by Columbus Coffee
last updated 22/07/2019
by Columbus Coffee
last updated 22/07/2019
Changing to Columbus Coffee was the right move for this Upper Hutt franchisee
One of Columbus Coffee’s key points of difference is their strong relationship with Mitre 10 MEGA, which has seen over 30 outlets of the popular café franchise open within the DIY superstores since 2008.
Both home-grown Kiwi brands, the companies’ shared commitment to customer service means they work well together. The New Franchisee of the Year for Columbus Coffee, Sandi Lockyer has a unique perspective on this – her family owns three Mitre 10 MEGA stores in the Wellington area, and she has recently managed the conversion of the old café in their Upper Hutt location to a sparkling new Columbus Coffee store.
‘The result has been absolutely fantastic on both sides,’ Sandi says. ‘Having Columbus Coffee onsite to deliver fresh, quality food and great coffee separates Mitre 10 MEGA from competitors, and makes us a one-stop shop for customers. We’ve created a space that suits families at weekends and our regular customer base every day. Tradies don’t necessarily want a pie and Coke any more, they’re looking for quality – and Columbus Coffee provides it.’
Expert advice and marketing strength
When the time came to make the move to the Columbus Coffee model, Sandi was keen to take advantage of the brand’s 24-year experience. ‘The building needed some work to fix acoustics, fit and layout, so Columbus brought in a team to help with the design. The function of the space was transformed with innovations such as a playhouse in view of the tables so parents could simultaneously watch their kids and enjoy a coffee.’
Having run the original café, Sandi was no stranger to hospitality but took full advantage of the training Columbus Coffee provides to bring new franchisees up to speed with the latest systems. ‘Modules on finance, food and beverage, menu planning and marketing gave me great insight into different areas of the business, and highlighted gaps in what was previously offered in our store. We also had an executive chef and barista trainer come in to set expectations around service and delivery from the start, and that has made all the difference. Our customers are delighted and it’s showing in our turnover.
‘One of the biggest benefits of being part of the Columbus Coffee franchise is their marketing support. Not only do we have access to resources for local marketing, we also benefit from an extensive national marketing programme. Columbus Rewards has over 300,000 members to date – it’s a unique, nationwide customer engagement programme that tracks spending down to the soy milk in their latte. As well as being a loyalty programme, the system is designed to drive customer engagement and help us to anticipate our customers’ needs and plan promotions accordingly. It also allows us to provide better service, receive feedback and quickly resolve any negatives.’
Sandi’s team enjoys being part of a group that recognises hard work and success. ‘We came on board at a time the franchise was driving consistency in its menu, with a focus on fresh, delicious meals to complement coffee and cabinet options. In addition to a core menu there’s also a selection of “local favourites” options, which allow franchisees to cater to their specific market, as well as meet the allergy and lifestyle choices of our customers.’ Her well-planned, well-executed menu also earned Sandi’s café the Food Brand Delivery award.
But wait, there’s more! In Columbus Coffee’s own chef competition, Upper Hutt came home with first- and third-place prizes. ‘If our third chef hadn’t been on maternity leave at the time, we could have taken them all!’ Sandi laughs. ‘We have customers coming in to congratulate them, and it’s nice to see our chefs get recognition for the love, care and finesse they put into every meal. The franchise believes in keeping staff engaged and has great opportunities for development, training and awards. We want to get more involved in the in-house barista championships, too – our whole team is keen to grow.’
At a recent meeting, Sandi’s staff set their goals for the next year – which include going for the overall Franchisee of the Year award. ‘In terms of sales, we’re just behind cafés that have been going for five to ten years so that’s a great place to be. There’s some stiff competition, but we’re in it to win it! Running a café is hard work, so we love having something to motivate us to keep improving.’
Fitting the bill
Columbus Coffee has opportunities from $280,000. Franchisees across the network benefit from a brand which evolves constantly to stay fresh, relevant and exciting for franchisees and customers alike.
‘You don’t need to have café experience,’ says general manager Peter Webster, ‘You just need the right attitude and drive to succeed - our systems and training provide the rest.’
Having been through it herself, Sandi agrees. ‘The training sets franchisees up for success because it’s tailored to suit people with varying experience and knowledge, then back it up with first-class systems and support. Whether you’re looking for great coffee, great food or a great franchise, Columbus Coffee fits the bill.’
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