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Signature Drinks – Power Up Your Profits

Friday February 27, 2015 by Anna Gutierrez, Regional Sales Manager @ Gourmet Source

While those in the know may think they have fully capitalized on creating signature drinks for their retail specialty coffee business, there are many ways to power up profits through signature drinks, and only a handful of savvy coffee retailers do it correctly.

In order to understand how signature drinks can add to your business, it’s important to make sure that you first understand this question. What are signature drinks? From there, it helps to be aware of the tools needed to create signature drinks, the benefits and value signature drinks bring to your business, as well as tips on the best ways to promote signature drinks to your customers.

So What is a Signature Drink?

Contrary to what a lot of you may believe, Snickers Mochas, Milky Ways, Almond Joys, Sugar Daddy’s, etc. are not true signature drinks. These can be made by anyone, and chances are, it’s going to taste the same or at least similar at Java Joe’s down the street as it does at your place of business.

Imagine the uniqueness of your own hand-written signature, I want you to keep that in mind when creating signature beverages.

Granted, you want signature drinks to be based off of best-sellers like a mocha or vanilla latte, but the key is that they have a secret recipe. Since mocha and vanilla lattes are the most popular flavored drinks sold at your coffee business, why not start with these two flavors as a foundation of what you already know your customers love?!

Since we want these drinks to be something your customers crave, offer drinks that can be promoted day-to-day and become part of your everyday menu. The key in creating your signature drinks is having offerings on your menu that someone is going to want to drink day after day and not feel as though it’s simply a splurge item to be purchased every so often.

How do I get started?

So you understand the uniqueness of signature drinks and have gained a better understanding of what they are, but how do you get started in concocting them? As with just about anything that has ever been created, you need some sort of inspiration. I’ve personally found it helpful to base new recipes off some of my favorite deserts, but play around with other ideas you may have such as ice cream or bubble gum flavors. The world is your oyster, people!

Once you have a basic idea of what you’d like your end result to taste like, begin your research. For example, if you want to make a Tiramisu-inspired signature drink, take a look at Tiramisu recipes and see what similarities and differences you come across. Google away at every idea you have and see where it takes you. A few clicks here and a click there, you may stumble across something great!

The final and most important step is to make sure you’re getting creative and having fun! You need to be so excited and inspired that you can’t help but want to flip bottles around like Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’! Begin with your flavor foundation but tweak it a bit here and there and taste test it until you’ve achieved your desired flavor profile.

Why bother?

The extra effort that goes into creating signature drinks pays off in more ways than just extra pennies in your pocket at the end of the day.

As with everything in your business; whether it be a sign, your color scheme, the name and theme of your establishment, you want those all to be reaching towards a common goal of brand identity and awareness. Signature drinks allow you another venue to promote that identity. For example, if the name of your shop is Tiki Java, create a name for your signature drinks along that theme such as offering a Maui Mocha.

You can’t help but build customer loyalty when you use this approach. Using the same example, if a customer of yours goes to the coffee shop down the block and tries to order a Maui Mocha, your competition won’t be able to duplicate that drink, therefore, steering the customer back to your coffee business.

Of course, customer loyalty is great and we love to see repeat customers, but the sweetest reward in adding signature drinks to your menu is definitely the financial payback for your efforts. What you’ve done in creating these signature drinks is added value to an item that actually cost you nothing more to create behind the bar! Simply use the same total volume of syrups as you would for a certain sized drink, but ratio it out using a combination of different syrups.

When in doubt, follow this rule: if your current 16 ounce drink typically contains 1 ½ ounces of syrup flavoring, you can create a signature drink using ½ ounce each of three different syrups. You can also change it up with ¼ ounce of two different syrups and ½ ounce of two other syrups-as long as the total adds up to what you would normally measure for the drink size.

On average, if you promote your signature drinks correctly, about 30% of your current customers will begin ordering them regularly. The best part? Because of the perceived added value, you are also able to charge approximately 10% more per drink with the only initial investment being the signage you create to promote them.

How do I promote my new signature drinks?!

As humans, we naturally have an emotional connection to what we see, whether it be a cute kitten (aww) or a yummy looking drink with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle. The best way to get your customers to not even think about another drink on your menu is to put these enticing pictures right in front of their face so all they will want to do is point to a great looking drink and say, “I want that one!” Make sure the photos you use are professional and include a brief caption describing the basic flavor characteristics present in the drink.  

With all of the options your customers already have when they pull up to your drive-thru window, walk into your café or come up to your kiosk; you want to make sure you aren’t overwhelming them with your new signature drink offerings. Ideally, four to six signature drinks is what you would want to highlight on your menu.

Keep in mind that these all don’t need to be coffee-based drinks. In fact, they shouldn’t all be coffee-based drinks. Not every customer wants coffee, so change it up and offer a tea infusion, handmade soda, or fruit smoothie as one of your four to six drinks. That way, you’re able to capitalize on every palette that comes through your door.

Get to it!

Are you excited to start creating your own signature drinks? I sure hope so!  You now understand what signature drinks are, how to get started in creating them, the value they will bring to your business and the best way to promote them. Now you have no excuse to not add them to your menu! Just remember to have fun and get creative!