Giro Maurici was living and travelling in Spain eight years ago with his wife when he stumbled across chocolaterias and decided to recreate the concept in Australia. Now San Churro is a franchised network of 30 stores which turned over $30 million last year.
Maurici explains why he decided to run a franchise, how the stores target women with a sexy monk and why Melbourne is the toughest place in Australia to start a food business.
Company: San Churro
Based: Fitzroy, Melbourne
Position: Founder and owner
To the Spaniards, a chocolateria is really the equivalent of the Aussie kebab shop.
We realised we couldn't just copy-paste that concept, but we were just drawn to the experience that we had in Spain.
We saw that there was an emergence of experience-seeking consumers. Consumers who needed a place to meet up with their friends and indulge in an experience which took them away from their everyday lives and gave them almost a travel experience.
We didn't want to compromise on the concept.
We spent quite a lot of time in research and development, trying to make sure that we came up with something that was unique and that would appeal, so once we did get started, we'd be able to roll it out.
There was no mistake behind how we developed the brand.
We focus on women between the age of 18 and 35 as our primary target. You guys are the ones that tend to drag your grandmas and your girlfriends and your boyfriends and everyone else into a store.
We tried to develop a brand that would appeal to that segment and hence our intent to create a good looking Spanish monk that was going to help draw all the women in.
It cost about $500,000 to get started, but that doesn't really count all the development time that went into the year afterwards as well.
When we did open, we had a competitive advantage and something that wasn't easily copied.
Finance doesn't grow on trees, and great operators don't grow on trees either.
We were always a big believer that if we could get the best operators, and obviously capital was an issue too, that we would compete favourably with any of the company owned or the more centrally owned networks that are out there.
We had to get to 15 or 20 sites pretty quick smart, given the investment we'd made in people and infrastructure.
Hats off to anyone who's crazy enough to start a franchise these days, because those first few years are full of near-death experiences and all sorts of things that will come out of the woodwork to challenge you.
Once we had a concept that was bringing happy customers through the door, we found that [franchisees] came knocking on our door.
We don't have, “Please call the franchise recruitment manager” on our napkins or anything like that, because we always felt that would diminish the quality of the experience.
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