December is a month packed with celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Las Posadas. It’s a busy time for businesses, and one that could benefit your café – provided you make the right preparations.
By making the most of the increased foot traffic and sales you’ll experience, you could start your 2020 off on a better financial footing, while enhancing your customers’ holidays at the same time.
Here are a few elements worth paying attention to in order to prepare your café for the festive season.
Lee este artículo en español Cómo Preparar tu Tienda de Café Para la Época Festiva
Freshly baked biscotti at a coffee shop. Credit: Ana Valencia
Feature Festive Refreshments
Offering customers limited edition, themed treats is a great way to get them into the festive spirit. These can feature traditional festive flavours like gingerbread, eggnog, and candy cane. Offering exclusive beverages such as peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes can also boost sales. Reuters reports that Starbucks exceeded its sales figures forecasts in 2018’s last quarter with the help of holiday-themed drinks.
Offering customers seasonal items such as mince pies, panettone, bibingka, and rugelach is also a good idea – whether it’s on your menu or available to take home. Market research firm Packaged Facts estimates that over half of the people who bought food gifts for others in 2017 did so for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa – and that sweet baked foods where a popular gift option.
For customers looking for a treat after a hard day’s shopping, strategically placed confectionery or baked goods are a convenient and eye-catching option. You could set up a temporary stall outside your café to offer coffee and snacks for customers on the move. Free samples may help to lure customers inside too, as research indicates that the conversion rate of sampling efforts can be as high as 30%.
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Fika Coffee in Toronto, Canada, during the festive season. Credit: Ana Valencia
Add Festive Decorations
How you decorate everything from your café interior to your lattes can make a favourable impression on visitors.
Latte art is an excellent vehicle for adding cheer to your café. Try swapping your usual artwork for something festive themed, or aligned to an upcoming celebration or holiday in your area. Your customers will appreciate these subtle touches, and it will also increase the perceived value of your drinks – meaning that customers will be willing to pay more for it.
Decorating your café accordingly is also important. This can include Kinara candles and Hanukkah themed garlands to indicate that you’re celebrating specific holidays, or a Christmas tree, pine cones, and red berries to be more generic. While this decor will draw the eyes of customers, it will also increase engagement in any staff members on duty.
Don’t forget about engaging your customers’ sense of hearing and sense of smell. Engaging these senses can also positively impact your sales. The right scents can encourage consumers to linger longer in spaces, while creating a feeling of familiarity. When you reinforce this by playing Christmas music in your café, it’s more likely to be favourably evaluated by customers.
Consider implementing a seasonal dress code or uniform for your staff. This can take the form of different versions of an existing uniform, or having them wear accessories associated with non-denominational Christmas characters such as reindeer, Santa Claus, or elves. Remember that what your staff members wear can positively impact their performance and behaviour. It also influences customer expectations on the quality of their performance.
Christmas gifts under a tree and a cup of black coffee. Credit: Ana Valencia
Maximise Your Gift Offerings
The festive season is traditionally a time of higher spending – with Americans alone planning to spend close to a thousand dollars on gifts during this period. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to sell gifts such as specialty roasted coffee, brewing gear, and other related merchandise.
Many people will be on the hunt for gift sets, so combining and packing a few items together (such as coffee beans, a hand grinder, and a mug) is one option. Another is to allow them to construct their own gift sets.
Whatever it is that you’re offering, don’t forget that presentation matters. Offering a gift wrapping service for a small fee or free with purchases over a certain amount is a good idea – especially for last minute purchases. Here, smaller cafés can offer a more personalised, attentive touch that larger retailers may lack, by offering handwritten cards and other touches.
If your café doesn’t stock much merchandise or wants to avoid the risk that comes with having excess stock that will date quickly, gift cards are a great option. While there’s a perception that this kind of gift is impersonal, it’s actually one of the most requested gifts of the season, and is particularly popular amongst those aged 18 to 34. In addition, many gift receivers will spend more than the value of their gift card to upsize or improve their gift.
Depending on the size and scope of your café, you can offer gift cards for everything from free drinks to coffee subscriptions (if your café has its own brand of beans or filter coffee). You can also offer tickets to classes and events that will take place on your premises.
A barista pours milk into a cup. Credit: Fernando Pocasangre
Practical Factors to Consider
Whether you decide to offer seasonal drinks, put up festive decorations, or opt for any of the other preparations listed in this article, make sure that you plan things beforehand – and consider the factors that might impact your success.
It’s common for staff members to take time off during festive periods, so make sure you have a plan in place (whether it involves paying overtime or hiring temporary staff) to ensure your café is fully staffed during this time.
You should also carefully plan your proposed menu in a way that will minimise waste. Ideally you should have sales figures from the previous year to help guide you on how many food and drink items need to be prepared, and which ones will be more popular than others. This will ensure your efforts don’t cost you more than they make.
By preparing your approach and considering the above factors, you’ll be able to make the most of the commercial opportunities that the festive season brings – with as little stress and fuss as possible.
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Written by Thomas Storr. Feature photo credit: Ana Valencia
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