How we support

Our Christmas marketing promotions and campaigns for our franchise partners!

You might have heard lots of different stories and statements about the marketing support a franchise provides its franchise partners to help them grow their business.

But, sometimes it can be hard to get your head around what that practically looks like for an owner on the ground.

At Stellarossa, the marketing team works hard on creating campaigns and initiatives that are impactful, yet flexible enough for our partners to use across their different locations. We know that each market is slightly different, so the cookie-cutter approach taken by some brands (one-size-fits-all), is not something we think is reasonable or in the best interests of our partners.

The best way to take advantage of the festive season is to find those little angles of product and service that can leverage off what’s happening in peoples lives. Think, easy gifts, festive themed beverages and food and more.

That’s the brief, and marketing came up with around 20 – that’s right, 20! little promotions and campaigns to execute at store level across the network.

Check a bunch of them out below, and….Merry Christmas!

Co-ownership: is this the future of franchising?

Darren Schultz co-founder of the Stellarossa Cafe brand isn’t ashamed to admit that he loves franchising, but that’s precisely why he’s seen it’s time to rethink the business model. Currently, the group operates some 23 franchised stores in South East Queensland, but some pretty big changes are on the horizon.

With his long-time business partner Phil Cronin, Darren co-founded Stellarossa back in 2009, opening two stores in the Brisbane CBD. They started franchising the brand in 2010, selling the first two cafes as their first franchised soters. Over the next two years, the duo opened another seven stores in the CBD, including their first cafe/bar model at Eagle Street Pier in 2011.

“When we started, the model we were targeting was good, quick coffee and easy food items to grab and go,” says Darren. “Our goal was always to franchise Stellarossa and we did pretty well with that city-based model. The franchise partner could operate Monday to Friday with weekends off. It was fairly straightforward. But we soon realised we were running out of sites.”

With CBD opportunities diminishing, Stellarossa ventured into their first shopping centre café model at Westfield Chermside in 2012, quickly followed by their first regional-based store in Mackay. Darren and Phil soon discovered they were onto a winner.

“It was all new to us, we were thinking on our feet,” says Darren. “We had to get into a larger format — breakfast, lunch and dinner — and licensed as well.”

After the initial transition period to the model, Darren realised they’d found their solution to the dwindling supply of CBD sites, in fact, he says Stellarossa will probably never do another CBD store again, so successful has the change of focus then.

“In the city, you’ve got to make a lot of hay in five days,” he says. “Then during school and public holidays, your business falls off a cliff. But in those outer suburbs and regional areas, our business actually gets busier during the holidays.”

Things were looking up, but the boys knew they’d really hit the jackpot when they opened Stellarossa Mango Hill in 2013. This was their first store in a smaller centre, home to a large-format Coles and about 20 specialty stores.

“One of the big challenges to get right is to stay current from a menu perspective and to this end Stellarossa has hired another corporate chef (they now have two) to up the ante in the food space.”
This has become the strongest growth sector and focus for the brand.

It was a frontier we had never really considered, those outer suburbs of Brisbane,” says Darren. “The franchisee loved the format, and actually came to us with the site. It really opened the floodgates and blew us away how successful that business was and our business model really changed from that point on. We decided to concentrate on the outer extremities of Brisbane and regional areas — that would be our target market.”

After a few years of solid expansion, Darren has signalled another shift in the business model, intentionally curbing growth to adjust Stellarossa’s fit in the marketplace. This year has seen a re- brand with a new look and new menu.

“Over the past 12 months there’s been quite a shift in our focus,” says Darren. “We haven’t extended the leases on some of our smaller espresso bars and closed a few of them. It’s been done on purpose so we can re-evaluate our business model, the feel of our sites, and hit the ground running in 2019.”

One of the big challenges to get right is to stay current from a menu perspective and to this end Stellarossa has hired another corporate chef (they now have two) to up the ante in the food space.

“We’re constantly trying to keep ahead without getting too obscure to the point where people don’t get it. We’ve got to remember our market probably isn’t interested in deconstructed eggs benedict,” Darren laughs. “They want the real deal — quality, fast and at a reasonable price. People will pay that little bit extra for quality and that’s what we’ve got to deliver.”

These are exciting times for Stellarossa. Planning for 2019 features 10 new cafes including a foray into the drive-through market at three of those sites. Best described as the “new frontier” in café businesses, with both seated and drive-through customers, extended hours and high-volume trade, drive-through cafes, operated well, are a potential goldmine for smart investors. The big challenge is finding the right site, but Darren is adamant that Stellarossa has done its homework.

“We’re sitting in a real sweet spot at the moment, with some great opportunities coming up,” says Darren. “And we’ve put a lot of work into finding the best sites, employed specialists in the field to perfect our procedures, work flow and space, and we’re ready to smash that out next year.”

The first Stellarossa drive-through will be in Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast. “That’s going to be predominantly drive-through grab and go with a small café and a little bit of seating,” says Darren. “The development is mainly a service station, KFC and McDonald’s — all very drive- through.”

Darren emphasises that Stellarossa will carefully evaluate each site on its merits, hammering the market research to find out exactly what the target market wants and needs, adding that the likes of Caltex, Subway and KFC, to name a few of the businesses that will share upcoming sites with Stellarossa, “don’t move into an area if they don’t think it’s going to work”.

The second drive-through Stellarossa project, due to open at Beenleigh in April-May 2019, is a very different beast. It will be a full sit-down cafe model, possibly licensed, as well as a full drive through — two cafes in one.

Even more exciting for Darren, it’s on track to be the first Stellarossa ‘co-ownership’ model, which will play a big part in the company’s franchise investment plans going forward. Stellarossa and the franchise owner will be partners, sharing risk and reward according to the proportion of their individual investment. This will also drastically lower the initial investment cost for the new business owner, who also gets an experienced, capable and dedicated partner as a bonus – Stellarossa HQ.

“We’re just in the early stages as yet, but we’re going to be partnering up with franchisees on a case-by- case basis,” Darren says. “A partner will be able to come in, whether they purchase 20 per cent, 40 per cent, whatever the percentage may be in their circumstance. But we’ll be holding the lease — putting our money where our mouth is.”

“There will be an extensive agreement associated with each partnership and if someone finds it’s not for them, they will be able to get out. However, he stresses that the selection process for prospective partners should mean that an escape clause won’t be necessary.””

There will be an extensive agreement associated with each partnership and Darren says if someone finds it’s not for them, they will be able to get out. However, he stresses that the selection process for prospective partners should mean that an escape clause won’t be necessary. “We’re drilling right down so they know that while they can do very well in the industry, it will be hard work.”

Darren even envisages the Beenleigh site becoming an ongoing training centre for future Stellarossa partners or franchisees. “We’ll put our future franchise owners or partners through their paces in the store.”

Looking ahead, Darren says there’s the potential for Stellarossa to implement this partnership model at every new site and move away from the “us and them” mindset that can occur in a franchisor-franchisee relationship.

“This is a mindset that I feel is weighing franchising down significantly at the moment. I’ve always had partners and a partnership can be extremely powerful if it’s handled properly.”

How Aaron Riding, owner of Stellarossa Yarrabilba, is engaging with his local community

At our recent Constellation Meeting of the Stars in mid-October, Aaron Riding, owner and operator of Stellarossa Yarrabilba, inspired the room with his Key Note presentation of how he engages with and supports his local community.

Aaron has made it a key pillar of his business operation to contribute to his local community as much as possible, by getting involved in any way he can.

He started it all by joining his local Chamber of Commerce, and says “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for the business. It’s given me access to events, functions and breakfasts, and even free advertising in the local paper.”

Yarrabilba is a fast-growing, family focused region. Aaron explained, “we have around 3,000 houses currently, with a total of 14,000 planned. With the median age under 30, my main focus is to make sure we engage with that growing community for the long term.”

The engagement with the community varies depending on the type of event. “I’ve hosted several business seminars and events in-store, and from these I’ve picked up many regular customers.”

Aaron said another significant event was a fundraiser for Project Pink (a key Breast Cancer charity initiative proudly supported by Stellarossa). “We did a BBQ in front of Coles, which is very close to us, and we handed out 2 for 1 coffee cards. It was really surprising how many people didn’t even know we were right there next door! In a business sense, this really showed the value of a local engagement focus.”

Aaron and his team get involved in many other local community events. They’re featured at the monthly ‘Mingle Markets’ with profits going to charity, and are silver partners for the local Christmas Carols which will attract around 10,000 people as well.

An interesting initiative he undertakes is the Cereal for Coffee, where customers come in and donate a box of cereal in return for a free coffee so that under-privileged kids can have a decent breakfast before they head off to school.

“Yes, we give a lot of coffee away, but we also find that people tend to buy more by adding food to the order as well. So it’s a win-win.” Aaron said.

As a true measure of his impact and commitment to his community, Aaron currently has a Facebook following of 1,200+ for his café, out of the 12,000 residents in the community. This equates to a large portion of the households in the area being engaged with his business, which is a great ongoing communication and marketing tool.

Aaron sums up the impact he and his team feel they’re having in his community by saying, “People are telling us that they do see how engaged with the community we are, and they’re telling us to keep it up. So we must be doing something right!”

The Galaxy – new intranet unveiled!

At the recent Constellation Meeting of the Stars in Brisbane, Ash and Fiona from Stellarossa HQ unveiled the new Stellarossa Galaxy intranet platform.

A great deal of work was undertaken for many months in rebuilding the old system to provide features that enable Franchise Partners to have fast and seamless access to everything they need to run their business to the best of their ability.

At the heart of it, The Galaxy is a one-stop shop platform for all communication, resources and information related to the running of a Stellarossa Café business.

Ash and Fiona took everyone through a detailed tour of the intranet, a few of the highlighted features and benefits they spoke about were;

  • Stellatips – every fortnight, a HQ Operations Support member uploads a new tip or suggestion to put into practice in stores. These are drawn from the collective wisdom, experience and successes of the entire network and centralised in one spot;
  • Home Page – is the central hub; a ‘news’ presentation and repository, enabling quick and accurate access to all network communication and current information;
  • Templates and Forms – those required in all aspects of the business are found here. An example is HR; all related checklists and forms are available and regularly updated here, with a focus on constantly providing up-to-date information and improving the staff hiring and training process;
  • One Convenient Platform – Menus, recipes, supplier forms, stocktake sheets, and everything else a Stellarossa cafe needs to keep its kitchen running efficiently and effectively are here;
  • Marketing Tools and Resources – a vast range of local area and group marketing collateral and templates are available for use, along with examples and instructions;
  • Google-Based Search Function – essential for ease of use, the platform adopts a google-based search to find what’s needed quickly if not using the site’s menu system.

Overall, the business is very excited to release the new platform with all its enhanced features, functionalities and ease of use. Our key purpose with The Galaxy is to help Franchise Partners to increase their productivity, reduce administrative burdens and be more efficient with their time.

Making the administrative aspects of running the business smoother and easier means that our business owners can focus even more of their time and effort on their local communities and the wonderful guests that are right in front of them!

And the winner is…

We celebrate the Stellarossa Barista Competition Champions!

J Steinhardt (Stellarossa Green Square), and Shannon Hendry (Stellarossa Warner), came in runner-up and third place respectively, with Anna Leadley (Stellarossa Yarrabilba) and Emma Landsdowne (Stellarossa Nerang) rounding out the Top Five Baristas in the Network.

Our best five baristas in the network gathered in late September at Stellarossa Head Quarters in Kelvin Grove, Brisbane for a high-pressure test of some exceptional barista skills. To make it to the Top Five, they had to endure a rigorous round of in-store heats in the months prior to the finals, which saw a total of 45 baristas compete across the network.

The quality of beverages produced, and the skills displayed by all on the day, is a clear demonstration of the exceptional standard of coffee and beverage production in the Stellarossa Café network of 22 stores across QLD.

At Stellarossa, we pride ourselves on providing guests with the very best quality coffee every time they visit a store, and judging by the comments and hype from guests on the local Facebook pages, the finalists have been well selected for their delivery of this promise!

All five were tested in their practical coffee making including;

  • Espresso technical skills;
  • Milk perfection;
  • End product consistency;
  • Cleanliness and attention to detail, and;
  • A sensory element considering coffee appearance, flavour and aroma.

How else were they scored in the competition?

The scoring process by the judges is almost a mystery to those outside the coffee industry. The best way to describe it is to think how you’d judge a fine wine, but add to that a theory component, testing the barista’s ability provide a warm guest experience and share their coffee knowledge. The theory judging was broken into;

  • Coffee knowledge;
  • Guest experience and communication skills, and;
  • Overall confidence in their role as Stella Coffee Aficionados!

It was a wonderful day, and a true joy watching our professionals at work when they’re so genuinely passionate about their craft.

Your daily brew is in exceptional hands!

The Stellarossa family gathers again

Stellarossa franchise partners and the HQ support team all gathered again in Brisbane for our biannual ‘Constellation’ Meeting on 23 October.

Constellation events serve as ‘A Meeting of the Stars’; a sharing of ideas, knowledge and inspiration, as well as a means to establish and strengthen the relationships within the community.

Connecting face-to-face as busy business owners on a regular basis like this is essential to rejoice, recalibrate and reinvigorate all in one spot at the same time, according to our co-founder Darren Schultz.

“We know the thought of taking a day out of your business can be daunting to some. But, it’s essential for perspective and insight into your operation, not to mention all the networking benefits that come with it. This is why we hold two important, focused Constellation days a year, on top of all of our other structured support, in-store and external.”

“Today, I really enjoyed our focus on the power of your mind set, and how to harness it in the best possible way to meet the challenges in owning a business. As one of our key external speakers, we invited Shaun O’Gorman, founder of the Strong Life Project, who was inspiring and eye-opening on the topic of resilience and leadership. He focused on how we can all build a better business, and benefit personally from attention to ourselves in those areas.”

The focus and content direction of Constellation meetings always differs, and are directed very much by the needs of the community.

A look at some of the Agenda components of the meeting shows the dynamic yet highly practical approach to Constellation meetings;

  • Marketing Strategies Update,
  • Food Display Cabinet Presentation,
  • Business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators),
  • Return on Investment Strategies (by Canio Muscillo, CPA)
  • New product sampling, launch and training,
  • How to engage with your local community – a Case Study,
  • Round-Robin Table Discussion Session – Idea Sharing
  • And much more.

Topics were presented by a mix of Franchise Partners, HQ Support Team Members, and external Keynote Speakers.

“Our approach is a little different to most. Franchise Partners are the essence of Stellarossa, so we believe there’s no one better than them to be up there in the lights, sharing their passion and knowledge with the group on a specific topic where they’ve seen their personal approach contribute to the success of their business. This is crucial to our collective success.”

“It’s also a great opportunity with all stakeholders in one spot, to ask for feedback and present new initiatives so everyone is always on the same page, and most importantly, so that everyone has a voice in the direction of the brand.”

In wrapping up his thoughts on the meeting, Darren made an important observation regarding the concept of ROI in business, an area he feels is not getting enough attention throughout business ownership.

“What I do not see enough of, is franchise networks being up-front about exit strategies from day one. In my view, any successful business investment must be accompanied by short, medium and long term goals, including a plan around exiting the business. We do this as a standard process with any new Franchise Partner coming into the Stellarossa family.

We held two sessions on exit strategies and timing at this Constellation to remind Franchise Partners to always keep an eye on the bigger picture. At the end of the day, our network’s success all hinges on an effective and lucrative business model; an integral part of which, is capitalising on the investment at the right time. Too often, small business owners begin exit planning at the moment they decide to sell, and that just doesn’t do the investment, the business, or the brand, justice.

A good franchisor has no reason to be fearful of talking about your goals for exiting, at the very moment you are buying in to the business.”

Stellarossa cafés are all set for south east Queensland regional growth

Future SEQ 2043

Leading demographer Bernard Salt is predicting dynamic population growth in the SEQ region culminating in an expected 5.5 million people calling the golden triangle home by 2043.

This is the key takeaway from the research report he is due to release at a special event in Brisbane on 23 October Future SEQ.

This is especially of interest to us all here at Stellarossa, as of course, we’re proudly SEQ growth focused!

Seq Brisbane Sunshine Coast Gold Coast Toowmba Seq2043 Stellarossa Franchise Cafe
While 2043 is certainly a way off, that type of growth does not happen overnight. We’re already seeing this growth with population and development booming in a number of areas. This type of growth lays excellent foundations in the form of market opportunities for retail and services provision.

Constantly on the lookout for exciting opportunities where we can put our Stellarossa café roots down, we already knew that SEQ was the place to be. With 20+ locations already scattered through the region we’ve got fast-growth area locations we’ll be opening cafes in Mt Cotton, the Sunshine Coast, Springwood and more.

In addition, some key aspects of Bernard Salt’s research highlighted;

  • Implementing a rapid rail network linking Brisbane, Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba in less than 45 mins,
  • SEQ to have a population by 2043 equivalent to the current Melbourne or Sydney today (5.5million),
  • It identified a natural advantage in that rather than being a centre with even spread outwards (Melbourne or Sydney), SEQ will have several large ‘hub’ centres that are independent but connected,
  • SEQ predicted to grow by around 80,000 per year,
  • The largest population growth driver will be overseas migration, as it is now.

Courier Mail 5th October, 2018

How do we all benefit?

We’re continuing with our laser-like focus on SEQ for new Stellarossa café openings. This type of focus gives a franchise company strength as we’re not stretching the reach of our resources, which is a common challenge for many café style franchise brands in rapid expansion.

With a great product mix seen in a well-costed, profitable menu, this is further enhanced with controlled operating and labour costs. Knowing through such extensive research backed data, that our primary area of expansion is more than a match for the growth we’re seeking, it’s clear that our methodical SEQ centric approach is solid.

If you’re ready to look at getting into business in the high-growth South East Queensland region, then maybe becoming part of our growing family here at Stellarossa is for you!

The Stellarossa Barista Champion Competition

21 September 2018

The best baristas in the Stellarossa family are meeting at HQ in Brisbane on 21 September to face-off for the right to be called Barista Champion 2018!

All the practice and planning is done, and now all that’s left is to compete for the five finalists;

  • Erin,
  • Shannon,
  • TJ,
  • Emma, and
  • Anna.

The competition is broken into two award parts;

  • Nine (9) Coffee beverages made by each and judged,
  • One (1) signature drink made by each and judged.
  • There will be prizes for first, second and third respectively for the nine (9) beverage judging, as well as prizes and awards for the best signature drink.

That Coffee Feeling

Do you know that feeling when you are just hanging for a great cup of coffee – like, really hanging for it…

And you walk into your local and the feeling of joy overwhelms you when you see that awesome barista who makes it just the way you like it, is standing there ready to unleash the machine on your behalf?

It’s a feeling so many coffee lovers get, and one we always keep in the back of our mind!

We got you.

Stellarossa, Coffee and Community

Of course our business is synonymous with coffee and coffee based beverages. This competition is important as it provides an opportunity for wonderful team members amongst many of our cafe locations across the state, to come together and be recognised for their outstanding abilities and passion for making first class product for our loyal customers.

We very much believe that community is the core of our business. Every Stellarossa cafe is reliant on, and serves a tight local community of customers who we aim to put a smile on their face every single day.

This doesn’t happen automatically, as it is due to the efforts of people like TJ, Anna, Shannon, Erin and Emma, and so many others, who have developed their craft to the point where they are in a elite group of team members delivering exception al value every day.

And today, we celebrate all of them!

All the results, news, photos and video soon…

The 5 things that make a great café business

We love helping entrepreneurs get into a café business of their own. Of course, we are biased in that we think you should be doing it with us!

But, whichever way you do it, we’d like to think that we can help in some way to give you the best chance of success – no strings attached.

That’s why we created a short and sweet little booklet to focus in on five (5) of the things that make a great café business.

There is always a lot of noise from all different people who are qualified and not, on how you make a success of any business. We like to zero in on the ‘big rocks’, the things that really matter and make a difference to success in a café business.

Some of these things are in decisions before you even open the door, and others relate to daily operations and all in between.

We’ve focused on how you get these things right;

  • Location,
  • Buying power,
  • A profitable menu,
  • The one-percenters,
  • Being the face of your business.

We hope that sharing our knowledge and experience gained over the many years in the coffee industry, can steer you in the direction that best for you.

Who knows, maybe that’s in our direction!

Grab your copy of The 5 things that make a great café business by filling in your details to get access to the book.


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Stellarossa Warner

The balance of the Stellarossa café business system

We look at what we do here at Stellarossa as being very much about striking the right balance for our community of franchise owners.

We’re firm believers that a great franchised cafe business system can only be achieved when it allows for individual owners to put their stamp and influence on their cafe. And even better, while maintaining the integrity of a larger brand, it is not actually that hard to do!

At the heart of everything, business is about people, and nobody responds to inflexible and arbitrary restrictions, let alone on how you run a business! Yes, general brand standards and parameters are in place to maintain the integrity of our collective brand that we put so much into. But our approach is one of common sense, guided by the common purpose to be the best possible local cafe in the communities we are in.

Our balance

We believe we have taken the best that a franchise cafe system has to offer, with;

  • Buying power,
  • Mentoring and support,
  • Training,
  • Brand presence,
  • Site selection,
  • Shop fit expertise, and more.

But, we’ve been able to adapt our approach to business so that individual franchise owners joining us, are still front and centre in the way their cafe fits into their local community and their lives.

Nothing makes less sense to us, than insisting that a poor performing product MUST be sold into a community that are voting with their feet. Sometimes a product or service offer may work great in other communities, but just not always in every community.

Our balance approach means we’re realists on this stuff – we make a decision together on what’s best for your business, and we move on!