Ready for The Holidays? Part 1

The Holidays mean big salesIt’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays. Believe it or not, the most important retail season of the year is almost here so it’s time to plan how you can make this busy time a success.

The holiday season can be a challenge for all retailers. There are lots of long hours, more than enough stress and–we hope–lots of shoppers. But, before you get overwhelmed, remember to focus on the opportunity the holidays present. Studies show that 40% of sales during the six weeks prior to Christmas are a result of retail purchases and you don’t want your business to miss out. 

A few things to keep in mind as we approach the holidays:

  • Thanksgiving used to be a weekend of sales and promotions but now it is now much of a month.
  • Thanksgiving is on the 23rd, so that leaves 31 shopping days until Christmas.
  • Week 3 and 4 of November will be big.
  • Hanukkah is earlier this year: December 12-20.
  • Black Friday has been surpassed by 12/23 as the biggest shopping day of the season.

Last year Christmas was on Sunday so it affected shopping a bit. This year it is on Monday so the Friday and Saturday before (the 22nd and 23rd) will be huge shopping days. People will be out and about so give them a reason to stop in and visit you. A break for coffee is a perfect way to make a hectic shopping day more enjoyable. The day after Christmas is also expected to be big but the remainder of that week will be insignificant.

There are so many things to consider during this season we have broken this article into two parts: front of the house issues and back of the house issues.

Front of the House

Host an Open House

Though retail sales are at their highs during the holidays, they don’t generate themselves. Promoting bulk coffee and retail coffee sales is key. One great way to do this is by hosting a pre-holiday open house to showcase upcoming seasonal features to your customers. Begin promoting your pre-holiday open house in October, with a plan to hold the event in early November. This gives your customers time to become aware of the event. A few weeks prior to the event, have employees remind customers of the time and date as they come in each day. Also, advertise your event details with signage near the entrance so everyone sees it as they come and go. Lastly, be sure to post it on your shop’s website and social media page. Social media is the easiest way to reach out to your whole customer base, so it is critical to have all details and updates posted on Facebook and/or Twitter. While promoting, consider mentioning free samples and giveaways and/or raffles which will take place at the event to help encourage your customers to attend.

So, what do pre-holiday open houses usually consist of? As mentioned before, this is a great time to emphasize your bulk bean program. Let guests know that a retail bag makes a perfect stocking-stuffer or a gift basket item. Also, people tend to do a lot of entertaining this time of year, whether it is hosting holiday parties or hosting relatives. A fresh roasted retail bag of coffee or two would certainly be a great thing to keep on hand. Live music is always a nice touch during the holidays, especially if you can have some during shopping hours. It’s a perfect way to attract the attention of passing shoppers.

Introduce Your Seasonal Specials

Hosting an open house is also a great way to introduce your upcoming seasonal features to customers. If you plan to bring in seasonal coffees, arrange for samples to be available and brew a few pots so your customers can taste-test what you plan to bring in. This allows you to receive feedback, as well as collect pre-orders from customers who don’t want to miss out on your limited-time offer. If you’re a bakery, perhaps consider having apple pie or other baked goods available so customers can sample and pre-order their baked goods to pick up the week of Thanksgiving. The main objective of any pre-holiday open house is to get your customers excited about the upcoming holiday features you will be offering, while also convincing them to come to your store, as opposed to competitors, during the season.

Show Appreciation for Your Regular Customers

Business aside, an open house get-together is a perfect opportunity to have fun in a laid-back environment and to say “thank you” to the people who generate a large portion of your sales. Let them know that this is not something that is designed to pressure them in to buying more, but a time to relax while enjoying a friendly, entertaining atmosphere with you, the shop owner. Nothing grows business better than strengthening relationships with customers.

Stockton Graham & Co.’s founder and former retail coffee shop owner, Jeff Vojta, said he would always hold a pre-holiday open house during this time of the year. “There is no better way to make your customers aware of what seasonal products you will be offering,” he says. “Make the most of this opportunity to promote your retail program while it’s at its highest potential.”

To be continued…

For more information about how we can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Whole Beans at your Coffee Shop

Whole Beans at your Coffee ShopAre you selling coffee as whole beans in your café? You should be.

Whole bean sales have the potential to dramatically increase your total sales, yet ironically it remains one of the most underrated and missed opportunities by many specialty coffee retailers.

 

One of the most common misconceptions, when it comes to selling retail coffee, is that it is encouraging customers to stay at home and not come into your shop. The reality is this: of the 300 million cups of coffee Americans drink each day, about three quarters are brewed at home. This means that if customers are inevitably going to drink someone’s coffee at home, it might as well be yours. This also does not replace the fact that customers will still need to come to your shop for espresso-based and other specialty drinks, which they are typically unable to make at home. A successful retail program does not require a lot of extra time, work or marketing. A simple countertop or shelf display will draw the attention of your customers and have them asking questions in no time!

Survey says...

So, what type of revenue can a retail program bring in? The Specialty Coffee Association found in a study that 54% of the adult population of the United States drinks coffee daily (typically in the morning). So, if you have 150 customers a day, then about 75 of them drink a minimum of seven cups of coffee a week and it could very well be at home. This statistic really gives you an idea of the amount of sales you can acquire, even when the customer is at home.

A weaker whole beans program probably sells around 15 pounds per week (with an average retail sales price of $15.00 per pound), which translates to about $225 per week and about $900 per month in whole bean sales alone. A stronger retail program has the potential to bring in upwards of $4,000 a month.

Loyalty equals guaranteed sales

Apart from an increase in your bottom line, another major aspect that a successful retail program can bring is customer loyalty. It’s no secret that there are a lot of choices when it comes to coffee. So anytime one of your customers is not invested in your coffee, you are at risk of your customer being poached by a competitor.

The best way to avoid this is to keep them invested in you, even when they walk out of your door. A simple way to think of it is; each time they drink a cup of your coffee at home, that’s one less cup of someone else’s coffee that they’re drinking. Like any product, the more and more a customer gets comfortable with it, the more likely they will continue to purchase it.

What’s the best way to set up a retail coffee program in your shop? As mentioned before, it does not take much. Start small, with a few choices (perhaps your house blend, a popular flavor and a favorable single origin) — there’s no need to overwhelm or confuse your customers right from the get-go.

Once you notice trends or your customers start making requests, feel free to make additions to your selection. Display your beans in a noticeable area, but make sure it’s not too obnoxious – the goal is to use your whole beans program as an up sell. You don’t want it to distract your customer from the rest of your menu. Most importantly, educate your staff. It is likely your customers will ask questions or recommendations before they pull the trigger on a purchase, so make sure your employees are knowledgeable about all the blend components, origins, taste profiles, etc.

Stockton Graham & Co. recommends our specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee for customers looking to add a whole bean program. Started in 1989 in Charlotte NC, Dilworth Coffee is one of the leading independent coffee brands in North Carolina, according to a 2016 study by Mintel.

To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Featured Coffee: Our New Costa Rica Tarrazú

Costa Rica TarrazuThe coffee of Costa Rica has long been considered among the best in the world. When the last crop from the country ran out and it was time to select a new one, we tried numerous samples to find one that lived up to our standards. We are excited to share our latest discovery.

“For our new coffee from Costa Rica we selected this one from La Pastora mill in the famed Tarrazú region,” say Brad Kirby, our Director of Coffee. “Clean and sweet, it has a pleasant acidity and light body, while the aroma and flavor contain notes of fine Swiss milk chocolate. We roast it to a light-medium roast to best accentuate its delicate flavors and complexities.”

Cupping Attributes:
AROMA: Cocoa, Cherry
BODY: Silky, Well-Rounded
FLAVOR: Tart Cherry, Milk Chocolate
ACIDITY: Balanced, Bright
AFTERTASTE: Refreshing, Clean

Sourcing

This coffee originates from the region of Tarrazú, which is located in the central part of Costa Rica and just to the south of San Jose, the capital city. There, coffee trees flourish in volcanic soil on slopes facing the Pacific Ocean side of the country. Coffee is grown at altitudes of 1200-1900 meters and harvested from November to March.

This coffee is grown by a number of small farmers from eight communities in Los Santos area of Tarrazú. They bring their crops to the La Pastora coop mill, which is recognized among Costa Rican producers for its coffee of exceptional quality and has been in existence for more than 50 years. With stringent quality-control measures during processing, high-quality beans are wet-processed (washed) and achieve a standard of excellence that has few equals among Central American coffees.

Heritage

The coffee industry in Costa Rica dates back to 1779, when seedlings imported from Cuba were planted in the Meseta Central region. The industry grew slowly until the 1840s, when a British sea captain sent several hundred-pound bags of coffee beans home. This led to an appreciation of Costa Rican coffee and the British developed an interest in promoting it. They invested heavily in the country’s coffee industry and the U.K. becoming the principal customer for exports until World War II. Today, the popularity of Costa Rica coffee is evident by the country’s #15 rank among coffee countries, with nearly 1.5 million 60-kilo bags exported.

For more information about carrying our Costa Rica La Pastora Tarrazú or any of the other fine offerings from our Batch 0995 line in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.