Twenty Years Tells Us: That was this then, this is now.

As a service-oriented business, one of our primary objectives is keeping customers happy and calling again and again for great craft-roasted coffee and related beverage products. Each time we interact with a customer, we are setting the bar for the next time. When the occasion arises that we haven’t maintained or exceeded the level of service the customer expects, we risk opening the door for a competitor to come in and take our place. This is the same in almost every business, including your own.

As humans, you and your staff are vulnerable to making mistakes or having a bad day here or there. But, when you allow this impact your customers, the perception they have for you changes as well. People tend to have short memories, and no matter how stellar your service was before, if you fall short today, your customer may start looking for other options.

In our training classes, we often do a little exercise. We all close our eyes, and imagine that someone we barely know walks up and puts $1000 in our hand. We ask, “What would you do with all that money?” So far, no one has said they would throw in the trash. Usually someone asks something like, “Who would ever do something like that?” And the answer is, “All of us.” A good, loyal café customer will spend $1000 or more per year in their favorite java joint. So, when we fail to provide great service, it’s the same as tossing your cash in the trash.

Another example of how we might lose business without even realizing it is an instant that happened at one of our customer’s stores. Recently, a lady was sitting in her car near the café. A new cashier noticed that she appeared to be on her laptop. He walked out to her to inform her that the WiFi was for paying customers only, and asked her to come in and make a purchase or leave. She left. It turns out that the lady happened to be a well-known real estate agent, who is actually a regular and often holds meetings at this café. Being new, the employee didn’t know this. Fortunately, the manager was able to track her down and address the situation immediately. He apologized to her, coached the employee and comped her next visit. Now, when this same lady is banging out emails before coming in, she is sometimes greeted with a knock on her window and her “usual” ready-made.

If not for the manager’s quick action, the name and reputation of this shop would be on the line with each new client or colleague the agent meets. Instead, she continues to spend about twenty dollars per week, plus the occasional gifts she buys for clients. By acting quickly, the manager didn’t allow the negative experience to fester in the customer’s mind. This very bad experience was overcome with an overwhelmingly positive one. This customer has probably forgotten all about this exchange, but her experience has led to a valuable learning opportunity for us all.

Always remember that in the minds of consumers, you are as good today as you will ever be. If you consistently offer great experiences, you are more apt to keep those happy folk coming in time and time again. Remember to coach your staff on the importance of stellar customer service and you will see a happier, more loyal customer base.

STG513-ID-20years-ColorLogoFor more tips on providing excellent customer service, check our blog or give our team of Customer Care Associates a call at 800 835 5943.

Twenty Years Tells Us: Offer Bulk & Retail Coffee

SGC-historyYou have probably heard us talk about the profitability of a bulk & retail coffee program before, and we know from experience that it is a great idea! Twenty years ago this May, our CEO Jeff Vojta and his business partner started a little coffee shop in Raleigh, NC, called Classic Coffees which would later become Stockton Graham & Co. Back in 1994, there wasn’t much to go on in terms of how to run a coffee shop. Starbucks wasn’t yet a household name, and the specialty coffee industry was still in its infancy. Our founders had to experiment with what worked, what failed and what could be improved upon. One of the best revenue streams turned out to be Classic Coffee’s bulk and retail coffee offerings. They started small with only 5 or 6 offerings in their program, and within 2 years they had over 100 different coffees available.

SGC_RetailCoffeeInfographicChart_2014The bulk and retail coffee program in the original store is one of the key factors Jeff attributes to the store’s success. Jeff has said, “Shops that properly implement a robust bulk coffee program can expect a 40-50% increase in gross coffee and coffee beverage sales.” One of the ways that a bulk coffee program can help your store do this is by increasing customer loyalty. You see your best customers 3-5 times a week, but they drink coffee everyday. Is it your coffee? If they aren’t using beans bought from your store, they are buying them from somewhere else. Instead of losing the business to some other store or supermarket, offer customers the same great coffee you serve as a retail option! Selling take-home coffee adds to incremental sales, helps you rotate your stock more quickly, and keeps you relevant with your customers on a daily basis. They are more than likely to share it with friends and family and come back to you with future business! What a great way to market to new potential customers!

Thinking about starting your own bulk and retail coffee program? Here is what Jeff did at Classic Coffees to increase both sales and customer loyalty:SGC-Bulk-Coffee


What Jeff did:

  • Made the beans accessible to customers to see, smell and taste
  • Educated staff and customers about the coffees
  • He had a separate help line for those stopping in just to buy beans
  • Had over 100 selections of coffee
  • Offered shipping and gift baskets

For more information about bulk and retail coffee programs, give your Customer Care Associate a call at 800.835.5943.

Want to private label your retail coffees? Read more about our private label program here.

Need point-of-sale materials to support your retail or bulk team program? Read how we can help here.