Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, Cafe2U franchisees have come through it stronger. Abi Ward has been a Cafe2U franchise owner in Castle Donington since November 2019
Why did you choose to become a Cafe2U franchisee?
I had thought initially about setting up a coffee shop but it felt like such a pipe dream and I kept telling myself I couldn’t do it. Then, after one particularly awful day at work, I sat in the car on my way home and thought ‘why am I doing this?’. I knew I needed to just stop and do something completely different.
In one of the companies, I worked in we had a Cafe2U van visiting us daily and I can remember thinking how fabulous it must be to go around making people coffee and having a chat! When I got home I googled Cafe2U and I read all the case studies and the info on the website and that was it, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
I gave them a call and I spoke to CEO Martyn and arranged a meeting. I was already excited and had a really strong feeling this was the right fit for me and my family. After meeting Martyn and spending a bit of time with a wonderfully inspiring franchisee, Sam from Syston, I was 100 per cent in!
How did you get set up?
I had some savings and I used that as my deposit. Then, after speaking to Franchise Finance, they helped me to create a business plan so I could then get a loan to help with the setup costs. It was really daunting, but my family fully supported me and I was encouraged to go for it as they believed I could make it work!
What training and support did you have?
The support from all of the Cafe2U team was amazing! They were always there to answer my random questions before my franchise actually started and then the week of training I received really helped to build my confidence and excitement. Also, I have never felt alone and I know I can get any support I need!
What’s your day-to-day like?
My days start at 6.30 am when I get downstairs and get the ovens and coffee machine switched on!
Usually, there is a bit of stock to move around, notice boards to update and the general set-up of the van. My first stop is at 7.45 am and from then on I have a set round of stops that I visit where I meet up with my regular customers and often get a passer-by drawn to the van by the lovely smell of fresh coffee!
It’s then non-stop for me until 3.30 pm. I have 17 stops on my round but each is about 15-20 minutes with a few getting to 30 minutes so I can serve as they get their breaks.
During each day I will make on average, 80 to 90 hot drinks. During the summer the frappes and smoothies do take a bit longer to make but they are so nice and my customers don’t mind the wait!
Once I get home it’s a full clean and restock of the van, getting her ready for the next day. This sometimes takes an hour or two if the van needs washing as well.
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge initially was the competition on my patch. During my due diligence prior to signing up, I didn’t really think about looking for other coffee vans. It was also quite difficult to sell the coffee aspect to certain customers as they came back with ‘we have free drinks on site’.
My advice is not to panic, have patience and keep trying. They might have free tea and coffee but at some point, you will find someone who likes a decent drink instead of the ‘disappointing’ coffee they currently have – those are actual words from a customer.
Others will also see customers having a great experience and the tasty treats to eat at their desks. What’s more, treat every customer as special and that builds the relationship! This business is so much more than just making cups of coffee!