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“I love being up early and out at work before a lot of other people are out of their beds”

“I love being up early and out at work before a lot of other people are out of their beds”

Italian business owner Antonio thought he knew everything about coffee... until he became a Cafe2U franchisee

While his customers are enjoying the last minutes of sleep before the alarm clock rings, Antonio is making the perfect cup of coffee to give them a fresh start to their day.

As a Cafe2U franchisee, Antonio is usually at stop one by 7.30 am, preparing his first coffee of the day for wife Angela.

To ensure his customers always enjoy his beverage service, Antonio turns his machinery on 30 minutes before arriving at the first stop. But he has another morning ritual his customers really enjoy.

“Our customers are not silent in the morning – their ‘thinking caps’ are on as soon as I appear, because I run a daily quiz,” he said. “Correct answers are rewarded with extra loyalty stamps or just the ‘kudos’ of being first! However, there are others who want to discuss the football, the weather, and regale tales of what they did the evening before.”

Coffee o’clock

Striking the right balance between quick service and quality products is not easy but Antonio has mastered it.

“Serving quick enough seems near impossible before you start the franchise and even at the end of training, it can seem daunting still, but you soon get quicker and confident without losing the important Cafe2U quality,” he explained. “I have found customers value great coffee and don’t mind waiting for it.”

Between 7.30 am and 11.45 am, Antonio is mainly serving hot drinks and food – from coffee, chocolate and tea, to delicious snacks. However, the balance tends to shift more towards food from 11.30 am to 1.45 pm as customers see Antonio as offering high quality lunchtime service.

“I generally feel content if I have sold out of all the food by 1.30 pm,” he said. “This minimises waste and means I can clean the pie warmer, and turn it off, during a quiet spot before I get home.”

After hours routine

Once home, Antonio cleans the van and the coffee machine, restocks, and cashes up the till.

“I choose to order from Brakes and Bolling weekly unless I have an emergency, and sandwiches are delivered to my door every day of the week,” he explained. “I have found you cannot totally avoid wastage of sandwiches, but if you are clever with ordering, rotation, and run special prices on nearly out-of-date items, you can minimise this. I purchase my milk from Sainsbury’s daily.”

But the food and drinks are just one of the keys to keeping his customers happy.

Antonio also spends some time brainstorming his customer messages for the week which he writes on his blackboard, including specials and trivia questions. He said: “This is a really useful way of reminding customers about my weekly specials, flavoured coffee of the week, or any other local news, or events. I try to make them fun too!”

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Apart from quality service, local marketing also helps draw customers. He said: “Local marketing is my responsibility, and Angela and I never stop! It is vital to the health of my business – for the daily round as well as the event side of the business. I make sure I use the tools and tips that Cafe2U provide, as well as some of my own, and I always do some marketing every week.”

He also plans and implements innovative ideas of his own. “For Christmas, we have lots of van decorations planned, and some special activities,” added Antonio.

Always keeping busy

Running a Cafe2U franchise means supplying and delivering fine espresso coffee, hot chocolate and sweet treats to places of work, business areas, industrial estates, and events.

Antonio explained: “Event leads do come through from head office via referrals or the website, but you don’t know when they will come or how many, so I work six months in advance and try to stay close to home as much as possible – community, clubs, sports, enthusiasts, churches, schools, charity events.”

The only obstacle could be the weather, especially when rain and wind combine.

Antonio said: “Although the equipment is very good, and reliable, it does occasionally have problems, and obviously when it does you need to work with Cafe2U, the engineers, and other agencies to find a solution as quickly as possible.”

A job to enjoy

What also helps Antonio run his business so smoothly is his passion for the job.

“It’s a sociable job, and I love being up early and out at work before a lot of other people are out of their beds,” he said. “It is the best feeling knowing that drinks that you create are so appreciated by their purchasers, every day that they are waiting for you to arrive!”

Antonio also enjoys selling a product people want to spend their own money on while providing excellent customer service.

He added: “I am Italian and thought I knew a lot about coffee, but I have learnt so much, and believe I still have loads more to learn too! With a blazing desire and determination fuelled by a strong dose of passion for caffeine, we are able to accomplish our goals.”

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