When we left Starbucks, our first priority was to focus on expanding our café business. After all, the growth of our business can be attributed to our coffee and doughnuts' popularity in their initial homes — cafés like our flagship Fifth Avenue store in Seattle.
In 2011, we aimed to open five new cafés in the Puget Sound area. As aggressive as this might sound, we realized that with almost 10 years of business experience, we had built a tremendous (and devout) patronage that expanded way beyond the regions our first cafés served. Simultaneously, we built the groundwork to develop a Top Pot franchise model that could be successfully replicated outside the Pacific Northwest.
In April 2012, we initiated plans to launch the brand in various domestic and international markets. As of July 2012, our company had grown to 12 company-operated cafés right here at home.
Recently, with expanded café presence, grocery retail demand has spiked for both Top Pot-brand doughnuts and coffee — with all Pacific Northwest Kroger-owned QFC stores now retailing both products. Projections through 2015 will take us to a count of nearly 30 company-operated cafés, reflecting our aim to fully capitalize on the size of our coffee- and doughnut-making capacity.
In 2011, we also realized that our afternoon customer base could be stretched beyond doughnuts and coffee. People wanted ice cream.
In the summer of 2012, we created our own doughnut-ice cream line that captures the Top Pot experience in flavors like "Maple Bar" and "Apple Fritter." There’s even a "Valley Girl Lemon Sorbet" (named for one of our house favorites), and all the ice creams are now sold within every Top Pot café.
Like Top Pot coffee and doughnuts, the demand for ice cream at the grocery retail level is growing and will inevitably find a presence on retail shelves, outside our establishments.
Increase your chances of success
Growth is a crucial key within every business, but charting the direction of your company’s growth is equally important. Breaking away from a pattern that brought you initial success and security is extremely difficult at best. We like established patterns.
But as a business owner, it’s best to remember that risk is an ongoing challenge, not just something you face when you start. No business is immune to external changes; in fact, complacency can ultimately dismantle the dream you created.
So open your eyes. Be aware of every possible change. Change increases your potential for success.
Watch the full story of Top Pot Doughnuts on "How I Made My Millions" Sunday, July 29 at 8 p.m. ET.
Mark Klebeckand his brother Michael launched Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts in 2002. His love of building and designing spaces with his brother along with making doughnuts were the inspiration behind Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts.