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Brand transformation – The Coffee Emporium story
Last year the QSR and casual dining space saw a number of brands transforming in the market for lots of reasons; heightened competition, lots of single site operations and bespoke businesses popping up, changes in consumer behaviour, larger businesses with rapid expansion plans and, the biggest trend today in franchising which, let’s be honest is an entire article on its own.
As part of my role at Michael Page, I like to stay well connected to the hospitality industry and am constantly meeting amazing people across multiple sectors from hotels, contract catering and even aged care. When talking to employers and job seekers alike, there seems to be an aligning quality for both parties and what they look for in people; what have you done in your current or most recent role to assist with change or transformation in the business and, what did that change look like? This question generally leads to; what are your expectations in your next role? There seems to be a common driver for most people and one part of the, let’s say, “intangible hooks” that attracts a person to a role is having some sort of responsibility around managing change or transformation in an organisation and, so it should; “Life is change. If you aren't growing and evolving, you're standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.” - Louise Penny, Still Life.
I recently met with Daniel Isaac, which prompted me to write a little about him and some of his achievements leading transformation in his role at The Coffee Emporium. I asked him a few questions around his journey, challenges and his agenda moving forward.
A bit about Daniel;
Daniel Isaac was an accomplished accountant before purchasing his first business, a Michel’s Patisserie franchise back in 2000. Developing a passion for food and beverage retail, he was hands on in the business as a franchise partner, successfully growing sales revenue by 100% over three years. He later took this passion and knowledge of the franchise model and joined Gloria Jean’s Coffee as a state manager driving the strategic direction, sales and performance, offering a consultative business support service to his six operations managers reporting into him for around 130 franchisees throughout NSW and ACT. Over the next 10 years, Daniel transformed himself into a number of different national and senior roles accelerating himself in areas such as operations, e-commerce, sales, service and supply chain while achieving significant results along the way. Daniel is also an experienced and accomplished guest speaker, having conducted a series of guest lectures and presentations at undergraduate and Masters levels.
Two years ago Daniel was appointed Group General Manager for The Coffee Emporium. He was tasked with reshaping and transforming the brand’s position and perception in the market with a focus on growth. Daniel was the change agent to The Coffee Emporium, the person that will be and has been responsible for transforming the organisation with a focus on people, organisational effectiveness, enhancement and evolution.
Some of the first steps in transforming a brand is to analyse your current situation and identify who your target audience is and what are they looking for; decor, the food offer, quality of the product, consistency, service, ambience and most importantly in this situation – the coffee.
I wanted to know a little more about Daniel’s journey at The Coffee Emporium and he was more than happy to share his success story with me. I read that The Coffee Emporium had won an award earlier this year so asked Daniel to answer a few questions for me, as follows...
Can you shed a bit of light on the transformation of this niche brand and some of the challenges you have faced over the past 12 months?
We were so excited to win QSR Media 2016 Best Brand Transformation Award, the journey to winning this award was not easy though. The transformation heavily focused on the position of the brand to enhance growth looking at what matters to the consumer. Our focus was on conceptualising a new coffee house design and refit, new website, new food menu, new training program and a national marketing calendar. This was going to be central to the brand’s long-term strategy which is designed to nurture a strong emotional connection with our guests, while positioning the brand as a premium player in the market which has proven effective.
How did you do that?
I tasked myself with challenging the status quo to really disrupt the prevailing mindset. I realised that I needed to bring people along on the journey to take the brand to the next level through the implementation of game changing strategies focused on accelerating growth. Change management is always hard because people are so set in there ways. I found myself out in the field working closely with the franchise partners to engage them and align them with The Coffee Emporium’s vision, mission, values and objectives; every opportunity I had with them counted. I led the support office team and implemented a series of workshops specifically aimed at adding value to our franchise partners and their team members, equipping them with the tools to run successful businesses and manage through change.
What were The Coffee Emporium’s objectives?
The objective of The Coffee Emporium was to maintain the brand’s premium position in the market. The Coffee Emporium coffee house refit was designed to create an unforgettable guest experience, providing them with a sophisticated ambiance of a traditional Italian café. Best of class fit-outs have enabled the brand to increase food category sales by 38% and beverage category sales by 95% in the past year.
Were there any other objectives apart from a change in image?
Yes, we had a number of other objectives such as;
Franchise partner objective: was to design and implement a comprehensive four-week franchise partner training program devised to include a set of training modules to assist new and existing partners with areas that are significant to business management including finance, food safety management, human resources, marketing, social media and work health and safety. By providing our franchise partners with this specific business management information it should give them the knowledge and confidence to operate their business successfully.
Our digital objective: The brand’s website underwent development to redesign the site integrating social media feeds to enable visitors to follow posts. We wanted the site to be user friendly allowing prospective franchisees to easily access useful information on the brand including application forms, FAQs and information about franchising opportunities. The new layout of the website was designed to take into account different users’ needs for example, franchise partners and guests are able to access the latest news on new products and services available at The Coffee Emporium.
The retail objective: Using researched trends, The Coffee Emporium redesigned its menu offering to accommodate Australia’s demand for quality, gourmet and convenient products. Initially based on a mere ‘coffee and cake’ proposition our menu has evolved to incorporate over 200 items across food and beverage. This increased variety and flexibility has significantly improved its proposition at each coffee house by tailoring the product according to the demographic. It has also improved our competitive edge in the market.
And our marketing objective: 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, has provided very clear direction to our Franchise Partners on how to implement branding, social media, local store marketing and PR initiatives. Under Fernando’s leadership, The Coffee Emporium has rolled out a 12 month marketing calendar made up of a number of seasonally limited-time beverages taking inspiration from the changing seasons to offer consumers variety. Working closely with the brand’s global ingredient suppliers and drawing on findings from the Annual Beverage Flavour Trend Research we are able to identify mainstream, key, upcoming and emerging flavours in Australia. The new limited-time beverage offers have positively impacted group sales of cold beverages by 95% versus our previous year, including the release of frappes and smoothies.
From my own experience, business transformation is a change management process. It aims to align the organisation’s objectives and strategies with its mission, vision and values. Daniel demonstrated to me that while it is important to have strong objectives for the business in place it is likewise so important to have the right change agents, people to achieve the transition. I have used the word “journey” a number of times throughout this article - transformation is a process from one stage to another, so effectively a journey. The challenges we face as Daniel has already pointed out is influencing people to come on that journey.
So do you have to change yourself first to be the catalyst to transformation? As Steve Jobs once said, “For the past 33 years, I have been looking in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And, whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
I want make special note and take the opportunity to thank Daniel Isaac for sharing his experience with me, and welcome you to make contact if you would like to share a recent achievement within the hospitality world, whether it is innovative, cultural or just challenging the status quo. Keep smiling!
Tony is a specialist for our Michael Page Retail, Hospitality & Leisure division, based in Sydney. If you want to get in touch about your hiring process or a job search, contact him at [email protected].