Sierra seeking more cafe franchisees

5:00 AM Wednesday April 13, 2016 True Commercial

Each Sierra cafe is designed to meet its market’s needs.

Think: the smell of freshly roasted and made coffee with tasty things to eat in pleasant surroundings.

That’s the philosophy of Sierra, an Auckland coffee and cafe institution for more than 24 years, and coffee roaster since 1992.

Completely New Zealand owned and operated, the brand is expanding under a careful plan to bring on board more new franchise owners with the right skills and attitude to continue its growth throughout the country.

Sierra cafes is a group of like-minded franchise owners. One of the attractions for these owners is that while this is a franchise, they have the opportunity to influence and be a part of the fit-out design, agree on the menu type and style.

This means they help to create a unique cafe with the assistance of the Sierra management team. So, as a boutique roaster and group of boutique cafes, they differ from other coffee franchises and independent cafés.

As Surbi Bahl, Sierra’s national franchise manager, explains: “Being one of the original fresh roasted New Zealand coffee brands, we have some great stories to tell, we have the heritage and the proven commitment to providing New Zealanders with great coffee and food offering.

“One of our strategic advantages is that we have is that we do not have a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach. We are all about providing a local cafe that is relevant to the environment with the common threads that make it a Sierra cafe.

For franchise-owners, it’s not necessary to have experience in owning a cafe, as training and support will be provided. But it will definitely help if prospective owners have past experience in running a small business.

Sierra’s management team helps the franchise owner create the cafe from scratch. Using experienced designers, kitchen plans and trialled and tested menus, they aim to have the right look and feel for each owner and cafe.

The management team also offers advice and support in all areas of the business. This includes assisting with staff, cafe layout, menus, promotions, and accounting packages.

With all food usually prepared on site, managing the cost of goods can be a challenge. To assist with this, every food item comes with a detailed cost of goods. They use this cost to ensure that when retail prices are set, appropriate gross margins are achieved.

Training is completed with Sierra staff in the new owner’s cafe once it has opened. This ensures that all staff (including the owners) are trained to deliver the brand’s high standard of coffee, food and service.

New owners are also assisted through staff recruitment to ensure that a highly skilled team is employed in key areas.

Each cafe is designed to suit the needs of its market. There are two basic options starting from $150,000 for an espresso bar up to $250,000 for a full cafe.

Depending on the size of the location, the fully-fitted cafe will have indoor and outdoor seating, full breakfast and lunch menu and a wide range of cabinet food, coffee machines and optional catering and function services.

The espresso bar has a minimum of seating, a coffee machine and a standard cabinet. This is a basic and easy-to-run set-up that does not require a large investment.

The coffee is roasted in a state of the art facility in Auckland where trained roasting staff take the highest quality beans and craft them into premium blends. Sierra believes that New Zealand has an advanced coffee culture and is proud to be at the forefront of the industry.

Bahl says, “All of this means a greater impact can be achieved for the brand, by combining the resources of all the Sierra cafes and adding the expertise of our team to the mix. The aim of this is to ensure that the Sierra presence in the public mind will continue to be strong.”

It’s certainly worked for Grace and Richard Fong, awarded the company’s 2015 Franchisee of the Year for their Lincoln Rd, Henderson, cafe. “Sierra has proven to be a cafe franchise with a great business model, vision and reputation.

“We were looking to leverage a franchise business with proven systems, processes, knowledge and expertise. The support we get from the Sierra support team is extremely valuable and has helped us achieve success we presently enjoy.”

■  The Sierra franchise opportunity is being marketed by Laurel McCulloch of Link Business Broking.