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!

Congratulations to Brad Kirby for 10 years with Stockton Graham & Co.!

Brad-kirby-picking-coffeeApril marks the 10 year anniversary of our Head Roaster, Brad Kirby, joining the Stockton Graham & Co. team! We are proud to have such a dedicated, loyal and hardworking employee within our company. Brad is a necessity to what we do every day here at Stockton Graham & Co. – roasting great coffee. He is an integral part of our team, and we could not have grown so much without him.

Brad began working in shipping and receiving in 2003, and the warehouse immediately became more organized and efficient. Brad’s interest soon began to develop more in the coffee industry, and he moved into the roasting area permanently.  Brad’s eye for detail and passion for coffee has made him an excellent roaster and bestowed onto him the title of “Head Roaster”.

Brad-kirkby-smilingHaving a natural knack with machinery, Brad has become a Factory Trained Equipment Tech for La Marzocco, Franke, Astoria, Rancilio and Fetco brand coffee equipment while working at Stockton Graham & Co. He keeps all of our production equipment operating efficiently, and teaches Stockton Graham & Co.’s Coffee College class on Equipment Cleaning & Maintenance. Brad also has developed, implemented and maintains our associate safety program to ensure a safe, secure workplace.

Brad has worked with Brandon to share roasting knowledge with their roasting peers in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. They also discuss the best practices to further the development and use of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) standards through the Southeast Roasters Cult, Gulf Coast Roasters and Mid-Atlantic Roaster groups.

While working at Stockton Graham & Co., Brad has served as a SCAA Workshop Volunteer (for Gold Cup Certification labs and Brewing & Grinding labs), completed both Beginner and Intermediate SCAA Barista Classes and passed the SCAA Sensory Skills Test. Brad has traveled to coffee farms to learn more about the growing process, and he recently enjoyed a visit to the Selva Negra farm, where he got an in-depth look into the facilities there.

Brandon Riggs, Stockton Graham & Co.’s Roastmaster and Green Coffee Buyer works with Brad the closest. They spend every day artisan roasting Stockton Graham Coffees and hand packaging them for our customers. Brandon has only appreciation and praise for the work Brad does here at Stockton Graham:

“Customers should know that the consistency of their coffee is due to Brad’s attention to detail and passion for great coffee. Brad has helped the company grow so much, and was instrumental with the profile software for all the roasters. He has grown in his cupping knowledge, and his espresso and machine knowledge is invaluable. He also provides tremendous insight into the coffees we purchase and the best profile for roasting them.  Brad is great at what he does and is truly appreciated!”

President and Co-Founder of Stockon Graham & Co. Jeff Vojta, sings Brad’s praises as well:

“It has been an honor and pleasure to be able to work alongside Brad for these past 10 years. I have learned a great deal from him, and we have learned a lot together.  He has been an integral part of the company and he has worked hard to ensure that we roast and package the best coffees for our customers.  He and Brandon have worked very hard to ensure that our coffees are exceptional in taste and quality. Brad is also an instrumental member of our overall good manufacturing processes and compliance programs. He is a true asset to our team.”

Cupping

For 10 years Brad has done so much for Stockton Graham & Co., our staff and our customers. No one can fully express the appreciation we have for our Head Roaster. Brad’s knowledge and gained experience is essential to good roasting, and his hard work is always appreciated. The whole team would like to congratulate and thank you for 10 years of valuable service, Brad!

Join us for Stockton Graham & Co. Coffee College!

Recently, Barista Magazine [i] featured an article by Tracy Allen on training for your coffee shop employees and the benefits of investing in education. The writer emphasized how training can improve your coffee shop in a multitude of ways, including: productivity, sales, CoffeeCollegeemployee happiness and customer satisfaction. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we couldn’t agree more. Which is why we have offered our “Coffee College” program for over 10 years! The knowledge gained from our program will help you provide top-shelf service to your customers.

Coffee College is a collection of training sessions that we offer to our customers, covering a variety of coffee topics. In our 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. Attendees also learn espresso basics, different brewing techniques and other coffee brewing fundamentals that enable them to consistently prepare and serve coffee at the highest level, enabling a customer to experience the same tasting and quality beverage, no matter which of your staff hand crafts it.

The brewing standards that are the basis of our trainings, applied in the coffee brewing and extraction processes, come from The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). We teach you to uphold and exceed these standards to brew a perfect cup of coffee, or pull an expert espresso shot.  When exploring espresso preparation, the attendee will learn the best ways to pull a shot, and use it for preparing different types of drinks.

Your Coffee College session is based on your needs. Want to learn more on simple equipment maintenance and cleaning practices? Request our Café Equipment Cleaning & Maintenance session. Interested in leading your own cupping sessions with customers? Take our Cupping for Coffee Shop Owners course. Want to design your own blend of coffee for your coffee shop? Then, our Exploring Blends class is the perfect choice. If you have a specialty beverage need, try Frozen Beverage Preparation or Tea Basics. Our Coffee College courses are held on site at our facility, but options are available to travel to your location for cuppings or workshops for large groups/staff.

As with any training, Coffee College helps build confidence. Attendees will become quicker and more consistent in preparation of quality drinks and more focused on serving the customer. No one provides better customer service than an employee who is knowledgeable about their product and industry, and this holds true with baristas. Tracy Allen goes on to say, “A well-trained staff is happier and more likely to stay put because training improves self-esteem, which in turn improves morale and employer loyalty .”

Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we certainly see the value in a well-trained staff. Jeff Vojta, President and co-founder of Stockton Graham & Co. confirms this idea, “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.” 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. We offer our Coffee College sessions at $250 for the first person and $200 for each additional attendee. To learn more about Coffee College with Stockton Graham & Co., or to register for the class, call your Customer Care Associate at 800.835.5943.

Upcoming dates for Coffee College:

January 18, 2013

February 15, 2013

March 15, 2013

 


[i]  Allen, Tracy. “Cashbox: Guaranteed Returns- Invest in training your staff to see exponential rewards.” December 2012 – January 2013: 70-71.

Prepare your shop for Fall!

Fall is just about here, and it’s a great time to be a coffee shop owner! Your regulars start to return from summer vacation, kids begin a new school year, and some of the most favored seasonal blends and drinks give people another reason to stop in your shop. There’s a lot going on, and a business owner can get overwhelmed quickly, so we have prepared a cheat sheet of preps that you should take into consideration in order to plan for a successful fall.

Revise your menu for fall drinks! As we move into fall, our industry shifts gears and we begin to prepare for coffee’s busiest season. It is time to consider promoting your seasonal drinks, beginning with pumpkin!

• Call Stockton Graham & Co. to pre-order seasonal syrups and sauces. Customers expect flavors like Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple to be on your fall menu. Pre-ordering these seasonal items ensures you are prepared to handle the demand. We highly suggest you order AT LEAST one case of pumpkin flavored syrup of your brand choice – it will sell. We offer it in DaVinci, Torani and Monin. To give you an extra boost with the fall transition Stockton Graham & Co. is offering a  promotion for pumpkin syrups and sauces pre-order! Click here to learn more.

• Determine what seasonal coffees you will offer. Here at Stockton Graham & Co., we have numerous fall-inspired flavors and blends to satisfy any customer. Click here for more details, and a list of our favorite fall-time coffees!

Apple cider is also a very common and popular drink for the colder months. Click here to learn great ways to incorporate cider into you menu!

• Don’t forget about Chai! Chai is always a big hit in fall and winter months, and it is a great way to pick up some of those smoothie and frappe sales that oftentimes slow down this time of the year. Check out this great chai recipe to get your chai program up and running!

• Just because the peak of frozen beverages has come and gone doesn’t mean you won’t continue to sell them now, and through the fourth quarter. Dr. Smoothie’s 100% Cherry Cranberry is always a fall-time favorite, and this year’s new fall smoothie hit is Torani’s real fruit Green Apple smoothie! This green apple smoothie mixed with caramel sauce makes an AWESOME caramel apple smoothie. To give it a try, check out a spectacular offer here.

• And finally, make sure you are well staffed. Remember, fall marks the beginning of the busiest time of the year, and you don’t want to be shorthanded when it comes to employees. If you do need to hire additional help, be sure to consider Stockton Graham and Co.’s Coffee College to make sure your baristas are the best that they can be, ultimately saving you money!

If this is your first season as a cafe owner, or if you’re a veteran looking for some new, spicy ideas, contact one of our customer care associates today at (800) 835-5943 for additional seasonal advice!