March Coffee College – What to Expect

SGC-COFFEE-collegeOn Friday, March 20th, Stockton Graham & Co. will be holding our monthly Coffee College training. Registration is happening now!

Coffee College is becoming even more popular in 2015, as our customers and their employees look to improve productivity, sales and customer satisfaction.  Registrations for February’s Coffee College are brisk, and it could be sold out this week!

Coffee College is a collection of training sessions we offer customers and their employees. It covers a variety of coffee topics from bean selection to brewing fundamentals to cupping and equipment maintenance. In the most popular class, Coffee and Espresso Basics (also known as Coffee College 101), attendees not only get a first-hand look into roasting coffee, they learn the journey of the bean from seed to cup. Attendees will learn to cup coffees, as well as, how to be able to identify the characteristics and nuances of the coffee. The more you know about the coffees you serve, the better you can apply the knowledge to what and how you serve your customers.

Attending Coffee College at Stockton Graham can carry more benefits than just increasing your knowledge of coffee preparation. A well educated staff can lead to more consistent and higher quality drinks, an increase in customer satisfaction and returning patrons.

One of the main concerns in cafes is having each barista perform and create menu items consistently and proficiently. We offer courses that can help shop owners be relieved of these worries, and reap the benefits of pleased customers that knowing they will always get the perfect drink!

Stockton Graham believes in a well-trained staff. Employees can make or break a business, particularly in the coffee world where the baristas are making the final product. Keep your baristas happy and educated with good training, and you are sure to see more repeat and loyal customers

“All of our associates trained in Coffee College and Basic Barista Certification, from upper management to shipping and receiving. We feel our team members are strongest totally immersed in the culture of specialty coffee. We have invested in staff training and that is why we have been successful,” explains Jeff Vojta, President and co-founder of Stockton Graham & Co.

Been in the Coffee industry for years? Our Coffee College Instructors can assist you, and your staff in sparking a newfound passion for coffee that you can take back your shop! Everyone needs a refresher now and then, or the opportunity to learn something completely new like: Specialty Beverage construction or how to create your own blends.

Coffee College courses include: Coffee & Espresso Basics, Brewing Fundamentals, Cupping for Coffee Shop Owners, Cafe Equipment Cleaning & MaintenanceExploring BlendsSpecialty Beverage Basics and Basic Barista Certification. These courses cover key areas of your coffee & specialty beverage program with hands-on lessons. Coffee College will help you support your great drinks with the know-how to set you apart from your competition!

Most importantly your Coffee College session is based on your needs. Our staff is willing to give you the information your need to help your shop flourish for years to come. To learn more about Coffee College and other certification classes, click here or call 1-800-835-5943 today to register!

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

Twenty Years Tell Us… Training Never Ends!

Coffee CollegeThe industry is not the same as it was in 1994. Starbucks was not a household name, “cappuccinos” came from machines at the gas stations, and espresso was something only serious coffee drinkers would attempt. Today, you can get reasonable facsimiles of true espresso beverages almost anywhere. Even novices say “espresso” without an “x.” As the industry has changed, so have the standards and the trends.

Staying on top of the newest trends, and training your staff accordingly, helps keep you relevant and up-to-date. Anticipating customer desires before they ask is one of the highest levels of customer service you can provide. Use your new found knowledge to educate your customers, thus raising the bar for your competition who may not be so savvy. For example, do you offer a featured espresso such as a single-origin option? Do you offer single-cup brews? Does your menu include tea lattes? Your Stockton Graham & Co. support team is a great resource for suggestions and guidance on these and many other topics.

Stockton Graham & Co. Coffee CollegeWhile trends are important, updating and ensuring consistent standards is paramount.  Staff calibration, or “retraining,” is a great way to ensure that your customers enjoy the same drink no matter who makes it. We found this to be a particular problem for a client with several locations. After some intensive “Train the Trainer” sessions, followed by in-store recalibrations, this client reported a substantial growth in beverage sales at the end of the fiscal year. Consider sending your trainer to our Coffee College to get updated, recalibrated and refreshed. Coffee College is offered several times a year and is conducted by our own industry professionals who bring many decades of combined experience to the table for you.

STG513-ID-stickerOur industry continues to grow and evolve with new innovations emerging all the time. To remain on the cutting edge, know that you can rely on Stockton Graham & Co. keeping up with the newest products and keeping your staff well-trained is just aspect to ensuring great customer service and the vitality of your business.

Give us a call at 800.835.5943 today to schedule your staff recalibration or click here to view our Coffee College event calendar!

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!

Thanksgiving Promotional Ideas For Your Coffee Shop!

Late November is a great time to offer promotions as there is more traffic as families get together for the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Here are some promotions to help guarantee a busier, more profitable weekend and build a bigger customer base that will keep coming back after the holidays are over!

-Depending on your location, open early on Black Friday and promote for it. This way your customers can get that extra boost they need for their day of shopping from you! Have specials to reward your guests after they have had a vigorous shopping morning. While out shopping, people are more likely to purchase food and drink, so make sure you take advantage of their “spending” mentality. Customers who have never been in your shop will drop in for “more savings” and have the potential to become regulars.

-Host a special event where you cup/serve your seasonal coffee varietals or flavors.  A cupping event really allows you the opportunity to showcase and explore the coffees you offer to customers who have little knowledge of the complexities of coffee.  Set up some airpots with any seasonal flavored coffee you carry and allow customers to sample it. Have some retail bags beside each airpot so that customers know they can purchase it to take home and prepare!

-Over the weekend, offer a free seasonal flavor shot with the purchase of any latte or cappuccino to get customers hooked on those signature specialty beverages!

-Create some gift baskets featuring your products.  Be sure to include a retail bag of coffee, mug, shirt, or any other merchandise that you offer and promote as a great holiday gift!  You can never go wrong with gift cards, as they ensure the recipient will make frequent visits back to your coffee shop!

-Raffle an item of merchandise (shirt, mug, etc) when guests enter their name with every purchase of a flavored latte/signature beverage! This increases sales and gets guests to try something new!

-Offer a BOGO special on seasonal flavored latte to encourage your patrons to bring friends. This opens the door for a new guest who will keep coming back for more!

-Discuss with your baker about offering seasonal baked items such as pumpkin scones, muffins, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, turkey and pilgrim hat sugar cookies, etc.  You can pair the baked item with a featured specialty coffee drink as a combination offer to help increase your ticket average.

-Another idea that many of our customers have used to generate additional gross profit,  is to work with their baker on key dates, ordering guidelines, etc. and offer their wonderful baked good to allow the retail store customers the ability to let your shop do their holiday baking!  You can take orders for whole pies and cakes and have them come in the day before Thanksgiving or the December holidays. Encourage parents to purchase baked goods for their child’s school and after school events, or for their teachers. Imagine the class room where a parent shows up with two dozen brightly colored sugar cookies looking like fall colored leaves, turkeys, and pilgrim hats!  How about your customer bringing two dozen pumpkin scones and muffins into the office, with your coffee!  Get creative with signage and promotions to generate more sales and make sure you get sufficient deposits or prepayments to mitigate your risk of the customer not picking up the special order.

We hope you have a great (and busy) Thanksgiving holiday!