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



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

Merry Making and Making Sales this Holiday Season

Between Black Friday and New Year’s, America will be spending more time out of their home than any other time of the year. And most will be turning to coffee to keep the holiday season buzzing.

Stockton Graham & Co. Holiday Season Coffee SalesAccording to National Restaurant News, coffee sales at coffee shops and restaurants increase in the last six weeks of the year as more people look to fuel up – or simply just warm up — while holiday shopping.

Coffee also makes great gifts, especially for co-workers, teachers, neighbors and other not-so-close acquaintances. Sales of holiday items like gift cards, sampler coffee boxes, coffee chocolate and limited-edition whole bean offerings can account for up to 50% of a coffee retailer’s profits.

As you seek to make the most of the holiday season, here are a few ideas from sales team at Stockton Graham & Co.

  1. Create a festive moodYou don’t have to go overboard with holiday lights and kitschy music, but a few well-placed nods to winter will help keep sales going. Think about red-and-white striped coffee stirrers, green serving aprons, cut-paper snow flakes or Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album to add a holiday touch.
  2. Entice taste buds with seasonal flavors. It’s easy to offer a holiday-themed drip coffee option like spicy Gingerbread, CinnaGraham or Bourbon Pecan Pie. Promote espresso-based beverages such as Peppermint Mocha, Candy Cane Latte and a Dirty Holiday ChaiNog. Click here for some recipe ideas.
  3. Set out some giftsTurn a couple of inexpensive craft bowls into grab-and-go gift baskets by adding a half-pound of seasonal coffee, a bag of chocolate-flavored coffee beans and a simple stainless steel travel mug. Baskets in the $20 – $35 range placed close to the register usually start flying off the shelves during the first week of December. Place a prominent gift-card display at the cash register to encourage spontaneous gifting.
  4. Plan a special event (or two). Invite a local church choir to perform on Sunday afternoon or host a Saturday morning Christmas story time for the kids. It’s a great way to increase foot traffic, get the community involved, raise spirits and boost sales.
  5. Don’t forget the evening. During the holiday season, customers tend to gravitate to coffee more frequently after dark—either to re-energize after a madcap day of shopping or perk up after an office party. Calibrate your evening staff accordingly so (often tired and impatient) customers don’t need to wait too long for service.
  6. Make some fun. To help alleviate some of the stress of the holidays (for your staff and for customers), have some fun. Try Christmas karaoke, dressing up as elves or a tacky holiday sweater contest. Set up a handmade Christmas card station where customers can craft their own wacky holiday greeting or bring in “Santa.”
  7. Simply say “Thanks.” No marketing budget? No worries. Simply make a point to say “thanks” to customers during the hurried holiday season—it is one of the best things you can do to celebrate. Not only will customers remember the effort, but it will raise the spirits of your entire staff and pay off in spades as customers return again and again.

It’s not difficult to make the holidays both fun and profitable for your store. Feel free to call a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943 if we can help.