Cafe2U: Upwardly Mobile

June 11, 2012

Cafe2U, Making Money Magazine, March 2012.

Tim Shaw manages three vans over two Cafe2U territories in Berkshire and has plans for further expansion.

Cafe2U is the world’s largest mobile coffee franchise system, delivering fresh espresso coffee and great food to businesses, events and functions. Cafe2U is an associate member of the British Franchise Association and has over 50 franchises in the UK.

Franchisee Tim Shaw’s background is in customer experience transformation and, prior to starting his Cafe2U business, he had been a customer service consultant for eight years and a telecoms manager for seven years.

Sensible Option

He explains: “I knew about franchising from the obvious franchise brands on the high street such as McDonald’s and when I decided to start my own business, I didn’t quite have the confidence to go it alone completely, so franchising seemed like the sensible option. It took 9 months from initially deciding on buying a franchise to signing up and launching my Cafe2U franchise.

“Although I had worked in a bar several years ago, I didn’t really have any food service or retail experience and had never made a proper coffee in my life. I did have several years’ worth of experience helping organisations manage customer experience as a consultant, so this was more about putting my money where my mouth was. Catering or retail experience isn’t essential with this franchise, it is much more important to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and understand what they require from you – this is something that is taught throughout your training.

Tim says he had always been interested in opening a coffee shop, but loved the concept of selling quality coffee in various locations. “My customer service background really kicked in when I met the Cafe2U team and spent some time with a couple of franchise partners”, he says. ”I could see how their impeccable service was another winner.

“The initial training was fantastic. I received an initial week’s worth of training as part of the Acceleration package, where I learnt the basic barista skills and how to manage the business, prior to this I had completed an online food and hygiene course organised by Cafe2U. I then worked closely with my Franchise Development Manager over the following three weeks, who pretty much camped on my doorstep and was the driving force in launching my business. I learnt so much over this period and this is what gave me the confidence to go on and manage my business successfully.

Tim adds: “The ongoing support has been very good. Cafe2U have adopted very much a collaborative approach and provide both simple operational tips to more strategic thinking to help develop my business.”

With plenty of competition on the high street, the UK’s coffee market is an established one, but this is where Cafe2U comes into its own. The company delivers its coffee to non-traditional locations via its eye-catching and ear-catching vans, which are fitted out with the latest barista-quality equipment and musical airhorns.

Business Model

“The competition from well-known café brands has not been an issue for us”, says Tim. “Firstly both the quality of our product, professionalism and service that we provide sets us apart from many established coffee businesses. Secondly, the nature of our business model (delivering coffee directly to the customer) is unique to our area.

“It’s a huge buzz to see customers’ faces when they enjoy a good cup of coffee and I have great job satisfaction but this is also a business that provides an income so that I can spend time with my family and enjoy my hobbies. The mobile system means you can focus on times of peak demand and do not have the expense of operating a shop at less busy times.’

“We are operating ahead of forecast. Since we became operational 17 months ago, we have grown to operating three vans across two territories. On a typical Monday to Friday we have 23 stops per van each day and can sell anything up to 30 cups per stop plus a variety of snacks and sandwiches during lunchtimes.”

Tim is pleased that he chose Cafe2U and that the company chose him. His advice for those looking at buying a Cafe2U franchise is: “Get experience with existing franchise partners. I visited two Cafe2U franchise partners before I signed up. It taught me a lot, and I was inspired to aim for expansion right away. Think about what your objectives are and capture these in your business plan. Define a way of measuring success so that you know how close you are to meeting your objectives. And, don’t worry, you won’t be on your own as Cafe2U will help you with this and much more along the way”

Tim’s enthusiasm for Cafe2U has rubbed off on everyone he meets: “I’m particularly pleased that I have also made an impact on other people looking to start a franchise. Amazingly, I served someone at the Caversham festival last summer who lives in the USA and he is now hoping to be one of the first franchisees to launch Cafe2U in the States!”

If you would like to know more about Cafe2U, why not call on  08456 444708 or view the video on their website www.cafe2u.co.uk