FranchiseExpo: Tell us about the Cafe2U concept.
Tom Acland: Cafe2U is the premier provider of espresso based coffee and complimentary snacks into non-traditional locations. Monday to Friday we visit workplaces which are not close to high street coffee shop facilities. At the weekends we are the largest provider of mobile coffee at events up and down the country. We arrive at the same time every day at workplaces of all sizes and types and serve our fantastic coffee, hot chocolate, Teapigs tea, and a variety of cakes, cookies, muffins, hot and cold sandwiches too.
FE: How and when did you become involved with Cafe2U?
TA: I was a customer of one of the early Cafe2U’s in Australia where I was living and working. I liked the service so much and could see so much potential for the business model in the UK that I decided to bring it back and start it here in 2004.
FE: What was your background prior to joining Cafe2U?
TA: I was in Australia setting up a GPS tracking company for whom I had been employed in the UK. I have also set up my own GPS tracking company in the past. I have always been interested in business, new ideas and opportunities.
FE: What are some of the advantages in being a Cafe2U franchisee?
TA: A Cafe2U franchisee receives:
- 5 day training in our Cafe2U Training Academy
- 10 day accompanied launch with one of our launch coaches who finds the customers, develops the round, and coaches the franchisee in the skills at the same time
- Ongoing support and coaching from our operations team and a dedicated Franchise Development Manager who visits every quarter and phones each week
- Cafe2U events coordinator to talk to event organisers on your behalf and help you book yourself into events
- One of our fantastic and proven Cafe2U vans to run the business with, eliminating the costs and hassles of trying to do this themselves.
FE: Who is your ideal franchisee?
TA: A successful and happy one!
FE: Tell us a little about the (industry) Market?
TA: The UK coffee culture has grown above all expectations in the last 5 years and will keep going. The BBC recently reported it was worth approx. £782m per year, with 9 million espresso coffees being sold in takeaway branded cups every week. More and more businesses are relocating to ‘out of town’ areas and most are cutting back on ‘in house facilities’ – all great for our franchisees!
FE: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
TA: Recruit wisely. Understand and respect the different reasons why people invest in a franchise and the different aims and objectives they will have. Make sure your (franchisors) income streams are enough to allow you to provide the support service your franchisees require.
FE: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
TA: I make sure I have people with different experience and expertise to myself. People that I can talk to about the business and these have to be people who will challenge me and my views, to ensure that the business stays healthy and fresh.
FE: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
TA: Make sure you will enjoy ‘the job’ that you will need to do on a daily basis. Ensure that the franchisor has a well structured and thorough training, launch and ongoing support process, as well as a variety of mediums to communicate with you, both in-directly and face to face at meetings and events.
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Cafe2U would be a great opportunity for someone?
TA: Cafe2U is a great opportunity because it allows a relatively low entry point into the one of the fastest growing industries in the UK – espresso coffee shops. Taking a great product to the customer rather than waiting for them to visit you puts you in control of the business from the start and allows you to decide how many hours you put in. With a 70% gross margin, it is a low overhead, high margin business, with a fair amount of flexibility in terms of commitment it needs from the franchisee. It has flexibility in how it can be run, allowing true lifestyle decisions to be taken, as well as offering lots of opportunity for people to build up the number of vans and territories that they own and manage.