Working as a franchisee is the (ice) cream on the cake for Leonardo Da Costa.
“When I came to Australia from Brazil I was looking around for business opportunities”, says Da Costa. “One hot day down at Bondi I walked into the Mövenpick boutique for an ice cream, and was immediately blown away by the quality of the product.Working in his family’s hardware store from the age of 14, Leonardo Da Costa quickly determined he would open his own business. Now he is the franchisee at Mövenpick’s new boutique in the Sydney CBD.
“I did some research into the brand and learned that all Mövenpick’s products are made at its base in Switzerland, using ingredients from around the world such as vanilla from Madagascar and Venezuelan cocoa, ensuring consistent quality – and, above all, it is a franchise operation.”
Da Costa says the franchising route is an attractive proposition because many of the structures needed to start a business are already in place.
“I had a ready-made, quality product backed up by a fantastic marketing campaign and great mentors to help me get going”, he says.
Mövenpick offers “ice cream for adults” in a fine-dining setting, so location is a key consideration, which is another factor that attracted Da Costa.
“If I’d opened up my own business from scratch, there’s no way I’d have been working in such a prime spot in the city centre, nor in such beautifully equipped premises”, he says.
Mövenpick’s country business manager in Australia Dennis Koorey says the quality of the surroundings in which customers experience the product is important, and all the company’s boutiques are fitted out to a high specification.
Da Costa says he has worked incredibly hard, both in the run-up to the opening of the boutique – it set the franchise’s record for the first week of trading in Australia – and since. Despite many of the elements needed to run a business being in place already, “you have to put your heart and soul into it to make it successful.”
Drive and vision
He and Koorey worked together for months to ensure they had the right staff, with the right training, in place. While recruitment and training are handled by the company, Koorey says the franchisees need a thorough understanding of how every facet of the business works. They also need to gel with their team and get the most out of them.
“It’s a relationship”, he says. “We’re very proud of the passion and commitment of everyone at Mövenpick, and we expect our franchisees to share that drive and vision.”
He says Da Costa’s work ethic and evident enjoyment in working with people make him a perfect fit for the organisation.
Now his boutique is up and running, Da Costa is focusing on growing its success.
“Another advantage of working in a franchise”, he says, “is that you are not on your own. Your staff relies on you to steer the ship, and the support network in place gives you great confidence you’ll be able to do that.”
He says the constant communication with Koorey and his team offers great feedback. And as the “new kid on the block”, he knows people have already travelled down the same road, meaning his chances of success are all the greater.
‘It’s a real comfort to know such good mentors are just a phone call away”, he says.
Tim Ladhams, Editor, Inside Small Business
This article first appeared in issue 13 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine