When Good Earth Coffeehouse opened its first café in 1991, founders Nan Eskenazi and Michael Going aspired to provide great brew and food.
The franchise system has since grown to have more than 40 locations. People visit for a variety of reasons such as dinner, a date, or even just for a break.
Canadian Business Franchise recently spoke with two franchisees, Kyler and Lauren Brierley, about their experience in operating their Good Earth Coffeehouse in Banff, Alta. Through this conversation, we learned about the couple’s early beginnings with the company, their highlights and challenges, in addition to their future endeavours.
Canadian Business Franchise (CBF): Did you always envision yourself as an entrepreneur?
Kyler Brierley (KB): Lauren did not always envision herself as an entrepreneur. Originally, she attended Brock University, but after a summer trip out west, she returned to Ontario and attended Fanshawe College, achieving high accolades in a hospitality management course. She was deep into a career in the hospitality industry, with nearly a decade’s experience with the Fairmont hotels in Jasper and Banff when we met.
For myself, I recognized early on my end goals in life would dictate a different path. After graduating from university and spending five years growing my business acumen in the private sector with Molson Coors, I felt ready to take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur.
I would add that we both are naturally suited to those typical challenges. What some view as risk, too much work, or uncertainty, we see as logical, rewarding, and self-evident. We both come from a background of sports and like to rise to the challenge any given day may bring. To have a team, our business, brings great rewards to us both.
CBF: Why did you choose franchising?
KB: To use a common analogy, everyone can imagine the number of hats one must wear to successfully operate a small business. Unlike a larger entity that has separate departments for HR, accounting, sales etc., they are all on your head in a small business. I think one of the reasons we were attracted to franchising, and specifically, Good Earth Coffeehouse, was how well a few of those duties were handled by the franchisor. This left us to put more energy into fewer things and get better overall results.
As a first business venture, it is extremely helpful to have a team you can call on and converse with no matter what comes up. We both felt comfortable and confident moving forward with a franchise partnership.
CBF: How did you discover this franchising opportunity?
KB: Through a lot of hard work and a little luck. In March of 2017 I had chosen to leave Molson’s and pursue an entrepreneurial path. Lauren, though still working, began to pare down her hours and begin the work to become a real estate agent. We both essentially ‘burned our boats,’ and this led us to opportunities that otherwise would have remained hidden. We looked at everything from bars to bed and breakfasts to campsites.
When we stumbled upon the business, it was very similar to our own relationship where everything just felt natural. The sellers were very above board and clear in communicating. We were absolutely impressed by the corporate team and how true their business and people were.
We were drawn to the coffeehouse for the same reasons as the majority of Canadians that had coffee this morning. But we also enjoyed the community aspect it would provide in a small town we both cherish. The location was great, and everything just fit. About a year to the day, I left my employer, andwe took over the coffeehouse.
CBF: When did you buy your franchise?
KB: We bought the franchise in April 2018. The process of buying a business is a full-time job. If you want to do everything properly, it takes time and diligence. We became quicker at seeing the pros and cons to a potential business. After about six months, year-end financials and discussion with banks were not alien to us, they were natural and, I guess that consolidation of knowledge allowed for better communication and evaluation of things. In hindsight, it was very much learning the business of business, and once we got to that point, all the details, meetings, and legalities just flowed.
If you read this and consider buying a franchise but end up doing your own thing or thinking you will start a business, then a franchise later, you will gain in both scenarios. Even if you end up deciding it is not the right path for you, the knowledge will still have value and not be wasted time.
CBF: What was involved in opening your franchise?
KB: The transition of ownership can be awkward. Like a new coach coming in midway through the season, no one knows each other off the hop, but after a practice and some games, everyone is on the same page and things unfold as they should.
For us, we were moving into our busier season, so we kept the staff and brought in some experienced professionals from Calgary. It cost money to bring these knowledgeable people out, but it was worth the expense.