There's no doubt that 2009 was a tough year. Consumers have been watching every penny they spend and hospitality businesses have felt the impact. But now that we are starting to see the green shoots of recovery, operators that have really focused on delivering quality products, value for money and unbeatable customer service are in a strong position for future growth.
We've thoroughly enjoyed working with the Best for Business operators and there have been many highlights. One of the biggest is the 75% increase in hot beverage sales at the Wild Wood. It really demonstrates the commercial benefits of a consistent, high-quality beverage offer. By working with Dominic, we've helped him to create a new customer base by making the Wild Wood a coffee destination, through the high quality of the drinks.
In any business, investing in your staff is crucial to its success. With a little research and initiatives such as Train to Gain, there are plenty of schemes that involve little or no funding. At First Choice Coffee, staff training for our customers comes as part of the package with our machines and coffee.
In terms of coffee, the training is integral to the quality of the coffee in the cup. With our bean-to-cup equipment, it's simply a case of pressing a button for a Barista-quality cup of coffee. But, with traditional espresso equipment, it must be accompanied by full barista training to really get the most from the machine. A skill such as latte art adds value for the customer and also gives staff a sense of pride in the presentation.
When running a business, there's so much to think about and one of the most important things is keeping your staff motivated. As well as giving the team comprehensive barista training at the Mulberry Tree in Kent, our training manager worked with Karen to focus on staff motivation and advised on staff rewards and incentive schemes which Karen weaved into her work plans.
It's crucial for operators to remember that hot drinks are one of the biggest profit drivers in a hospitality business. It costs about 21p to make an Americano; with a selling price of £2 - that's a 90% profit margin. By providing high-quality drinks that meet consumer expectations, operators have the opportunity to prosper.
Elaine Higginson, managing director, First Choice Coffee