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Caffeinated Ideas for a Sluggish Economy

by Kari Guddeck and Jay Weller @ Barista Pro Shop

Getting through these tough times is on everyone's mind right now. We've been talking with a lot of our customers to come up with a list of ideas that might help you get ahead this year.

  1. Create your own stimulus package--sell prepaid drink coupons (buy 10 get 1 free) Be careful! You are creating a future liability by doing this (you owe the customer drinks). However, selling a coupon like this will increase your cash flow today. If the coupon is paid for with a credit card, you'll only get one transaction fee instead of 11. Odds are that not all people will use the entire coupon--which means you'll be ahead on those coupons. The coupon will also encourage people to keep coming back and you can upsell them other products.
  2. Cater to groups Post fliers in local gyms, libraries, etc. advertising use of your shop for book groups, knitting groups, poetry groups, etc. You might offer 10% off drinks for the group, or a couple of free cookies.
  3. Clean Up Although you don't want to be stuck with extra time, if you've got it--use it! Do the down and dirty cleaning that gets put off (cleaning light fixtures, base boards, under equipment). Organize your space and work on the traffic flow of your shop. Fresh paint--it's cheap, easy and quick, but it makes a big difference.
  4. Training Spend extra time training and focus on consistency and customer service. Emphasize the importance of cutting down on waste (milk, etc.) to save some money. Make sure baristas "know" your products as well as you do.
  5. Morale Boosting Keep a positive attitude. It's easy to get down in the hard times. Try to stay upbeat and keep your mind open to fresh ideas and new customer opportunities. Your positive attitude will be evident to employees and customers and make your shop a pleasant place to be. Focus on smiling!
  6. Happy Hour Choose a new special daily--be creative and keep people interested and coming back
  7. Beat the afternoon slump Buy a drink in the morning and come back in the afternoon for a deal on another--you can do this with a rubber stamp on the customer's receipt
  8. Sample, sample, sample
  9. Offer cost conscious customers an option Focus on low cost/high profit/high value profit drinks like brewed hot/iced coffee, hot/iced teas and italian sodas
  10. Visit your business' neighbors Bring a "Joe to Go" with cups, sugar and milk. Leave some coupons (with an expiration date) so you can track whether or not it's working. You don't have to do 25 in a week. Start with one or two on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and see if it works. If your neighbors already come in for coffee, bring them some smoothies in the afternoon.
  11. Keep an eye out for awesome employees Make sure you recognize your current stars, but keep an eye out for the opportunity to improve your staff. If you're like most, you're getting tons of applications--if you have some good ones, do some interviews. Got some dead weight on your staff? Cut it now--you can save the money or replace it with better people.
  12. Develop additional niches Rush hour commuter coffee your main business? Can you attract late afternoon students in for smoothies? Diversify your customer base and get your eggs into more than one basket.
  13. Refresh your POS Posters and table tents starting to look haggard and faded? Along with your fresh paint job, make sure all the "billboards" in your store look fresh and good. Make sure they're seasonally appropriate--that Egg Nog Latte table tent in the back corner probably isn't working too well for you in April. It's a good time to develop an easy to follow marketing calendar. Look ahead to the next 6 months. Pick drinks that you'll promote and then order the POS to support it. If you have everything ready to go, it's much easier to keep to a marketing schedule.
  14. Upsell Sell your employees on the concept that the more they sell, the bigger their tips will be. When someone orders a drink without specifying a size, the register person should be reaching for the largest cup you have and suggesting "a large sir?" If the order is for a drink, they should suggest a food item to go with it. If they're ordering food, what would the customer like to drink with it? If your baristas and register people balk at doing this, see #11.
  15. Secret shopper Have someone that's not known in your shop go in and act as a secret shopper. Make sure your initiatives are working. If the experience is great, have your shopper throw $10 in the tip jar to recognize the effort. It's also a great time to secret shop your competition--hit 'em all. The big coffee chains, the bagel places and of course the other independents. Make a mental note of everything--good and bad. Then, go back to your store and see what you can improve on.


I really like this info. #14 Starting with the large cup instead of small first is huge in many ways. #7 Many customers buy in the morning and they should come back in the afternoon for a reward. Thanks1

By The 5th and Main Espresso Bar

August 19, 2014

Thank you for the feedback, we're glad you found this information helpful!
Getting customers to return to your shop can be very valuable and when you get creative with your promotions it can be easier than you think!


August 20, 2014