Build Your Business: Mid-Year Checklist!

ChecklistAs hard as it is to believe, we’ve just about reached the halfway mark of 2013!  So far we’ve made it past the “New Year’s resolutions” in January, a few of the early-year holidays such as Valentine’s day, St. Patty’s day and Earth Day, spring has sprung and now summer is here. Though summer is a time for relaxing, 2014 will be here quicker than you think, so 3rd and 4th quarter preparation can never start too early. Here is a mid-year checklist, to get you and your staff ready for the next 6 months.

Hiring– With school out for summer, part-time opportunities in your shop may open up.  This can be a great way to grab some extra help while other staff members are out on vacation, but often times, younger employees are only available during the summer.  September is just around the corner, so when your temporary summer-employees return to school, make sure your shop is well staffed for the busy season to come.

Training– It is imperative that your entire staff is properly trained. The last thing you want is an unqualified barista in the middle of busy season, so take advantage of the summer and have your staff trained and ready to go before fall arrives.  Stockton Graham & Co. offers all the training you and your staff will need in our Coffee College courses. Taught by certified instructors, your staff will learn everything from pulling the perfect shot, to properly steaming milk, to preventative maintenance and more.  Call today to find out when our next coffee college is available!

Menu Cleanup– Now is the perfect time to revisit your menu and see what changes and/or additions need to be made.  If items such as iced teas, smoothies or frappes are not updated on your menu for the warmer months, they should be, or offered as a “Limited Time Offer”.  It’s also the perfect time to sample new products and add new items to your store.  From coffee to smoothies, Stockton Graham & Co. has dozens upon dozens of samples available for you! When things really pick up in the second half of the year, the time you have to sample and consider new products, will be harder to come by. Summer is also a good time to do a “Costs Benefits Analysis” to make sure you are making a profit on your drinks. Many times vendor prices rise a bit, and you can forget to update your menu pricing accordingly. Summer is a great time to make these menu adjustments.

Equipment Check– Just like your car, the equipment in your shop needs to be kept up and maintained. Coffee brewers, grinders, blenders and especially espresso machines all need to be operating correctly in order to produce quality product.  Here at Stockton Graham, we would be happy to recommend a technician for your area, or provide you with new equipment if it’s time for yours to be replaced. Right now we are offering several special offers on select Vitamix & Blendtec blenders, which includes free smoothie and/or frappe products. Use this blender promotion to re-vamp your blended drinks options this summer for bigger profits!

Marketing– By now, your shop probably has its own Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media platforms. These are great tools to advertise and promote your business, but they are only as effective as you make them. It’s important to keep them up-to-date with current announcements, specials and new features. They’re easy to manage and can even be updated right from your phone. If you don’t consider yourself to be “social media-savvy”, have one of your trusted employees take the reins. Chances are, one of them is a “pro”.

Back to School– Come fall, everyone will return to their normal routine of school or work, both of which should result in more frequented visits to your shop. Student discounts and happy hour specials are great ways to get your customer base back into the swing of things. This is a perfect time to promote your menu with specials and other offerings, but in order for any promotion to be a success, preparation is required. Leave the procrastinating to the returning students, and start planning now! Check back with Stockton Graham & Co. blogs to get more ideas for back to school.

It may seem unnecessary to begin acting on these things now, but realistically, “pumpkin season” is just around the corner, and right behind that are the holidays. The 3rd and 4th quarters are traditionally the busiest, but also the most profitable, so ensuring that you and your staff are well prepared is essential. Call us today at 800.835.5943 to ask more about your mid-year checklist, and other ways to plan for a successful second half of the year!

What Determines the Price of Green Coffee?

As coffee prices have increased in the past 18 months, more customers have inquired as to what goes into the price they pay for their roasted beans. Let’s take a look at the most common questions and determine what really goes into the cost of green coffee.

1) What is the NY US “C” futures price that coffee is traded on? The NY “C” price is based on the commodity market on any given day. It is the base price used for coffee purchasing. We then pay a differential, which is added to the overall “C” price.

2) What is a “differential?” Differential is the difference between the base, or “C” price of the green coffee and the final price that we pay. Differencial is determined by the coffee broker, the farm, or the country of origin, and is based on the quantity and quality available, in the long and short term.

3) What costs are involved in getting the beans from the farms and ports to our roasting facility in Raleigh, NC? A carrying cost is added for any contract that is purchased over time, to cover storage in New York, insurance on the coffees, etc. Often it is represented by 3 – 5 cents per pound, green. To ship coffee from a farm to the US, insurance must be purchased for the coffee. It is then sealed into a shipping container and goes through customs and port authority just like any other inbound shipment. Then it is unloaded, palletized and brought to storage facilities for a fee.

4) What factors cause the “C” and/or differentials to change? Outside commodity trading effects the “c” price of coffee. For example, if oil increases, so do transportation costs. Weather also plays a big factor – most notably weather in Brazil, since it is the largest producer of coffee today. Crop forecasts and predictions in Brazil, Colombia or even Vietnam can affect the overall “C” price of coffee. Let’s say an origin country is experiencing months of poor weather conditions and social strife. Economic forecasters can probably assume that coffee production would be less than what was expected and what consumers demanded. The shortfall would likely drive the “C” price up.

5) How does the quality of the coffee affect its price? The better the quality, the more work is involved during harvesting, processing, etc., therefore the differential is greater and thus, the coffee is more costly.

6) How do certifications (Organic, Fair Trade, Utz, etc.) affect the price of green coffee? More effort is involved in certifications, and the costs of certification agencies add into the overall price.

Also, keep in mind that one pound of green coffee typically only yields around 3/4 of a pound after roasting.

Mike Adams & Brandon Riggs
Stockton Graham & Co.