by The Coffee Club
last updated 24/03/2021
On The Ball
by The Coffee Club
last updated 24/03/2021
New franchisees give an honest opinion of joining The Coffee Club
When Covid-19 put a stop to international travel, Willy and Anja Gerdsen saw an opportunity close to home – and took it. After years of travelling the world as a soccer coach, Willy’s career was on hold indefinitely – and it was the push he needed to fulfil another dream.
‘I’ve spent so much time working in national and international leagues overseas, while Anja has stayed here, that I wanted to spend more time with my wife,’ says the former Young All Whites and Junior All Whites coach. ‘We love coffee, food and community, and decided this was our chance to work and build something together for our future.’
Anja adds, ‘I’ve worked in accounts, customer service and studied IT support, and it was time for a new adventure. Of course, job opportunities were limited last year so it was time to make our own.’ The couple made the most of lockdown, using the time to do lots of research, find out about franchises available and get some food and beverage service qualifications under their belt.
They decided they wanted something that had the background support, proven model and proven systems, ‘But where we could add our own personal touch, too,’ Willy says. ‘When we saw The Coffee Club down the road from us in Silverdale was for sale, it was the right brand, right area and right opportunity.’
All the help you need
The Coffee Club is a multiple award-winning franchise, with over 50 franchisees operating 65 stores across New Zealand. When Willy and Anja met Brad Jacobs and Andy Lucas, The Coffee Club New Zealand’s directors, they walked away with the feeling this was the business for them. ‘They’re very approachable, very hands-on to help you get set up, and they know what is going on in the industry. It’s very valuable insight for newcomers like us.’
‘The Coffee Club has a well-proven track record,’ says Andy. ‘Our franchises are supported by best practice systems which have been developed and proven over more than 30 years. These include property experts, outstanding training, operational support with a fleet of business development managers, and an innovative marketing strategy. Our training and support can help anyone with the right attitude and a passion for great service and excellent coffee into their own business – regardless of experience.’
As a professional coach himself, Willy found the brand’s training programme very thorough. ‘It’s very practice-oriented, not just sitting in a classroom for days. We worked with different franchisees to get real-life experience in their cafés and learn what it’s like on an hourly basis from opening to closing – and beyond. It’s not always easy, and there’s a lot of information to take in, but it’s all vital.’
Highest growth ever
Their experience in business, customer service, managing teams and building relationships has quickly proven a winning combination for Willy and Anja. In the four months since taking over The Coffee Club Silverdale, they have seen some of the highest growth ever across the franchise – in the middle of a pandemic!
‘We weren’t naïve going in,’ says Willy. ‘We knew that it would be tough learning a whole new business and getting ourselves established, but we got through it. We started by refurbishing the café, which attracted attention and gave us every opportunity to build a good reputation and foster relationships with people who quickly became regular customers. Thanks to The Coffee Club’s support, we were never alone in dealing with any problems – there was always someone to help when we needed advice. The only surprise is how much busier we were than we expected, but that’s a good thing!’
Of course, running a busy café takes one thing above all – teamwork. Fortunately, Willy is no stranger to building and motivating a team. ‘We couldn’t do it alone. Our goal is to provide excellent service and get to know our customers, so having a good team behind us to represent our business is key. We all want to make sure every customer is happy, then they will come back,’ Anja says.
Placing adverts in local newspapers, school newsletters and supporting groups and sports teams in their neighbourhood has also been key to embedding the team in their local community. ‘It’s all about making those connections,’ Anja explains. ‘The Coffee Club is a well-known brand, but we are also a small, locally-owned family business, and that’s something people want to support.’
Building our future
Andy says that The Coffee Club still has opportunities available in key growth areas around the country. ‘This is a chance to make a big change, live where you want and do something you can be passionate about.’ Investment levels range from $350,000 to $400,000 +gst.
Willy concludes: ‘I’m an honest German, and I have to say that in all the research we did, The Coffee Club came up trumps. Of course, with Covid there have been challenges along the way, but we have a store we’re really proud of, support on every level from the franchisor and our community, and Anja and I really feel we are building something together for our future.’
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