Gloria Jean’s new direction

Gloria Jean's

Gloria Jean’s offers franchisees the opportunity to grow their own businesses while providing support and access to information on the latest industry trends.

Many Australians play with the idea of being their own boss, though few take the plunge and start their own business. For sisters Gail Gipp and Leeanne Thompson, the opportunity presented itself when their local Gloria Jean’s café in Gympie, Queensland went up for sale in 2015.

“My husband and I were looking to move to the area as the part of our sea change. I’d just left my previous job, so the timing was perfect,” Gail says. “Our parents had always run hospitality businesses that we both worked in while growing up, so we had some experience.”

Leeanne says she and her sister had always wanted to go into business together, and that dream became a reality after keeping an eye on the location for close to seven years. 

“We thought we could run it much better than it had been in the past, and always drank Gloria Jean’s coffees, so we were big fans of the brand,” Leeanne says.

Gloria Jean’s first arrived in Australia from the United States in 1996, where it was quickly adopted by the community. Within six years, Gloria Jean’s had opened 185 stores in the country, owned and operated by more than 100 franchisees. The chain now consists of more than 300 coffee houses and a headquarters based in Australia.

Gloria Jean's
Gloria Jean’s launched its Toastinis toasted panini range in August 2019.

The store has also proved to be successful for the sisters, who now operate another two in Queensland, and are adding a fourth in Townsville to their portfolio.

“Our enthusiasm for what we do shines through. We have a passion for our business, love our customers and staff, and act like a family. I think that translates to our customers,” Leeanne says.

“Another good thing about being in a franchise is that it’s a recognised brand. You don’t have to go out and sell your product. The community knows who you are and what you offer.”

Gail adds that building a solid and reliable team has meant she and her sister can leave the store and be sure it runs smoothly.

“We have a great team of staff, some of whom who have been with us since the beginning,” she says.

“We’ve probably only been able to take on so much because we have such a good team established at our Gympie store. That’s allowed us to be absent for quite long periods at some points. There’s also a lot of support coming from Gloria Jean’s.”

The Gloria Jean’s franchise model means its stores are independently owned and operated, though franchisees still receive training and support from its main office. Leeanne says signing with a franchise means she and her sister are not left behind in a shifting industry.

“We’re kept up to date with new trends and innovations, such as new roasts and menu revamps. They’re essentially delivered to us, so we don’t have to go out and source them or risk something we don’t know will work,” Leeanne says. 

“We have an Operations Manager that keeps in touch with us regularly and if we ever have any problems, we know we can contact them and they will sort it out.”

Earlier in 2019, Gloria Jean’s rolled out a rebranding across its stores that pays tribute to the brand’s heritage. Gail says customers like the new look, especially the new uniforms and logo, modelled after the originals.

Gloria Jean's
Gloria Jean’s house blend now features a lighter roast profile to accomodate comsumers’ changing preferences.

“They’ve really come to the forefront of coffee innovation too. They’re doing lots of market research to determine what people actually want and the best way to offer it,” Gail says.

The Gloria Jean’s house blend still uses the same beans but has shifted to a lighter roast profile to accommodate consumers’ changing taste preferences. The blend of coffees from South America and Indonesia contains mud cake dessert notes, choc orange highlights, and caramel sweetness coming through at the end. Leeanne says the change has boosted Gloria Jeans’ coffee credentials. 

“They’ve looked at the roast profiles across their beans, and the new coffee blend has even taken out awards,” Leeanne says.

“It’s been good to be able to pass that information on to guests, that this is good coffee, supported by winning awards from recognised coffee shows, and that we’re using the latest barista techniques.”

Recent Gloria Jean’s campaigns to complement its coffee offerings that Gail says have struck a chord with customers include its new Indulgent Hot Chocolates and Fancy Filled Donut ranges, launched in July, and Toastinis toasted panini line introduced in August.

“We’ve always loved Gloria Jean’s, but in the last two years we’ve seen massive changes in the company all for the good of the franchisee,” Gail says.

“There’s so much about the business you won’t learn if you try to do everything yourself with no background in the industry. Going into a franchise like Gloria Jean’s provides you with that support and keeps your menu fresh and changing.” 

Despite sharing a menu and core products with other Gloria Jean’s stores across Australia, Leeanne says she and her sister are still able to bring a degree of individuality and creativity to their stores.

“We still have the freedom to express ourselves, which has been really positive for our business,” Leeanne says.

“People don’t always realise that the stores are independently owned and that we do have a say over our business. You can put your own stamp on it, and the more you put in, the more you get out. You are selling the same product, but you can put a sense of individuality in each venue.”

While the sisters have managed to create a successful business and partnership with Gloria Jean’s, Gail calls the relationships they have built with their staff and regular customers the greatest achievement of the venture.

“Some of our trainees who started with us while at school are still here four years later. To see them grow and go on to their own big careers or want to stay a part of the team has been so important for us,” Gail says. 

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s their business too.” 

This article appears in the October 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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