The independent coffee shop is an iconic establishment that seems to be dying out in modern America, but family owned coffee brand, Ziggi's Coffee, is determined to challenge the status quo. After opening the first unit in 2004 in Colorado, husband-and-wife Brandon and Camrin Knudsen are now on a mission to create a full-fledged franchise.
"After over a decade of operations and system development (and of course some mistakes along the way), we're ready to offer a franchise program," said Brandon Knudsen. "We're very protective of our brand and are seeking franchisees who have the drive and passion to follow our process and be successful and those who we believe will be good stewards of our brand."
FastCasual recently interviewed the Knudsens to find out how their franchising concept can compete with big chains and how they intend to keep the cafe’s familial feel as they grow the brand.
FastCasual: What are the most important aspects of your company's success from your inception to the present?
Brandon: "In a word, 'community.' The Ziggi's brand creates a community within our business and with the customers. When you do things right, focus on what's important, and take the time to be the best, the payoff is immeasurable. We've built something special and we did so by always keeping our customers in mind."
Camrin: "Ziggi's is really a culture. The customer experience and tools we have in place to enhance that every day has created a following and built our little brand to what it is today. Competitors sometimes utilize a tool or a system to focus on one aspect of their business; we use many systems in tandem to ensure the entire experience from our employees, to our customers and the greater community is uniquely a Ziggi's experience."
FC: What makes Ziggi's unique compared to other coffee brands?
C: "Many things make Ziggi's the hottest coffee concept out there. Our focus on offering the best possible products that stand far above our competition, our customer service and the technology and processes that allow even commuters to enjoy a level of customer experience unheard of in this industry, and the culture and community a Ziggi's creates that fosters customer loyalty and an experience that is contagious."
FC: What is your vision for Ziggi's and how do you see that vision impacting your business right now?
B: "World domination! Ok, that's pretty long term but we see the Ziggi's brand spreading quickly through our franchising program. When you build a program based on this much experience, create a team this amazing to support the program, and only bring on the best possible franchisees, it's a slow, steady, healthy growth that will provide amazing long term success."
FC: Where/how do you see your business expanding within the near future?
B:"It's time to expand the Ziggi's brand and family through franchising. For over a decade, we have been creating a process to differentiate our brand from the competition. Through technology and focus on process regarding customer service, we have perfected a brand system that puts the customer first. We focus on the success of our stores by focusing on the experience of our customer from speed of service, the highest quality products available, and a community feel that keeps the customers coming back. This focus will allow us to set up our franchisees to be successful. With a commitment to follow our process, our franchisees will be able to duplicate the success of the Ziggi's brand and be a part of building a culture that prioritizes the single most important part of our business, our amazing customers."
C: "Like our family, we see the Ziggi's brand growing happy and healthy into a very promising future. Brandon and I have spent countless hours over the past decade following our passion and now we are so excited to be able to offer the fruits of that hard work to others through our franchising program. Like anything great, Ziggi's took time. To become an industry leader and a favorite to our loyal customer, we had to spend the time to build systems and processes that would ensure the same product, service, and customer experience from one location to another. With those systems in place, we can now duplicate our model to help others enjoy the success that we're having with Ziggi's and achieve their dream of business ownership."
FC: How much does it cost to invest in a location?
B: "The total franchise investment ranges from about $250,000 to $500,000. We have three models: coffeehouse, coffeehouse with drive-thru, and double-sided drive-thru. All models have unique attributes but our focus right now is mostly on the double-sided drive-thru. We are a unique player with that model in that our systems provide incredible efficiencies and speed of service which is important in that model for commuters but we can do so without compromising product and service. Our customers are blown away with how quickly they can get the best cup of coffee in town and the familiarity of our customer service that build that Ziggi's community."
FC: What is the most important advice you can offer someone who wishes to enter the coffee/family business industry?
B: "Coffee, like most industries is a pretty saturated industry. Find your mark, be different, and don't settle for being “just another coffee shop”. We strive every day to separate ourselves from our competition. The good news for us is most folks in our category do the same old business the same old way. Ziggi's takes the coffee experience to the next level and now that we are offering the opportunity to franchise our concept, folks are taking notice. We're putting the customer at the forefront of what we're doing which we have done since our very first coffeehouse over 10 years ago."
C: "Entering any business takes careful consideration. When exploring which franchise is right for you, it can be really daunting. Like any good relationship, it takes time to get to know each other to see if you “like” each other enough to go into business together. Many concepts franchise a theory and test that theory with franchisees; we believe that people deserve better than that. That's why we spent the last decade perfecting our model, product, and process and developing our support program so that franchisees are being set up for success and supported by people who have put their money on the line and been in the trenches for many years."