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CAFE2U BLOG

Cafe2U mobile coffee van franchise interview with Lisa Minett, NSW

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Catering Cafe2U

How Cafe2U has helped a working mum spend more time with her daughters

Lisa Minett, 33, has operated a Cafe2U mobile espresso van for a year and a half in Chester Hill, NSW. Minett discovered the company when another Cafe2U franchisee began delivering coffee to her office

What were you doing before Cafe2U?

I was working for a manufacturing company, Brady Corporation, which manufactured signs. I had been working for them since I got out of school. I was there for 13 years; I started as a trainee and worked my way up to management. We actually had a Cafe2U van that would come to work, so I've been drinking the coffee for several years now. The company was putting me through a leadership development course that went into what you wanted out of life and what you want to achieve. It got me thinking about what the next step was for me. I really enjoyed Cafe2U's coffee and I started looking into Cafe2U as a business.

I wound up buying my franchise from another franchisee — a lady who used to serve coffee down at the netball court where I play.

How has business been?

It's been going well. After the New Year there were some changes in the companies that I deliver to, so I had to find some new business. In January, I had a few really big clients move half their staff over to a new location. I had been selling 25 coffees there in half an hour and now it's dropped to a little less than 10. My average went down, so I spent a couple of weeks finding new business to get my average back up. It's been a little challenging because you have to fit new stops into your schedule, but the business has been good and it's doing everything I set out to do.

Since I bought from an existing franchisee, my training process was a little different than what most franchisees experience. I had the new franchisee training where I got to learn about the company and build the skills and knowledge for the business, but whereas they normally help build your route, my business already had a route, so I spent two weeks on the road with the lady I was purchasing the franchise from. The franchise development manager stays in touch, and if I ever need them to come out and spend time with me to help me be more efficient, they'll spend the time to help. I haven't had that many issues — just the odd equipment questions. One day in February all the power went out in my van and I couldn't get everything turned back on. It happened to be a safety switch, but I wasn't sure what the problem was, so I called Cafe2U. They went through a checklist with me to figure out what was wrong. I just needed to flip the switch. I haven't had any major issues that would make me not able to work for the day. I've had them meet me at a stop to go over checklists to make sure the van is up to cleanliness standards and is using their products, and to find out how many stops I'm doing per day and how my average income matches up with my goal.

I was earning an income from the very first day. One of my goals is to put another van on the road or stick with one van but bring another person on and do a split shift so that the van can keep selling during the afternoon.

What sets Cafe2U apart?

I think it's the support that you get. The people are great. They're lovely. One of the things they did was a personality survey of me to see what aspects of the business I might be good at and what I might need help with. They're great at making sure I get the support that I need. I have my own web page, and I can send them my photos and other materials and they handle website and the marketing. Another thing that really impressed me: When I had my first training day, the managing director came in and spoke about what Cafe2U would give us to help us succeed. For someone who is probably really busy to take the time out of their schedule and spend an hour with you, it gives you confidence that they're not going to let you fail.

Who makes a good Cafe2U franchisee? What attracted you to it?

You should be outgoing. It needs to be that the best part of their day is 10 o'clock, when the coffee truck is going to arrive and they get their coffee and a smile. You get to know your customers really well. You get to speak about things that you normally wouldn't, and you can join into conversations. Customers love it because it's a break in their day — even if it's just a five-minute break. I did a wedding reception last November for a lady that I served at work every day. It was a celebration in a park. She had gotten married overseas and came back and they had another ceremony in front of family and friends. There were about 90 guests, and I was there for two hours.

How large is the opportunity?

I could probably work all day 7 days a week. I know some franchisees that have more than one van. All these new businesses that I've picked up — many of them have called me. People know us.

Who are your main customers? Who are your best customers?

I do some freight companies, some post offices, railway workers. I do a lot of offices. It's really broad. My entire route is about 80 km and I'm doing 21 stops. I sell about 150 cups of coffee a day.

What does your typical day look like?

I get up at 4:30 in the morning and I finish at mid-day, which is one of the things that attracted me to the business. I can now spend time with my kids and pick them up from school. When I worked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., I would drop them off at my mum's at 7 and pick them up at after work. I get to see them more in the afternoon.

Do you own one unit or several?

I'm not sure if I'll do a second van in my area or if I'll look at another area and have somebody else run it. I'm definitely looking into it. In the next six years, I'd like to hire somebody else to run the vans.

How much of your business is delivering to businesses vs. working at events?

Ninety-five percent of it is the route. I do have a regular event that I do during the winter — on a Saturday. It's at the netball fields where I originally found the van. I go down there and I also play. I've trained my partner to run the van when I'm on the court. My kids play, too. I do have the odd event. I have a school fair event where the parents come and spend money and I give a percentage of sales back to the school.

What is a secret to your success?

Some of the success has fallen into my hands. I haven't had to do a lot of knocking to find customers. When you first introduce yourself to a possible customer, you do have to have a little bit of confidence to walk into a business and say “Hi, this is who I am,” but Cafe2U has become so much a part of the culture that they're often calling you to get you to come to their office, and sometimes you just can't get them in. I've been very fortunate that the new stops I've picked up recently have all called me.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn't before?

The major thing is getting to spend more time with the kids. Pretty much ever since they were a couple of months old, I've been back to work. It means a little more work for me in the afternoon, with homework and cooking dinner, but you're getting to spend time with them.

If I needed to, I could work more hours. It's a different lifestyle and you do have more flexibility. When you're at the stops, you hear people talk about the things they have to do and dealing with bosses, and I just think, “Oh, I don't need that.” They start talking about end of month goal and, ugh.

Would you recommend a Cafe2U franchise to someone else? Why?

Yes. I think it is successful. You get as much work as you want. It's a good lifestyle. I get to start my own day with an excellent coffee! In the morning, I always make sure I put the milk at the right temperature. I heat it up and have a coffee and make sure everything is perfect. I know some people who start at 8 and keep going until 2 or 3. It's flexible. For me, it's really good finishing at mid-day. I can repack the van and get it ready for the next day before I head to get the girls from school. If I needed to or wanted to work longer, I could.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Cafe2U franchise owner,  just click here.

Cafe2U mobile coffee van franchise interview with Steve Payk NSW

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Cafe2U Steve Payk

Steve Payk's only regret: Not starting his Cafe2U coffee truck business five years sooner

Steve Payk spent 28 years managing sports clubs before deciding to pursue his passion for a coffee business. Research soon led him to Cafe2U, where he now serves customers in Windsor and Richmond in New South Wales, Australia. Cafe2U recently expanded to the United States, and Steve is happy to share his thoughts with anyone interested in starting a Cafe2U business.

What were you doing before Cafe2U?

I was club manager at different sports clubs. I wanted to take a bit of control of my own life. Clubs are tough. Before, I'd be on freeway for an hour, heading into work at 6 a.m., getting home at 7 p.m. Plus, I was working weekend nights.

How did you find out about Cafe2U?

I had looked at a number of franchises. My wife had the idea of opening a coffee shop and we took a look at that, but you're really a slave to the shop — you have to be there from when they open really early to when they close really late. Then we decided to start looking into franchises, which is how we found out about Cafe2U. We looked at three other coffee businesses, but they didn't stack up to Cafe2U.

What sets Cafe2U apart?

The coffee is a nice tasting coffee. It's not too strong, and it's not weak. I enjoy a good coffee.

The support you get is wonderful. There is great ongoing support, and there are no secrets. The franchisees help each other out and don't compete against one another.
The daily takings have been good. I started off around $550 a day Monday through Friday. I'm on the road from 6 a.m. to noon, and now I'm pulling in more a day, plus a lot of event work on weekends, so it ensures solid cash flow within my family.

The launch process was good. The franchise development person was there with me, and he did the cold calls. I more or less just drove for the first few weeks. He got the people to come out and made their coffees. At the moment, I do about 40 stops a day — the same stops at the same time every day. I know what people are going to order. I have about 145 customers and I know them all by name. If their car is there, I know that they are there. Whatever they want, I start making. There's a horse barn I go to a 6:15 every morning. They write their orders down on a pad and I start making drinks. It's like a family. I have a ball.

I'm good friends with five or six franchisees who live within 5 miles of me. I have Windsor Richmond. If I can't do an event, they help. We're all ready to pitch in. It's hard to cover one another person's route, because everything starts and stops at the same time. If someone needs to me take care of a stop near one of mine, I'll service other customers. It's nice to be able to ring a friend up, have a chat and find out how something new works on the van. Sometimes, you'll have a new franchisee who needs advice on making a frappe. We're always talking to each other.

Who makes a good Cafe2U franchisee? What attracted you to it?
I think you have to be a people person. I have no problem adjusting, because in sports clubs you get to meet all sorts — from  workers to business people. You just talk to them on their level and make the day fun. I feel guilty sometimes pulling up to a stop and taking money. I tell my wife, sometimes this isn't like a job, it's like a hobby.

How large is the opportunity?

I feel successful already. I'm just basically making coffee, but you see in people's faces how excited they are to see you when you come out. When you're late by 10 or 15 minutes they're like “thank goodness, I was afraid you weren't coming!” You build up a clientele and they get the same thing every day. Your client base is steady. And they spread the word. I get phone calls from people I don't even know thanks to word of mouth.

What does your typical day look like?

At 4:30 I wake up, go outside, turn on the coffee machine, have a shower, and 20 minutes later I put some coffee through. I make myself and my wife coffee. She gets up at 4:45. I'm on road by 5:30. The first stop is at 6. I'm at the industrial park from 7 to 11:30, then over to Richmond for another quick industrial area. I finish there in about 35 minutes. Then I come home, quickly do the banking, pull stuff out of van and clean, then restock.

We're just coming up to events season. There is a local market where I set up from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Soccer season is coming up, and in three hours, you can make great income. I take my son or daughter with me. They take orders, and I'm pumping out coffees. Around Christmas, for 6 weeks I was working every weekend. There were carol events, some church events. It gets pretty hectic. I need one of my children there. My daughter 19, and my son is 17. Most events are early morning, so I'm waking one of them up at 5. They don't like getting up that early, but I pay them well.

How much of your business is delivering to businesses vs. working at events?

The events probably equal about a third or a quarter of my Monday through Friday takings.

What is a secret to your success?

It's just me being me. To me, you are there to be the shoulder that customers can put all their problems on. I know more about them than I do about my best friends, because I listen to them every day. I'm a good listener. It's just the product really, and building relationships.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn't before?

It's so much freer. It's not like a job. It's like a hobby. No stress. No tension. I'm much more relaxed.

Would you recommend a Cafe2U franchise to someone else? Why?

Of course I would. I wish I did it five years ago. It's an alternative and fun lifestyle. It gives me regular income as well as the lifestyle and balanced family time that a conventional job doesn't always afford. And you're making good money, too.

If you would like to find out more about starting your own Cafe2U franchise, just click here

Cafe2U mobile coffee van franchise inteview with Michael Dolahenty NSW

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Cafe2U has brought  success plus a more relaxed lifestyle

Michael Dolahenty started his Cafe2U mobile espresso van in Cromer-Dee Why, New South Wales, Australia, at the beginning of 2010 — becoming the company's 100th franchise partner. He quickly distinguished himself, being named New South Wales Franchisee of the Year.

What were you doing before Cafe2U?

I'd been working for people all my life. I spent 15 years working for a supermarket chain and the rest of the time I was in a variety of sales positions. My last job before Cafe2U was working for a disability company for 13 years bringing in business for its factories. I wanted to stop all the traveling around Sydney, dealing with the traffic. I wanted to try something different and I started reading a lot about the coffee business. I didn't have the confidence to go into business for myself without the support of a franchise, and they seemed to be a good proposition. Cafe2U's business is all very local. Our route is built around the area where we live and we like the franchise.

How did you find out about Cafe2U?

I'd seen a van crawl on the other side of Sydney, where I worked, but the idea really started with my wife. She is a dental nurse,and she had a patient who worked for Belaroma, the coffee roaster for Cafe2U. My wife was talking to them about my interest in coffee businesses and he said to be sure to take a good look at Cafe2U. I'd already been researching businesses through the internet. We kept looking at Cafe2U, and when we made an inquiry we learned that this franchise was coming up for sale here where we live.

Business has been good, and it is an interesting job. There are a lot of interesting places you go with a Cafe2U van. Places that you normally wouldn't visit — especially with some of the events that come up. Some of the extra special places I've been are the Botanical Gardens in Sydney, right there on the shore, looking across the harbour to the opera house. I've been into Sydney for an International Lions convention in one of the big parks that you normally wouldn't be invited into. Also, it allows you to be part of the community. There is a place nearby called Bear Cottage, which is a hospice for children. I was at a Christmas party for a children's hospice. That's not far from where I live and I get coffee donated by Cafe2U and cups and I help out. I was there for about four or five hours doing coffees for the Christmas party. There's a couple of different events like that, and it gives you a really good feeling to be able to put something back in the community and there are parents and doctors who are there and they are happy to be able to receive a really nice coffee.

At other events, like with a sports club, you might give them a 10% rebate back to the club. I just finished working with a baseball team for the season.

What sets Cafe2U apart?

I think Cafe2U is the market leader because they know what they're doing. As far as a franchise, they certainly seem to look after the people. It doesn't just have to be about money. A lot of it is about building relationships. It's not just about making money — it's about having good products and good coffee. You feel very confident when you work with them. The way they launch you is really tremendous. For the first two weeks, I had the franchise development manager with me every day, guiding me through the process, giving coffees away so that people would know the product, and talking to people and encouraging me and showing me the best way to grow the business. I had my stepson working with me on the launch and we just went from there. It's all just first class.

Who makes a good Cafe2U franchisee? What attracted you to it?

You want to be happy to talk to people. You should be someone who likes working with the community and someone who likes building relationships. Your people skills don't have to be super strong, but just building relationships so that people get to know you. They'll love your coffee, but a lot of it is relationship building, too. Once you've got some of these things established, the money part — the profits — just start flowing.

It probably took me a few months to become profitable. It depends on what sort of competition you've got and how much coffee you want to give away to start out. We have now built up a really good food business with fresh sandwiches and wraps and muffins and cakes, and I'm selling pies. You should be able to be starting making small profits within the first couple of months.

How large is the opportunity?

Over here there is a fair bit of competition. There is tremendous demand for good coffee. I had never made coffee before. They say it's recession proof, because people like to have a nice cup of espresso coffee and it's something that you can always afford. I think there will be opportunities for a long time to come.

Who are your main customers? Who are your best customers?

It is quite a varied group of customers; some office customers, some factory workers. I've got one factory that has six guys there and, you know, they could spend $10 a person and more just on food — and then drinks on top of that. They are busy working guys, and they like to have a big morning meal. I get ladies who come out from the offices. I serve mechanics. There is a glass-making place on my route and a school. I'm working from about 5:50 a.m. until 12:30 to 1 p.m. I've got one nursing home —I get a few of the residents and staff that come out for that.

It's varied, but I'm not going a long way. I'm making about 32 stops, and I'm probably driving no more than six miles. There are opportunities to serve construction workers as building sites pop up. You slot them in when you can. Sometimes your customers move out of the area, so you continually look to accrue. Sometimes you might have to move somebody around so you can take on a better job in a better timeslot. Cafe2U is willing to help you with redevelopment like that. A franchise development manager is just a phone call away.

What does your typical day look like?

My first stop is about 6 a.m., the last stop is around 12:30 p.m. I may work a little longer as it gets colder. I've had a few requests for afternoon coffee. You don't want to wear yourself out too much.

One of the things I love is being near where I live. It's a very beautiful part of the world here. As I drive and make my stops, I'm often looking at the surf from different vantage points. I'm not sitting in traffic. I'm looking at the ocean instead of somebody else's back bumper. It's a nice. If I want to, I can clean up, place some orders and be completely done with the business by 2 p.m.

My family is all grown up — I've got one son living here who is going to university — so it gives me an opportunity to do more on the weekend with events. I know that some of the Cafe2U owners, when they've got young families, they pace themselves with events because they want to spend time with their family and they can rely on the good business they get Monday through Friday. I'm 59 this year, so I'm doing a little bit more just to put a bit of a nest egg away for my retirement.

Do you own one unit or several? Why?

I don't think I'll do more than one van unless I had a family member to put into it, and at this point in time, it doesn't appear that way.

How much of your business is delivering to businesses vs. working at events?

The event work for me just depends on the case. Monday through Friday is my main core business. The weekend work is just probably 20 percent of what I take during the week, depending on what the event is and how strong it is. Sometimes you get events that are really good. Others aren't so good. It just depends what's in your area. Working with the sports clubs can be good. When you get an early morning sporting event and people are there, it usually goes quite well — especially if people know you're providing a rebate back to the club.

What is a secret to your success?

I suppose just getting people to try the product and letting them taste the Cafe2U blend and see the way that we make it with the equipment we have in the van. We deliver fresher, better coffee, and the consistency in our coffee is a strong point. I've witnessed many people come onboard from the first taste. During the franchise launch, we have customers try out different coffees so they find one they really like.

What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn't before?

It has allowed me to meet a variety of different people. I have all kinds —from garbage guys that I serve early in the morning to doctors that I call on, and they all just love their coffee.

Would you recommend a Cafe2U franchise to someone else? Why?

I would, because if they're interested in this sort of work, it's quite rewarding. I just like people telling me that they're enjoying it and going from one business to another is nice — you're not stuck in one workplace. And people like it when you are there. When people come out to see you, it's not like they're going to the dentist — they're already in a good state of mind. They're going to get something good to eat and a good coffee or a good hot chocolate. The only time I get stressed out is when I get so much business that I'm running behind. So it's a great. I was driving out of the area a lot before. Now, I hardly ever leave the northern beaches — just to visit some friends sometimes on the weekend. I love it.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Cafe2U franchise owner,  just click here.