Murdoch University staff and Strategic Marketing students were recently given personal insights into the highs and lows of small business ownership by one of Western Australia’s leading entrepreneurs.
Mr Craig Muzeroll, founder of the highly successful MuzzBuzz drive-thru coffee chain, spoke about his experiences with that company and his popular new coffee shop in Victoria Park, Antz inya Pantz Coffee.
He said knowing customers was the key to success.
“I came across the idea of a drive-thru coffee place when my friend Bill opened one in Spokane, Washington,” Mr Muzeroll said.
“I thought he had lost his marbles, but the thing about Spokane is that winters are really cold and if you can roll down your window and get a really good hot coffee, it’s a done deal. The idea went off like gangbusters.
“I told Bill, if he taught me everything he knew about coffee, I promised to open up as far away from him as possible.”
Mr Muzeroll committed himself to learning about coffee, which he calls the ‘most complex organic substance known to man’. After a reconnaissance trip to Perth in January 2001, he decided to make the move.
“Spokane is an isolated market like Perth, and what you find is that if something works in one isolated market, it is probably translatable,” he said.
The success of MuzzBuzz ultimately led to franchising and increased shareholder influence, which saw the company go in directions Mr Muzeroll didn’t agree with.
He decided to leave and start Antz inya Pantz, a small shop dedicated to personal service and quality coffee.
“We roast and freshly grind our own coffee and brew with water from our $4000 water softener and filtration tank. We’ve also recently built the first cold brew lab in Australia to bottle and sell cold brew coffee,” Mr Muzeroll said.
“My first rule of business is to make the best possible product, because if you do, your customers will find you. My second rule is to listen to them and give them what they want. My third rule is to get them addicted!”
Murdoch Lecturer Carol Osborne said she was thrilled to have Mr Muzeroll give his honest take on running a small business and said plans were in the works for more speakers.
“Strategic Marketing introduces students to guest speakers with business backgrounds and real-world experiences – and that information forms the cornerstone of their coursework, developing a strategic marketing plan of their own.”