Coffee Rust Causing Concern in Specialty Coffee Industry

rust-photoA coffee rust fungus is generating a lot of discussion in the coffee world. Coffee trees from Mexico to Panama have been attacked by this orange, rust-looking fungus, Hemileia Vastatrix. In April 2013, The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) discussed and explored this issue at their annual Symposium. There was also an International Coffee Rust Summit that month to do the same. The future of specialty coffee could be at a major risk.

Roya, the Spanish word for the fungus, grows on the underside of the leaf on the coffee tree.  The fungus will continue to spread throughout the leaves, preventing the tree from receiving nutrients.  Without the nutrition from the leaves, the cherries that contain the “coffee bean” will not fully mature, and when brewed as coffee, it will lack much of its typical flavor.  The outbreak was fueled by excessive amounts of rain in Colombia in 2008, which spread the disease throughout the country and into more Central American countries. While Colombia is on the mend with the help of various preventive measures, countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras are suffering. When the rust attacks half of a tree’s leaves, the farmer is forced to cut the tree down, leaving it unusable for 3 years and the farm in economic turmoil.

To combat the Roya, farmers are using excessive fungicides and planting rust-resistant, genetically altered plants. This puts a heavy strain on organic coffees, leaving many specialists to doubt organic coffees’ survival.  The focus of the meetings in April were solving this issue, and the UN is even looking to hire a “Leaf Rust Response Coordinator” who will lead the fight against this damaging fungus.

Being the second most valuable trade commodity in the world, coffee’s survival for economic stability is very important.  Some farms have seen as much as 70 percent of their crops affected by this fungus. Central America is already expected to have losses up to $500 million this year alone, which is why the governments of these countries are supplying aid so heavily to coffee farms in their area.

How does this affect us?  Well, first we could see a lack of coffee quality from the Central American region, then very likely a rise in coffee prices.  Jeff Vojta, Co-founder and President of Stockton Graham & Co., says, “Our biggest concern is for the future of our quality Central American coffees. Climate change, in addition to the Roya, is causing even more damage.  Hopefully they have caught this in time, and high quality coffee will still be available to market.”  While we are currently not affected, we have already begun to see the prices on certain coffees from Central America start to rise, which could affect our prices in the future.

For more updates on the coffee fungus crisis, or other news in the specialty coffee world, be sure to check out our website.  If you are not currently signed up to receive our monthly newsletter, register on the website or give us a call at 800.835.5943 to have one of our customer care associates add you to our mailing list!

Information Sources:
Coffee-Leaf Rust is Tough Enemy to Attack – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/13
Fungus Wreaks Havoc on Coffee Crop – Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal 5/14/2013
Coffee Workers Unemployed as Fungus Hits Central America: Jobs – Anna Edgerton, Adam Williams and Marvin G. Perez – Bloomberg Businessweek 4/23/2013
Overheard at the First International Coffee Rust Summit – Michael Sheridan- Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 4/22/13
United Nations Hiring Leaf Rust Response Coordinator -Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine 5/8/2013

 

Stockton Graham & Co. Closed on May 27th, 2013 for Memorial Day

flagStockton Graham & Co. will be closed on Monday, May 27th 2013 in observance of Memorial Day. Please allow an additional transit day as FedEx will also not pick up or deliver on the 27th.

All orders received after noon on Friday, May 24th will not ship until Tuesday, May 28th. We invite you to head over to FedEx.com to calculate the transit days to your area from our ’27612′ zip code.

FOR LOCAL CUSTOMERS: All pick-ups must be made by 3:00 pm on Fri., May 24th. Pick-up orders must be placed by the end of the prior business day – Thursday May 23rd.
We will resume our normal business schedule on Tuesday, May 28th 2013.

The Stockton Graham & Co. team would like to wish you all fun, happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits! (Part 3)

Map-photoIn Part 1 and Part 2 of “Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits in 2013!” we have discussed the importance of preparing to market your store in your own neighboring area to achieve more sales. In part 3 we are going to discuss F.A.T. and how it will help your business grow. By focusing on more Frequent visits from customers, increasing ticket Averages and attracting new customers to Try you out, you can achieve remarkable, compounding growth in your business. That is, focus your efforts and resources on the most overlooked aspect of the Pyramid of Profitability– Promotion.

By now, you have completed your Marketing Area Profile (MAP), your store has been spruced up, your staff look the part and you are aware of your customer’s needs. You are compiling an action plan to FAT-ten your bottom line. Let’s tackle each aspect of F.A.T. with some examples of how to achieve real, sustainable sales and profit growth.

Frequency of Visit:
How often do you see your most loyal customers? Four or five times a week, right?  How about customers that you know, but you do not see every day?  Chances are they still drink coffee every day, just not with you. How do you convince them to come to you every day, and what would that really mean to your sales volume?  One of the easiest ways is to offer incentives such as loyalty rewards or bounce-back offers. The most common loyalty reward is the “Buy 10” card.  After ten drinks your customer earns a free beverage of their choice, and who doesn’t like free stuff?  How about an over-achiever’s card?  This card only has to have 4 punches, but the catch is, the customer must come back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday to receive a free beverage on Friday. Another way to get folks in more often is bounce back coupons for a different part of the day.  For instance, hand out coupons in the morning valid from noon to close on iced beverages, lunch items, dinner-time options etc…

If you convince just one customer a day to visit one more time per week, your sales could increase by over $30,000 per year.

Ticket Average:
This is perhaps the easiest of the all the ways to grow your top line sales. People who are already handing you money are the easiest to convince to spend more.  Remember, “Would you like fries with that?” We are often afraid to ask our customers if they would like something else, we allow our staff to get into churn and burn mode, when really, our customers might actually have wanted a muffin, a granola bar, a cup of oatmeal or a bottle of water. If we instead spend an extra 2 seconds to make sure our customers are completely satisfied, the result could be surprising. Here are some techniques to help increase ticket averages: do not assume the smallest size, if a customer doesn’t specify, ask if they would like the large size.  Did you just bake some cookies, make sure they know these are still hot and gooey.  Offer combos, “Did you know you could get your coffee for just $1 if you buy a muffin too?”  Look for clues that will help you anticipate future needs. For example: if a customer that stops by while out on a bike ride, make sure to remind them that you sell bottled water or other forms of hydration to take with them.

If you can add just 25 cents to your ticket average, your sales would increase $25 per day for every 100 customers you have, or nearly $20,000 per year for the average café.

Trial (New Customers):
Getting a new customer through your door is the holy grail of marketing for a coffee shop.  A large portion of your marketing efforts should be focused on gaining new customers, and building your customer count.  The best opportunity is right out your front door.  Focus on people that live, work and play very close to your shop.  Consult your MAP to see where you can find these people. When you find them, your aim is to get them to try your products. The easiest way is to give it away (again, everyone loves free stuff). If you’re truly prepared with great products and great service, chances are you’ll have a new fan. Win them over with a better experience and they will come back, and who knows, they might bring others with them next time.  Always have coupons or VIP cards with you, these can be handed out at your discretion to potential customers wherever you happen to be. You and your staff should always be on the lookout for new faces, and make sure these people feel extra special the first time they come in. You may only get one chance to impress them!

Each customer can be worth $1000 or more per year, so if you can convince a new potential fan to break their routine and try you out, you have a golden opportunity to grow. Just add one new loyal customer a week and BOOM, you could see your sales grow by another $52,000 in the first year.

By setting very small attainable goals: one new customer a week, increasing visits from current customers by one a day and adding just 25 cents to your ticket average, you could see your sales increase by $80,000 or more in the first year, adding upwards of $50,000 to $60,000 to your bottom line. The amazing part is that it doesn’t stop there. If you continue on this track, your store will be as busy as you imagined, your customers will do the marketing for you, and all the small stuff you used to sweat to save a buck will be a distant memory.

To request your Marketing Area Profile, or learn more about marketing for your area, please call your Customer Care Associate at (800) 835-5943.

This blog series focuses on Promotion or marketing, one of the 5 fundamentals of our Pyramid of Profitability.

Written by: Thom Swain – Business Development Representative

 

Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits

marketing-1Now that we are in the New Year (the Fiscal Cliff has been averted and consumer spending still seems to be on the rise), it is a great time to plan for the rest of the year, if you haven’t already begun to do so.  Marketing your business in the coming months will be a key to maximizing your business potential in 2013.

We fully embrace the idea that the only sure way to grow your business is to increase the top line (sales).  If everything else with your business is in check, your bottom line will grow too.  All too often, we hear customers ask how to cut costs, and that is usually a red flag that all is not well.  If you are only seeking to cut your costs, you may enjoy short-term gains, but often there are consequences like, lower quality that can lead to lower sales.  Instead, if you seek out ways to grow the top line, many of the woes that come with a small or negative bottom line will disappear.

We have found that most store marketing and promotions goals are ultimately designed to:  convince your customers to visit more often, sell them more stuff and get new customers in the door.  We refer to these as “Frequency,” “Ticket Average” or “Average” and “Trial.”  Just remember “F.A.T.” for a FAT bottom line. We believe these goals are important to any specialty coffee shop regardless of their size, location or years in business and are a central part of building a successful and sustainable specialty coffee operation.

Nearly every business ever invented has needed to market itself in one way or another, and in our industry, the best type of marketing is done locally, in person and by the owner/operator.  We call this Local Store Marketing or Neighborhood Marketing.  LSM quite simply means you market to nearby businesses, neighborhoods, schools, offices etc.  It also includes marketing within your own store. As with all business tactics, good marketing begins with strategy… the marketing plan.

Before you can begin to develop a marketing plan, it helps to know who your target audience is.  We have developed a guide to help you, called the Marketing Area Profile or MAP.  This is the first big step in working to increase your sales, average ticket and profitability.  The premise behind the MAP is to help you build upon your core strengths using the area surrounding your store, which offers the greatest opportunities for building and sustaining your business.  While it might seem detailed, we believe it’s critical to help document your current situation, competition and areas for growth. You may also discover that these questions will help you think about marketing opportunities you may have underutilized in the past. Understanding your specific circumstances and customers should help you to position them as strengths. Once you know your strengths, you can leverage them as effective marketing messages to build sales!

Having operated coffee shops ourselves, we understand that sometimes the thought process of building these programs can seem overwhelming. Remember that no successful excursion starts without a great MAP. We start there and then we can help you to break the process down into smaller, more attainable goals and targets that can be sustained over a long period of time. To request your Marketing Area Profile, please call your Customer Care Associate at (800) 835-5943 and let them know you want the road MAP to success!

Read more with Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits in 2013 Part 2 and Part 3!

Written by: Thom Swain – Business Development Representative

Stockton Graham & Co. New Year’s Hours!

New-Years-to-go-cupStockton Graham & Co. will be closed on Tuesday, January 1st for New Year’s. FedEx will also not pick up or deliver on that date in observance of the holiday [read more]. We encourage all customers to order early and stock up, as FedEx’s normal shipping transit times are not guaranteed during this time of year due to tremendous increases in their overall package volume.

All orders received after noon on Monday, December 31st will not roast and ship until Wednesday, January 2nd. FOR LOCAL CUSTOMERS: We request all pick-ups be made by noon on Monday, December 31st.

We will be conducting a physical yearly inventory starting at 12pm on Monday, December 31st and WILL NOT be processing any orders that afternoon.

REMINDER: Customers, send email orders to: orders@stocktongraham.com. If you email an individual, be sure to copy orders@stocktongraham.com. This is to ensure your order is processed on time if someone is out traveling, visiting customers or away from their computer. Your emails should be confirmed. If you haven’t received confirmation within one day, call to secure your order.

We will re-open and resume our normal operating schedule on Wednesday, January 2nd. To track your packages, head over to FedEx.com. All of us at Stockton Graham & Co. wish you a wonderful New Year!

Don’t forget we are also closed on December 24th and 25th for Christmas, read more here.

Read our other New Year’s themed blogs:
New Year’s Promotions for your Coffee Shop
Prepare your Cafe for 2013 New Year’s Resolutions
Top “New Year’s Resolution Friendly” Cafe Recipes