How did you get into the industry?
In a somewhat rare occurrence, I was born into the Hospitality industry as my family owned and operated a restaurant and bar in Greenwich Village, NYC. From as long as I can remember, I was at the restaurant learning each of the various tasks associated with a business that was open 17 hours a day. I continued along this path in my studies graduating with a Hospitality degree and minoring in Marketing. The minor would come in handy as I pivoted my career into Advertising and with 20 years in the industry, worked diligently to the role of CMO. All this said, my early love for the service industry has brought me back into the fold and working in a passion category – Coffee.
What’s New in the Business or in the Franchise Model?
The world is a very different place from a retail and commerce perspective because of brands like Amazon, Starbucks and Whole Foods. We’re living in a the cheapest, fastest and most convenient economy since the beginning of time. Face to face transactions are all but being eliminated which is concerning as we are a social species by nature. The Local Brand took note of this evolution and has created an environment where ethical sourcing, high quality, best-in-class service and category expertise is not at the expense of a socially active space. We have built a model where coffee is at the center of social engagement whether it be inside the shop with our loyal client base, connecting with local schools and organizations or simply providing surprise and delight moments that provide a sense of well-being for our community.
Where do you See Opportunities or Challenges for the Franchise/Business Moving Forward?
Opportunities are firmly centered around the ability for small business to thrive based on the ability to bond together and realize the effectiveness and efficiencies of larger chains. Local intends to maximize all the benefits associated with larger businesses while allowing each shop to customize their approach based on local tastes and needs. Local can also move a lot quicker to evolve where necessary as the only constant is change.
The challenges are and will always be competing with the bigger brands, but we think we created something special as we infused local culture into the product.
What is your Goal for the Business Moving Forward?
The goal for our business is to first to test our hypothesis for this category. Let’s pressure test our theory that this approach can work in local communities and then slowly build-out and begin to maximize all the efficiencies needed to grow a business.
Talk to us About Training and Support, How Do You Deliver?
Just like any other specialty food category, practice makes perfect and early on – we established a training program with our Coffee Partner as well as at the shop to ensure that not only are we delivering a best in class product but also a consistent best-in-class service. Hospitality cannot be faked; it must be authentic with individuals who are sincere in their approach and derive as much joy from the process as the customer. We seek to pull these individuals onto our team because they want to, not because it’s simply a job.
Your most difficult moment at the Franchise Business?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it the most difficult but would say that launching a business is as exhilarating as it is terrifying.
“What is no one shows up?”
“What if a machine breaks down in the middle of morning service?”
“What if I fall?” …and to that, we quote the poet Erin Hanson
“Oh, but my darling, “What if you fly?”
Define your Franchise Model:
Training and Support Model?
Training is structured as the business is multi-faceted.
Barista skills are developed and honed at the Irving Farm lab in NYC. Barista skills are further refined on the daily at the respective shop.
Shop skills are on-site at each respective shop as well as at Local Montclair.
Shop service support is on-going as issues arise and/or trainings are scheduled to ensure continued consistency across product and service
Equipment maintenance as well as preventative maintenance is on-demand as well as per regularly scheduled
Operations including financial obligations are folded into an overarching schedule so that all deadlines are met and books are kept clean and reconciled.
What is a Typical Day in the life of a Franchisee?
A day in the life starts early as we are primarily a morning business. We generally arrive an hour before opening to set-up and ensure shop including staff, products and machinery are game ready.
1. Service takes precedence while the shop is open delivering best-in-class service to our community.
2. We will receive deliveries which need to be checked against delivery invoice to ensure all is accounted. Products will need to be stored according to date, FIFO as well as rotated as required.
3. Cleanliness is critical and consequently, we regularly spot check behind the bar and across all common areas to provide our best version of the brand.
4. Face to face customer feedback is the norm and we welcome every opportunity to listen and engage. Also, any break is an opportunity to step away and check that any social media-based feedback (both positive and negative) is addressed immediately.
5. End of day triggers our desire to get the shop back into shape for the following morning. Restocking, cleaning, preparation and among the many duties required to reset and refresh.
What does Your Franchisee Do in the Business Every Day?
Our business is a service business so the one absolute requirement every day is bringing an absolutely positive attitude to the shop and the community. This is not easy. We all have a personal life and let’s be honest, things don’t go always as planned. With that in mind, think about it this way – you have an incredible opportunity to make someone else’s day. You have the ability to bring some love and positivity into someone else’s world. A kind greeting, a warm welcome, a delicious beverage or treat is sometimes all is takes to change someone’s outlook. It’s a big responsibility but that’s why we’re in this business. We like to say that we’re in the coffee business, but we’re really in the happiness business.
Who is the Ideal Franchise Candidate?
First, you are a morning person. If you aren’t, don’t fool yourself into believing that you are. You spring out of bed ready to take on the world.
You are social by nature, enjoy personal interactions as you see them all as an opportunity.
You like the idea of running your own business, ultimately being responsible for the success or failure of your actions.
You are a good housekeeper and entertainer, taking great pride when people visit your ‘home’.
And yes, you LOVE coffee and coffee culture.
What Goals Do You Have for the Franchise Model in the Future?
We believe our approach is unique and as a result, we’re hoping to create a platform that best supports the brand but also incrementally helps our partners realize success. Some initial programs include a self-help online group where non-urgent questions can be posted and receive feedback on the best solutions from the Local community.
We also realize that any business cannot adequately support their community without the necessary resources so we’re aiming to create bespoke programs that create impact in the neighborhood where they exist. Developing healthy ecosystems that can give back through donation models, fundraising and awareness-driving campaigns are where the DNA of Local can truly be realized.
For more information on the Local Coffee Franchise, visit the corporate website: https://www.localcoffeemontclair.com/