"My dad owned a liquor store when I was growing up, so I knew all the products. And in college, I was a bouncer at a bar for two years, so I knew what went on at the bar," says Kosta Callas, a Westminster, Colorado-based Bevinco franchisee. These early experiences helped Callas see how the Bevinco system, which audits how much alcohol is used in a bar compared to how much the bar is paid, could serve its clients.
Callas, a 33-year-old former electrical engineer, bought his first Bevinco franchise in 1996 after working for a Denver master franchisee for six months. "It gave me a chance to test drive the business," he says. Today Callas owns franchises throughout Denver and, with partner Ken Gillie, is the master franchisee for Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Buying the master franchise in 2001 has changed the way Callas runs his business. When he first became a franchisee, he handled most of the audits himself; now his two employees take care of most audits. Callas' days currently consist of talking to current and prospective franchisees in his region, helping them develop their businesses or learn about the Bevinco system.
Callas' days usually consist of balancing his roles as a franchisee and a master franchisee. When he has to show a prospective franchisee the ropes, his workday might begin at 6:30 a.m. Otherwise, work for his own clients usually starts after 9, as Callas gets to the bar early to stay out of the way of employees and customers. Once there, he weighs each open bottle and keg on a scale connected to his laptop. He then counts each full bottle using a bar code scanner on his Palm Pilot. After the counting is completed, Callas picks up the sales information and invoices for the week.
Number crunching is reserved for the office. Callas compares the amount of liquor purchased at the bar to what was poured and rung up. With that information, he can tell bar owners how much money they lost for the week. "Most bars and restaurants actually make money on alcohol but don't realize all the profits they should," Callas says.
Callas' Bevinco franchise performs audits once a week for its roster of 15 clients, always on the same day. They try to complete their reports by the end of the week so the customer can have the information before the next audit.
Every day Callas schedules two 15-minute breaks, one for sending e-mail jokes to friends in the morning and the other to play Tetris at the end of the day. "The way I look at it, I'm going to do that anyway, so I might as well plan for it," Callas says.
The rest of the day includes finishing reports, reviewing employee reports ("I like to go over any report that goes out," Callas says) and speaking with prospective customers and franchisees. He ends the day with his family. In fact, Callas recently moved his franchise from an office he was renting back to his home, consequently reducing overhead expenses, sparing him a commute and allowing him to spend more time with his wife and 4-month-old daughter.
Callas likes owning his Bevinco franchise because of the flexibility it allows and the valuable service he believes he's providing customers. "We're needed out there," he says. "I work with a lot of mom-and-pop operations, and some of these places are just getting ripped off blind. They really don't have a tool to help them maximize their profits in that part of their business, and that's what we provide for them."