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.

Ready for National Coffee Day?

National Coffee DayFriday, September 29, is the holiday that honors all things coffee: National Coffee Day! That means you should have your shop ready to celebrate. So how should you do that? We’ve come up with a few suggestions to help you promote this very special day.

Promote, Promote, Promote

First, nothing gets coffee lovers in your shop faster than the promise of FREE coffee. We suggest a “Buy One, Get One” promotion. Maybe buy one cup of House Blend and get another cup for free, or buy a scone or muffin and get a drip coffee for free, anything to get your guests drinking more coffee.

Another great promotion to offer is a free flavor shot with any coffee purchase. That way they still get the flavors and specialty they want, and you are driving sales. You can also promote whole bean sales during National Coffee Day by offering a “Buy One, Get One” half-off on bags of your specialty roasts, or having a whole bean setup next to the register to promote impulse buys. Remind your guests that when you are closed they can still enjoy a cup of your coffee at home. The cooler it becomes, the more home brewed coffee will be enjoyed, so make sure to target this market with promotions this National Coffee Day.

Education Leads to Greater Appreciation

National Coffee Day is about celebrating all things coffee, and the best way to go about that is really exploring the smell, taste and attributes of our favorite beverage. Why not celebrate by hosting a cupping of your three most popular roasts? Evaluating coffee is done through a process of adding hot water into a cup or a glass of freshly ground coffee, known as a coffee cupping. In a traditional cupping, you could compare and contrast the qualities of different coffees from different countries or even different regions of the world. While cupping coffee, there are five key elements to consider which affect the character of each specific coffee. These attributes are aroma, acidity, body, flavor and aftertaste. Help your guests understand their coffee, and they will become more passionate about coffee, your coffee in particular. (The Specialty Coffee Association Flavor Wheel might be useful with this. You can download it here.)

Highlight Different Brew Methods

An event you can have Friday to help your guests and drive sales is a “brew bar.”  Single cup brewing and brewing stations are popular all over the country. Set up a pour-over station with Chemex brewing, V60 or even a brew rail, use steeping methods like French Press and Toddy, and show your guests what making a good cup of coffee is all about. Remind them they can do this at home and to purchase some of your wholesale beans to experiment with.

By using National Coffee Day to celebrate your shop through specialized promotions, your guests (more informed thanks to you) will be more filled with their favorite drinks, and you will have more loyal guests coming into your shop for drinks and whole beans. The more your guests are involved with the coffee, the more they will depend on you to supply it for them!

For more information about our coffee or how Stockton Graham & Co. can help you successfully run your café, call us at 800-835-5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

From Stockton Graham Coffees to Dilworth Coffee

New Dilworth Coffee bagsThis is an exciting time in the world of specialty coffee. Starting in late May, Stockton Graham Coffees will be sold under the brand name Dilworth Coffee.

Those who know Dilworth Coffee, know that it is Charlotte’s Original Specialty Coffee brand and a leader in specialty coffee in North Carolina.

Why the change?

Stockton Graham & Co. previously sourced, roasted, blend and packaged specialty coffee under two brands: Stockton Graham Coffees and Dilworth Coffee. After extensive market research and customer feedback, we have decided to consolidate our specialty coffee under our single strongest brand: Dilworth Coffee. This will allow us to streamline our business and improve our customer experience. Customers will receive the same high-quality coffees and outstanding service they have come to expect from Stockton Graham & Co. Plus, wholesale customer get the added benefit of offering a Top 3 coffee brand with a growing retail presence.*

In addition to an entirely new look and packaging, all of our coffees, both wholesale and retail, will soon carry the prestigious Dilworth Coffee name. Retail coffee orders will now be handled exclusively through the Dilworth Coffee website. There will be no change to how wholesale coffee orders are handled.

What does this change mean for me, a wholesale customer of Stockton Graham & Co. Coffees and allied products?
All our wholesale coffee buyers now have access to a leading specialty coffee brand with a strong retail presence. Our new curated coffee list includes 60+ coffees, including USDA-Certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, single-farm microlots, rare harvests, Swiss Water® Processed decaffeinated and flavored coffees. The coffees are designed to appeal to a broad array of consumer palates from casual coffee drinkers to coffee connoisseurs.

What’s the history of Dilworth Coffee?Dilworth Coffee
While visiting Italy in 1989, Charlotte NC resident and Dilworth Coffee founder Don Keen had a memorable coffee experience. He wanted to share that wonderful coffee and outstanding service with the residents of his hometown so he returned home to Charlotte and opened the first Dilworth Coffee. Stockton Graham & Co. began a relationship with Dilworth Coffee in the 1990s and eventually became the exclusive roaster for the company in 2010; in 2016 Dilworth fully became a part of Stockton Graham & Co.

As we’ve mentioned, the brand refresh includes a new logo but if you really want to get a feel for all the changes, visit the new Dilworth Coffee in Charlotte’s Fifth Third Center or one of our other locations. You’ll find a new menu focused on espresso and other hand-crafted coffee preparations, a new in-store design and, of course, personalized service based on old-fashioned Southern hospitality. For one of the changes we are most excited about, check out the Shop section of the site to see our new retail packaging. Our coffee already sets us apart from the competition but now our look will do the same. In addition, we are expanding our licensed store program to help spread the Dilworth Coffee name and experience to new markets.

“The new Dilworth Coffee is a modern interpretation of the brand’s original mission of providing exceptional quality and service in a comfortable neighborhood coffee shop,” said Lane Mitchell, Director of Creative, Brand & Marketing at Dilworth Coffee.

“In creating the new logo, we wanted to retain the equities of the old logo, especially in the representation of the coffee bean; but we also wanted to bring it into today’s 4D world by making the logo more iconographic,” Ms. Mitchell said. “In fact, the entire logo centers around the iconic coffee bean, which reinforces the bean as the company’s focus: its heart and soul.”

The new brand visuals include a signature pattern rooted in the natural colors and textures of the Piedmont region of North Carolina. This pattern is integrated into the new store through signage, menus and wearables. It is also now appearing throughout the company’s brand assets.

For more information about the Dilworth Coffee brand or how Stockton Graham & Co. can make your coffee experiences better, please call 800 835 5943 or email info@stocktongraham.com.

How well do you know your customers?

 

Know your customers' needsMarshall Fields, a retailing pioneer, often told his staff: Give the lady what she wants!” That sounds very simple, but you need to understand your customers and what they really want, then offer it. To do this, think about who they are, what they like to buy, when they come into your shop, how they found your shop, etc. And, of course, you must always remember the customer is always king or queen and what they want or need will change over time. You need to stay abreast of these changes while still providing quality coffee, great service and maintaining the very things that make your store unique.

So, how did your current customers find your shop? Where are they coming from when they visit and where are they going when they leave? What do they buy when they are in your store? The best way to find out the answers to these questions is to ask your customers. Many will be grateful that you even asked. Understanding how they found your store (signage, location, marketing, word of mouth, Twitter, etc.) will help you direct your efforts to finding more of them, if they are profitable. Another way is just to observe them to determine how their purchase patterns change on given days or times.

Understanding where customers are coming from and where they are going should help you direct marketing efforts to those areas (e.g. maybe it’s an office building, a school or church), tailoring the products and pricing to meet their needs. It will also help you determine which community activities and promotions might better meet their needs. Perhaps there are events that are popular in your community, such as a festival. Maybe you should have a presence or sponsor on some level. Or maybe your shop is near a popular bike trail or youth soccer fields. Think about creative ways to reach those potential customers.

The most important reason to know information about your customers is that you need to have new customers coming into your shop every week. There are not standard answers or responses to any of the questions, but understanding some of the customer behavioral dynamics will help you tailor your product, price, promotions and ultimately, profit. Customers’ patterns will change over time. Attrition is part of business and you need to keep searching and to find new customers.

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

Iced Coffee for Summer

Iced coffeeWith the rising temperatures, it’s that time of year to start offering iced coffee and iced specialty drinks. Iced drinks can be an integral part of coffee sales during the warm summer seasons, allowing customers to have an opportunity to escape intense heat and cool off while getting caffeinated, especially in the South!

There are several different ways to offer iced coffee these days, and many cafes have decided to utilize the “toddy” method of cold-brewing coffee.  However, there are other methods available that can be utilized using equipment you already own in your shop.

Making concentrates is a popular way of offering iced coffee, having ultimately a concoction that is twice as potent as you would normally brew, then adding ice. Keep in mind that dark roasted coffee tends to yield a smoother and more enjoyable flavor than lightly roasted coffee.

The Toddy brewing process creates a concentrate that you can add to frappes, iced lattes, iced mochas, or just create iced coffee. In this method, which features reusable filters, you add cold water to coarsely ground coffee and allow it to steep for 12-24 hours. Watch our video on the Toddy method here.

The Japanese method is rapidly gaining popularity throughout cafes as the way to serve iced coffee.  This consists of any pour over device (Chemex, Hario V60, etc.) or batch brewers in a shop and takes only a couple of minutes to prepare. This process produces an extremely smooth and flavorful cup of iced coffee, brewing right onto ice so it is only hot for a couple of seconds.  You can also incorporate your drip brewer to produce larger quantities of iced coffee by using the amount of coffee that yields a full pot but only running the half-pot water cycle. Of course, you will still brew on top of a container that has the correct proportion of ice (the same ratio as for the pour-over method).

Iced Vietnamese-style coffee is another great method which requires a Phin filter and condensed milk. Start by pouring a small amount of condensed milk into the vessel you wish to brew into and add coffee (1 rounded tablespoon per 6 ounces at a coarse grind) to the Phin filter. Brew on top of the condensed milk, stir, and add ice. The later two methods are not concentrations, so it is important to get the right proportions every time so you do not water down the coffee.

Iced Americanos will also help increase coffee sales during the warmer months by adding a cool refreshing version of a classic coffee beverage. Simply pull the shots of espresso directly into cool water and then add ice.

From a cost perspective, Toddy produces a larger quantity of iced coffee, running at about .21 cents an ounce. The Japanese method is brewed by the cup which requires a little bit more time and skill, but runs at only about .04 cents per ounce. While the Japanese-method costs less, it does call for more time per cup whereas the toddy is already made and ready to be used.

Iced signature or specialty beverages can also help increase your profit margins during the warmer seasons while standard coffee sales tend to slow down, and also increase efficiency by adding profitable and sought after items. The best way to prepare iced lattes or signature drinks involving milk is to add the ingredients and milk into a cup and pull the shots on top of the milk, leaving room for ice. This keeps the espresso shots from melting the ice and becoming watery, thereby diminishing the full flavor of the espresso. Then all that is left is to stir, add ice and serve.

Here at Stockton Graham & Company we are always happy to share our knowledge about everything coffee related. To learn more about ways to succeed in your store or coffee shop, call 800 835 5943 or email orders@stocktongraham.com.

 

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Three Easy (and Cheap) Ways to Increase Sales

Even if you don’t have extra cash to advertise, there are always other things you can do inside your café’s walls to make things happen for your business. In addition to old fashioned elbow grease, try these simple (and cheap) ways to increase sales.

Be there

Equate your business to a child needing a parent. It can’t grow and thrive without your steady hand to guide it. Being there behind the counter also lets you build instant relationships with regular customers. They will feel connected with you (and dedicated) in a way they would never feel in a more corporate store.

But while being there is very important, a good owner will also know when not to be there. If you need a break, take one. If you need a day off, take one. A stressed-out owner is not going to provide the incredible customer service that is needed. The staff will thank you, too. Trust them to handle things. A mental health day will go a long way in keeping the head clear and can actually benefit the business.

easy way to increase sales in your cafeBus the tables

You can learn an amazing amount while cleaning up. Getting out in the store is a great way to start conversations with customers but it can also be a way to get vital feedback. Find a couple full cups? Maybe there is a problem with the coffee or equipment you were not aware of. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to ask the customer, have the barista make the same drink especially for you and pinpoint what might be wrong.

Chatting up customers as you clean is the key. Have a guest set up a small office and not buy a single thing? Go over and make a sale. Start the dialogue: “Can I get you anything? We have a great new mocha.”

Sample, sample, sample

Want to increase sales on higher ticket drinks? Sampling is the most effective method, by far. In almost every instance, if you give away samples and make one sale from your efforts, you’ve covered the cost of the sample and possibly made an exclusive drip coffee customer an occasional $4.50 smoothie customer.

Diversifying your menu is almost always a good idea, but many times after new additions are made, owners wonder why new drinks don’t move. Chances are, the customer hasn’t been made to want the drink at all, much less know that it has been added to the menu. New products, no matter how appealing in both concept and flavor, must be sampled to prospective customers if a business expects to sell them in higher volumes.

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