Winning Customer Loyalty

Win Customer Loyalty
The growing demand for specialty coffee has made the food service industry fiercely competitive. As store owners, we often focus too much on consumer acquisition: that is, getting more people in the door. Although that’s undeniably important, customer loyalty has a substantial impact on profitability; that is, getting customers to come back.

Here at Stockton Graham, we understand the importance of customer loyalty. We recently asked Consumer Research firm Mintel to help us study what keeps customers coming back.

Their answer? Coffee drinkers are not only looking for a great tasting cup but the right atmosphere, service, and convenience. By focusing on these four key drivers of customer loyalty, you will be closer to creating a distinctive coffee experience that builds customer loyalty.

Coffee Customer Loyalty

Taste

The most important aspect of any coffee shop is the coffee. Our Mintel study found forty-five percent (45%) of out-of-home coffee drinkers listed “taste” as the top reason they frequent their favorite coffee shop. With that in mind, it is very important to pick high-quality coffee beans.

Service

Having properly trained staff is invaluable. After all, a cup of coffee is only as good as the barista making it. The Mintel study found that barista expertise can make or break a customer’s experience. Eighty-two percent (82%) of coffee drinkers surveyed said “artistry of coffee preparation” was an essential part of their coffee experience and a key driver of customer loyalty.

To help your baristas advance their coffee artistry, Stockton Graham’s specialty coffee brand Dilworth Coffee offers beginner and certified barista training as part of the  Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program. This includes Barista Foundation, Brewing Foundation and Brewing Intermediate courses, all of which allow participants to earn credits toward an SCA Coffee Certificate.

Great service is hospitality that wows and delights customers. Team members are your brand ambassadors and can have a huge influence on whether or not customers return. Promoting a customer-centric culture will make your customers feel valued and appreciated, increasing the likelihood they come back.

Convenience

In today’s always-on-the-go coffee-drinking culture, convenience is important. That means consumers will expect a great tasting cup of coffee wherever they buy it. Yet, even if your shop has the best coffee in town, consumers will go elsewhere if your baristas aren’t efficient in building drinks and moving customers from order to pick up quickly.

There are simple ways to streamline your staff’s workflow to help them work efficiently. And most often, this begins with the layout of your coffee bar and workspace. An effective coffee bar layout will group equipment, storage and cleaning tasks by drink type, which will eliminate unnecessary steps while preparing drinks and also make the workspace safer for everyone.

On the consumer side of the coffee bar, offering mobile payments and operating separate “express lanes” for simple coffee drinks during rush times will get customers in-and-out quicker. This not only creates a positive experience for your customers, but also allows your staff to increase productivity and improves the number of customers your staff can handle each day.

Atmosphere

The Mintel study found that atmosphere vital to building customer loyalty. Your coffee shop’s atmosphere affects how customers perceive your service and quality.

Floorplan and decor have a big impact on customer experience. Leaving clear paths to registers reduces clutter, making your shop appear airy or spacious. Lighting, color scheme, and even background music can be the difference between an environment that feels warm and relaxing or one that feels cold and sterile.

When considering your store’s atmosphere, it is essential to understand your target audience and store’s location. For example, if your store is located on a university campus, you’ll want to consider modern tech elements like touch screens and charging stations as part of your design. Whereas, if your store is located in a financial center, you’ll want to include communal tables for business meetings and televisions so your patrons can keep up with market news.

Atmosphere is one of the few elements of a great coffee experience that can, and should, change over time. Always keep an eye on consumer trends. Visit competitor shops, and regularly talk to your customers about ways to improve their environmental experience.

At Stockton Graham & Co., we blend the art and business of coffee. We are committed to empowering all of our partners to maximize their customer loyalty. For more information about our Batch 0995 coffee or the Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Program, email us or call us at 800 835 5943

Questions for the New Coffee Shop Owner

New coffee shop questions

When starting any new business, such as a new coffee shop, there are hundreds of things to consider and questions to ask one’s self. And of course, someone taking over anexisting café location is going to have a completely different set of questions than someone building from scratch. The list can be very long but below are just a few important ones we’ve come up with to help people get through the tricky start-up period of any coffee shop.

Leasing and Health Code Questions:

new coffee shop questions

Is electrical system up to code and can it handle all equipment? With some machines that require 110V and others 220V, the electrical load requirements for a coffee shop result in a great deal of diversity in usage. Consult with an electrician early in the planning stages.

How many restrooms are required? This will depend upon the size of your space and number of employees.

What is the state of the HVAC system? The general lifespan of an HVAC system is around 15 years. If yours is close to this, consider costs you may incur. Also, make sure your system is adequate for your amount of square footage.

Do you have adequate and nearby parking? If not, it will be difficult for customers to visit.

Do you have the correct number of exits for fire code? According to OSHA: “Normally, a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation during an emergency. More than two exits are required, however, if the number of employees, size of the building, or arrangement of the workplace will not allow employees to evacuate safely.”

Do you have easy ingress and egress? Like parking, if it’s not easy for customers to get to you, they may choose to take their business elsewhere.

Is your signage visible? Signage is very important but it serves no purpose if no one can see it.

Have you considered build-out time including permits avg. (4 mo.) vs. free rent (average 2 mo.)? Permitting of new coffee shop construction can be very tedious and frustrating, leading to increased time of your business not being in operation. Negotiating a deal for a space that is functioning but not ideal at first could be a financially appealing way to start.

new coffee shop questions

Are you in compliance with the Americans With Disability Act? The ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

 

 

Water Questions

Has your water been evaluated? Since coffee is around 98% water, its importance to the success of any café should never be overlooked. A simple test can be performed to determine whether your water is considered soft or hard.

What kind of water treatment system do you need? There are many options in functionality, size and price.

Have you planned for treatment space in your buildout? In many coffee shops, space is at a premium. Make sure you leave enough (and in the correct location) for any filtration system you might need.

Do you need an ice machine? Some ice machines can be large so consider this when planning.

Have you considered the location of a drain? A drain, preferably in the floor, should be located as close to your equipment as possible.

We hope these questions have given you some helpful food for thought as you plan your new coffee shop. Remember, local ordinances vary so always consult your inspector and building codes. As always, we are here to help so if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us 800-835-5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

 

Ready for The Holidays? Part 2

Are you ready for shoppers during the holidays?

(Continued from Part 1)

Back of the House

The goal of any coffee shop or retail business should be to make it easy for shoppers during the busy holiday sales period. They are often in a hurry so they are becoming less tolerant of things like lines and credit card problems so be prepared with regards to equipment, staffing and even flow of traffic.

Plan Staff Levels Carefully

Every year it seems the holidays come earlier. As soon as trick-or-treaters go to bed the holiday decorations start going up. That means shopping and early November weekends are consistently huge opportunities for stores. Unfortunately, for many retailers, their holiday staff is not yet in place. Take a detailed look at staff-by-hour for the first few weekends in November to shift hours into peak traffic times. As we mentioned, shoppers are less tolerant of things that cause them to wait, and nothing is more annoying than a business that is under-staffed.

Training is Key

Often during the holidays, new employees are part time and temporary. Build a training plan for them and stick to it. Start with the company basics and build from there, keeping things simple with “do’s” and “don’t’s.” Also, take out as much flexible interpretation as possible from policies, procedures and processes. Ensure the trainers of these new employees are adequately prepared and make them aware beforehand when they will have training responsibilities.

Make every barista an expert. And we don’t mean an expert only at working the espresso machine. The barista should have knowledge of the coffees and all of your other products in order to answer customers questions. There is no better way to sell a product than with a friendly and informative employee.

Just like staffing, make sure your inventory is maintained at the correct level. Anticipate sales and plan ahead. You definitely don’t want to run out of products you could easily sell to willing customers.

Make it Look Festive

Have a plan in place to change your visual merchandising to your holiday look–don’t just leave it until the last moment. And make your windows pop! The holiday season affords you an opportunity to get new shoppers into your store. Take advantage of the increase in traffic by designing an eye-catching, holiday-themed window display that is inviting. Once customers are in your store, it’s up to you and your capable staff to deliver that magical retail experience.

Don’t forget, Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 25, two days after Thanksgiving and one day after Black Friday. This event, which began in 2010, is growing in popularity as customers come out to support small, local businesses. If you’re a small business, plan to participate and prepare in ways that will help you stand out, whether with promotional signage, social media campaigns or coffee specials. And, of course, be appropriately staffed and stocked.

The fourth quarter is the most critical quarter of the year for all coffee shop owners, so make sure you are doing what it takes to help your 2017 go out with a bang. Happy Holidays!

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

 

 

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.

Putting More Into Product Displays

Coffee shop product displaysFrom a customer’s standpoint, walking through a store can be tricky on most occasions. Not only do you have other customers barreling around from aisle to aisle, you also have to navigate your way around various displays of different products. There might be a cardboard cut-out of a football player that measures up to stacks of soda bottles or a new holiday cookie laid out on a random table. At the movies, you often can’t make it inside without making your way through a maze of candy, soda and popcorn promotions.

As you know, there is a method to the display layout madness in all stores. They are there because you, the shopper, will notice them. This simple reasoning is also much more effective than most could ever even imagine. In fact, in-store displays have been shown to be more effective than price discounting in a study by OgilvyAction.

Their research, conducted with over 6,000 shoppers in the United States during the first quarter of a recent year, showed that 29 percent of those sampled purchase things they didn’t anticipate on before they entered the store. Of that 29 percent of impulse buyers, 24 percent said that they were moved to make those unexpected purchases because of a secondary display set up somewhere in the store. That’s considerably higher than product demonstrations (18 percent) and special pricing/discounting (17 percent).

This group also conducted a survey concluding that special display set-ups fueled twice the number of impulse buys of snack food in convenience stores than low price promotions.

These statistics can be helpful when applied to the café industry. In the past, we’ve stressed the need for product demos and offering specials, but this kind of data is something that cannot be ignored. In terms of allied product offerings, a display rack can be a great way to help those retail items stand out, Mighty Leaf or Two Leaves and a Bud teas, for example. Setting something up directly at the register for that impulse shopper to grab on their way out would be a nice add-on sale.

One strategy would be to have your customer’s path–from where they placed their drink order to the register–stretch along the front of your bar. Lining the area with juices, chocolate covered espresso beans, biscotti, and whole bean retail bags of coffee would give those 29% of customers the opportunity to buy more and will generate more money for your shop.

For more information about successfully running your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

Advice From An Expert

Coffee shop advice from an expertBased on a lecture by Bruce Milletto, President of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and former retail shop owner, there is a list of 12 essentials when it comes to running a successful coffee shop. Take this advice to heart, especially when planning for the busy holiday season this year–it will be here before you know it!

  1. The first and most important is proper business planning. This is the key in any business and especially in the coffee industry. It is important to understand where the industry has come from and where it is heading, to plan and analyzing your financial potential carefully and set short and long-term goals.
  2. You also need to understand the coffee itself. Those who just jump into the industry prematurely can get into trouble fast. It is essential that you understand the nuances of coffee from seed to cup; including origins, growing practices, certification, roasting and proper preparation.
  3. Location is always an important aspect to consider when you are selling any product. As an owner, it is important to determine a location that will bring in foot traffic, provide you with the work space that you need and is easy to find. It is important to make sure the lease you sign is a good one, because signing the wrong lease can be catastrophic to your business.
  4. Your shop needs strong ergonomic design. It is important that your design works for both you and your customer’s needs. You don’t want your space too small that your baristas are running into each other, but you still want to allow your customers to feel cozy and not lost in cafeteria-sized café.
  5. Creating a unique and appealing ambiance is vital to coffee shops. From your menu to your lighting, it is important that you set yourself apart from the chains. Create an atmosphere to attract the client you want to attract.
  6. Equally important is merchandising and presentation. What else can you sell to help your bottom line? Mints, T-shirts and mugs are just a few ideas to help boost your sales and diversify your product list. As a coffee shop, you should be pushing your whole bean sales and focusing on getting your customers to drink your coffee outside your shop.
  7. Your Menu is something that allows you to stand out and draw in new clients. You should select your items and recipes carefully, and keep in mind what your competitors are serving. It is also important to display your items, whether it’s pictures on the menu, posters or displays on the front counter. Show your customers what you serve and offer advice on choices to them.
  8. One of the most important essentials is hiring the right employees. Your employees are the gears that run your shop, so when you hire consider appearance, work ethic, maturity and attitude. Do they have a strong understanding for coffee, and can they teach your customers? Poor employees are the biggest mistake that many operations make!
  9. Going hand in hand with good employees is customer service. You as an owner need to lead and teach your employees by example. Get behind the bar, give them advice and show them how to properly serve a customer, from the greeting to the money exchange. Always focus on the customer’s needs first and foremost!
  10. Something that seems obvious is managing your business. The essential part is that it’s up to you as an owner to see that quality service is produced. Stay on top of your baristas, manage waste and watch for theft. Make sure that your employees are meeting your expectations throughout the shop.
  11. An often overlooked essential is marketing. Nowadays it is imperative to have your own website, Facebook, twitter, etc. Create promotions that work in your specific situation. Point of Sale is also a great way to advertise your product, and it should be used to its fullest potential. Any way to get your logo and name to stick in a customer’s mind (in a positive way) is good.
  12. Finally, our last bit of advice relates to operational systems, budget and cost controls. Create systems for both employees and management, including a manual to read and sign upon employment. This is a positive way to learn and understand company policies and procedures. As an owner, always know your cost of goods and keep an eye on all operating expenses.

Bruce is confident that if you are on top of every area, you will succeed. He says that people will not stop drinking coffee, so stay positive! It is more important now than ever to operate smart and plan accordingly. We at Stockton Graham & Company hope this list of 12 business essentials will provide you with some helpful tips as you continue to succeed and grow in our fast growing and thrilling industry.

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