Coffee o’clock with Marco Schaerf from CoffeeShop

Coffee is what keeps the world running for a lot of people. Javaphile is the term used for coffee lovers. Knowing and understanding the nuisance of expert high class coffee production and creation is an art by itself. Coffeeshop Company® is one among those who has the experience and knowledge to create a blissful cup of coffee. At coffee o’clock with Marco Schaerf from CoffeeShop, we want to discuss about this ever expanding coffee franchise industry. He is the current COO of Schärf Coffeeshop GmbH that owns the brand Coffeeshop Company®   

Coffeeshop Company® was founded by Dr. Alexander Schärf. It is currently managed by Reinhold and Marco Schärf. The brand is well known for their pursuit of innovation over the last six decades. They have several accomplishments to their credit. In 1980, Alexander Schärf & Söhne GmbH were awarded by the Ministry of Commerce with the national coat of arms. Which is the highest official award a company can receive from the Austria government.

1. How did you enter in the franchise business?

Having set up our first Coffeeshop in Vienna in 1999, we started developing in our home market initially, even owning and operating our own Coffeeshops in and around Vienna. The demand for our concept started coming in, first from our neighbouring countries and then from across continents. Then we realized the potential of our high-quality products and concept, which could unlock a tremendous potential in different markets. Moreover, we spent the first few years learning and developing ourselves in the Coffeeshop and Franchise business. Therefore, we were then in a pole position to offer a proven concept which could be easily implemented in any market due to the flexibility of our concept. Based on all these factors, we realized that franchising would be the best route to expand our brand around the world. Moreover, it helps create a local value-chain in every market, based on our premium quality coffee and beverage competence.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

The 1st Coffeeshop was launched in Vienna in September, 1999. The idea was based on a combination of the Schärf family’s decades of experience in the coffee and café business, together with the rapidly emerging trend of coffee developing into a lifestyle product and a Take-Away trend emerging out of the globalization effect developing around the world in the 1990’s. We were the first in Austria to identify the huge business potential from such a unique concept where the traditional coffee world could merge harmoniously with the modern trends. When such an idea was completely unheard of, specially with the Austrian market’s deep-rooted Viennese Café tradition. This was how we set up Coffeeshop Company and we are proud of being one of the trend-setters in this industry!

3. What inspired the brand name?

Our vision has always been to create a space which would be the ultimate destination for coffee lovers across all age groups. In addition, also as be an Outlet which would offer everything associated with high quality speciality coffee, from in-house consumption to Take-Aways to Merchandise. Not to mention, creating an unique architecture and ambience, resonating with our brand philosophy as well as a location’s settings and replicating this vision all around the world.
This is the philosophy behind our brand name CFFEESHOP COMPANY.

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

The idea behind our brand’s logo is fascinating: We believe in our Coffeeshops offering an ideal meeting place for consumers all around the world; hence the round shape of the logo.
The Colours in our Logo are a representation of the Colour pallet of a coffee farm environment.

Our Logo has been designed to uphold our pride, passion and commitment towards our roots as well as conveying our respect to every component of our value chain by focussing on sustainable yet traditional values. The circle reveals a uniform world and the journey of the coffee bean from farms around the world to the warmth of the Coffeeshop Company ambiance in our stores around the world. The earthy tone at the core depicts the origins at the farm, followed by a Flower, coffee bean and a flame defining its refining process, thereby conveying warmth and our core values. The colours have been chosen according to the journey undertaken from a white coffee blossom developing into a green bean, followed by a ripe red bean which achieves its final form by our unique and gentle roast process. Finally, our slogan
“Home in Vienna”, as a part of our corporate logo, has been a fixed part of our proud identity ever since the first Coffeeshop opened its doors to its guests on a historical September day in Vienna in 1999.

5.What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Coffeeshop Company stands for a perfect coffee experience coupled with a comfortable, balanced atmosphere and ambience and presents itself as a new interpretation of the classic Viennese Coffeehouse tradition, which was included in the UNESCO list of “intangible cultural heritage” in 2011. Our USP’s are based on:
– Over 60 years of experience in the world of coffee and coffee machines.
– Unique fusion of the traditional world with modern trends, with coffee as a lifestyle product.
– World-wide network and experience across all continents.
– Globally unique and patented coffee machine and water technologies.
– Sustainability within the entire value-chain.
– Unique Beverage competence based on specially developed ingredients.
– Food competence based on full kitchen experience, adapted to the local taste.
– Shop Modules: the perfect concept and fit for every shop size.
– Continuous Training & Development at 2000 m2 multi-media coffee theme park.
– Real-time state-of-the-art technical and operational back-end support with Manuals, Guidelines, Advertisement material, Seasonal promotions & more.
– Continuous product development and optimization.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

As a future franchisee of the Coffeeshop Company, everyone who shares the love for high quality espresso coffee and human connection will come into consideration, ideally along with displaying the following features:

– Ability to fund, develop and operate multi-unit Coffeehouses within a defined region.
– Experience as a multi-unit Franchisee / Franchisor / Corporate operator preferably in food-service or with contacts to human resources in this area.
– Real estate ownership, expertise or established broker relationship for identifying and negotiating potential store locations / sites.
– Direct experience with new locations: Site selection, Entitlement, Construction, Staff recruitment, Training and Opening.
– Contacts with local government in the respective market.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

There are certain crucial factors which influence the duration of ROI; for example: a specific country or city, type and actual space of location, initial investment, local regulations with respect to fixed costs like rents and wages, local consumer behaviour patterns, etc. We have even witnessed cases of ROI within 1 year in case of high-frequency locations, for ex: at international airports or even some larger stores with a complete kitchen and outdoor seating. Giving an exact general statement will be incorrect but a very basic idea would be in the frame of 1,5 – 4,0 years at the operative shop Level.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Every business is a journey where one comes across different experiences. In our case, I like to look at challenges as opportunities. For example, challenges experienced in certain regions due to geo-political factors or currency fluctuations have been opportunities for us to align our concept with easy adaptations to fit into the current or future market trends together with the local partner. A classic real-life example would be our modular shop-in-shop concept which allows to grab the given real estate opportunity in each market at every time.

8.1. What is your best achievement?

When I walk into any Coffeeshop around the world and look at the happy faces of our most valued customers, enjoying our products, it gives me the sense of our best achievement as this shows our decades of hard work, passion and energy, bearing fruit in the form of satisfied customers who have placed their trust in our brand.

9. How does your business day start?

A Caffé Latte with a dash of vanilla, followed by meeting the happy faces of my team!

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

Every new Coffeeshop that we have opened, every new country that we have started operating in, every Partner that joined our global Family, every shop that we have designed, every development that we have made to our brand, CI and products and every happy customer that we have, across continents – each of these has been the best moment of my career so far

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

Our world today, as we have known it, has been through an unprecedented situation in the recent months. Having said that, as I have mentioned before, every challenge is an opportunity and if the core values and products are strong, then the only way is the way ahead. This is exactly the juncture where we are at today and we see our brand, our concept and our flexible shop modules to have progressed further in the next 5 years, specially in the DACH region as well as GCC and South-Asia.

12. Any tip for the reader who wants to be in franchisee business?

The option of Franchising would give you the opportunity of implementing a business model which has already been tried and tested, refined from lessons learnt from mistakes and opportunities as well being your own Boss, yet being a part of a world-class name. You will be part of a global family and always have the benefit of support and guidance at every step of your entrepreneurial journey!

For any franchising queries, please visit CoffeeShop Franchise Info page. 

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