Operators are continually facing a balancing act in beverage menu management. On one hand, it is imperative to offer options that reflect the most current trends. For example, at this time of year a consumer can expect to see pumpkin and peppermint-flavored drinks making a short-lived but popular appearance on many industry menus. On the other hand, the operator must rely on and trust in equipment that is profitable to operate. The last thing an operator should be dealing with is constant battles with a service technician or service support line.
While both sides of the equation need thoughtful attention, there are several key factors in the first variable that can promote chances of operator success:
Improve reach and get new buyers. New buyers may be reached in innovative ways. For example, suppose filter coffee is a popular menu item. An operator can expand to specialty niche buyers by adding equipment brewing and grinding options to the counter that creates a barista-like experience and is designed to highlight flavors in single-origin coffee. There are options available that place little demand on the countertop footprint that can operate alongside more traditional brewers.
Increase visit frequency by existing buyers. This strategy involves keeping current on beverage trends and staying relevant to your customers. A stalwart in the day part line up for coffee-related drinks is the morning breakfast slot. However, an emerging day part vying for strong consideration is the early evening snack time. By determining appropriate offerings in both time slots that additionally reflect regional seasonality, regular customers could be enticed to visit a location at multiple times per day. And once menu options are updated, don’t forget to tell customers about new product offerings through a social media strategy or coupon mailers.
Look for ways to increase the average party size or buyers per occasion. Family-friendly menu options are a great way to build sales in this strategy, if a location concept can accommodate it. Many times, a family will consider an establishment based on the range of food and beverage options available for all members of the group.
Increase the average check per customer. Incorporating a potential trade-up strategy is ideal here. Described in the first tip above, a customer who is a regular filter coffee drinker may be ready to explore new taste options and experiences. Or, a regular tea drinker may be looking for something new in the category. This type of customer may be willing to pay more for a single origin coffee, sweetened tea or unique flavor of granita beverages such as coconut-mango.
Take a moment to evaluate all of these factors as you approach a new business year. Then determine if your equipment will allow you the flexibility to experiment or expand. While nothing is guaranteed in our current economic times, attention to the rationale behind purchase decisions gives an operator a solid business approach to menu management decisions.
Greg Fisher is Senior Vice President, Commercial Sales-North America for the Bunn-O-Matic® Corporation. During more than twenty-five years with the Springfield, Illinois-based company, he has worked in nearly every aspect of coffee brewing and grinding technology. Greg has been an active member of the Specialty Coffee Association since the very first conference in New Orleans.