Presse Café is a coffee shop and restaurant franchise with a growing presence across the globe. Run by a young and dynamic team dedicated to the brand’s success, Presse Café offers more than just food and coffee – they offer people the opportunity to manage their own business and enjoy the advantages of being an entrepreneur.
Though they pride themselves on offering a fast service, Presse Café is far from a conventional fast food franchise – their philosophy is centred on offering fresh and natural products, along with warm and trustful service. Also, unlike many large franchise operators, Presse Café works on making every branch tailored to its environment and the specific needs of its clients.
Presse Café has applied their philosophy to their operations since 1995, when they started their first location on St-Catherine Street in Montreal – a location across from the cinemas. At the time, the company’s motto was ‘A Way of Life’ and the target demographic was a younger one. The other cafés of the time were within office parks and catered mainly to older customers. Presse Café sought to buck that trend, and wildly succeeded.
Veronique Boisjoly is the Director of Communications for the brand. She joined in the late 1990s, when there were only three stores. She began her career with the company at the store level while she was going to Concordia University. The brand was poised for expansion, however, and she saw there was an opportunity to help them with that aim. She’s been there ever since.
“It’s a small company with big objectives,” says Boisjoly, describing what attracted her to the group. “It’s all about passion at Presse Café. It’s like a family business. Over the years a lot of people have added to the group, but it’s still a family entity. Everybody that gets involved in the company joins that family.”
That family atmosphere – combined with Presse Café’s superior offering – is what sets the brand apart in the marketplace.
“Today more than ever people are looking for more than just a one item shop,” she says. “People don’t want to stop some place for coffee and go somewhere else to have a good lunch. What they really appreciate about Presse Café is not only the quality coffee that we have in our coffee-shops, but also the wide selection of food that we offer to those who like to have their lunch on the premises.”
The food at Presse Café is indeed excellent. They do not serve anything that comes pre-packaged, or that has to be unwrapped. All of their meals are made fresh, on-premise every day, and are highly customizable. Their sandwiches come pressed or wrapped, and their salads are made fresh every day and are updated all the time.
Boisjoly has personally been present at many Presse Café openings, and she always listens to what the customers are saying. “‘Oh it’s great because they have good coffee and good food as well,’” she says. “I hear that all the time.”
In 2003, the motto for Presse Café was changed from ‘A Way of Life’ to ‘Breathe, Eat, Drink’ to better reflect the brand’s growing focus.
“This is a place where you sit down, eat great food, and drink great coffee,” Boisjoly says.“That’s what defines Presse Café.”
From a franchise development perspective, the most appealing element of Presse Café is their culture of collaboration. They work hand-in-hand with their franchisees, and they want franchisees that are ready to do the same for their customers.
“We’re looking for independent owners,” Boisjoly says. “We’re not looking for investors; we want people who are going to get involved in their franchise. We feel it’s really important to be close to the people we serve, and we want franchisees to be there and bring the spirit to life inside the Presse Café. We work hand-in-hand with the franchisees to help them do that.”
Because Presse Café’s franchisees are so close to the community they serve, they can anticipate customer needs and come up with business plans to accommodate those needs. For instance, our franchisee in Cyprus suggested a special type of iced coffee he knew his customers would love.
“We decided to add that item to his menu, because we trusted that the franchisee knew what was good for his customers and what they wanted – and it was a great success,” Boisjoly says. This year, they even brought that iced coffee to other stores, in Canada, where it achieved even further success.
“This is the kind of involvement that a franchisee can expect from Presse Café,” she adds. “Some people really care about their customers, they want to be part of a franchise that’s growing, but they also want to have their say and get involved – those are the kinds of people we want. That’s the difference between Presse Café and bigger franchises.”
For Presse Café’s part, they support their franchise owners through ample training. Initially, new owners undergo a six week course at the franchise training centre where they are taught everything they need to know to run a Presse Café. Training continues as the store is being set up and after that, territory managers are always available to help.
There’s also training sessions for all franchisees held every three months. At that time they discuss new products, the latest promotions, and open the floor to any questions while giving franchisees an opportunity to learn from their peers.
All about passion
Presse Café currently has over 60 franchises in Canada and abroad. So far, Boisjoly says, their growth has occurred organically. People from all over the world have approached them, said they loved the concept, and would love to open a store locally. Many of them are people who visited or studied in Montreal, and wanted to bring the brand home with them. “It’s people who just fell in love,” she says.
“The most important thing for us is passion, so if we meet business people with the same passion as us, most of the time we’ll just decide to dive in with them.” That strategy has led them to places as diverse as Dubai, Bucharest, Morocco and Sydney.
Presse Café is a young company with a passionate management team, so they are not afraid to go in unexpected directions. That openness – combined with a dedication to doing everything they can to make sure each franchise is a success – has led the brand down a road of success. Boisjoly says that road shows no signs of stopping.
“We don’t want to open just to open,” she says. “We want to open with the right person in the right place.” In a few years she predicts the brand will have a lot more stores in different provinces of Canada, especially in Quebec and Ontario where there’s a growing demand for the concept, as well as a few more international cities added to the list.