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“I’ve been humbled by the grit and determination of our franchisees”

“I’ve been humbled by the grit and determination of our franchisees”

CEO Martyn Ward reflects on how Cafe2U has navigated its way through unprecedented times

I remember having a conversation with the event planner managing our 2018 conference: “You need to start planning your 2020 conference soon, as dates are already selling out,” he said.

He was eluding to the fact that 2020 would be the year when many companies were planning to make a big splash about their plans for the next decade. ‘2020 vision’ was surely going to become an early contender for most overused phrase of the decade.

We took heed of his advice and in February this year held our annual conference, where we did exactly that. Our conference was indeed focused around our 2020 vision, as well as unveiling our refreshed branding, electric technology in our mobile coffee shops and a new mobile app.

The world changed

Nobody could have predicted what would transpire shortly after. An entirely new way of life was set to unfold and previously unheard of phrases were about to become the norm.

People would clap for the NHS every Thursday evening. Joe Wicks would inspire millions to exercise every morning. The list could go on. However, it’s safe to say that the happenings over the last five months were not in anyone’s plans - business or otherwise.

On March 23, when Boris Johnson announced an initial three-week lockdown, it was clear the world was about to change, potentially forever.

This was going to be the time when people and organisations showed their true colours and where a sense of community had not been so important since the Second World War. The irony of the 75th VE Day anniversary celebrations taking place during lockdown was not lost on me.

Community spirit

The franchise community, specifically, has been nothing short of brilliant. Franchisors shared best practice on regular Zoom calls, the British Franchise Association hosted weekly web meetings with industry experts and the team at Coconut Creatives held Franchise Fest online. Simply amazing.

‘Focus and Clarity have never been more important’ was the leading line in our group newsletter on March 24. This sentiment has played a tremendous part in our ability to navigate our way through these unprecedented times and has enabled us to get through the pandemic.

There has been a strong focus on the well-being of our franchise partners as we formulated our plan to relaunch the business as well as exploring - and piloting - a major new profit centre for our existing franchisees.

There will be more on this in the coming months, but never has the benefit of a mobile business been more prevalent.

The nature of our business presented us with unique opportunities throughout lockdown - my personal highlight being the fact we were able to deliver more than 15,000 free cups of coffee to NHS front-line workers.

I’ve been humbled by the grit and determination of our franchisees - always looking for ways to pivot their businesses and help in their communities. We’re so lucky to have a franchise network full of truly amazing people and are delighted to see a number of them breaking records for sales since starting back.

At a glance Cafe2U

Established:

2004

Number of franchised outlets:

90-plus

Location of units:

nationwide

Investment range:

as low as £15,000 (subject to status)

Minimum required capital:

£10,000 (subject to status)

Contact:

Teresa Fowler cafe2u.co.uk

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