Romany Threshers chats to Pieter Bloem from the Bootlegger Coffee Company. Bootleggers started in 2012 when 3 best friends got together and decided to form the company. The brand has now grown into multiple stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg and expanding rapidly.
How did the name Bootlegger come about?
After writing down about 800 names they decided that they needed a theme. An idea they wanted the business to portray. The method was to think of the business as a person. If you met this person, what kind of person would that be like? The famous James Dean, 1920’s came to mind with a black and white look and feel and someone like a Bootlegger and that’s how the name came into being. Each store has a carefully selected line from the AC/DC song hung on the wall. The brand represents an attitude and charisma from this throwback of great music and rhythm.
Tell us more about your brand resilience and how you coped in 2020
Like many other businesses Bootlegger had to rethink their strategy and added a lot of baked goods, like breads, cakes, retail coffee, pies and so on. Some stores are not open at night and others only sell food. This gives other stores a chance to grow and succeed. The business is only down 7% on 2019 so that’s a good achievement. We’ve also managed to make deals with landlords and we never doubted for a minute, that we would loose the business. We’re finding many opportunities opening up now and our momentum has encouraged others. We received many calls from them asking how we did it.
One has to adapt, that’s the key. We have downscaled our menu so that we need less staff per store but we have opened many new stores so we have been able to transfer staff to other stores.
TERS and ABSA Bank also helped us a lot. We plan ahead, look at past mistakes people mad and we’re in a good space now. We are a nation of survivors.
What are the opportunities for people and what do you offer potential Bootlegger Franchisees?
When we started we built stores for around 3 million Rand but found in this climate that that was too much so we have been able to reduce that to around 1.8 million Rand, depending on the site. Our 3 year ROI is now more towards 2 to 2 and a half years. We have Franchise opportunities now for Pretoria, Paarl and have lots of enquiries from PE and Durban.
What type of person does this Bootlegger Franchise suit?
We look for likeminded people and those who own more than one store, for example they already own a Spur or similar food outlet franchises. Ideally, We like to do 4 stores. Because of our association with FASA we have found it easier to get bank loans from banks. However, for those who only want to start with one store, we also offer that opportunity. Ours is turnkey franchise from start to finish. We also don’t do any markups on the building of the store, so what you pay is what you get. The franchisee pays the contractors. We are a sustainable Franchise and only charge 1% for marketing.
We look for an outgoing, people person and it’s a community based brand. We don’t go into places where similar outlets already exist. We prefer not to go into malls and have to deal with faceless corporations but deal directly with the owner.
What training does Bootlegger offer?
Training very much depends on the person. For example if you have already owned and run a restaurant, then your training could be completed within 3 weeks because you already know the basics with regards to ordering, stock control, hygiene and what it takes to run a food outlet. For others, not in the trade, it will be longer. We also do refresher training every week and we have a great ops team who do store visits. We also offer what we call ‘on road chefs’ to help and support our stores. If your chef doesn’t come to work, our on road chef steps in to fill the gap.
What is your brand mission? It’s being sustainable and the way we deal with everyone. We have a no BS policy. One size box doesn’t fit all. We only offer good quality and sustainable produce, like grass fed beef and free range eggs.
What does it mean for Bootleggers to be a member of FASA?
Being a member of FASA gives your business credibility. Our roadmap to becoming a FASA member took 8 months and if I see a franchise with a FASA badge, I say, “Well done”, because I know what they have been through to get accredited. It also makes it easier to get bank loans if the banks see you are an FASA accredited member.
FASA accreditation is now internationally approved. South Africa is abreast with the rest of the world when it comes to opening up franchises internationally because FASA ticks all the boxes.
If owning a Bootlegger franchise sounds like your cup of coffee, please contact FASA or Bootlegger Coffee Company