Get to know:
Today we’re getting to know Coffee Blue’s latest franchisee, Chris, who will be launching his franchise in Wetherby on September 27th. So keep your eyes peeled if you’re in the area!
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Chris, I am 52-years-old. I am from Yorkshire originally, a little town called Wetherby.
What sort of jobs have you had previously?
I trained to be a hairdresser when I left school and I moved to Guernsey to live out there for 28 years. I had a few different businesses – hair and beauty salons – over that time.
I have spent a year in India, working for an aid agency for six months and travelling the rest of the time. We were educating children, providing basic medical aid and I used to sit at the back of a marquee and cut their hair all day long. You would have 30-40 of them queuing to get their hair cut.
After that, I started a family and I moved back to Wetherby about 18 months ago. I took over an essential oils business, distributing them all over the world – Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, China, you name it.
What do you like to get up to in your spare time?
I do not get up to much, to be honest. Another part of why I am doing this is for me to move on a bit. I had a brush with cancer last year, testicular cancer, which I had surgery for and am clear of now. But I also lost my partner to a heart attack.
So part of this, for me, is moving forward. In the last year, I have not done a lot. I have been readjusting to life, if you like, and working out how I want to move forward. And this has been a good fit for me.
It is scary, but I am looking forward to it.
What made you want to start your own franchise?
I was already running my own business, but I was doing it all by myself. Having run hair salons and being a hairdresser, standing behind a chair, it was very sociable.
I went from being extremely busy and very sociable to working in a unit by myself, all day, only really seeing other people when I went to the post office to deliver orders.
I was like: “This is driving me insane, I need to do something sociable.” And I wanted to stay my own boss. I looked around at a number of different things and this kept popping up. I know the local area, I love the Yorkshire folk, so I decided this was right for me.
Why Coffee Blue?
Before I took on this oil business and moved back to the UK, I looked at a bunch of different businesses. But I also stumbled across another mobile coffee franchise that was based near me.
I spoke to them at length and I liked the idea, but I had not heard of Coffee Blue at the time. So, when I was looking for franchises again, I jumped online and found you guys. I literally phoned one day and asked for a chat.
During this time, I had been back and forth with the other franchise. I sent them two emails and phoned them twice and they did not get back to me.
Customer service is a massive thing for me. And after that, the door was shut. I phoned up here and asked to speak to someone about a possible franchise and they put me through straight away.
They did not just sell me the product, they had a genuine interest in me and my background. My first impression was that it was a good fit.
I came down a couple of weeks later. When I met Martin, I knew straight away that I could work with these people.
What has the response been like from friends and family?
Everybody that I have spoken to has said, “sounds like a great business” and “sounds right for you”.
It has been a really great response generally, everyone who knows me has said I am going to love it.
What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a Coffee Blue franchise?
For me, life is about relationships. And I have to trust the people I do business with.
If someone came to me and said, “What about Coffee Blue?” I would tell them, “Just go and speak to them. Go and spend time with these people and make your own mind up, see if it is a fit for you. But spend time with them, look at the product, look at the stuff around you.”
It is a really good product. But, for me, the selling point was the people and the relationship.
What is your favourite coffee?
Mocha. All day long. Both to make and drink.
I love it. It has got the bitterness, the sweetness, the creamy milk. It is just a really nice drink for me.
What message would you send to your future customers?
Customer service is a really big thing for me. The message I would give them is that they are going to get consistency from me, they are going to get a top-quality product and they are going to get really good customer service.
What are your hopes for the future?
I know that a lot of it is down to me. It is my own business at the end of day. I would like to create a lifestyle where I can earn some decent money without working the stupid hours I used to work.
I am a grafter, I have got no problem with working hard. But I want to be able to say, “That is enough.”
I would like to get a second van at some point. But if I did that, I would like to partner with someone as opposed to employing them, so we can support each other and share the profits together.
I do not think I would want to come off the van. The whole reason to do it is to be at the cold face with the people. I love being with people, I love having a laugh. Life is too short, you know.