Business Profiles

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 10/09/2019


Always On Point

by Columbus Coffee

last updated 10/09/2019


Collaboration and change keep Columbus Coffee ahead of the competition

Since it first opened its doors in 1995, Columbus Coffee has grown to be a major player in New Zealand’s café scene with over 70 stores around the country and a highly successful collaboration with Mitre10.

How does such a large group stay relevant and responsive to changing tastes and trends?

Not standing still

‘It’s a fast-moving, highly competitive market, so it’s imperative we remain fresh and relevant,’ says General Manager Peter Webster. ‘Consumer needs are changing the way we think and do things. Store environment, staff, customer service and music all play an important part to capture customer engagement. It’s not enough to just serve a good coffee or a great menu – hospitality is all about the overall experience from the moment you walk in the door.’

In addition to its many franchise awards, the brand has also won a Retail Excellence Design award for its Sylvia Park store. ‘A franchise winning that award is a big deal – it’s an important recognition of the quality of the brand’s ongoing evolution to remain fresh and relevant,’ Peter points out. Other major initiatives have included marketing and menus. The Columbus Rewards programme was fully rolled out in 2015 and now has a database of over 320,000 members who earn rewards with all purchases, not just coffee. ‘With increasingly clever technology available, we can constantly evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and can also implement data-driven targeted offers to specific customers.’

This year, Columbus Coffee introduced a new approach to its seasonal core menu which includes options for different diets. ‘Franchisees can still add local favourite menu items and offer variety in their cabinet and chef’s specials, but the launch of the new seasonal core menu has been significant in raising our game. It will change twice a year.’

Learning the business

New franchisees are put through their paces in an extensive training programme, learning everything about Columbus Coffee’s systems, marketing and finance, visiting the roastery and getting supplier accounts set up, and spending further time in training stores. ‘These are cafés run by experienced franchisees who excel in delivering the Columbus Coffee brand. You’ll do everything from making coffee and serving customers to rostering staff – it’s a chance for you to learn the basics of all roles,’ says Peter.

The support team also help with your own staff recruitment. ‘Building the team who are going to take care of your customers is important, so we show you what to look for – it’s not always the person with the most experience that’s the best fit.

‘With the support of a barista, chef trainer and franchise business consultant on-site, we set you up for success from the first day. Whether you’ve had the café six months or six years, everyone gets support appropriate for their goals, and we increase our involvement as needed.’

Communication counts

Columbus Coffee encourages franchisees to share ideas and learn from each other. Franchisees in each region meet a few times a year and constantly communicate through Facebook and WhatsApp groups. ‘It’s another way in which we’re maximising the use of technology,’ says Peter. ‘We have a representative of each region on our Franchise Advisory Council, and the frequent communication helps us listen to everyone and enables franchisees to keep up with what’s going on. We have to stay open to change.’

Peter says that the biggest asset they have is their network of franchisees, who bring locally-owned focus to every store.

‘That’s why the training and support we provide from day one is so vital. From your first contact with us, we’ll give you all the information we can. Whether you’re looking at a new location or taking over an existing site, Columbus Coffee will share anything that could be relevant: size and history of the site or café; how the franchise supports you; and, most importantly, what you need to do next.

Columbus Coffee has opportunities nationwide, with investments starting from $250,000. ‘We’re looking for people with passion and drive to succeed, who want to invest in a business that never stays still. The speed of change in this industry is increasing every year, so we’re constantly keeping our eyes open.

‘We have a fantastic team of people at Columbus Coffee with hundreds of years of experience between us. Our job is to support you and keep the brand fresh so you can focus on growing your business. If you want that team behind you, contact us today.’  

See this advertorial on page 69 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 28 Issue 3

Contact details for Columbus Coffee

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