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{Courtesy of fellow blogger and marketer, Sean Kelly, and his FranBest Coffee site}

Village Coffee’s licensing program is designed for individuals who want to open a turnkey gourmet, community coffee shop without the high costs and restrictions of a traditional franchise. The Village Coffee license program is designed to provide more freedom, lower costs and a strong community marketing philosophy to help individuals build a business they can be proud of.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy).

FranBest: Thanks for sharing your story with us, Tommy. How did you first get involved in the coffee business?
TL: I have always enjoyed coffee. Morning devotions and a cup of coffee
is a God send. I tinkered around with a small roaster and green beans
and began roasting my own blends some years ago. I was operating
several seasonal businesses, and when I began looking for something
that would provide steadier revenue, coffee was a natural choice.

FranBest: What did you do in your prior life?
TL: I spent 20 years in management, developing systems first for the
Air Force and then for a series of businesses I started. In 2000, I
launched out and opened my first business, then a second. After that,
we opened our 3 coffee shops. Now we are helping others to use our
efficient business systems to achieve success in their own businesses.

FranBest: How do you describe the Village Coffee license concept?
TL: Village Coffee is founded on a passion for coffee. We use the
world’s highest quality coffee beans, expertly roasted and diligently
brewed to create a variety of gourmet espressos and coffee blends. But
Village Coffee is just as much about community as it is about coffee.
The inspiration for our name was, in part, the village square that used
to be the central gathering place in most small towns across America.
The village square was a place where neighbors would gather to
socialize, exchange ideas, debate current issues or just be together.
And while few towns still have lively village squares, Village Coffee
shops are filling the void, providing a warm friendly, gathering spot
where neighbors, friends and family can enjoy a warm welcome, hot
drinks, and pleasant company.

As a business opportunity, I’d describe it as easy and affordable.
We help with financing, we have a real estate office to help secure a
great location and even negotiates the rent , and improvement allowance
for our customer. We have a track record in finding great locations for
our customers. We also have a design team and setup team to make sure
the store is ready and Village Coffee approved. Also for what we offer
in our package, the price can’t be beat.

FranBest: When did you launch the Village Coffee franchise/license program? How many franchise/licensees are up and running?
TL: We began marketing and hired our sales team in May of 2007. We
currently have 4 stores in development and about 14 in the planning and
financing stages. It takes about 4 to 6 months to get the store opened,
sometimes longer if the site is being custom built.

FranBest: What do you see as the key difference between your “license” arrangement and the typical “franchise” arrangement?
TL: Our licensing program is designed to give the licensee gets much
more freedom in what they can do. Franchisees generally have little
input to color schemes, furniture, pictures, etc.. With us we include
them, even in the design and layout of their store. Our stores have a
warm relaxing feel to them, you want to walk in and kick your shoes off
and stay awhile. (Yes, we do have this happen.) People need a family
friendly place to visit. And we let the owners make it more personally

FranBest: Where are you looking to expand? What types of markets and demographics work best?
TL: The continental US. We believe a medium household income of $35,000
and at least a population of 10,000 around your location will make a
good return on your investment.

FranBest: What is the need in the marketplace that Village Coffee owners will meet?
TL: Village Coffee coffeeshops have a lot to offer the community:
freshly baked muffins for breakfast, espresso macchiato whenever,
meeting new folks. But one of the most rewarding things to see is the
wide range of people that come through our doors – moms, factory
workers, pastors, neighborhood kids, professors, and college students –
and they all have the same basic human needs. The need for
companionship is so easily met by a coffee shop. It’s a friendly,
hospitable space and the sociable nature of coffee allows people to
relax and open up to each other.

FranBest: Tell us a little bit about the kind of person who would make a good Village Coffee franchise/license owner?
TL: Our licensees are from all walks of life. We have a retired store
manager, an IRS auditor, bankers, truck dispatchers, you name it. What
they share is a passion for great coffee, great people, and the magic
that happens when you bring them both together.

Our tag line is “Making our customers day better one drink at a time” They would need to be someone who stands behind this.

FranBest: What qualities are important to you in selecting new franchise/licensees for your system?
TL: We want to build our team with integrity and a great work ethic.
Our employees love working for our company, and we we want owners who
will be good managers but treat their staff with a spirit of respect.
The way the staff if treated will be reflected in the stores
atmosphere, I guarantee it.

FranBest: What makes a good franchise/licensee?
TL: A people-person who listens to the customers and staff, who can
have fun but who is also a good money manager, who is organized, and
can maintain an efficient and clean store.

FranBest: How do Village Coffee franchise/license owners attract new customers? How do they create repeat business?
TL: We focus on customer service and grassroots “Village” marketing
techniques, including maintaining a lively and friendly store
environment, consistent drink preparation, suggestive selling and
sampling, take complimentary drinks to nearby businesses, marketing our
gift card program, and active community involvement and sponsorships.

FranBest: Of
the training and support services you provide franchise/licensees,
which do you think are most valuable to their long-term success?

TL: Besides the drink making and store operations I would have to say,
make sure you let the customer know you appreciate them. They usually
spend between $3.00 and $4.00 dollars per visit. You need to let them
know that you appreciate them, and always give them a reason to return
again and again.

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FranBest: I
understand you are outsourcing services to FC Dadson and possibly
service providers. How does outsourcing help enable your growth and/or
better service your owners?

TL: A key growth strategy of Village Coffee is to partner with top
quality service providers to bolster our in-house team. For instance,
FC Dadson has a great reputation and years of experience designing and
building out similar store concepts. Troy and his team is great. We are
also partnering with top quality roasters, suppliers and real estate
professionals. Harnessing their expertise enables us to provide first
rate support for our licensees without having to add costly staff and

FranBest: What role does technology play in your organization?
TL: Great Question. Technology plays a key role in the efficiency of
our operation. Our electronic POS system provides in house gift card
and loyalty card processing. Our licensees have the capability to log
into their store’s POS system remotely to check the status of each
store. We can look at the sales, find out who is on shift, look at
yesterday or last weeks sales report.

Additionally, licensees can opt for having digital video cameras in
their stores that they can access remotely via the Internet. It
provides security for the employees and security for the owner.

FranBest: What makes Village Coffee different from other coffee franchise/license opportunities?

TL: Our program is really structured to benefit the licensees:

1. We use a flat $400/month licensing fee, a lot of franchises charge a percentage of sales.
2. We set out to provide an alternative
to the many coffee franchises and distributorships that add 30% – 50%
mark-up on the products and supplies their franchisees must purchase
from them. We only charge 10% over the distributor cost. This equates
to an annual savings of $17,000 for an average Village Coffee licensee.
A franchisee or licensee of our competitors would have to sell an
additional $59,000 to make up for that $17,000 in additional mark-up.
We’re trying to leave more of our licensees’ hard-earned revenue in their bank accounts, where it belongs.

The reason this is a unique opportunity is because you have a name
and products that really can compete with the big boys in the industry.
People continually say that our products stand out in the marketplace.
There are so many names out there, but Village Coffee just says it all.
It’s inviting.

FranBest: Does
Village Coffee have a mission other than creating a profitable
business? Is giving back to the community an integral part of your or
your licensees businesses?

TL: Yes we want to give the community a safe place that even their kids
will be welcome. The environment that we have is a place where mothers
can come in, kick off their shoes, and put their feet up on the couch
while reading their favorite book. Also, business professionals, church
groups, etc. have a great place to meet.

We want to help foster a spirit of community, and a spirit of
giving. Fundraising and charity involvement are a fundamental part of
the Village Coffee philosophy.

FranBest: Thanks very much for sharing your vision of Village Coffee and the Village Coffee licensing opportunity.
TL: Thank you.

{Would you like some help with your franchise marketing plans? Call 1-800-460-8299, and talk with Joel Libava or Sean Kelly}

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joel libava

I'm The Franchise King®, Joel Libava. I help prospective franchise owners avoid bank account emptying mistakes.
For 23 years, I’ve been showing people how to make smart, informed decisions on franchises to buy, and I can help you, too!
P.S. I'm not a franchise consultant/broker.

Straightforward Advice
Joel, thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday. It was refreshing to finally speak with someone in franchising who dishes out straightforward, candid advice. You provided me with some insightful ideas that I'm giving a good deal of thought and consideration to. I look forward to speaking with you on our next consultation call."
- John Timmins, Columbia, South Carolina
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