Holiday Cheer! Ideas for your Coffee Shop

Stockton Graham & Co. Holiday HintsBelieve it or not, December is here so don’t forget to prepare your coffee shop for the festivities of the holidays! Fires in the fireplace, family coming together and colder weather will all contribute to increased sales at your shop. Even so, there are many things you can do to take advantage of this season and get more people into your cafe!

There are a few ways to really make the most of the season this year, such as rent out your space for events, plan events for your customers and create live music nights. But the most important thing is to have fun, because your customers will share in the joy.

1. Renting your space

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday Hints -Party!Decide on a price point that you want to charge to rent out your shop to a customer for his or her event. This may or may not include a drink minimum that they will be required to order. Then, advertise that you are doing this! Make it known in the shop through flyers or on an announcement board. Use social media to announce that the space is available for parties (not just during the holidays but all year long!). Give people ideas: company holiday parties, birthdays, engagements, concerts, business meetings, non-profit gatherings, etc. Make it very clear on your website that you want your customers to “Rent our space for your next party!”

Your customers will love the opportunity to have a place they already feel connected to become a part of their special event. You will need to take into consideration that, more times than not, you will want to close the shop to the public for special events if they are happening during business hours. Don’t forget to consider this when determining the amount you want to charge. Once you have a party planned, be sure to give at least a week’s notice if possible to let other customers know if you will be closed for a private party.

2. Plan events in your space

Your customers already love what you do. That is why they are your customers. This holiday season, go the extra mile with them and plan some events to host in your shop. This could be a holiday concert put on by a local choir or band or even an appearance by Santa. Consider a trivia night where you invite a local emcee to host several rounds of trivia. Games are a fun way for people to meet one another and have fun doing it in a space with which they are already familiar. You could host a tree decorating party or have your customers make ornaments representing things that they are thankful for and invite them to hang them on your tree.

Consider special promotions such as “The 12 Gifts of Christmas” in December where you promote a different drink each day and offer them at a discounted price. This not only gives your higher-margin drinks more exposure, it allows your customers to try them at a discounted rate. Guests will continue to return to your store for these seasonal treats they are sure to fall in love with.

3. Host Live music

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday HintsIf you don’t have live music already, consider bringing some in on a weekly basis. Even if it is something as simple as a solo acoustic guitar player, this will only increases foot traffic to your shop. It will also allow local artists a stage on which to perform and gain exposure. Live music is an event that your customers are sure to get excited about and make part of their weekly routine. (Hint: Christmas carols are a great form of live music this time of year!)

To advertise this, have a calendar on your website just for events. Promote these on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Have a chalkboard or white board up in your shop and also create posters to advertise (or let the artist create a poster for themselves). Post these announcements at least a week in advance to give your customers plenty of time to include your live music in their schedules.

4. Have Fun

Stockton Graham & Co Holiday Hints -Treats!Have fun and your customers will have fun with you. Whether it’s funny sweaters or stuffed antlers or Santa hats, encourage your staff to dress in holiday apparel. Play Christmas music on the PA system. If you sell food offer special holiday-themed treats. Remember, as people will be out shopping for presents, it will be the perfect time to create gift baskets that feature your personalized logo. Be sure to include coffee and other small items from your shop. If you have t-shirts, mugs, tumblers or gift cards include these and consider making different sizes to meet different needs. These will all be great gift ideas to have on the shelves during this season of festivities and events.

 

If you have any questions and would like to talk with a Customer Care Associate, please call (800) 835-5943.

3 Ways to Attract Millennials to your Coffee Shop at the Holidays

Millennials are experiencing the holidays differently than generations before them. This shift means (among many things) that millennials are seeking experiences that enrich and fulfill as opposed to objects that clutter and collect dust. One of the key ways that millennials are seeking to have these experiences is through technology.

holidaysHave you stopped to consider how your coffee shop can meet the needs of millennials for experiences? It is important to take these young consumers into account as you strategize attracting more business this holiday season.

We have some ideas that will help you invite and keep this demographic that is now more than one-quarter of the nation’s population. Although in general they are more reserved in their spending, there is one time of the year millennials are leading the charge in spending: the holidays; And there is one item that millennials can’t get enough of: coffee. Buying coffee nearly twice as often as older generations, young people spend about $80 per month on cups of Joe, well above the overall average of $67.

1. Partner with a Cause for the Holidays

Millennials want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. In fact, fifty percent of millennials would be more willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause. The holidays are a great time to celebrate goodwill and compassion for humankind.

Consider partnering with a local non-profit and donating a portion of your sales of a particular item towards a good cause. This could be a local homeless shelter, clean water in underdeveloped nations or an organization you believe in and are passionate about.

A good example of this is the partnership that Stockton Graham & Co. has formed with Grounds for Health. In this partnership, $1 from each purchase funds life-saving health care for women in Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Peru. Tis the season to give (and in giving, millennials will continue to return to your shop to cheer you on as you cheer others on).

2. Advertise your space

The holidays are a time for coming together and celebrating friends and family. Millennials value experiences over having material goods. Many millennials are far from home and looking for a place to connect during the holiday season. Consider renting out your cafe space for events or even planning events yourself. This could be a holiday party, a local church choir concert or celebrating holiday birthdays.

By renting your space out you are making deeper connections with your millennial shoppers who are longing to connect on a more substantial level. You are investing in relationships that will continue to grow as you create a space for them to have more experiences. It is also great exposure for people who have never set foot in your shop to become familiar with you.

Gift cards are big with millennials so as you are renting out your space for that gingerbread decoration, be sure to have your gift cards displayed front and center.

3. Tap the Technology Trend

Lastly, the best way to reach the next generation of consumers is through their smart phone. Millennials are nearly two times more connected through technology than any other generation. This translates to 13 percent of millennials using a mobile app to determine their venue.

To get and keep their attention, you have to offer a service, product or information while making it easy to connect to your establishment.

“Technology is changing the way that people are buying their coffee,” said David Sprinkle, Research Director, Packaged Facts, during a recent National Coffee Association (NCA) webinar on food service coffee. But avoid a straight sales pitch he advises. “Don’t just hawk your product, but provide information and services that are of interest to your consumers.”

Are you pairing items that are popular with millennials and posting it on Facebook? Use social media to let them know what is new and why you are offering it. Technology is a great tool to sell that new pumpkin spice latte, or the gingerbread mocha. Millennials are already online, meet them there.

Phone ordering is a new way of ordering coffee as well. This is a reflection of the on the go mentality of many millennials. Consider having an app created for your coffee shop that would allow your consumer to order and pay for the coffee before they get to your counter. You could roll this out just in time for the holiday season when consumers will be busy spending and shopping.

In general, the holidays are a time of cheery vibes and increased spending. Your younger consumers will appreciate the fact that you have shown that you care about them. This will also help to create a sense of relationship (which is exactly what the millennial is looking for) between you and your millennial shoppers.

To speak with a customer service associate please call 800 835 5943. 

Promote Seasonal Bulk & Retail Coffees Through A Pre-Holiday Open House

With this year’s holiday season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you plan to make the busiest time of the year a success. Studies show that 40% of sales during the six weeks prior to Christmas are a result of retail purchases: this is not something you want miss out on. Though retail sales are at their highs during the last few weeks of the year, they don’t generate themselves. Promoting bulk coffee and retail coffee sales is key during this time of the year. 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, social media page and online community calendars. Today, 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, this time of the year people tend to do a lot of entertaining, whether it is hosting holiday parties or hosting relatives. A fresh roasted retail bag of coffee or two would certainly be a great accessory to have! An open house is also a great time to introduce your upcoming seasonal features to customers. If you plan to bring in seasonal coffees, arrange for samples to be available at this time, 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 preorders for customers who don’t want to miss out on your limited time offer. If you’re a bakery, consider having apple pie or other baked goods available so customers can sample and preorder 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.

This is also a fantastic way to show your 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 owner of multiple retail coffee shops, 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, and promote your retail program while it’s at it’s highest potential”, said Vojta. 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 so help your 2013 go out with a bang! Happy Holidays!

For more information or other seasonal tips, call your Stockton Graham & Co. customer care associate at 1800.835.5943 today!

Christmas Holiday Promotions For Your Coffee Shop!

christmas coffeeWith the Christmas season rapidly approaching it is time to begin preparing your café for holiday festivities! The colder weather, family gatherings and shopping outings should all contribute to increasing business at your shop, yet there are still many things you can do to help increase foot traffic through your doors!

As this is a time of giving, many people will be in the market for gifts they can give to friends and family both locally and across the country. Be sure to create gift baskets that contain your coffee and other small merchandise from your shop. Other items can include mugs, tumblers, shirts, sweaters, gift cards or any other goods you may carry! Keep in mind that some people may be looking for smaller gift packages than others, so a couple of different sized gift baskets ranging in price could be a good idea. What’s a better gift than your delicious coffee beans?

Put on an event such as, “The 12 Beverages of Christmas” in December where you promote a different seasonal specialty beverage every day: gingerbread mocha, peppermint latte, chai-der, eggnog and more! You could also, promote seasonal specialty beverages by picking a day to offer a free seasonal flavor shot with every latte purchase. Be sure to promote the events in your store weeks in advance, as well as using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This increases specialty drink sales by introducing them to customers at promotional prices early on. Guests will continue to frequent your shop for seasonal treats they can’t get enough of!

Bring in seasonal flavored coffees (such as gingerbread spice, sugar cookie, peppermint mocha, etc.) and offer tastings on specific days. This will open the doors for customers to try flavors they may not have otherwise tasted, which could in turn lead to bulk coffee sales. Retail 12 oz. and 16 oz. flavored coffees make great gifts for the office or family gatherings! Be sure to have the bulk coffee on display in areas where customers can easily see it, accompanied by descriptions to better help them understand the flavor profile!

Get in touch with your local bakery about what kind of specialty items they plan to offer over the holiday season. Baked goods can be a great way to increase sales, especially with Christmas sugar cookies, gingerbread men and other holiday sweets that people will undoubtedly be looking for! Set up a date for customers to pre-order so they have delicious treats for their holiday events!

Planning an event at your shop just to get people in to celebrate (and buy your coffee) is a fun promotion on its own. Set up Christmas movie nights, where you screen the Christmas films in your shop. Plan a tacky Christmas sweater party, offering prizes to the tackiest. Host a Christmas Carol Karaoke night for customers to share their “talents”. Anything you can do to spread the cheer and invite customers in your doors is a great idea! Encourage your staff to pick up the holiday cheer or even dress up in holiday attire! The holiday season should be fun, eventful and fruitful for your café! We at Stockton Graham & Co. wish you happy, and busy, holiday!

4th Quarter Timeline and Seasonal Necessities

Summer has come and gone, and now we’re a matter of weeks away from the start of the fourth quarter. In the coffee industry, these last three months of the year are the busiest, most intense and in just about all cases, the most profitable. The weather starts to drop, students and workers return to their normal routine, and the holiday season is among us. These are just a few reasons why your business volume will be affected tremendously, and if you’re prepared, this quarter will be a successful one.  At Stockton Graham & Co., we’ve created at fourth quarter/seasonal timeline to help you make sure you are on track to wrap up 2012 in a positive manner.

September/October

I. Pumpkin needs to be on your menu. Every year the crave for pumpkin begins earlier and earlier, and by mid-September, pumpkin flavoring is in full swing. Stockton Graham & Co. offers a variety of pumpkin products, in multiple brands, including the following:
– Pumpkin Syrup
– Pumpkin Sauce
– Pumpkin Frappe Powder
– Pumpkin Chai Powder
– Pumpkin Flavored Coffee

II. Chai is back in season! It may have been a slow mover throughout the spring and summer, but if you have not seen it already, the high demand for chai is just around the corner. Stockton Graham & Co. offers chai in both powder and liquid concentrate forms, with flavors ranging from the ever-so-popular spiced chai and vanilla chai, to seasonal flavors such as pumpkin chai and gingerbread chai.

III. Apple Cider is always a hit this time of the year. It can be served cold, right from the refrigerated container, or you can add hot water or steamed milk and serve it as a hot drink. We do not stock an apple cider, simply because it is more cost effective for you to swing by your local grocery store and grab it there. However, if you are having trouble finding some, let us know and we’ll be happy to special order some for you!

November

I. Keep it coming! Once October ends, it does not mean that its popular beverages do. Pumpkin inspired drinks, chai and cider all will continue to sell throughout November!

II. Seasonal Coffees are available at Stockton Graham & Co.! Our Autumn Harvest Blend and Thanksgiving Blend are always customer favorites this time of the year. As for flavored coffee, Apple Cobbler, Bourbon Pecan Pie and Toasted Almond are our most popular, year after year! Click here to see our list of seasonal blends and click here to see the great seasonal flavored coffee.

III. Seasonal syrups are abundant this time of the year! As mentioned earlier, the pumpkin flavoring will continue to sell, though other flavors such as maple spice, brown sugar cinnamon, spice berry and Monin’s pie series including pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie and blueberry pie (available on special order) are big time hits as well!

IV. Smoothies, believe it or not, will continue to sell even as the weather gets about as cold as the smoothie itself! And what better way to keep your smoothie sales up than promoting fall flavored smoothies? Dr. Smoothie offers a cherry-cranberry smoothie, as well as a northwest apple smoothie, both of which are very popular in the fourth quarter. Torani now offers a green apple smoothie, which goes great with a little caramel sauce to give it that caramel apple flavor that everyone loves!

December

I. Peppermint needs to be on your menu by now. This flavor will be as popular as pumpkin was in the earlier months of the quarter and will even continue to sell in January. Just like pumpkin, we will have a variety of peppermint products including:
– Peppermint Syrup
– Peppermint Mocha Frappe Powder
– Peppermint Flavored Coffee

II. Gingerbread is another extremely popular flavor this time of the year. Stockton Graham & Co. has you covered in this flavor department as well, including products such as:
– Gingerbread Syrup
– Gingerbread Chai
– Gingerbread Flavored Coffee

III. Retail Coffee is a must this time of the year. Due to the frigid weather, customers are more willing to buy your whole bean coffee, so they brew a cup right at home and don’t have to venture out into the cold in order to grab their favorite cup of coffee. Retail coffee also makes fantastic holiday gifts, and is also commonly used as stocking stuffers and in gift baskets. Stockton Graham & Co. has you covered in all of your holiday coffee favorites. Our most popular holiday blends include Winter’s Comfort and ‘Tis the Season, and when it comes to flavors, Winter Wonderland, Gingerbread Spice and Christmas Sugar Cookie are the front runners. Not only are we happy to prepackage these coffees in 12 or 16 ounce bags for you, but we can also add custom labels to each bag!

This is an exciting time to be a café owner, and whether this is your first fourth quarter experience or you are a veteran ready to take on the season yet again, the most important thing is that you are well prepared. It may seem early, but you will be surprised how fast the seasonal sales will sneak up on you. For help planning your fourth quarter agenda, give us a call today at 800.835.5943. As long as you stay ahead of the game and are ready for the season, success will naturally come your way, because after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tips for Retail Success This Holiday Season and Throughout the year!

Last year, I was fortunate to attend the 2010 Coffee Fest in Seattle, WA. Aside from having a fantastic time walking the showroom floor, I was also able to sit in on some educational lectures presented by professionals in the coffee industry. One of the guest speakers I was able to hear from was Bruce Milletto, President of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and former retail shop owner. This lecture in particular focused on Milletto’s list of 12 essentials when it comes to running a successful coffee shop in this day in age. I found this discussion extremely interesting and would imagine that his recommendations would provide valuable insight to our customers while preparing for the most popular retail season of the year!

1. The first and one of the most important points he discussed was proper business planning. Bruce said that this is key in any business and especially in the coffee industry. Milletto stressed the importance of understanding where the industry has come from, where it is heading, planning and analyzing your financial potential carefully and setting both short and long-term goals.

2. The second point he covered was understanding coffee itself. Those who just jump into the industry prematurely can get into trouble fast! As an owner, Bruce explained it is essential that you understand the nuances of coffee from seed to cup, including origins, growing practices, certification, roasting and proper preparation.

3. The third essential is location. As an owner, it is important to determine a location that will bring in foot traffic, provide you with the work space that you need, and is easy to find. Bruce also mentioned how important it is to make sure the lease you sign is a good one, because signing the wrong lease can be catastrophic to your business.

4. The next topic Bruce pointed out was a strong ergonomic design. It is important that your design works for both you and your customer’s needs. You don’t want it too small that your baristas are running into each other, but you still want to allow your customers to feel cozy, and not lost in cafeteria-sized café.

5. The fifth essential is creating a unique and appealing ambiance. From your menu to your lighting, it is important that you set yourself apart from the chains. Create an atmosphere to attract the client you want to attract.

6. The sixth essential is merchandising and presentation. What else can you sell to help your bottom line? Mints, T-shirts and mugs are just a few ideas to help boost your sales and diversify your product list.

7. The seventh essential on Bruce’s list is your menu. You should select your items and recipes carefully, and keep in mind what your competitors are serving. It is also important to display your items, whether it’s on pictures on the menu, or on display on the front counter. Show your customers what you serve!

8. Next on the list is hiring the right employees. This may be one of the most important essentials on the list. When you hire, consider appearance, work ethic, maturity and attitude. Do they have a strong understanding for coffee, and can they teach your customers? According to Bruce, this is the biggest mistake that operations make!

9. The ninth on the list is customer service. You as an owner need to lead and teach your employees by example. Get behind the bar and show them how to properly serve a customer, from the greeting, to the money exchange. Always focus on the customer’s needs first and foremost!

10. The tenth essential is managing your business. This may seem obvious; however, it is up to you as an owner to see that quality service is produced. Stay on top of your baristas, manage waste and watch for theft. Make sure that your employees are meeting your expectations throughout the shop.

11. Next on the list of essentials is your marketing. Nowadays it is absolutely imperative to have your own website, Facebook, twitter, etc. Create promotions that work in your specific situation. POS is also a great way to advertise your product, and it should be used to its fullest potential.

12. Last but not least, the twelfth essential on the list is operational systems, and budget and cost controls. Create systems for both employees and management, including a manual to read and sign upon employment. This is a positive way to learn and understand company policies and procedures. As and owner, know your cost of goods and keep an eye on all operating expenses.

Bruce is confident that if you are on top of every area, you will succeed. He reminded us that people will not stop drinking coffee, or having a need for a third place (hopefully YOUR coffee shop), so stay positive! It is more important now than ever to operate smart and plan accordingly. Hopefully Bruce’s list of 12 business essentials will provide you with some helpful tips as you continue to strive forward in this fast growing and thrilling industry.

Matt Hogan
Stockton Graham & Co.

Quick and Easy Black Friday Strategies for Your Cafe

With the biggest shopping day of the year approaching, follow these tips to market your business:

-Nearby shopping center opening up very early or very late? Pass out menus and coupons for customers to stop in after they finish shopping.

-Offer a gift wrapping service on Friday (“FREE with a purchase of $10.00 & up!”).

-Shopping puts people in the holiday spirit. Push your retail seasonal flavored coffees and blends, along with Gingerbread Lattes, Peppermint Mochas and Cocoas, etc.

-Always have free samples available of your holiday blends and specialty beverages.

-Coffee makes a great gift, especially for co-workers, church friends, business associates, etc. Nobody should walk out the door without being offered to purchase a bag of retail coffee.

-Pipe in the Christmas music over the loud speakers. It might grate on the nerves of your staff for a month, but psychologically, it helps sell.

-If you are located in a shopping center, have a hot cocoa stand outside of your building to help pull people in.

-The more whipped cream and chocolate chips to garnish, the better. The more appealing the drink looks to people standing in line, the better your chance to turn a $2.00 drip coffee sale into a $4.50 flavored latte sale.

-Place a giving tree that is peppered with your coupons, along with small gift items too.

-Become a designated drop point for a children’s charity looking for toys, clothes, and coats.

Rely on your social media channels to promote these items and engage customers before, during and after Black Friday.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.