Living the Café Dream: A Day in the Life of a Nino’s Franchisee

A good cup of java comes from a well-oiled machine.

Living the Café Dream: A Day in the Life of a Nino’s Franchisee

In Lucio Caldeira’s life before franchising, he was a lawyer – a far cry from his family tradition of being in retail. So in 2004 he decided to change career paths and became a Nino’s franchisee – a move that fits his friendly and generous personality to a tee.

“I love retail, people and the challenge of developing a business. It’s a good feeling that you can make a great cup of coffee that’s purchased immediately and a happy customer leaves; which is very different from the long law process that is often a grudge purchase,” Caldeira explains.

A change of pace


When the opportunity to purchase a Nino’s in Rivonia presented itself in 2004, Caldeira grabbed it with both hands.

“When I was studying at Wits I used to go to the original Nino’s in Braamfontein. I’ve always loved the product and I got to know the franchisor and the model well – there’s a distinct family element to the brand – so I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with. Even now, if I want to call the franchisor, I just call him on his cell, no going through head office.”

Moving on up


Caldeira sold his Rivonia store in 2007 after being approached by a buyer. “It was a very successful store, but it was a little out of the way for commuting and I wanted something closer to home in Bedfordview.”

In 2008, Caldeira found his perfect opportunity: “There was an existing corporate store in Bedford Square Centre. It’s perfectly located in a busy shopping centre with a Woolies right opposite. After some negotiating I entered a partnership with Nino’s and bought a shareholding in the store.”

Managing a franchised cafe


“The Nino’s system is very easy to run with a social, happy environment – so long as you follow the systems,” says Caldeira.

“There’s a lot of romance associated with running a café, but there are a lot of benefits to being a café franchisee. For one, we have good relationships with our suppliers who can prioritise our orders, we have tried and tested systems to follow. Our ops manager offers constructive criticism through store evaluations, and the ops team and franchisor assist with unique-to-store specials. Their success is hinged on our success, so there’s very open communication.”

Combined and shared resources


“One of the best things about being a franchisee is the access to information you wouldn’t ordinarily have as an independent. Our point of sales system logs everything from duration of stay, and orders, to turnover.

“You might think you’re doing well, but you can then compare with other stores in the area to see if you’re really up to par. For example, Nino’s has an 80% success rate with serving coffee in two minutes. My store has an 88% success rate. We’re also able to communicate with other franchisees about staff needs. If there’s a surplus in one store, we can arrange a transfer, for example.”

Knowing what I know

“Looking back on my first franchise, I had a lot of entrepreneurial drive and I was focused on wanting results rather than focusing on the back of house systems – which are as critical to profitability as selling skills.

“The controls and structures of a franchise are its biggest value, so I had to temper my desire to do things my way and practice discipline with the systems. New franchisees also make the mistake of thinking running a franchise is too easy so they stray from the systems to their detriment – a business doesn’t operate itself, it needs a driver committed to the brand and systems.”

How we do it

It’s an unfortunate reality that cash businesses are a target for crime. “What we do to minimise risk is to pay most of our daily deliveries with cash.

This means our suppliers are happy with being paid upfront, and it also reduces the risk because there isn’t a large quantity of money floating around,” Caldeira explains.

On being a good manager


“It’s very important to have good staff on your team. My back of house manager, Rodney Naidoo keeps everything going smoothly in the kitchen and with stock, which allows me to be present front of house where my strengths lie. I’m also big on up-skilling my staff,” says Caldeira.

“Take Valentine Moyo, who started as a dish washer. One day I asked if she’d like to try baking. She now does our baking, is passionate about her job and she’s even a trainer for Nino’s. Then there’s Mike Kumbo, our barista. He’s become such a talented barista that he placed 4th in Gauteng for the SCASA Coffee Competition. Happy staff are loyal, so train them!”


A cafe schedule

  • 05:30:  Rise and shine.
  • 06:15: Arrive at the store and begin preparation for the day’s trade.
  • 06:30: Doors open for early breakfast trade. Over the course of the day deliveries are made, staff are managed, customers engaged with, and stock ordered.
  • 11:00:  Late shift staff arrive and overlap with morning staff for lunch trade.
  • 15:00:   Manage morning staff cash-up.
  • 19:00:   Close doors during the week (17:00 weekends and holidays). Input invoices for purchases, manage staff with next day preparation and cleaning, check inventory.
  • 19:30:   Home time.


Tracy Lee Nicol
About the Author
Tracy-Lee Nicol is the managing editor of Franchise Zone Magazine and deputy editor of Entrepreneur Magazine. She studied her Masters degree in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University and spent the next two years working and travelling in Asia. Her love of people, business and teaching is reflected in telling the stories of entrepreneurs, franchisees and franchisors, inspiring others to take the leap to being their own boss and bringing about positive change in South Africa.

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