How cool would it be to have the cash available to buy a bigger roaster? Shiny, stunning stainless steel — often accented with black — these classy items are a true work of art. Not only that, but they can cost a pretty penny, too. Maybe you have a particular model that is the highlight of your “One day I will own . . . ” dream. Wouldn’t you love to know that your dream may be even closer than you realize?
I co-founded my own coffee business several years ago, something that many people have done throughout the world. However, I also decided that simply selling coffee was not going to provide me with the level of financial stability that I needed to grow the business. I looked around for ways to expand my business and after much trial and error, I started a coffee club. Things ticked along nicely for a while, until one day I realized that I was making it grow quickly. On coffee. And a club.
Today, I have refined the ideal mix of marketing and technology to continue to grow my business. I would love to share my secrets with you, because trust me when I say this: it isn’t as easy as I make it sound! I spent years fine-tuning and distilling my techniques and messaging. Creating ways of communicating my coffee subscriptions that were compelling to customers and irresistible for coffee aficionados. (And you can afford to buy a bigger roaster!).
Not sure where to start? I wasn’t either. Here are 9 tips for you — things I have learned throughout the years of building my coffee subscription business.
1. Day of the Month
Keeping things simple is the first step in any successful subscription plan. Grouping your orders may not be a necessity when you begin your coffee club, but you will find very soon that keeping things consistent will help you focus your energy on growing your business. Select a day of the month, often the 1st day, and set all subscriptions to renew at the same time. This allows you to predict future sales and order your green coffee for roasting appropriately.
2. Credit Card Only
Administrative work is overhead — time you are spending in activities other than making money. Limit this time as much as possible by accepting orders only via credit card. This highly trackable method of payment protects your business from outstanding debt and chasing bad checks. This will continue to save you time and money in the future, while allowing your customers to self-service to update their personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates.
Who wouldn’t love the ongoing gift of fresh, aromatic roasted coffee?!? Provide your customers with an easy way to share your coffee with someone that they love. Gift subscriptions can be a huge revenue opportunity, as they make a unique and thoughtful gift. Consider providing coffee subscriptions that can be gifted in 3-, 6- and 12-month increments. You may even decide to discount each package based on the volume that is being purchased upfront. Coffee club subscriptions are especially popular during the holidays, as people scramble to find presents for co-workers, teachers and acquaintances. The upfront payment for the gifts provides you with the incoming revenue that you need to grow your business.
4. In-Store Signups
After a great deal of trial and error with electronic options, I eventually gave in and realized that the best way to sign people up for your coffee club in the store was through a simple, pre-printed sheet of paper. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the frustration of trial and error — I’ve done the work for you! Simply download this free PDF, make a few customizations, and you’re ready to start your coffee subscription business.
5. Easy Platform
Making life easy for your customers is what a coffee subscription program is all about! You take the work out of providing coffee — and your coffee club software should be every bit as simple. Find a program that can grow with your business, allowing you to focus on your coffee instead of tracking and other administrative overhead. Automate as much of your process as you can, including emailed receipts, self-service updates to personal information and more. Feel free to reach out for assistance if you need help working through the software question.
6. Email Newsletter
Your coffee club is more than simply a revenue stream, it is the ideal list of your die-hard customers! Leverage this information in a variety of ways by offering insider information, private sales and ongoing education. As long as you are adding value with your email newsletter, your customers will look forward to it and be more open to any special sales you have. Keep in mind that people are incredibly busy these days, so be respectful of your time. You don’t like salespeople who only call you when they want something — don’t be that person! Stay in touch on a regular basis and your audience will be much more receptive of a sales message once in a while.
7. Free Gifts
Everyone loves a great deal, and starting something you love and receiving a free gift is the ideal way to surprise and delight your customers. Consider sending a free gift with their first coffee club subscription box as a small “Thank you” for enjoying your coffee. I’ve found that a free custom-branded coffee mug is a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving.
People today love free shipping. Even though they know in the back of their minds that shipping isn’t really free — it is always easier to sell when the shipping is included as a part of the service cost. Be sure to build in enough shipping for customers in far-flung places, and be very clear upfront on your website and in your materials whether or not you’re offering international shipments. Consider the shipping cost at each level of your subscription, and be sure to build in the correct amounts for shipping. There can be a big jump in cost when you’re shipping larger quantities of coffee.
9. Affiliate or Reward Programs
Refer-A-Friend, get a gift! Whether you choose to offer one month free for each friend who signs up or another small gift, affiliate and reward programs are a great way to spread the word about your new coffee club without spending a great deal of money on marketing. Word of mouth — even when that word travels digitally — is still one of the best ways to grow your business. Get creative and have fun finding something that will uniquely tie to your business and be valuable to your customers.
I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you quickly, and it is all pretty high level. When you need assistance or advice starting your own coffee club, I would love to hear from you! I’m happy to offer a complimentary one-on-one strategy call to get your mental motor revved up.