Mark West’s Last My Cup Coffee and Tea Location Shutters Door

Mark West’s Last My Cup Coffee and Tea Location Shutters Door

For serveral years the VCSFA has been covering Mark West’s interesting involvement in My Cup Coffee and Tea and Blenz Coffee.  For anyone considering buying a Blenz Coffee franchise, this is crucial background information.

In this previous article we discussed how neither Mark West, nor Blenz Coffee thought there were any problems or conflict with Mr. West running his own competing coffee franchise while in a position of General Manager of Blenz Coffee.  Surely if they did see any ethical issue they would have fixed the problem.  Although at least one concerned franchisee brought the issue to leadership at the announcement of Mark West’s arrival to Blenz, the issue was promptly brushed off and subdued by the beats of an expensive African drum group at their annual conference.

In the same article, it describes how he is also the contact person for anyone interested in opening a new Look Organic Tea, which also competes directly with a Blenz franchised location, literally right next door at Library Square.

Although the direct competition between West’s My Cup and Look Tea stores and the Blenz stores he claims to be helping may be of concern to current or prospective Blenz buyers, of greater concern should be the fact that none of these My Cup locations have survived the test of time.

Perhaps multi-coloured paper feet glued to the street and fuzzy dice are no longer enough to win the dollars of the increasingly sophisticated Vancouver coffee drinker?

You be the judge.

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Franchisepro.ca picks up on Important Franchise Legislation article in Reputable Magazine

Franchisepro.ca picks up on Important Franchise Legislation article in Reputable Magazine

Wayne Taylor plaintiff in a lawsuit against Blenz Coffee in Vancouver, was interviewed in a reputable national magazine called Food Service and Hospitality.

Read about it here on Wayne’s Franchisepro.ca

food-service-cover

Read about it here

Ray Russell’s ‘Fresh Slice’ and its Potential Impact on Franchisees

Imagine you had just invested your life savings into a Fresh Slice Pizza Franchise location when you read the headline in your local rag “FreshSlice Pizza owner had affair with employee before she was fired, judge rules”.  Chances are you won’t be feeling a lot better than Ray or his family.

Some people might argue that those kind of stories are not important and that they don’t affect the business.

Those people are wrong.

The first question I’d ask is ‘Did Mr. Russell have a prenuptual in place?”  If not, the ownership structure of their chain might quickly change.

The second question I’d ask is ‘If this is how Mr. Russell conducts himself in his personal moral life, might he also compromise on business ethics issues –  like how he deals with looking out for his Franchisees’ best interests.”

Everything just became very shaky, and a gambling man might make a wager that the FreshSlice stock, if traded on the exchange, just lost a few percentage points.

 

 

Is McDonald’s Franchise Business Model Starting to Lose?

It’s daily business to hear of smaller Vancouver franchises milking their Franchisees’ profits and doing funny business, but it has been rare if not non-existent to hear negative stories like this one about McDonald’s from a business perspective.

We are often asked, at the VCSFA, “Are there any good franchises out there?” to which we always reply “Yes, there are a few good ones out there and not all hope is lost.  The model remains a win-win model, in theory providing there is a leadership who cares.”

But sometimes leadership doesn’t care.

It seems that more often than not, the Franchisor views their Franchisees as slaves in their revenue-stream producing retirement plan.  Any noisy ones are quickly silenced by their pricy lawyers and no media seems to exist to expose the wickedness of their ways.

Until now.

The wide webs of the world have made it possible for the little guy to raise his or her voice.

Obviously things are not well at McDonald’s these days and we hope that the Franchisees will continue to stay noisy about it which will help prevent new stores from opening so fast and force leadership to start caring about the financial well-being of their number one partner – their Franchisees.

Burger Kings Purchase of Tim Horton’s and What it Means to Its Franchisees

Will Tim Horton’s Franchisees win or lose in this massive food and beverage deal as Burger King gobbles them up? And will they sell Tim Burgers?

It’s pretty rare to have news this big in the food and beverage industry, and especially one that impacts Canadian business so directly.  A quick search engine search on the keywords reveals articles like this one in the CBC.  This article is loaded with neat little stats about how big the two companies are, how much there shares went up and down, market cap numbers, guesses on why they did it,  what they will do next, and so on.  A very typical ‘business article’.

The article also went into details about the ‘important’ parts of the deal including where the head offices would be based, shareholder cash payments, and the like.  However, the following statement jumped off the page: “That would bring the cash value of the deal for current Tim Hortons owners to more than $94 per share.”   In particular, it is the usage of the word ‘owners’ that is most intriguing and one that leads to a new question: “Who owns a Tim Horton’s store?”

“Who owns a Tim Horton’s store?”

Perhaps a better question to start with is ‘what is ownership?’

According to corporate stuff, it’s someone who owns any number of shares in a corporation.  In real estate, it’s the person or entity whose name is on the title document.  For cars, it’s the ‘registered owner’ on the document you hand the police when they pull you over.  In small business, it’s the person upon whom takes the ultimate financial risks associated with it’s success or demise.

However, anyone involved in any of these ‘ownership’ scenarios knows something deeper: in corporations, it’s the person with 51% of the shares who has power.  In real estate, it’s the person to whom you pay your taxes who holds the power.  With cars, the police officer holds the power and tells you how you are going to use your car, and in small business, it’s the landlord, health authorities, and, in some cases, the Franchisor who holds the power.

So, does ownership really even exist? Or does the more important question when you make an investment become, ‘Who holds the power over my investment?”

Tim Horton’s was built on the back of it’s Franchisees, on their hard earned investments, and on their long, hard days serving the public cheap coffee.  Although these ‘business articles’ will talk about ‘revenue from royalties’ on the books, when was the last time you heard about Tim Horton’s from the perspective of a Franchisee?

Although this merger looks like a good deal for the power holders (shareholders and directors), one must wonder what will happen to the Franchisees.  Will things get better?  Will things get worse? Even more frightening of a question is “Does anyone even care?”

Customers just want their cheap double double.  They don’t care who hands it to them.

The Franchisor just wants a higher share value, sometimes at any cost.

Would anyone care if the Tim Burger’s global strategy one day switched from ‘Franchise Partners’ to ‘Corporately Managed’ stores like Starbucks did?

So next time you order your six pack of Tim Burgers or Whopper-Whopper think of who really built this business and be concerned.  This is your brother, uncle and neighbour, not a number on a stock exchange.

Chewy Junior – A New Addition to the Canadian Franchise Scene

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Chewy Junior, a cream puff franchise from Asia (do they come from anywhere else?) has just launched their first Canadian flagship location in Vancouver.

This light article at Wayne Out There sheds some light on the Chewy experience.

Part of the Chewy Junior story is founder Kevin Ong’s repeated failure in business.  Failure in business will typically lead the casualty in one of two directions: a) towards eventual success if they recalibrate and don’t quit or b) towards a jaded life of anger towards the world that has wronged them (or so they believe).  Based on our quick review, it looks like Chewy may be on the former, not the latter path.

There is no question that the Chewy Junior product offering is both unique in the market (there aren’t that many cream puff shops in your average block) but also further unique in that they offer a very high quality product with an amazing display.  A quick look in the new flagship store display fridge and the customer will find it very difficult to resist taking a box home.

Wagers are already on as to whether or not such a concept will succeed, but before you wager, make sure you both see and eat one because from our first reports, experiencing is believing.

“…experiencing is believing.”

Stay tuned for more on Chewy Junior and other Vancouver franchises.

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Blenz Coffee General Manager Mark West Runs Second Simultaneously Competing Franchise Look Tea

If allowing their GM Mark West to own his own competing coffee franchise My Cup while attempting to look out for the best interest of Blenz Franchisees wasn’t odd enough, Vancouver’s Blenz Coffee has now allowed him to kickstart a brand new competing tea franchise as well – LOOK Organic Tea

Mark West launches Blenz Competitor LOOK Organic Tea

Mark West launches Blenz Competitor LOOK Organic Tea

On February 10th of this year, the VCSFA published an article about the sudden sale and subsequent splitting of the Blenz Library Square corporate store.  We noted that it was a very interesting business decision to give up such a prime location that was previously used for training new Blenz Franchisees.

More interesting than the actual sale of such a useful corporate asset was the mystery of what would be opening right next door to the store that they had just sold off to a new Franchisee.  Here is a question we asked in our article published nearly five months ago:

Has Blenz protected the current owner of this Library Square location from a potentially competing business opening right next store?  There is not hint of what kind of business will be moving in to the former training space.  What if it turned out to be another coffee shop or tea shop?

Will wonders never cease?

Not only did a tea shop open right next door that competes directly with the Esprit line of Blenz premium teas that Blenz Franchisees are forced by contract law to sell, but the name of the man receiving all franchise inquiries at LOOK Tea is the very same name on the Blenz franchise inquiry page – Mark West. In addition, although the page has recently and mysteriously become un-clickable at the My Cup website, Mark West was also the name on the My Cup Coffee and Tea franchise inquiry page.  Thankfully we saved a screen shot of this. It’s also interesting to note that Mr. West no longer lists the Georgia and Seymour My Cup location which directly competes with three different Blenz locations.   The following are screen shots are from those respective pages:

join-us-LOOK

Want a LOOK Tea Franchis? Call Mark West!

 

Want a Blenz Franchise? Call Mark West!

Want a Blenz Franchise? Call Mark West!

Want a My Cup Franchise? Call Mark West!

Want a My Cup Franchise? Call Mark West!

 

Until the launch of LOOK Organic Tea took place in a retail space that literally shares a physical wall and ‘support’ staff and leadership with a Blenz location (Shawn Pattison of LOOK also works for Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company), the camp was divided as to whether or not Blenz was looking out for the best interests of its Franchisees.

The camp is no longer divided.

 

Yet Another Prestigious Blenz Closes: Pacific Centre on Granville

Blenz Investor Alert: Danger!

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

If you were considering investing in the once powerful and quickly growing Blenz Coffee, and you noticed that they were losing prestigious retail location after prestigious location every few months, you might be wise to do a little extra research.

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

The sudden closure of the Blenz Coffee at Pacific Centre this week is just one of now many in a string of closures over the last 24 months.

You can read all about the different closures here:

Blenz Coffee Bayswater

Blenz Coffee Burrard and Robson

Blenz Coffee St. Paul’s Hospital: It was owned by a Franchisee, then by the Burrard Hotel, then suddenly all signs of Blenz disappeared and they now sell JJ Bean)

Blenz Coffee Cambie @ 17th

Blenz Coffee Hastings @ Howe

But it doesn’t end there.

Another red flag that started waving a few months ago that should have raised a few eyebrows was the sudden and quiet sell off of what was previously their pride and joy: the Library Square Corporate Training Centre where they hosted public events and tried out innovative drink ideas.  Within a flash it had been halved in size and sold off to a fresh new ‘franchise partner’.

Another even more devastating blow to the brand are the growing number of lawsuits against the former Vancouver coffee powerhouse including one filed by a small group of franchisees and another by a previous head office employee.

Will Blenz Coffee be able to pull out of the obvious tailspin?  Will Mark West, be able to save the day?

Stay tuned for more news on Blenz Coffee and other coffee related news.

The Wired Monk Selected by Fox TV as one of the ‘Coolest Places on Earth’

For those of you interested in franchising, coffee, coffee shops and Canada, you will likely be very interested in the latest news we received on The Wired Monk:

Wired Monk Coffee Bistros has been chosen as one of the “Coolest Places on Earth”!  In the episode airing this Saturday titled “The Wilds of Western Canada and the Territories”, we are featured as the most popular cafe in the place known for it’s great coffee. We were chosen, as people connected with the show had recently visited BC and felt that Wired Monk was the “coolest place” they had been.

The episode airs on Fox TV in BC (it is the Seattle affiliate KCPQ) and will air at 9:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2014.  Please check your local listings.  This show will be replayed once more in 2014 and at least once in 2015.