Why chocolate is the money-spinner at franchise cafe Theobroma

By Sarah Stowe | 11 Aug 2017 View comments

Inside Franchise Business: Theobroma has a chocolate focusConsumers show every sign of continuing their passion for chocolate, which makes a business investment in a cafe an attractive proposition.

Here we chat to Theobroma about the business concept.

“Theobroma is a total food-and-beverage concept offering consumers a wide variety of couverture chocolate and chocolate beverages with the added enhancement of a food menu,” says franchise and operations manager Ben Fernandes.

“From our chocolate cabinet showcasing our extensive range of artisan handcrafted jewels using real Belgian couverture chocolate, through to our signature mug and warmer, hot chocolate and cold beverages, desserts and chocolate retail products, there is something for everyone and every occasion.”

Some stores are even licensed to sell liquor.

Fernandes says the key is finding the right balance of staying true to classic favourites while creating interest with new products and innovations. “The challenge is how to incorporate the trend in a franchised environment in a timely fashion.”

While tech can be an asset to any business, he says that because of the setup and nature of the store locations, online ordering and sales have not been a strong performer, “but we are carefully monitoring this space”.

“Our new stores incorporate digital menu boards and screens, allowing a more interactive engagement with the brand. Our fully integrated loyalty systems also do away with the old stamp card system, moving to a consumer-engaged online program.”

Investment levels start from $150,000 for a chocolate pavilion and from $350,000 for a chocolate lounge.

“Unlike most food franchises, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all mentality and focus on the individual business at hand where the franchisee has a lot more influence – right down to choosing the menu,” says Fernandes.

Franchisees benefit from unified leasing negotiations and supply agreements with key suppliers, which allows access to competitive prices for products.

However, there are challenges. “One of the greatest challenges is managing expectations at all levels,” Fernandes says, “from managing customer expectations on service and product, through to franchisee expectations on return on investment and support, and franchisor expectations on compliance and growth.”