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Franchise watch: Ziggi’s Coffee’s ability to thrive in a time of uncertainty sets the coffee brand apart

Franchise watch: Ziggi’s Coffee’s ability to thrive in a time of uncertainty sets the coffee brand apart

Ziggi’s Coffee has been embracing the systems and processes already in place for over a decade, which have not only set the franchise family up for success in these crazy times but has resulted in a huge system-wide year-over-year revenue increase.

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Wow, 2020 has shaped up to be a year we will never forget. COVID-19 has added a layer of complexity that has touched everyone and has pushed many to the end of their comfort zones. Franchising is buzzing with terms like pivot, shift, flexibility, and COVID-proofing (my personal favorite). Everyone is trying to figure out the new norm and how to survive and thrive.

What has Ziggi’s Coffee been up to while others are pivoting and shifting their models? Ziggi’s has been embracing the systems and processes already in place for over a decade, which have not only set the franchise family up for success in these crazy times but has resulted in a huge system-wide year-over-year revenue increase.

No, Ziggi’s was not built with being COVID-proof in mind (if only there was that crystal ball), but the numbers would suggest otherwise. What does that mean for the bigger picture? That means that existing Ziggi’s franchisees and their families are safe from financial insecurity. Many new franchisees have joined the family in 2020 to set themselves up for success and long-term growth.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Owner and co-founder Camrin Knudsen has seen many ups and downs in the past 15 years. The Ziggi’s brand has survived recessions and is now persevering in the face of a new and complicated situation with the pandemic.

“When COVID-19 first upended life as we knew it, we put our heads down and figured out our next moves,” says Knudsen. “First, how do we ensure our personal families, and our family of franchisees are safe? Next, how will this affect our business and what can we do about it?

“Taking quick and decisive action to maintain our normal course of business while continuing to adhere to our systems and protocols to keep our stores operating safely, we were able to not only keep people working but be a bright spot for our loyal customers. We were fortunate enough to be able to get involved in our communities in new ways like providing free drinks to front-line workers in those crazy early days.”

Like a good relationship, communication is key

While Ziggi’s continued to monitor the situation as it evolved, maintaining communication with the franchisees was key to keeping its system calm, while remaining focused on staying safe and continuing to thrive.

“It was a great relief to have the support and experience of the Ziggi’s team,” says Natalie Lord, a long-time franchisee for the brand. “To have Brandon, the founder and president of Ziggi’s, reach out personally to offer support was amazing. He provided a wealth of knowledge regarding all aspects of operations. Ziggi’s seemed to always be ahead of the shutdown, which in-turn gave me options, operational and financial, that I could have missed on my own.

“A huge win for us was not only surviving this pandemic but thriving in a climate where others were closing their doors for good. To have a double-digit sales increase a month after shutdown speaks volumes to the type of business and support Ziggi’s offers. I can’t be more thankful in such a tough business climate.”

“Business was strong as soon as we opened, and I think what played a big role in our success was the fact that we were there for the community, providing high-quality products”

Growth in the face of adversity

Ziggi’s growth leading up to the pandemic was admirable. Continuing to bring on new franchisees during the past nine months has created opportunities for the brand to adapt to the situation without compromising its commitment to building the best franchise system. Finding franchisees who are the perfect cultural fit is key.

To continue that commitment of finding only the best franchisees, Ziggi’s had to redefine parts of the mutual investigation process, especially when it came time for final steps of the process and signing of new franchise agreements.

Owner and co-founder Brandon Knudsen says: “Like many concepts, we had to make decisions on how to continue the momentum and growth, and balance that with properly vetting our potential franchisees to ensure the brand was expanding with exceptional folks. We were able to quickly adapt and established a more virtual process that still allowed the franchise prospect to meet the entire team, tour locations, and spend the necessary time with the executive team to finalize the decision to move forward and for our team to extend an invitation to join our family.”

Through the use of platforms like Zoom and a team that embraced change, the brand has prospered and even accelerated growth by welcoming over 30 new franchise agreements since the start of the pandemic, with a long line of new franchisees on the near horizon.

“The key for us is staying true to our commitment to only welcome the best and most qualified people into our franchise system,” says Knudsen. “We are ‘break bread and share a drink’ people, so it took some getting used to. There will certainly be a lot of long-awaited celebration dinners in our future.”

Community at its heart

Ziggi’s Coffee has many points of differentiation, but perhaps the greatest outward difference is the fierce support and commitment to the communities in which the stores are located.

The family feel goes beyond the store doors and into the community, with the support of local schools, charities, and much more. Franchisee Jill Bland says: “Being newly opened when the pandemic hit, we were nervous. It was a huge blessing to be able to both keep our doors open and to provide jobs during this uncertain time. It was also rewarding to provide a fun treat on a daily basis to our community as they were going through this challenging time.

“We have customers even today, who thank us for being there for them during those times and they are more loyal than ever as a result. Business was strong as soon as we opened and I think what played a big role in our success was the fact that we were there for the community, providing high-quality products at a reasonable price, with the added convenience of drive-thru service.”

The tight-knit feel starts and ends with superior support

Technology, communication, training, support, innovative menu options, and a robust team with decades of combined experience, are what make up the Ziggi’s support process and teams.

Building a franchise program after years of successful operations allowed the Ziggi’s team to have a deep knowledge base to draw from while building the systems and processes to set their future franchisees up for success.

No theories, no guesswork, just systems based on real-world trial and error, and a collection of best practices to dominate the market.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong brand during rough times as well as having a business that is grounded in doing good for others,” says Jill Bland. “I went into this thinking, ‘It’s just coffee, how hard could it be?’ I could not imagine trying to start something like this on my own, let alone during a pandemic! It reaffirmed that we made the right decision utilizing a franchise and an amazing brand like Ziggi’s.

“They were with us every step of the way, providing a success plan, support, and training. We were never a ‘number’; we are partners and teammates. Having that kind of support was invaluable.”

Opening during a pandemic takes more than guts

Buying a franchise and opening a business is never for the faint of heart but these past few months have made that choice even more difficult for some. When the world around you is this unpredictable, it’s understandable that some folks take a “wait and see” approach.

The reality is tough; many businesses will not survive this, which makes having solid systems and support critical for success. There are many advantages related to this specific time and place; potential franchisees can benefit from a struggling commercial real estate market providing better deals and more opportunities as well as easier lending for the right concepts and people. This pandemic will create the next generation of wealth from business ownership.

The Ziggi’s Coffee model can provide a safer passage to a more secure future. Franchisee Preston Silvey says: “When the pandemic hit and many businesses were having to shut down, nobody knew how everything was going to play out with COVID. It was pretty clear from the start Ziggi’s was not only going to make it but thrive in these challenging times.

“Having this stability and success during the pandemic was a relief with so much else unknown in the world. After the initial dip in sales, we saw a surge in sales, which has not slowed down since. I think having a drive-thru location where customers felt safe, led to new customers. These new customers have made Ziggi’s their new favorite coffee shop and have now become loyal customers. The product, customer service and convenience of Ziggi’s all lead to customer retention and a strong loyal base of regulars.”

Time will tell what the lasting impacts of COVID-19 will be. Will there be lasting shifts in buying habits? Will loyalty to new-found favorites remain? Which businesses will survive and how many will thrive as the pandemic plays out?

For Ziggi’s Coffee, it’s remaining focused on the success of its franchise family and providing unwavering and unrivaled support. That dedication, combined with each location’s commitment to being the best part of our customers’ day, positions Ziggi’s Coffee for continued success and growth as it becomes a household name.


Established: 2004

Franchising Since: 2006

Number of franchise agreements: 74

Number of franchised outlets open: 19

Total units open: 26

Location of units: U.S.

Investment range: $190,500 - $1,237,608

Minimum required capital: $125,000

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