Kolache Factory currently has 57 stores in nine states. From the Los Angeles-area to Norfolk, Virginia, and Greenville, South Carolina, and of course, a strong presence throughout the Lone Star state, franchise owners are bringing kolaches to the masses coast-to-coast. There are currently 31 franchise stores and 26 company-owned stores, with more stores scheduled to open this year. The successful and growing Houston-based chain serves up a Czech recipe that seems to be sweeping the country as the “new generation of donut” – kolaches. Homemade and handcrafted puff pastries, kolaches are stuffed with fruits, meats and cheeses and designed to be eaten “on-the-run.”
In 1982, John Banks and his wife jumped in head first when the opportunity arose to own the Kolache Factory name. The new franchise owners put in the countless hours to assemble the infrastructure to turn the company into a franchise – and franchisees were lining up to open in big cities. Marketing, training and vendor agreements proved to be a learning curve for the married couple, but like any franchise, once the groundwork is set, the company is prepared for growth and success.
Banks checked in with Entrepreneurial Chef to share some advice on how to build a successful franchise and overcoming obstacles in the market.
Where did the idea come from?
My wife and I used to love going to a small bakery that served kolaches which was right around the corner from a gift shop we owned. One day they closed, and my wife and I decided it was something we could do. Back in 1982, we bought the location and Kolache Factory name for a few thousand dollars. We then spent a good deal of time researching a true Czech recipe that could be mass produced to handle daily demand.
What obstacles did you face going to market, and how did you overcome them?
We had a few. First, people did not know who or what we were. Second, we found we were on the wrong side of the street to catch people on their morning commute. We did a lot of advertising and we gave way a lot of kolaches. Making connections with the community is important to us, so we support churches, schools, businesses and local sports teams. Early on, we also moved our first store to the opposite side of the street, so we could capture a breakfast crowd on their morning commute. It worked!
What were the biggest lessons learned starting a franchise food business?
That you must have the infrastructure and systems in place to properly support franchisees, preferably before you start bringing on new stores. Not only do we do all the R&D and provide a proven product, we offer operational training, site development, vendor agreements and marketing, so that our franchisees can hit the ground running.
What’s contributed to this becoming a successful franchise?
In addition to the corporate support we provide to franchisees, we also see increasing consumer demand for a quick breakfast on-the-go. It helps that our product is different from donuts, bagels or breakfast wraps. It’s easy and not messy to eat and customers love that!
What’s the hardest part of running a franchise food business?
Keeping costs down is a constant challenge but we are committed to offering our franchisees and customers the best products at the best price, so we must remain diligent about watching our pennies and delivering a great value.
For others wanting to start a franchise food business, what’s your advice for them?
Be realistic about what it is going to take to build a successful franchise, which is, a lot of time, hard work, and commitment. Just like in a marriage, there are good times and bad times in a franchise family. To be successful, you must stay committed and be willing to work through issues and frustrations. The payoff is worth it though, to see something you built succeed and to see others realize their dreams through franchise ownership.
About the Author
Jenna Rimensnyder is a staff writer and content specialist for Entrepreneurial Chef, having studied Journalism, Media, Food Writing & Photography from the University of South Florida. She combines her love of writing and passion for food to capture stories of inspirational food entrepreneurs and spread across the web. Follow along at JennaRimensnyder.Com.