The well oiled seasonal retail calendar drives sales throughout the year, and in many markets, Christmas is the biggest of them all. It's not always a great trading period for everyone, though.
Those coffee shops that are in city centres or shopping malls that attract the hoards are planning their big trading days, stocking up, staffing up and getting ready to make a killing. Their biggest issue will be managing the queue and finding somewhere cool to store the extra milk they will need.
The more typical Independent may have a different outlook. Coffee shops depend on their location for their trade, and with many of them located away from the main shopping destinations, in business areas or secondary or tertiary locations, Christmas can be a season without much joy or goodwill for their owners.
We have experienced this in some of our businesses, and what you see is that as December progresses, the offices empty and the shoppers start their Christmas shopping in the bigger towns or cities, depressing your sales before another quiet month which for lots of businesses is the month the rent and VAT are due!
For this type of coffee business, Christmas is about managing costs tightly, planning staff leave carefully and controlling cash flow until January. There is a delicate balance between not running out when your suppliers are closed, giving you a headache, and having a massive supplier bill to pay in January.
There is, of course, always plenty of opportunities for the smart operators to take.
At this time of year, where people's routines change, there will be lots of new potential customers walking past your door who may be encouraged to come inside your attractively decorated coffee shop for their first visit.
The Starbucks red cup is now an annual event telling the world that their limited edition Christmas range is now available and it brings excitement and more importantly customers to their bars.
Adding a seasonal range gives you an opportunity to get your guests to discover new products and offer them another reason to visit you more often. The great news is that it's easy and quick to add new drinks with a dash of syrup or whipped cream and a bit of imagination.
Your customers will be looking for gifts and stocking fillers too, so don't disappoint them! What coffee or tea related products could you start selling that would be the perfect gift, you don't even need to buy in new stock, you can package up some of the products you already sell, some beautiful clear wrapping and ribbon will make a ready made gift for the time-strapped guests to pick up.
Do you sell gift vouchers? At the simplest level, you can pre-stamp loyalty cards and sell them in packs of 10 for the price of 9. What about offering coffee experience evenings, or barista training as a product?
Using your space for office parties can be attractive new revenue streams as well. If you don't sell alcohol, you may be able to get a temporary event licence for these parties. Delivering buffets and party food to other venues too is a great option as well.
Setting up a bounce back offer for the new year where you give out vouchers for January during December.
Plan your social media campaigns to shout about all the great things you are doing, you can schedule posts in advance to save time when you are busy or relaxing on your time off.
Supporting local charities with vouchers can help you re-engage with the local community as well, so don't dump those begging letters, give generously to the Christmas raffles.
Managing time off for both you and your team is critical too, giving everyone a good break, including yourself, will benefit everyone. Planning for this though should have started months ago as you don't want to be ambushed with a last minute request for a holiday that will cause problems scheduling everyone else fairly.
The planning of the operations and logistics over the holiday period should not be neglected either, with many suppliers limiting their opening hours or even closing for a week, running out of an essential ingredient is likely to cause you pain and disappoint your guests.
Many suppliers will be asking you for your orders in advance for both before and after Christmas so be prepared! Watch out for short-dated products as your supplier clears their stock room too, so don't get caught out and claim any credit due.
January will also be a slower time for many suppliers; they will, in turn, be planning their offers and deals. These discounts can be used to build your promotions and deals too, so give them a call now to take advantage of this.
The law of sod also says that equipment will break down at the least convenient time, so don't ignore the squeak or the rumble and get things looked at before they go wrong and in plenty of time.
Below we have put together a checklist of the opportunities we have made in this article plus a few other things that you shouldn't miss either click here to get the checklist
Till Rolls/Credit Card Rolls
Waste collection schedule
Coffee & Other unique ingredients
Equipment Maintenance numbers
Up to date phone numbers for all the team
Extended Closedown checklist
Sufficient change from the bank.
Security of the cash while shop is closed
Holiday planning and fair time off rota
- SALES OPPORTUNITIES
Social media planning
Seasonal Drinks and food
Delivering Buffets and party food
Preparing for the January detox and fitness drive
- OTHER MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
Supporting local charities and organisations
Bounce back promotions
Supplier discounts and deals
About the Authors
Andrew & Claire Bowen are the authors of 'The Daily Grind - how to open & run a coffee shop that makes money' Available on Amazon, and Founders of Cafe Success cafesuccesshub.com - the ultimate resource site for coffee shop, cafe and tea room owners worldwide.
To buy The Daily Grind on Amazon Click Here