Build Your Business: Mid-Year Checklist!

ChecklistAs hard as it is to believe, we’ve just about reached the halfway mark of 2013!  So far we’ve made it past the “New Year’s resolutions” in January, a few of the early-year holidays such as Valentine’s day, St. Patty’s day and Earth Day, spring has sprung and now summer is here. Though summer is a time for relaxing, 2014 will be here quicker than you think, so 3rd and 4th quarter preparation can never start too early. Here is a mid-year checklist, to get you and your staff ready for the next 6 months.

Hiring– With school out for summer, part-time opportunities in your shop may open up.  This can be a great way to grab some extra help while other staff members are out on vacation, but often times, younger employees are only available during the summer.  September is just around the corner, so when your temporary summer-employees return to school, make sure your shop is well staffed for the busy season to come.

Training– It is imperative that your entire staff is properly trained. The last thing you want is an unqualified barista in the middle of busy season, so take advantage of the summer and have your staff trained and ready to go before fall arrives.  Stockton Graham & Co. offers all the training you and your staff will need in our Coffee College courses. Taught by certified instructors, your staff will learn everything from pulling the perfect shot, to properly steaming milk, to preventative maintenance and more.  Call today to find out when our next coffee college is available!

Menu Cleanup– Now is the perfect time to revisit your menu and see what changes and/or additions need to be made.  If items such as iced teas, smoothies or frappes are not updated on your menu for the warmer months, they should be, or offered as a “Limited Time Offer”.  It’s also the perfect time to sample new products and add new items to your store.  From coffee to smoothies, Stockton Graham & Co. has dozens upon dozens of samples available for you! When things really pick up in the second half of the year, the time you have to sample and consider new products, will be harder to come by. Summer is also a good time to do a “Costs Benefits Analysis” to make sure you are making a profit on your drinks. Many times vendor prices rise a bit, and you can forget to update your menu pricing accordingly. Summer is a great time to make these menu adjustments.

Equipment Check– Just like your car, the equipment in your shop needs to be kept up and maintained. Coffee brewers, grinders, blenders and especially espresso machines all need to be operating correctly in order to produce quality product.  Here at Stockton Graham, we would be happy to recommend a technician for your area, or provide you with new equipment if it’s time for yours to be replaced. Right now we are offering several special offers on select Vitamix & Blendtec blenders, which includes free smoothie and/or frappe products. Use this blender promotion to re-vamp your blended drinks options this summer for bigger profits!

Marketing– By now, your shop probably has its own Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media platforms. These are great tools to advertise and promote your business, but they are only as effective as you make them. It’s important to keep them up-to-date with current announcements, specials and new features. They’re easy to manage and can even be updated right from your phone. If you don’t consider yourself to be “social media-savvy”, have one of your trusted employees take the reins. Chances are, one of them is a “pro”.

Back to School– Come fall, everyone will return to their normal routine of school or work, both of which should result in more frequented visits to your shop. Student discounts and happy hour specials are great ways to get your customer base back into the swing of things. This is a perfect time to promote your menu with specials and other offerings, but in order for any promotion to be a success, preparation is required. Leave the procrastinating to the returning students, and start planning now! Check back with Stockton Graham & Co. blogs to get more ideas for back to school.

It may seem unnecessary to begin acting on these things now, but realistically, “pumpkin season” is just around the corner, and right behind that are the holidays. The 3rd and 4th quarters are traditionally the busiest, but also the most profitable, so ensuring that you and your staff are well prepared is essential. Call us today at 800.835.5943 to ask more about your mid-year checklist, and other ways to plan for a successful second half of the year!

Using Marketing to Grow Your Cafe’s Profits! Part 2

marketing-part2In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the importance of marketing your store and developing a marketing plan to do so.  We also re-introduced our MAP (Marketing Area Profile).  If you have completed your MAP, then you can now begin to identify potential targets and events in your immediate area.  Recall that we are hoping to achieve a FAT bottom line.  We do this by increasing the number of visits from each customer (Frequency), how much they spend (Average) and, of course, getting new customers through the door (Trial).

Before you dive into marketing your location, let’s do a little housekeeping first.  It is a good idea to make sure every customer, new and old, is having the best experience possible while visiting your shop.  I once had a mentor who would say that the best way to go out of business is great marketing.  What he meant is that before you spend money to bring in new customers, make sure you aren’t driving them away with a bad first impression.  So, take a look at your operation from the customer’s point of view.  Is each barista well-trained and producing great drinks consistently?  Are all staff members presentable and friendly?  Is your store clean and well-maintained?  Look on both sides of the counter; are work areas kept neat and clear? Are the retail shelves clean and inviting?  How about your fans and light fixtures; are they burnt out and covered in dust?  Are the floors and furniture clean?  Is the outside of the store inviting?  What about your drink and food menu?  Do you have what customers want, and would you eat the food you have displayed?  Check online reviews and find out what customers love and hate about your shop; address any issues, and applaud your staff for successes.

You may want to invite some friends in to give honest feedback about what they see and how they are served, and then treat them to coffee at a competitor for comparison.  While you are there, check their prices against yours.  Are you in-line, too high, too low?  Does your pricing model even make sense?  We hear some of our customers say that they haven’t changed prices in several years, while the big guys change theirs yearly.

When you first opened, you probably had a check list for each shift.  Now would be a good time to dig it up, update it and reinstate this policy with your staff. This will ensure that your store remains as presentable as you originally envisioned it to be.

As you review your menu, please feel free to call any of our Customer Care Associates for ideas and suggestions on the latest trends.  We can help you round out your menu with the types of items that customers are asking for, and help you do it profitably.

In the next installment, we will discuss the details of Frequency, Average and Trial, and how this concept can add double digit growth to your bottom line.

Written by: Thom Swain – Business Development Representative

See Part 3 to finish off this series!