Surviving the Holiday Season

The coming weeks and months are typically the most exciting, profitable and (unfortunately) stressful periods for café owners. Children are heading back to school, which brings in the parents who drop them off and pick them up. College kids fill up the dormitories on campus and begin looking for that “third place”. Christmas is just around the corner. Done are the beach trips with the sticky weather and, like the crisp air of autumn, your customer base comes blowing back into your shop like they never even left, as if on some extended summer vacation.

While “Back to School” can also mark the return of bigger profits, it can also be a great time to take stock of your café and its practices to ultimately make your place as prepared as possible for the end of the calendar year. Although it’s impossible to be 100% ready, more experienced shop owners know how to handle some of the surprises and expectations that come along as the weather gets colder. For those who are relatively new to the industry (or need a quick refresher course), here are our 3 best tips to help you in surviving the holiday season:

1)      Help Wanted: More people through the door means you need more people behind the bar to attend to them. No one likes a long line, so now is the time to interview potential staff members. With new employees, who are often new to the specialty coffee arena, comes the opportunity to provide the most up-to-date and innovative training concepts to ensure everything and everyone is firing on all cylinders. Throughout the rest of the year and beyond, we’ll be providing an intensive Stockton Graham Coffee Certification program and concentrated “Coffee College” courses that will not only make you and your staff as informed as possible, but will help provide business strategies to implement in your café for the long term. This is the ultimate in sustainable training. Schedule a consultation with our professionals ASAP!

2)      “I’ll have a ‘Tis the Season Frappe, please”: Do you have the syrup quantities to prepare a “BooBerry Latte” with candy corn topping? Going to be offering a Pumpkin Latte? Almost all holiday flavors are seasonal/special order items from most manufacturers. Partnering with your distributor on pre-ordering seasonal syrups and sauces can save you the heartache of turning away customers from your door because you don’t have enough Cranberry syrup and it’s nowhere to be found. So if you know a Pumpkin Spice Latte is going to be featured on the menu this season, call us today, place your order for two cases of syrup, and rest easy knowing you’ll be prepared to meet the customer demand. We will be stocking Pumpkin syrups for Monin, Torani and DaVinci soon after the Labor Day holiday and we are currently accepting pre-orders. Give us a call at 800.835.5943

3)      Coffee—the ultimate stocking-stuffer: Coffee is such a convenient option to give as a gift, and if you’re not offering it to customers, you’re missing out on a large chunk of potential revenue. In previous issues we’ve stressed the importance of having a point-of-purchase set-up with 12 oz. bags available. If this isn’t a practice in your shop already, now is the perfect time to prepare to roll out a retail coffee program because these next few months are when whole bean sales are at their peak. Based on previous experience, you can and will sell take home seasonal flavored coffee and blends at a higher rate during this time. What are your customer’s needs? If you don’t know, ask. Implementing this option now will give you plenty of time to finely tune the process before the Christmas season arrives.

Please give us a call at (800) 835-5943 if you’d like more advice or have further questions. money-bean-guy2

Hot Holiday Flavor Trends for 2010

Ever wonder where that weird new featured flavor in a bag of chips come from?

A recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek profiled Kevan Vetter, the executive chef from McCormick & Co. Every year since 2000, Vetter has published his Flavor Forecast which has accurately predicted culinary popularity increases for chipotle and small plate meals, just to name a few.

Here are Vetter’s flavor pairings from his 2010 seasonal forecast from BusinessWeek:

A lot of good stuff for a specialty beverage retailer, right? Chances are caramel, almond, cinnamon, coconut, pumpkin and citrus syrups and/or sauces are already in your cafe. If they aren’t, we have them available in Monin, Torani and DaVinci Gourmet. You might also be able to get your hands on some bacon syrup from Torani and a pear from Monin.

Play around with what we have to offer – you never know when you might have another hit on your hands! Also, if you need an updated listing of flavors, give us a call and we’ll send you a new copy or additional recipe ideas.

Use the recipes below as a guide and be sure you let your customers know that the drink represents a combination of hot new flavor trends – you have to make them want it!

Coconut Cream Pumpkin Pie Latte
3 pumps of Torani Coconut syrup
3 pumps of Monin Pumpkin Spice syrup
2 oz. SGC’s Espresso Milano
12 oz. milk

Creamy Almond Caramello
3 pumps of DaVinci Almond syrup
4 pumps of DaVinci Caramel sauce
2 oz. SGC’s Seda Dulce Espresso
12 oz. milk

Combine espresso and syrup (or sauce) in 16 oz. cup. Add steamed milk and serve. Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.

2009 Holiday Sales Expected to be Flat, Except…

I read a blog post on “Neilsen Wire” that commented on consumer surveys about the 2009 holiday shopping trends, which are expected to be flat.

While this does not sound like good news for retailers, the surveys showed an increased attention to “essential gift giving” and entertaining at home.  This brought a sense of relief to me as coffee is a great, affordable gift for nearly anyone who enjoys specialty beverages or entertaining in their homes.

Stockton Graham & Co. has made it even easier for all our customers to have a retail coffee program in their store, from bulk bins, jars or shelves with prepackaged beans.  We are offering our traditional holiday favorites such as “Tis the Season“,  “Jingle Java“, “Thanksgiving Blend“, and “Burning the Midnight Oil“, along with newer introductions such as our Organic French Roast and more (soon to be announced). For a listing of seasonal blends, click here.

Our flavored coffees include, “Pumpkin Spice“, “Gingerbread Spice“, “Mocha Nutmeg“, “Yule Nog“, “Winter Wonderland” and more! For a listing of popular holiday flavors, click here.

These, and all of our other coffees, are available in 12 oz. retail packaged bags, whole bean or ground.  Also, we have new 6 count cases to allow for more variety in your selection.

Our sales associates have been busy helping our customers make new selections, offering sales tips and marketing suggestions, etc. to build your sales and to help you bring in more revenue and profits to your store. Call them at 800.835.5943 to finalize your holiday coffee selection today.

Jeff Vojta, Co-Founder & CEO
Stockton Graham & Co.