For most Canadians, a cup of coffee is as synonymous with their morning routines as brushing their teeth or hopping into the shower. In fact, according to a 2015 study from the Canadian Coffee Association, 79% of survey respondents had consumed a cup of coffee within the past week, and 67% had consumed a cup of coffee in the past day.
There are few c-store categories with such a high rate of daily consumption, and that’s great news for savvy convenience retailers who work hard to offer a great cup of coffee.
One retailer who understands the draw of coffee is Scott Fraser, owner of Milne Court Petro-Canada in New Minas, NS. When building his c-gas site from the ground up 12 years ago, he knew he needed to set his store apart from the competition, and he decided coffee was the way to do it. Within the 2,500 sq. ft. store, there’s Gram’s Café, which offers high-quality, made-from-scratch baked goods, including cookies, banana bread and brownies. They offer free WiFi and welcome customers who want to bring their laptops and make use of the space.
5 Ways you can boost coffee sales in store:
- Find a program that works. The options seem to be endless when it comes to choosing a coffee program for your store. Do you invest in a franchised program, such as Country Style? Do you create your own program? Or do you opt for a branded, all-in-one program from a reputable coffee company? You’ll need to weigh out the costs, space requirements, ongoing maintenance or repairs, and your own personal knowledge of brewing a delicious (and consistent) cup of coffee.
- Start with good water. “Make sure you’re brewing your coffee with good water. We had a customer come in and say ‘You know, I’ve had the same cup of coffee for 12 years’, and they come in every day. They said that where they used to go, the coffee always tasted different. It’s simple: if you control the water you control the coffee.”
- Find the right beans. “If you’re not a coffee drinker, gather a focus group together that is. Ask them to check out the various programs you’re looking at. Have them check out the program you want to build. Have them taste it,” he says. Just Us! uses a fair trade, organic beans, and that fits with the community-mindedness of Milne Court.
- Keep it fresh. Wastage will always be part of any high quality coffee program, especially when starting out. “Hot, fresh coffee is important. When you’re building your reputation, especially when you start, you’re going to have a little more waste than normal. But maintain your policy of freshness even though you may take a hit on the wastage at the beginning. Don’t compromise your product just to save a few dollars,” advises Fraser.
- Offer a deal. Be sure to promote your product, especially when starting out. Create a combo with pastries, muffins or breakfast sandwiches that will encourage customers to take a chance on your coffee over the competition. When starting out, you could offer any size for $1 or create a loyalty punch card system where the tenth cup is free. These tactics will grab customers’ attention, and your great cup of coffee will keep them coming back every morning.
Pro Tip: Make sure your employees are trained, says Scott Fraser. “Staff members need to be able to explain, promote, and understand the basics of coffee. They don’t need to be baristas, but they need to have a good basic knowledge.”