HUMAN RESOURCES | Staff Reporter, Australia

Daniel Isaac, The Coffee Emporium Group General Manager

The Coffee Emporium’s Group General Manager, Daniel Isaac, talks about the key challenges involved in taking the premium coffee house brand on a transformational journey.

QSR Media: Tell us about your journey with The Coffee Emporium

Daniel Isaac: When I arrived at The Coffee Emporium mid 2014, I conducted a full review of the organisation to understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. I found there were many key aspects of the business that needed to be reviewed in order to steer the brand in the right direction to achieve sustainable, long-term growth. After the due-diligence phase, one critical aspect I identified was the need to promote organisational change. The Coffee Emporium organisation needed to change and change fast in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.

QSR Media: How challenging was it to instigate change at The Coffee Emporium?

Daniel Isaac: My first year with the brand was certainly the most difficult as it involved challenging the status quo to really disrupt the prevailing mind-set. The brand had grown quite successfully up to that point, but had hit a plateau. My goal was to bring people on the journey to take the brand to the next level through implementation of game changing strategies focused on accelerating growth.

QSR Media: What did you do to turn the game around?

Daniel Isaac: My vision to re-ignite growth consisted on a three-pronged strategy. First, we focused on achieving some quick wins by ensuring our franchise partners would have the means of building incremental top-line sales by increasing the average dollar ticket per transaction. This was achieved through innovations made to our food and beverage menus. The Coffee Emporium’s core product offering transitioned from being a mere ‘coffee & cakes’ vendor to a fully-blown one-stop shop where guests could enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Second, we focused on achieving growth through new customer acquisition. Through the implementation of a full annual marketing calendar, we launched campaigns targeted at specific target groups like, for example, the youth market. Finally, we focused heavily on a re-designing our coffee house fit-outs and website, ensuring our brand’s visual identity was consistently applied throughout multiple consumer touch-points. Our signature timber and marble, along with the iconic crown, have become key elements of our brand’s premium positioning being highly recognised by guests who instantly associate them to high-quality coffee and gourmet food.

QSR Media: How were you able to get the Franchise Partners on this journey?

Daniel Isaac: For our strategy to work, we had to demonstrate how this change would add value not only for the brand itself, but also for each Franchise Partner in The Coffee Emporium. That involved a lot of planning and getting highly involved with our team of Franchise Partners through quarterly workshops, coffee house visitations and one-on-one meetings to build and nurture solid relationships. I have always operated under the philosophy of ‘working together and winning together’, and that made all the difference. In addition, I had built a very strong team around me to support me along the journey.

QSR Media: How critical is a team in helping you achieve your goals?

Daniel Isaac: My team is a reflection of me. They are critical to this success story. In 2015, I appointed Fernando Pimentel as Global Marketing Manager. Fernando has been instrumental in setting the Marketing strategy and through his leadership and customer orientation skills, which has provided very clear direction to our Franchise Partners on how to implement branding, social media, local store marketing and PR initiatives. He has been a real asset for The Coffee Emporium working very diligently in building key relationships like, for example, with our sponsor The Western Sydney Wanderers F.C. The implementation of an annual marketing calendar also contributed to an increased focus on the development of other categories, for example, campaign beverages. This resulted in the improved group sales of cold beverages by 100% on last year, successfully diversifying product mix. I have also appointed Mellisa Molenaar as our Business Development Manager. She has been providing great level of support to our Franchise Partners at a coffee house level, focusing on building top-line sales, optimising profitability and protecting the brand through consistency and alignment.

QSR Media: How important has the sponsorship of the Western Sydney Wanderers been to the brand?

Daniel Isaac: The Western Sydney Wanderers are a growing phenomenon. They have been achieving some very impressive results in the A-league (The Australian National Soccer League) and in overseas competitions. They are the first-ever Australian side to win the AFC Champions League in only their third season. This has attracted a large loyal legion, many of who became members of the club. The Coffee Emporium’s sponsorship of the WSW’s Membership is testament to the infinite potential this relationship can offer in terms of promoting the brand, especially through a series of creative brand activation opportunities. Most notably, our signature brand activation ‘Look for the crown’ has generated some great engagement with fans attending the soccer stadium during the 2015-2016 season resulting in an increased level of brand awareness and additional foot traffic directed to our coffee houses. These are a few of the tangible benefits that can be associated to this particular initiative with the Wanderers.

QSR Media: What are some of the wins you and your team achieved in the past 12 months?

DanieI Isaac: Over the past 12 months we have seen a growing interest around The Coffee Emporium brand. This has resulted in double-digit sales growth. Franchise Partners earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) has also improved as result of the implementation of tools and systems designed to assist our Franchise Partners to control the two key controllables in the business which are cost of goods sold and cost of labour. We have achieved efficiencies through great relationships with our supply partners that have greatly reduced the cost of goods for our coffee house ingredients through strong negotiations. We have perfected the design and build of our coffee houses improving each consumer touch-point with the brand and reduced cost from a design and fit-out perspective. Our state-of-the-art training program and facilities have prepared new franchise partners, setting them up for success.

QSR Media: What are the drivers behind these wins?

Daniel Isaac: Two key audiences have been driving demand for The Coffee Emporium. On the one hand, we have witnessed an increasing number of enquiries submitted by entrepreneurial individuals who are highly interested in starting their own business and are considering franchising with The Coffee Emporium as key opportunity to materialise their career aspirations. On the other, we have also noticed high levels of guest satisfaction with our coffee, food and beverage campaigns. The brand has also attracted new followers through social media, new campaigns and the new look of our coffee houses. The new look and feel has also generated interest and was key to bringing new customers to The Coffee Emporium. We have revamped our coffee house fit-outs with our signature timber and marble look. Both elements are central to the brand’s consistent look and feel across our coffee houses. We have also implemented a brand new website which has integrated our social media feeds offering visitors the latest news on the brand. We are also proud to see our Franchise Partners embracing change and adopting systems and procedures that help them manage their businesses more efficiently and effectively. We have worked tirelessly to consistently improve the guest experience across each brand touch-point.

QSR Media: What are the key goals for the future of The Coffee Emporium?

Daniel Isaac: The Coffee Emporium is to continue this transformation through development of other aspects of the business. We have some ambitious goals planned for the next 3 years that involve domestic and global expansion. We are very confident in our strategy and know that the only constant thing in this life is change. We are not afraid of change. To quote a famous philosopher “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” We encourage all our Franchise Partners to embrace it as we know this is the only way moving forward.

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