How Coffee News® Came to the USA

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Bill Buckley, President and Candice Daum (daughter of founder, Jean Daum)

How Coffee News Made it to Bangor, Maine

In early 1995 Bill Buckley, of Bangor, Maine was employed as a salesperson, selling injury prevention consulting services. His travels took him to the Hub Meat Packing plant in Moncton, NB where he worked with the safety director. Somehow the safety director had received a manual of operation and sample copies of Coffee News. He gave the files to Bill to evaluate for him to determine if this publication would be viable for Saint John, NB. Bill responded that it would, but he would need to do it full time. Bill also recognized it would work just as well in Bangor, Maine and brought the concept back to test market it.

In May 1995, Bill contacted Jean Daum, founder of Coffee News, in Winnipeg, Canada to acquire the franchise rights for Bangor, Maine.

The Risk of Starting Coffee News

While Bill had enjoyed a successful career of over 25 years in the banking industry, the cost of putting two children through college had drained most of the family’s savings. Bill had to sell the family home to pay off the mortgage while managing to keep a 10-year-old car on the road. The consulting job was ending and at the monthly cost of living, Bill knew he and Sue-Ann, his wife, would only be able to survive about seven months before their reserves were exhausted unless he could find a decent job. The idea of taking 25% of the remaining reserves to start Coffee News was risky, but so to was the alternative of doing nothing.

Undeterred, Bill called an old friend and fellow banker to see about getting a small line of credit as a safety net, in the event Coffee News did not work out and to acquire the supplies necessary to get his new publishing career off the ground. Despite having a small income as a reserve officer in the Maine Air National Guard, and no track record in publishing or advertising sales, the banker approved a $25,000.00 line. Bill insisted on putting a limit of $15,000.00 on the line so he would not be tempted to spend more than necessary. Only about $5,000.00 was ever drawn down at any one time over the next few years. Today, the balance on the line still remains at zero.

When Bill signed the loan documents, the banker, who understood the Coffee News concept quite well, shook his hand and commented that he would be extremely successful beyond his wildest dreams, and envied the opportunity he had discovered. That was a real morale builder!

The Start of the Coffee News in Bangor, Maine

The first Monday in June 1995, Bill began selling advertising with a promise to publish the first edition by July 3rd. A total of 27 ads out of 32 spaces available were sold for the first edition and three weeks later that first edition was full. After 12 months, all editions were running nearly full, generating a net income of over $115,000/year before taxes, a sum far greater than he had ever made in his working careers.

That fall, Bill started three more editions of Coffee News including one for Hancock County where Ellsworth was the county seat with a population of only 7500 people, but with 52 restaurant locations. This edition proved to be one of the most successful editions he had started, generating about $700/week in net income, and an advertiser in the real estate business in Ellsworth begged Bill to sell him this very profitable edition. After 9 months of operation, Bill relented and agreed to sell him the edition for $30,000, closing the deal on December 9, 1996.  The operating net income, plus the sale proceeds were worth just under $50,000. Bill was hooked on Coffee News!

The Start of the Coffee News Franchise in the USA

During the year, Bill had negotiated a sub-franchisor agreement with Jean Daum in Winnipeg to operate the United States for her and thus began Bill’s full-time job of publishing Coffee News and selling franchises nationally.

By 2001, it became apparent that a buy/sell agreement was in order to protect the franchise system in the event either Jean or Bill died. This agreement was drafted in January of 2001 and funded by life insurance. Whoever died first would have the rights to buy the other one out. Sue-Ann, who by this time had realized, the future potential of Coffee News and was managing the business and proofing all editions, was horrified to think she would have to manage Coffee News if Bill left early. Jean Daum’s children were also concerned about their capabilities if Jean were to die. However, Candice, Jean’s daughter, had been directly involved in managing the Canadian operation with around 200 franchises and was willing to stay on.

The Struggles Did Not Stop Coffee News

In December of 2001, Jean was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma that was considered quite treatable with an average life expectancy of around 13 years. Her progress was up and down to the point, at one time, of declaring that she had been totally cured, when we all sort of knew that was likely not the case. She lived until July of 2007 or 7 1/2 years from the date she was told of her illness.

Bill struggled to complete the purchase from her estate as soon as possible, but accounting details delayed the final purchase until October 2008. Candace was able to keep everything going in the interim until Bill, legally, could assume control.

The year 2008 started off with a bang as USA franchise sales totaled 239 franchises, or about one a day at $6,000.00 each through the end of August when the beginnings of the Great Recession brought sales to a complete halt for September 2008.

Since then, in spite of one of the worst recessions in the history of the country, Coffee News managed to stay financially healthy and prosper, albeit at lower levels of franchises on the books.

Coffee News, World’s Largest Restaurant Publication

Bill purchased a printing company with the CFO of Coffee News, Garrett Guernsey, in Houlton, ME in 2008. This enabled Coffee News to control printing costs for all USA publishers and some Canadian clients. An online Coffee News products division was created to supply branded items to publishers and keep costs down for them. Staff writers changed over time. Meanwhile, Coffee News continues to win acclaim for being one of the top-rated franchise opportunities in the world and is a member of the International Franchise Association (IFA).

The Coffee News publication has remained identical to it original roots. Today, it is the World’s Largest Restaurant Publication and the largest franchise publication in the world, with approximately five million readers every week in 12 countries around the world.

Bought for Peanuts: How a First-Grade Idea Launched an Entrepreneur

John Business pic

John Dyer, Publisher, Coffee News, Ellsworth, ME

In first grade, sitting in the school cafeteria, John Dyer realized he wanted to be an entrepreneur. “One of the items on my tray was the little cup of peanuts that each student got,” he says. “And I was looking at my peanuts and I thought, ‘You know, I don’t really want my peanuts. What if I were to try to sell them? Maybe somebody else wants them more than I do and would be willing to pay for them.’ I found some other people who didn’t want their peanuts, and I collected their peanuts for free; they were just going to throw them away. I turned around and sold them to this girl who loved peanuts, for a penny a peanut and made like a $1.20. Back in 1975 or whatever it was, hey, I was rich for the day!” John laughs about it. “I’m just kind of wired for that. I like people. But I like interacting with people kind of more on my terms, and less on terms set by somebody else.”

That was a good foundation for a Coffee News® publisher. Since 2011, John has owned Acadia Coffee News®, the Ellsworth, Maine (US), franchise, the second-oldest in the U.S. With the May 1, 2017, edition, he expanded to nearby Washington County. About becoming a publisher, John says, “I was looking for some advertising for the tutoring business that I was doing after school hours”—he was working full time as an education technician in eighth-grade special education—“and that’s when I saw that Coffee News® was not being distributed in this area anymore. And I thought, ‘Whoa, let’s look into this instead.’ ” He went to print in Ellsworth in July 2011, while he continued to work at the school for five more years. “I was building Coffee News®  to the point where I could get done at the school and do this full time.” He left his school job in June 2016, and now works for himself full time.

Is publishing Coffee News® doable with a full-time job? “It is doable,” John says, “but not as completely as it should be done. I did it like a part-time job because it was only one edition. But now, having the flexibility to meet anybody, any time of the day, during the work day, is priceless. I built it pretty much as far as I could build it, part time.” Now he’s free to go to networking events, take phone calls, and meet clients any time of the day. When John started the Ellsworth edition, his daughter was almost ten years old. “I was a single father and she was with me half the time. So, on top of only having the time available after school hours, I couldn’t be running around to sales calls when my daughter was with me.” If it was something unavoidable—either meet then or not meet at all—he took her with him.

“I agree with Bill Buckley,” he says. “In our Coffee News® College, he says you can’t serve two masters. There’s no way you can maximize your potential unless you’re giving it your full attention.”

John’s route to Coffee News® was circuitous. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army, which stationed him in Egypt. “I’ve seen what it’s like for people that, in some areas of the world, have no hope, have no opportunity. And it gives you a perspective when you wake up every day and watch people begging for food outside your base. All I have to do is get up in the morning and go bust my butt, and I can make anything happen I choose. It’s completely within my power and wow, we have a lot more power than we realize.”

Back in the States, he worked on an Alaskan fishing boat, staffed the front counter at a bakery, and drove a forklift at 20-below-zero all summer in three different blueberry factories. He attended several colleges before graduating with a history and political science degree from the University of Maine-Machias.

“I’d have to say ‘perspective’ is probably the key word in my entire life,” says John. “I had to do many different jobs, have many different bosses. I had to learn how to communicate better. I had to learn how to listen better. I needed the perspective to have the discipline to be self-employed, and to be successful at it, which is not easy. You have to be a self-starter.”

Speaking at the Coffee News® College in Bangor in Fall 2016, he said the cliché is true that you get out of it what you put into it. “You don’t have to be the slickest sales person in the world, but if you’re genuine, you’ll earn respect. You have to sell yourself. If people don’t like you, they’re not buying what you’re selling.”

Because of his freedom as a Coffee News® publisher, John could go to all his daughter’s volleyball games. Here’s his advice: “Figure out what you love doing and then figure out how to get paid doing it. It’s not about getting rich, it’s about the quality of life. I have freedoms in my life that you can’t even put a price on. And what a great way of life it is—the Coffee News® way of life! It’s fantastic.”

Coffee News® Takes Their Story to Capitol Hill

Left to Right: Bill Buckley, Senator Collins, John Buckley

Left to Right: Bill Buckley, Senator Collins, John Buckley

Coffee News® took its message to Capitol Hill as part of the International Franchise Association’s Franchise Action Network Conference back in September. The three-day Conference brought several franchise brands from around the world to Washington DC to meet with their respective delegations to educate government leaders on the potential effects of recent legislation on the franchise industry as a whole. Bill Buckley, President and CEO of Coffee News®, along with John Buckley, SVP of Franchise Development for Coffee News® both attended the Conference and met with their delegation during the three-day event.

One change involves overtime pay. Under this change, overtime pay must be paid to any staff member that does not earn at least $47,476/year or about twice the current salary level of $23,660/year. The impact of this change will require that any supervisor making less than $47,476 would essentially need to be demoted back to an hourly pay rate thereby discouraging entry-level supervisors from being promoted up the chain in a timely fashion. As a result, businesses open for longer than 40 hours would need to hire additional supervisory staff to cover staffing needs, thus increasing costs of employing additional supervisory staff or pay time and a half for all hours worked over 40 hours in a week. Businesses such as convenience stores and food establishments would either need to cut back on their hours of service and/or increase prices to their existing customers in order to comply with this change. Higher costs, less service. In addition, goods and services may need to be produced outside of the U.S. where they are not subject to our laws. When this change was introduced in New Zealand and Australia two years ago, lower-wage companies were forced to close, consolidate or automate. The result: Less service and job opportunities for those on the edge of the labor force.

The other change called the Joint Employer Ruling states that if a franchisee violates the labor law in hiring or employment, the Franchisor could be held liable and incur penalties as a result since it would be concluded that the Franchisor had indirect or potential control over those employees. The Joint Employer Ruling essentially impacts the franchise business model as a whole since the Franchisor would indirectly be recognized as an employer of its franchisees, as a result.

Meetings with Senator Susan Collins along with Representative Bruce Poliquin were positive and sympathetic to the legislation and its effects on jobs and franchising as a whole. Senator Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree were unavailable, but meetings conducted with staffers were well received.

 
Bill

How Mopping a Floor Changed My Life

Pictured with Rick is Justin Dalton, Owner of ProTex LLC. An electronic and protection company. ProTex has been a long term customer of Coffee News. Rick says, “It been amazing watching his business grow “.

Pictured with Rick is Justin Dalton, Owner of ProTex LLC. An electronic and protection company. ProTex has been a long-term customer of Coffee News®. Rick says, “It been amazing watching his business grow”.

Rick Anderson, Fairmont and Morgantown, West Virginia

After spending 30 years in the restaurant industry—including various chains like Shoney’s, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken—I decided it was time for me to leave the corporate world and open my own restaurant in Durham, N.C. I’d started my career as a breakfast cook, and my last position had been Director of Operations. So I thought having my own business would be a piece of cake. Little did I know what was ahead of me: The Great Recession.

I would travel weekly from West Virginia to North Carolina to work in my restaurant, which I operated for two years. At night, I kept busy cleaning and organizing, and wondering how the recession would affect my business. One night I was mopping the floor and I noticed this brown paper, in an upright stand, called Coffee News®. I picked one up and started reading it, and looked at all the ads. I thought, “Wow, this Coffee News® is cool. It’s a fun read.” The Horoscopes were right on, and the Trivia was fun. I put it back and finished my work.

The next day, on my six-hour drive back to West Virginia, I couldn’t get that little paper out of my mind. So I called the phone number and talked with the franchisee. Then when I got home, I went to the website. After a few days, I called Bill Buckley, and even called a few other franchise locations. I got nothing but positive feedback. I decided to it was time to quit my 60-hour work weeks and get entirely out of the restaurant business.

I bought my first Coffee News® franchise in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 2009. Starting out was scary but fun. I’m a cold-calling type of guy. I believe in STP—See The People—and grinding to get the sale. I do believe in networking and social media, which I do as well. But the greatest feeling is walking into a business, talking about what Coffee News® can do for them, and walking out with a nice check.

When starting out, the other side of the coin is setting up the distribution locations, which I find the most important step in starting your franchise. I continue to look for more locations and tweak some of my slower ones.

In April 2015, I started my second franchise location in Fairmont, W.Va. No matter what, it beats mopping floors and working 60-hour weeks.

Here are some points I think have been keys to my success:

  • Sell from the heart, and believe in what you sell. You have a product that every business needs.
  • Have fun and be positive every day.
  • Set monthly and yearly sales projections.
  • Take time to visit your advertisers after the sale. When I’m out prospecting, one of the things I always say is, “I’m not here to just sell you an ad. I’m here to help your business grow.”
  • Accept the word “No.” I think I learned more from the times when I didn’t get the sale. Failure fuels success. It helped me determine what I did wrong, and to improve by learning what I could do right on the next call. In some cases, I went back to visit a customer who’d said, “No,” and turned it into a “Yes” simply because some other types of advertising weren’t working for the customer. So they gave me a try.

Call to Action Ads

call_to_actionI cringe every time a prospect or client tells me they want to say, “Mention this ad.” Nobody ever mentions an ad.  Well, I sure don’t, and I tell them that.  It’s actually insulting to savvy consumers to have to do the work of the business owner by helping them track their ads by making mention of it.

And coupons?  Same.  I just lost business because I wouldn’t do their coupon.  Businesses don’t actually want to give money away; they think a coupon or offer will help them track the ad.  If they want to track an ad, they can track their sales revenue, or better yet, have a conversation with their buyers that involve a question about what brought them in to their place of business.

The only problem with that is, consumers don’t even remember what motivated them.  Plus, a consumer will tell the business they saw them in “the paper” which is what Coffee News® is, a paper.  Right there we lose.  If a business advertises in the local daily paper and in the Coffee News® PAPER, and the consumer says “the paper,” the business will always automatically assume that means the daily paper.  Like a consumer is going to go into a business waving Coffee News and announce, “I saw your ad on the left hand column on the back side of Coffee News that I picked up on Tuesday at McDonald’s in Nashville.”

Everyone wants to do a coupon and I simply discourage him or her.  I ask them why they want to give money away when they are already spending money on the ad.  I tell them to start without the coupon/offer and run like that for a few weeks and see what happens.  Works every time!  No coupon, they get results and everybody’s happy!

These are some notes about coupons that I keep in my bag of tricks and refer back to for polite verbiage:

Can I ask what your motivation in extending an offer is?  If it’s for tracking-only purposes, I will strongly caution you against it.  Coffee News® is not a discount-type penny-saving publication.  An “offer” is ok if you really want to give something away and it’s a proven fact that a discount doesn’t reach a noticeable effect until it reaches 40%.   Anything less than that will not move people to buy, it will bring in only coupon-cutters that will shop only if and when there is an offer.  They will just wait for the next offer and will not help grow your regular business.  You will also alienate your potential regular buyers, causing them to think you are a cut-rate business, when you aren’t that at all.

A lot of people want to run coupons in Coffee News® for tracking purposes, but it’s not necessary.

clip-free-couponHave you ever heard of “couponitis?”  It’s the inability of a business to attract customers without coupons.  I try to protect my clients from this awful disease!  “Offers” attract our “C” buyers – those bargain hunters who will only buy on “deep” discounts, and whose loyalty to any store is entirely dependent on what everyone else is offering.  The more coupons/discount sale ads that are used, the more these buyers will expect to wait for coupons before buying.  Coupons do not appeal to the types of buyers who buy at retail, and may actually scare them away thinking the business offers poor quality merchandise, which isn’t worth the retail price.

All that being said, I do actually have 3 businesses running coupons.  One has been in for probably 13 or 14 years and the business is a massage school that offers a 1-hour student massage for only $25.  That’s quite a deal!  Another is an eye doctor that has been with me maybe 6 years and runs a coupon for 50% off an eye exam.  Another great deal.  The third is a discount, dent & bent grocery store that runs $5 off $30.  Not great, but for shoppers already wanting a deal on groceries, it’s another $5.  So, I’d say use judgment.  5% off a rubber stamp at a scrapbook store 3 miles off the beaten path would not fly with me.  That was one I turned down several years ago.

But as it reads above, a coupon doesn’t become effective until it reaches a 40% discount.

The coupons I run also have a short fuse when it comes to expiration dates.  The eye doctor gets about 30 days, but the other 2 are only 2 weeks.   Typically, I set coupons like these to expire in 2 weeks and then we just change the date each week.  If a consumer is going to use a coupon, a shorter expiration will help create urgency.  A longer expiration date will encourage people to take more than one copy from the stands.

We make a commitment to every advertiser to make sure we keep our rates low and monitor our distribution.  Once distribution grows, the rates will also have to grow.  I have found a great balance between our rates and distribution, and that’s how we are able to keep the spaces full for a long time.

 

LisaShawAuthor: 

Lisa Shaw, lisa@coffeenewsmichiana.com

Learn more about Lisa’s Coffee News® journey!

Is Print Media Really Dead?

Merriam-Webster defines print as “a mark made by pressure:  impression

print_not_deadWhen we hear about print media, we typically think about newspapers, magazines and the like, but print media really encompasses a broad range of things. Signage of any kind can appear on the front of a building, on billboards, or on public transportation. There’s also political signage, direct mail, banners, business cards, brochures and even signs to sell your house or car. The list goes on and on.

With the emergence of digital and online media today, there is a perception that anything in the printed form will eventually become obsolete.

This perception has primarily been perpetuated by the fact that traditional hard news dailies were sold on this notion of becoming obsolete and jumped on the bandwagon, in part out of fear, but also in hopes that they could better serve and reach more readers. Transforming their business model, however, had an unanticipated downside. The significant loss in subscription revenue was due to the fact that readers no longer had a need to purchase a subscription as they could get it free online. The trickle-down effect of this revenue loss made it hard for them to pay their staff of writers and cover the large overhead. Some newspapers today have realized this and, in an attempt to recover, are trying to reverse this trend by offering online subscriptions. This will take time, however, to “re-sell” readers on the value since it has already been provided to them free of charge for so long.

When we consider print as an advertising medium, we have to consider everything that falls under this umbrella and understand how they each differ and how we interact with it.

Business cards remain critical in our everyday lives since we never know when we will meet someone who may have a product or service we need.

Signage, whether it be on the front of a building, billboard or on public transportation, lets the public know your brand and what you do or to convey a particular message, such as directing people to your website, who they should consider in the upcoming election or, perhaps just to let folks driving by that your house is for sale.

The emergence of radio and TV back in the day had little effect on the print media industry. Digital has simply become an additional medium to add to the mix much like radio and TV.coffee news reader

All advertising works whether it be radio, television, print, online and more. The smart business person spreads their advertising dollars around to effectively brand their business since they cannot reach everyone online, or on radio, or in the daily newspaper. Each medium has its benefits and targets different segments of the population.

Coffee News® is a niche publication targeting customers close by who have disposable income. This translates to a long-term, loyal customer for the local small and medium-sized businesses who advertise within it. Businesses want to be portrayed in a positive fashion, and Coffee News® provides them that perfect “buy-local” vehicle at an affordable price, and it lasts longer in the hands of potential customers. The only thing to distract them is the ads, no clicks or switch of a dial. Readers pick up Coffee News® because they enjoy it, not because they have to or are necessarily in search of something specific. They pick it up because it is fun and entertaining.

 

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How a Conversation at a Dinner Party Led this Mom to Her Coffee News Career

Lori Danielson (left), Leah Hickman (right)

NEW Coffee News® Publisher – Leah Hickman of Longview, Texas

It was at a dinner party in the summer of 2015 when Leah Hickman found … Read More

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