Franchisee Jason Piltzmaker talks Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip
A fresh cup of coffee and baked gourmet cookies weren’t the only enticements luring Jason Piltzmaker to become a franchise partner with Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip. He was equally attracted to the decades of goodwill tied to one of the most powerful and beloved brand names in the world.
Jason explained that his café is an experience that appeals to virtually everyone.
“There’s not a better brand out there,” said Jason. “People walk by our storefront and see that familiar Nestlé logo and it strikes a chord with them. It brings back memories of grandma or mom baking cookies in her oven, and that emotional connection can be very strong. Virtually everyone in North America can relate to it.”
Co-founders Ziad Dalal and Doyle Liesenfelt opened their first Nestlé Toll House Café in August 2000 in Frisco, Texas. Jason opened his first café that December in Houston.
“The franchisor secured a great location in my market,” Jason said. “They knew I had a successful track record in the cookie segment so they reached out and asked if I had any interest in the location. I said ‘This is what I’ve been training for my whole life, sign me up!’ Nearly 14 years later, we’re still going strong.” Jason had worked for a competitor for nearly 18 years and left because the franchise concept no longer fulfilled his professional goals.
“So when the Nestlé Toll House Café opportunity came about, we attacked it,” he continued. “It’s a wonderful concept.
It offers the best of everything, from fresh-baked treats to an outstanding coffee program. We have ice cream, smoothies, crepes, paninis and hand-decorated cookie cakes that are perfect for any occasion. It’s a one-stop shop for all kinds of delicious goodies.”
The chain locates most of their cafés in malls and benefits greatly from impulse buying decisions. The storefront and brand name bring the people in and the fresh-baked aroma of the products can prove irresistible to customers of all ages. Street locations are also popular in a more traditional café, sit-down type environment.
“Our confections are very popular with the kids, as well as their moms and dads.
And we have so much variety, everybody can get what he or she wants,” Jason explained. “If mom is looking for a fresh fruit smoothie, dad wants a cup of coffee and the kiddos are craving ice cream or cookies, we are your shop.”
Among the bakery café’s most popular products are their chocolate chip cookie cakes. Available only in the café, they come in a range of sizes and delicious designs, all customized and ready in 30 minutes or less. Guests may also order customized ice cream sandwiches, which are made on the spot with your choice of ice cream and cookies.
The chain also recently introduced madeto- order crepes, both savory and sweet, for breakfast and Panini sandwiches for lunch, to capture additional day-part sales. “You have to come by and see our storefront and experience the excitement behind the counter,” said Jason.
A Successful Model
Ideally, franchise candidates should be prepared to be intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Not necessarily behind the counter selling cookies, but the owner needs to have A great amount of input and mentorship with his or her staff and should be consistently involved.
“The more involved the owner, the better their chances of being very successful,” Jason continued. “I’m an Area Developer for our market here, and one of our franchisees is a schoolteacher and she does quite well. We also have an engineer with no real background in the restaurant business and he, too, is experiencing success. Each franchisee has their unique challenges; but with this concept, it’s pretty easy to immerse yourself in our brand and be successful in it.”
“A new owner should exude compassion, involvement and patience. With a good location, great service and a hardworking staff, it’s a winning formula,” he continued.
Franchise Award Process
The process begins with an online application. Once it is reviewed, a phone call is scheduled to share the discovery
steps of Nestlé Toll House Café. A Franchise Disclosure Document is then sent and the potential franchisee is invited to participate in additional learning opportunities.
The candidate is then expected to review several franchise documents and conduct his or her own research on the operation. Once mutual comfort level and qualifications are established, the prospective franchisee may be invited to the Richardson, Texas, headquarters for a personalized discovery day, which involves meeting each of the company’s department heads and learning the principles of the organization. A tour of multiple cafés in the DFW market rounds out their visit. The discovery day is the concluding learning event, and assuming both parties remain interested in moving forward, a franchisee review committee then makes its decision to award a license to the prospective candidate. Training is scheduled within 60 days prior to opening after real estate is secured.
The owner and a store manager or other key team members will be involved in the formal training, during which the fundamentals and processes of the entire operation are taught in great detail.
Securing real estate is often the most time intensive aspect of getting started. Once a site is confirmed, grand opening usually follows within three to four months.
After the real estate and construction processes are complete and the store opens, on-going support is provided for the life of the business – whenever necessary to keep the franchise partner pointed towards success. Franchise Service Consultants are available for guidance throughout the opening process to assist with employee training and café operations. They are on-site and available immediately after the grand opening as well.
Nestlé Toll House Café is currently seeking candidates to become café owners throughout most of the U.S. and Canada. There are a variety of café models available, including kiosks, in-line mall and street café locations.
More than 130 cafés are currently open.
The chain has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine’s “Franchise 500” for the last nine consecutive years through 2014.
For more information visit: www.nestlecafefranchise.com
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