The number one call we get as franchise consultants is to find out how to own a Starbucks. It makes total and complete sense why someone would want to own a Starbucks location – it seems they are jam packed at all hours of the day and for $5 a cup, there’s plenty of money to be made. I can hear the balloon deflate when I give the sad news that Starbucks is not a franchise, and all new stores are company-owned.
Not to fret! Coffee is still a powerful player in the coffee food service industry – here’s why:
- Margins for a Cup of Joe are still great, and it seems that customers are still very willing to pay upwards of $4 or more for a great espresso drink.
- The supply chain management (food, coffee beans, supplies, etc) for a coffee franchise are relatively simple.
- The expenses for coffee businesses are still relatively low compared to other food service franchises
- Customers don’t really come for the coffee, they come for the experience
That last bullet sums it up. If you think people are going to Starbucks for the flavor of the coffee, you’d be dead wrong.
Starbucks provides a GREAT EXPERIENCE. Consistent, fun, comfortable, and quick. Think about it for a second; you walk in, the store is clean – there’s lots of leather chairs, tables, free internet, great music. You walk over to the ordering line, you see the barista hard at work, you see featured new beautiful coffee cups, bagged coffee, and other items. You turn and see a glass case full of delicious goodies. Then you get to order your drink. They accept credit cards, loyalty cards, etc. But most importantly, they make it quick and easy, and don’t hawk over you for a tip. Within a few seconds, your coffee drink is finished and you are enjoying your coffee, tea, ice-drink, or smoothie. Wow!
You may be saying to yourself that it sounds great, but how do I succeed in a coffee business?
You could start your own, non-franchise business. Believe it or not, this works! While it’s not quite as predictable as starting a franchise, the moving parts aren’t that numerous, so if you chose to do this, focus on the main delivery: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. As a Seattle native, I’ve seen thousands of coffee shops. My favorite of them all is located down near the stadiums, called Zeitgeist Coffee. Literally the best tasting latte in town, but more importantly they really deliver on the service and experience element. The last time I was there, I asked the barista to forgo the usual “leaf” design in my foamed milk, but instead make a Seahawks logo in the foam. She gladly attempted it and I swear it looked almost authentic. I was grateful for the attempt, but even more grateful for the great service! I will definitely be returning to Zeitgeist.
For those of us not quite so adventurous, we definitely say “do not fear the Starbucks machine” if you want to start a coffee business. We do see a significant amount of start-up risk removed by going with a franchise. The reason is fairly obvious and we talk about it all the time: Franchises use predetermined systems and processes which are proven to work. We definitely recommend several concepts, from Maui Wowi Coffee & Smoothies to Seattle’s Best Coffee and more. The best part about any coffee franchise is since it is more predictable, you can be like our friends at Zeitgeist and Starbucks and focus heavily on the customer experience and avoid the turmoil of trying to figure out all the minutia.
For more information on coffee franchises or other franchise concepts, feel free to contact me directly at 425-954-5756, or fill out the contact form. We look forward to discussing your situation and are happy to take the time to explain all or your options.