year title at the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards 2015/16. ‘That was the cherry on the top for us, acknowledging the results the campaign had achieved for both franchisees and the brand,’ Anna says. ‘But that campaign was just one component of a comprehensive national marketing programme to position the brand top of mind, attract new customers, drive sales and support customer engagement and advocacy. 

‘We use a wide range of marketing initiatives including social media, our Christo Kids Club, search marketing, sales promotions, sponsorships, seasonal point of sale, partnership marketing and other activity. ‘The biggest jewel in our crown, though, is undoubtedly the digital Columbus Rewards customer engagement programme that we launched around 18 months ago. Membership growth has far exceeded our expectations and ongoing engagement provides us with insights that we’ve never had before.

‘Apart from driving our sales growth nationwide, it also allows Columbus franchisees to conduct local level digital marketing, from which we’ve had superb results. It means we can engage with our customers both in and out of the store, and that positive, regular engagement helps create loyalty and advocacy.’

proudly local, proudly kiwi

Having such professional brand and marketing support behind the scenes is a massive advantage for Columbus franchisees, but, as Anna says, ultimately it’s they themselves who make the difference locally. ‘After all, a good café is at the heart of communities, and Columbus has always encouraged franchisees to create a local atmosphere.’

It’s that local flavour that attracted franchisee Nick Gray. ‘The appeal of Columbus Coffee to me was that it had a distinct New Zealand story to tell,’ says Nick, a former banker. ‘It wasn’t looking to be a “production line” of cafés but was endeavouring to embed itself in the local communities in which each store was set up. That was the essence of what I was looking for in a café. With no background in the hospitality business, I was also looking to leverage a franchise with proven systems, processes, knowledge and expertise. Columbus helped reduce the risks associated with a start-up business and provided an established brand that customers recognised and trusted.’ Five years on, Nick has more than proved the point – he’s been so successful he now owns two Columbus franchises in Palmerston North.

In keeping with its local focus, Columbus Coffee remains proudly 100 percent locally owned and is continuing to expand, with new cafés opening around the country all the time. ‘Opportunities in Mitre10 MEGA and high street locations are available from $280,000 to $400,000,’ says Columbus Coffee general manager Peter Webster.

‘It’s a sizeable investment, but as you can see we put a great deal of knowledge into providing our franchisees with everything they need to run successful, sustainable businesses. You don’t need hospitality experience, but you do need to have good people and management skills. If you want to be an essential part of your local community, I want to hear from you.’  

This advertorial is taken from Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 25 Issue 3

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