“I usually get to my first stop by 6.45 am having received my sandwiches, at home at 6 am. I usually check everything, and have my first coffee! My espresso machine and hot oven are turned on before arrival at stop one, so that it is all hot and ready to serve! I will do around 34 stops a day, before I serve my last stop at 2.45 pm.
“Customers before 9 am are still waking up and need their “wake up coffee”, and maybe breakfast, served promptly and with a smile! However, there are others who want to discuss the football, the traffic jams on the A12, and of course the weather! You become a good listener in this job, and it is always interesting what people do get up to!
“It seems nigh on impossible to be serving fast so people do not complain before you start the franchise; even at the end of training it can seem somewhat daunting, but you soon get quicker, and more confident without losing the ability to make the customer feel special and important.
“Between 6.45 am and 11.30 am on my round it should be mainly about the hot drinks – coffee, chocolate and tea – with some snacks, and some hot & cold food. Despite the fact that I have a lot of food-focused vans in my area, between 11 am and 1.15 pm is my peak food selling time, and this is because customers see my service as a reliable, high quality lunchtime service, with the added benefit of getting coffee too. I try to have sold all of my food by 1 pm. This minimises waste and means I can clean the pie warmer, and turn it off, during a quiet spot before I get home.
“Between 1.30 pm and finishing at 2.45 pm my hot drinks sales rise again, and I always rotate my sandwiches to make sure the ones that perish that day are at the front, and discounted if needs be. I am home again by 3 pm at the latest and I fill up with diesel on the way, as well as collect milk from Tesco’s, review my sandwich order for tomorrow, as well as clean the outside of the van if necessary.
“When I get home I spend an hour a day cleaning the van, cleaning the coffee machines, re-merchandising, restocking, and cashing up the till. Then the van is locked up, plugged into garage power for the fridge, and I switch off for the night too!
“I write a customer newsletter once a month, (which my wife Jenny helps with) which is a very useful way to remind customers about me, my specials, the time I call, and that I also can do their special events if they want me to. I try to make them fun too!
“My order with Brakes and Bolling is twice a month, and I top up if I need to, in emergency; with my sandwiches I have a standing order every week, which I may alter daily depending on sales volume. 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 it right down.
“I know local marketing is very important to my business – for the daily round as well as the event side of the business. Using the tools and tips that Cafe2U gave me, as well as some of my own, I always do some marketing every week – probably about 30 minutes for the daily round because my round is well established, but I never stop because you never know what you will discover or who you will meet.
“Although you do receive leads for events via the Cafe2U website, you don’t know when they will come or how many, so I work 6 months in advance and try to stay close to home as possible – community, clubs, sports, enthusiasts, churches, schools, charity events, and customers – and I will attend approximately 12 per year, which suits me and family just fine. Jenny will help me out at events – both in the planning and on the day!
“I will tend to spend 2 hours a month on event marketing."
The Ups & Downs
“Like any business there are bits I don’t like! The weather makes it hard to maintain cleanliness standards in the winter, and I work hard on this, as well as always looking for ways of improving the round, and how it operates – recruiting new customers, new stops, and new ways of up-selling! I hate paying for the equipment servicing, but I know it is necessary!
“On the benefits side, it’s a sociable job, and it is the best feeling knowing that drinks that you create are so much appreciated by their purchasers, every day. I love selling a high quality and distinctive coffee, which allows me to make a good living, meet loads of interesting people, and most of all I love being my own boss and in control of days and weeks, and earnings."
How to become a Cafe2U franchisee
If you’re thinking about becoming a Cafe2U franchisee and want to discover similar experiences to Ian, then you can find out more about the process and costs here.
Jakob Pii, Point Franchise ©