No stranger to taking on the big players, Tom Potter’s no-nonsense approach to business coupled with tough strategy and guerrilla marketing has made a return to North Queensland in the form of Galactic Donuts.
Boasting a huge selection of handcrafted doughnuts, Galactic Donuts is the brainchild of the legendary founder of Eagle Boys Pizza and his long-time business partner and former franchisee, Glenn Adair.
It’s almost a case of same-same but different when it comes to breaking into the doughnut market, as it was all those years ago when Eagle Boys Pizza first launched.
“The pizza market was underdeveloped when we got into it,” Tom explains.
“We went into markets that didn’t really have a pizza consumption culture. In fact, we broke the ground in about 70% of the markets we went into. Dominos came in behind us. Pizza Hut were already out there in a lot of the city markets but weren’t really servicing the regional markets.
“This (doughnuts) is different. In one way, people know the product but they don’t have it as a staple, once a week treat yet. So, it’s very, very similar as far as we’re creating a new habit for people. The difference is that this industry isn’t as easy to get into as the pizza industry.”
While bringing doughnuts to Townsville was initially Glenn’s idea, it was Brisbane based Tom, who was already monitoring the industry in Melbourne 18 months ago. Tom says if he didn’t do something similar in his Brisbane based bakery, Crusty Devil Bakehouse, someone else would.
“I looked at the doughnut industry in Melbourne and it’s getting really big down there. There’s four big players and I said to Steve, my partner in the bakery, we’ve got to do something about this,” he says.
After a successful product test in Brisbane and a conversation with Glenn, it was decided that Galactic Donuts would make its debut into the Townsville market. With a 50-50 ownership model, it allows each business partner to ensure their individual store caters to the needs of its local community while remaining true to the brand strategy.
“Glenn said to me a couple of weeks ago, ‘we’re not going to sell the lemon curd and white chocolate anymore’, and I said, ‘why not? They’re selling in Brisbane’ and he said, ‘well they’re not selling in Townsville!’ so we took them out,” Tom recalls.
Despite an opening that outperformed all expectations, Tom is under no illusions of the challenges new businesses and businesses in general face now and in the future.
“It was quite a shock to us; we weren’t ready for it. We did nearly 20,000 doughnuts in our first week and it was concerning because we would prefer to do half as many customers and make sure we had product integrity and everything else spot on,” Tom elaborates.
“As much as Glenn and I sat down and agreed on how everything’s going to look, I said things will change and we’re going to have to evolve and change with it.”
Having good business partners is key to the success of Tom’s businesses and the same goes all the way to front line staff. He has nothing but praise for the Townsville team.
“The biggest achievement for me was the high quality of staff. I think we’ve created a pretty good work culture where everybody knows where they stand. We’ve given them a lot of flexibility and we’re very transparent with what we expect. The staff have been very good in Townsville.
“Glenn’s recently decided to scale back his work commitments which has paved the way for our two store managers, Tessa-Dawn Tata and Tangi White to buyout his share of the business.”
The success in Townsville has led to the Galactic Donuts brand to expand already, with a Rockhampton store that opened in August and a store in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley that opened in September.