Iain, Cafe2U Chelmsford, Essex: My working day

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Iain explains what its like to be a Cafe2U franchisor.

I usually get to my first stop by 6.45am having received my sandwiches, at home at 6am. 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 2.45pm.

Iain explains what its like to be a Cafe2U franchisor.

Customers before 9am 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!

Serving quick enough for people not to complain seems near on impossible before you start the franchise, and even at the end of training it can seem daunting still, but you soon get quicker, and confident without losing the ability to make the customer feel special and important.

Between 6.45am and 11.30am 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 11am and 1.15pm 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 1pm. This minimises waste and means I can clean the pie warmer, and turn it off, during a quiet spot before I get home.

Between 1.30pm and finishing at 2.45pm 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 3pm 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!

I make an order with Brakes and Bolling twice a month, and top up if I need to in emergency as and when, and 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.

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