Seasonal Planning For Your Coffee Shop

Sliders2While you are reading this blog, time is almost up on planning for any Valentine’s Day events your shop will be holding, even though the Christmas and New Year holidays have just passed! To properly market for an event, you should start planning well before a month in advance. This way you will get out the news with enough time for your customers to know what promotions to expect and look forward to!

First, you should sit down and plan a marketing strategy including events, emails, social media, in-store promotions, etc. Be sure to have social media posts going out every week the month before your seasonal promotion kicks in to remind your followers of what is coming. The week of the promotion, make sure you are posting pictures of customers taking advantage of the sale/discount/flavors and remind others to do so, as well! For example: if you are offering “Emerald Lattes” (Irish cream syrup flavored lattes) for half off on St. Patrick’s Day, post a picture of a fresh drink first thing on Facebook that day, then post a picture of the first customer to enjoy one on Instagram, etc.

Keep in mind for upcoming holidays to check your stock well in advance, and call your Customer Care Associate to place special orders if you are ordering a large amount of a product we may not carry in bulk year round. Also, allow time to get the product in order to avoid any mishaps causing you to not have the products you need for your event. In the St. Patrick’s Day example, if you are promoting half off “Emerald Lattes”, make sure you have more than enough Irish cream syrup for that day.

Special holidays are also a great time to check your equipment and give it a tune up. Proper and routine maintenance of equipment costs far less in the long-run than waiting to deal with the inevitable catastrophes that come along. Seasonal events are a great reminder to make sure your machines are working at their highest level, and show them a bit of love.

Call Stockton Graham & Co. at 800 835 5943 to speak with a Customer Care Associate if you need any help planning your seasonal menu, POS materials to support your holiday promotions, ordering products or have any other questions about how we can help build your business!

Also, check out this blog on seasonal trends for more ideas: Increase Sales Through Retail Coffee and Seasonal Drink Trends

How to hold a Mini Open House or Tasting Event

Nothing helps sells a food and beverage product better than having potential consumers actually sample and try the items.  Sampling has been a time honored retail tradition that is easy to incorporate into your store.  Another time honored retail technique is the open house to showcase new seasonal products to your best customers.  These are usually bigger, more elaborately planned all day or all weekend types of events with heavy promotion.

For our retail stores we borrowed the best of both to have a mini-open house sampling event each month in our store to show case new seasonal or monthly features coming out.  This was a great treat for our staff and best regular customers.  Not only did it help us determine what items might be hot, it helped us on the duds as well. That way we could stock up on the more popular items and slow down or refine the duds to address customer feedback.

On the last Friday of each month and for a couple hours each morning, we would offer our upcoming specialty drink and baked goods samples. We repeated the similar approach for the afternoon and evening customers, but more heavy on the items typically popular during those day segments.

To hold these, you need some simple signage to put up in your store. Send out a Tweet, Facebook event or email about coming out to get an early bird sneak peek of a new product.  For the event you will need to have the following:

  • Coffee and ingredients you plan to sample
  • Small sampling cups. 4 oz hot cups for hot drinks and 2 to 4 oz for cold drinks.
  • Small portion cups (usually the 1 to 2 oz sizes works).  These can be paper soufflé style cups or plastic.   A wholesale club or food service house is a great source for these.  They come in large amounts, so you will need to store them.
  • Your baker to make up some sampling batches of your upcoming featured desserts.  Often times, they will discount or give you some to give away.
  • Recipe cards and instructions for staff, including complete descriptions and selling tips
  • Sampling trays to walk around the store to offer them to customers.
  • Customer feedback and response cards or slips.

The evening before the event, make sure you have the cups out, trays and special ingredients.  For coffee and drinks, consider holding a staff tasting the day or night before to get their feedback, preparation questions resolved and build excitement for them.

On the day of the event, brew the coffees and place them in a convenient area, or ask each customer if they would like to try the upcoming featured coffees.  Solicit feedback and be prepared to answer questions on what makes the coffee special.  For hot and cold drinks, prepare the drink as normal and pour into the sample cups.  Be sure to garnish appropriately to create an outstanding visual appeal.  Offer to all customers.

For the food items, slice neat samples and place into the small portion cups and offer to your customers.  For busier times, place drinks and food onto a tray and walk around your shop and offer to customers and discuss the upcoming  featured items.

Lastly, ask all of them for their honest opinion and to complete a feedback card.  You can also capture their email address and request they follow your shop on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Hopefully, you will increase your connections to your customers, build a sense of community and stake holder interest in your shop leading to higher sales and profits.

Please contact us for more suggestions and assistance on planning and executing your own events.

Jeff Vojta, Co-founder & CEO