Getting Profitable: Lesson 6

Building Sales – Part 2: Generating More Income from your Existing Customers

While an important aspect of building sales is attracting consumers who have never visited your coffee business before, for this article, we will concentrate on how to influence your existing customers to buy more and visit more often. After all, it can take a while to attract new customers, but you can increase your sales by 10 or 15% starting tomorrow by cultivating additional purchases from those who already come into your store on a regular basis.
When it comes to increasing in-store sales and visits, the person standing behind your cash register wields the most power and influence. This is your “quarterback” of sales, and as we all know, it’s hard to win with a terrible quarterback. You need cashiers who are self-confident extraverts. You need them to be “marketing associates;” salespersons first, order-takers and cashiers second.
Seemingly insignificant statements or questions, verbalized by your cashiers to customers, can have a significant effect on sales. For example, if a customer orders a drink, but doesn’t specify a size, never ask: “What size would you like?” Instead, you should always ask: “Would you like a big one?” The number of customers who will simply follow your lead and respond, “Sure, a big one sounds great,” will amaze you. If asking this question can influence 1 out of every 3 customers to increase their drink size, yielding an extra 50¢ in revenue, and you serve 200 customers per day, this adds up to an extra $33 dollars a day, $990 per month, $11,800 per year!
Next, your cashier should suggest a food item that will be complementary to the beverage ordered by every customer. “Would you like a warm chocolate croissant to go with your cappuccino?” or “Would you like a freshly-baked blueberry scone to go with your hot tea?” Too often cashiers think that they are suggestive-selling if they merely ask: “Would you like something else to go with that?” What is “something else?” I’ve ordered lemon poppy-seed muffins, almond croissants, cinnamon rolls… but I’ve never ordered “something else.” The item your cashier suggests should be specific, something they believe in; something they like. Your cashier needs to paint a verbally enticing description: “Would you like a warm, gooey, cinnamon roll?” vs. “Would you like a cinnamon roll?” (You get the idea.)
Revenue from suggestive-selling can also be expanded by recognizing other sales opportunities. Depending upon the time of the day, the following statements can drive extra sales: “Don’t forget, we have great gourmet grilled sandwiches, salads, and soups for lunch!” “Need a dozen chocolate chips cookies to take back to the folks in your office?” “Need a couple of desserts to take home for after dinner tonight?” “Hey, Thursday afternoon we are having a wine tasting from 5 to 6:30, be sure to come check it out, you won’t want to miss it!”
Also, at the end of each transaction, don’t miss the opportunity to implant a subconscious message into the mind of your customer by saying: “Thanks a lot, we’ll see you tomorrow!” The message being: you will come back; this will become part of your regular routine.
So, how do you get your cashiers to do these things without failure, you ask? Stand behind them for an entire shift or two, and “chime-in” if your cashier forgets what to say. For example, if your cashier asks a customer “What size drink would you like,” you should simply shout out, “or would you like a big one?” Just tell your cashier that you are there to help them remember what to say, and that you will remain there until they ask these things 100% of the time. Believe me, the discomfort of having you breathing over their shoulders and correcting them every time they forget will motivate them to get with the program, if only to get rid of you! This is a battle of wills, and your cashier must be willing to help you build sales. If they resist, you’ll need to let them know you may be forced to replace them if they won’t do what you ask.
In addition to the marketing efforts of your cashiers, there are other things you should do to help increase in-store sales. Impulse-purchase merchandise should be displayed adjacent to the customer’s path-of-travel to the cashier, so that it will tempt them to buy something. This includes items like packaged candies and nuts,
1 lb. bags of coffee beans, travel mugs, pastries, etc.
Printed advertising should be located at the point of purchase (cash register) and on your tabletops. Clear plastic table tents work great for this, because they keep your advertising materials looking clean and crisp, and you can easily change advertisements depending upon the time of day. For example, in the morning, insert an advertisement promoting your lunch panini, soups, and salads. At lunchtime, use an ad promoting your ready-to-eat daily dinner specials that customers can pick up on their way home. In the evening, advertise your wines, beers, and appetizers.
Finally, if you have a TV in your store, connect it to the computer in your office, set up a series of ads in “Power Point,” and automate a continuous slide show. A series of slides promoting your products, specials, meal offerings, and events can market to your customers when you or your cashier don’t have time, or perhaps forget to do so.
Increasing the sales and visits of your existing clientele isn’t difficult with a little employee training and supervision. The effect it will have on your bottom line makes it well worth doing!
Ed Arvidson is a 25-year veteran consultant to the Specialty Coffee industry, and President of E&C Consulting. Elements of this article are from his new book, “How to Get Profitable in the Coffee Business.”

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