Scunthorpe tastes Really Awesome Coffee
Name: Mark Reynolds
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to becoming a Really Awesome Franchisee?
I worked in food retail for 12 years prior to starting my own business – 10 years at Sainsbury’s and then 2 years at Co-op as a store manager.
Why did you decide to run a business, why a franchise, why mobile coffee, and why Really Awesome Coffee specifically?
Initially I wasn’t planning on being part of a franchise. I was looking at a fixed premise as a coffee shop or restaurant; however, I knew the value of being mobile so moved to the idea of a food van independently. When I decided on getting a van from Really Awesome Coffee, I saw the big benefits a franchise has to offer especially after never being self employed before.
Tell us a bit about your training at Head Office and your business launch.
It was all done well. Training was thorough and tailored around my experience. The team at HQ are great and easy to get on with and learn from. My launch was great and I enjoyed the process. I wasn’t nervous prior – just unsure about what to expect – but the FDM’s provided brilliant support and planning prior to the 1st day.
How have you found the ongoing training and support?
The ongoing support is always there when needed and it allows you to never miss a beat when planning your strategies and then maximising potential from your daily round. Suggestions on changes that will improve performance of coffee stops and practical support with things like equipment and the van I found invaluable.
Please briefly describe your trading day before lockdown (a “normal” trading day!)
A normal trading day for me started at 6:30 am getting the van set up and at my first site for about 7:30. I visited 30-35 sites and would finish sites around 3 pm then spend a couple of hours once home cleaning down.
How have you found things since the COVID-19 lockdown? Did you take any time off trading? How have you found your trading day differs? How have you found the advice and support from Head Office during this difficult period?
I traded through the entirety of lockdown only taking off the day after lockdown was announced to confirm my eligibility to legally trade. I consider myself fortunate that even though I dropped to 17 sites – from 30 – at first, I maintained the same turnover. I found the average spend increased and combining this with pre-prepared home delivery drop offs it worked really well. I found just rolling with the punches and not stressing was key and, even though the route now looks completely different, my business hasn’t financially suffered. In fact, it’s grown slightly. Support from Head Office, especially Kevin, in the early stages was commendable and you couldn’t ask for more, especially with things like daily blog and vlog updates covering everything from trading options to financial support that was out there. For everyone, no stone was left unturned when it came to supporting the network in my opinion. The rest of the team were great; firstly working from home then as time went on working back at HQ in small numbers, the operation never seemed to falter despite the pressures. I couldn’t have asked for more in way of support. Superstars!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The only major challenge at first was logistics of active site locations combined with home drop off locations, but this was easily planned once you got into the new norm of daily routine.
Do you think that your business will be stronger, weaker or no different in the long run following this crisis?
Stronger due to the maintaining of existing sites, and staying in communication with those that have closed through lockdown combined with new sites already gained and potentially gained when home delivery customers return to workplaces and ask to attend there as well.
What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to invest in their first franchise?
Don’t expect it to be a cake walk. I made the best decision for me and have never looked back and take pride in my business, but it can be hard graft at times, especially getting it up and running in the early days, so don’t get disheartened, always edge on the side of caution financially, and prioritise the business need over personal gain. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
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