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Nearly 250-Unit BIGGBY® COFFEE Drives Franchise Development Success with Dedicated Area Representative Team

As the coffee brand seeks to make its purpose-driven brand more accessible to customers nationwide, BIGGBY’s development team is growing with the help of strong and enthusiastic area representatives.

By Sarah Baumann1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 1:13PM 04/05/21

BIGGBY® COFFEE was founded on the principle that specialty coffee should be accessible to everyone. Co-founders and co-CEOs Mike McFall and Bob Fish believe that coffee brings people together, and that belief has been driving the brand since its inception in 1995. Coffee lovers across the brand’s home state of Michigan have grown to love BIGGBY® COFFEE because of its warmth, accessible menu and commitment to the communities in which it serves. Now, as the brand accelerates its reach outside of the Wolverine state, BIGGBY’s leadership is building its area representative team with dedicated, enthusiastic members that desire to give back to their communities and grow with the brand.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, BIGGBY has had an impressive year. In 2019, the development team set a goal of 50 locations sold for 2020 — by the end of Q3, BIGGBY has already surpassed that goal with 67 locations sold. BIGGBY’s Chief Development Officer, Lisa Oak, said that in her years of franchising, she’s never seen numbers like that for a brand of BIGGBY’s size.

“I come from Subway, where big numbers are ordinary,” said Oak. “The progress of this company is staggering to me. Coffee is such an amazing category, and our coffee is special. Customers are responding well to our brand and becoming franchisees themselves. We really pride ourselves on the fact that our prospective franchisee can be anyone; people who love our coffee and what we’re about can truly be successful with us.”

Much of BIGGBY’s recent success is predicated upon how leadership has structured the team. The coffee brand’s development team is supported by a network of area representatives that are in charge of outreach, recruitment and overall franchisee support in their respective regions. From area operations to business planning, these representatives are critical to BIGGBY’s growth and development. BIGGBY’s Director of Franchise Development Tony DiPietro says many of these representatives are former franchisees themselves who are looking to grow their careers with the brand.

“Our area representatives dedicate half of their time to franchise development and the other half to supporting existing franchisees,” said DiPietro. “While development is incredibly important, you can’t grow successfully without a network of franchisees that feel supported within the brand. One thing we’re proud of is that approximately half of franchise sales are from existing owners. As a franchisor, that’s huge because it speaks to validation and customer satisfaction. If they’re willing to reinvest and buy another franchise, that’s a major win for us.”

The most important aspect of the area representative team is that their focus is to build relations, not simply to sell the brand. As a brand that prides itself on being a part of the communities in which they serve, BIGGBY leadership hires their representatives in the regions they are targeting. Oak says a big part of their success in the past year has derived from their representatives’ ability to relate to entrepreneurs in the community.

“At the end of the day, development shouldn’t be about sales,” said Oak. “I think our numbers really show what it means to build with a community. Prospective and current franchisees take note of that, and as our representatives continue to build their regions, it's critical to foster that community. That’s why when we accept people into our area representative program, there needs to be a commitment to the company’s goals, culture, traditions and values as well as the ability to own that, live it and share it. ”

DiPietro says a big part of the brand’s success in attracting both franchisees and area representatives is BIGGBY’s culture around coffee. While so many coffee brands can ostracize potential customers because of their inaccessible menus, BIGGBY is about bringing coffee to everyone. A welcoming environment and good coffee ensure that BIGGBY customers feel comfortable with the brand.

“The minute you walk into one of our locations, you can tell that we’re different,” said DiPietro. “Not only does it feel different from a customer experience, but our locations physically look different. We use warm, energetic colors throughout our branding. Our stores are really anything but pretentious.”

As leadership looks to the future, the goal of 1,400 new locations by 2028 seems promising. Oak says that the area representative program will be critical to that growth. BIGGBY currently has eleven territories that are available for representatives, and there is already a growing line of veteran franchisees enlisting in the program. 

Right now, BIGGBY is targeting Central Wisconsin; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Greater Indianapolis; Greater Cleveland; Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati; Central Kentucky; Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; Northeast and Central Florida; and multiple regions in Michigan including Western Michigan, Metro Detroit and the “Thumb Region.”

“A big part of our growth strategy involves our area representatives and what they’ll be able to accomplish in their respective regions,” said Oak. “We have a great sales team that works in the home office and decentralized throughout various marketplaces. Participation from current franchisees is already playing a role in the growth of the program.”

As BIGGBY continues to grow, both Oak and DiPietro are excited about the brand’s prospects. Prospective franchisees should consider how they would want to grow their business and the level of involvement they hope to have in their respective communities. 

The initial investment to franchise with BIGGBY ®COFFEE ranges from $189,550 to $378,600, including a $25,750 to $38,750  franchise fee. For more information on franchising with BIGGBY® COFFEE, please visit https://www.bigg