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Need advice on Marketing Desserts for Coffee Shops


shaloop
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I just made my first deliveries to a local coffeeshop yesterday. I delivered coffeecakes and cheesecakes. I returned to collect payment later in the day and found, to my horror, that all of the cakes had been cut, placed in individual plastic serving containers and placed in the display cooler. I suggested that they remove the coffeecakes and keep them at room temperature (and unsliced) to keep them tender and moist. As for the cheesecakes, they won't suffer as they are, but they won't sell well either. A nice, clearly visible display of a whole cheesecake is eye-catching and I believe will lead to more sales. As it is, you have to really study the display to tell what's in the individual boxes. In other words--you have to be specifically looking for dessert. It doesn't catch your eye. I went home and drafted a "Storage and Serving" sheet for proper handling of the desserts that will be included with each order. What can I do to help them market the desserts better?

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It may be that they've "always done things this way" so they didn't know to do something different. They slice and pack the cakes so it's easy to handle at the point of sale. It takes time to cut a piece and pack it up for a customer to go (I'm guessing this is to go - otherwise, it doesn't make any sense!! Why waste the plastic container if the client eats in?

Had you been a customer or maybe watched the customer flow in the shop before you started to sell to them? This will tell you a lot about what the staff is able to do . A restaurant I sold to didn't want me to mark the tops of the cakes but the wait staff couldn't cut straight, or evenly and there was a lot of waste. Eventually they agreed to let me mark the tops of the cakes. Maybe it's the same here.

If they want to show slices, then offer to create "tent cards" to place alongside the neatly lined up containers; garnish the case with some silk leaves or flowers to add some color and polish to the display to make it look more enticing in general.

Why are they buying from you to begin with? To offer something new to their clients? Replace the in-house baker? Increase sales? Approach it from that angle and see if they are responsive ("I know you wanted to increase the amount of dessert sales with the product you're buying from me. Could I suggest that next time I bring two of each? You can pre-slice one cake and show the other whole and see if that increases the sales of that item?") Or "other clients of mine have found that people can't resist seeing the entire mousse cake displayed - would you like to give that a try?"

Or suggest they slice just half of the cake, leaving the other half whole so it can display well. Pull the slices just a little bit out from the cake to make it easier to handle.

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It may be that they've "always done things this way" so they didn't know to do something different.  They slice and pack the cakes so it's easy to handle at the point of sale.  It takes time to cut a piece and pack it up for a customer to go (I'm guessing this is to go - otherwise, it doesn't make any sense!!  Why waste the plastic container if the client eats in?

Had you been a customer or maybe watched the customer flow in the shop before you started to sell to them? This will tell you a lot about what the staff is able to do .  A restaurant I sold to didn't want me to mark the tops of the cakes but the wait staff couldn't cut straight, or evenly and there was a lot of waste. Eventually they agreed to let me mark the tops of the cakes.  Maybe it's the same here.

If they want to show slices, then offer to create "tent cards" to place alongside the neatly lined up containers; garnish the case with some silk leaves or flowers to add some color and polish to the display to make it look more enticing in general. 

Why are they buying from you to begin with?  To offer something new to their clients?  Replace the in-house baker?  Increase sales?  Approach it from that angle and see if they are responsive ("I know you wanted to increase the amount of dessert sales with the product you're buying from me.  Could I suggest that next time I bring two of each?  You can pre-slice one cake and show the other whole and see if that increases the sales of that item?")  Or "other clients of mine have found that people can't resist seeing the entire mousse cake displayed - would you like to give that a try?"

Or suggest they slice just half of the cake, leaving the other half whole so it can display well.  Pull the slices just a little bit out from the cake to make it easier to handle.

To answer a few questions, I've been a customer of this coffee shop at this and another location for some times. They've always packaged their cheesecake and mousse cakes this way. (I'm guessing for convenience.) However, they serve an Italian Cream cake in a glass dome, whole, one the counter. It's a top seller as customers notice it when they are at the counter ordering. The Italian Cream Cake is the only dessert that they purchase freshly made. (made by a friend of the owner.) Everything else comes from Sysco. There aren't many bakeries in this area and pretty much all of the coffee shops and small cafe's carry the same desserts which are purchased from Sysco or Sams. As for the cheesecake, I do preslice it into 12 slices, but leave it arranged as a whole and deliver in a cake box. Another place I used to sell to would place the entire sliced cake (on a cardboard round) onto a glass plate and place it in the cooler. At time of sale they just pulled out one slice and plated or packaged it for the customer. I would like to suggest this shop do the same. I'm not sure how to suggest this or even if there's some info on display or marketing desserts that I could share with them. I appreciated the suggestions you've already made.

BTW, what are "Tent Cards"? (I'm guessing the glossy bifold cards you often see on tables showing the desserts or other specials)

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i've had this problem many times. I make individual desserts and hi-end cakes. I have sold to gourmet shops and coffee shops that use the method of sales that you described. They eventually dropped off and we never able to sell so i lost them as a customer, even with all the hands on help. Dont get frustrated but some people just cant sell desserts and they revert back to the way they have always done things. I now avoid customers that dont have a dedicated "display" are or refrigerated case.

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Maybe that person gave them the display dome (not that I am suggesting you do the same!) How much do you want this client? Brian's right - some places are always going to do things this way and they might not make it worth your while. Did you ask them to try your stuff? If they were open to that, maybe they'd be open to more suggestions?

I don't know of any "how to" book on marketing desserts, but there's a monthly restaurant magazine I've seen on occasion (Restaurant Today? something like that) - and maybe that's a good place to start. Or the Modern Baking magazine - I think that web site is www.modern-baking.com but I'm not at all sure, sorry.

Right on about the tent cards! :biggrin:

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How much do you want this client? 

Well, this is the ONLY coffee shop in this city. They also have another location in the next city. If all goes well at this location, I will get the other location as well. I want this client. :biggrin:

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This is probably a stupid question, but does it have to be the two cakes you mentioned?

When I read the title of this thread and got curious about it, it was because it sparked a memory of the best coffee go-with I've ever had: a date bar. The best date bar I ever had. Someone put a little independent coffee-and-cake stand in the lobby of a building I used to work in. They later got pushed out by Starbucks. Not that Starbucks wanted the space, but that Starbucks wanted no competition in the vicinity. It was a horrible thing to watch, everyone cared about the people running the stand.

At any rate, I would go down to buy a cup of coffee and would buy these date bars. Just thinking about them fills me with longing!

I'm wondering why the coffee shop is packaging desserts to go that are not very go-ish . . . maybe something that would travel better would sell better? Something you can grab easily at the counter, slip in your pocket and not have to take too much time to eat?

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I'm wondering why the coffee shop is packaging desserts to go that are not very go-ish . . . maybe something that would travel better would sell better?  Something you can grab easily at the counter, slip in your pocket and not have to take too much time to eat?

They also sell light breakfast items (bagels, muffins) and lunch (salads, wraps, sandwiches.) They've always sold "desserts" and my items just add a little diversity (and quality) to the same old stuff they've served for years. Actually, this location is new. The other location (next city over) has sold the same stuff for years. I'm just starting out and so I only do once a week delivery. I want to sell items that will be at their best when consumed by customers. I don't think something like that would keep well for a week. Especially seeing as how they handle their baked goods. I thought about brownies and other bars but until I increase my baking and delivery schedule (which I hope to in the fall if/when business picks up) then I will introduce more items.

Also, many of their customers are "eat-in". The items are prepackaged regardless of whether the customer is "eat-in" or "to-go". They do have some muffins and cookies wrapped individually for "grab & go".

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We sell our shortbread to coffee shops in two ways: pre-packaged, and bulk. The bulk shortbread outsells the pre-packaged individual pieces by 400%.

There's something to be said about freshness.

However, unless the coffee shop is specifically marketing desserts, it only represents a small margin of their sales, so as a business owner, they are likely to try to spend less time and energy trying to sell something that doesn't move. However, that does seem counter-intuitive since if they put more effort (through nice displays, etc.) they might actually sell more. Except in their minds, the increased pastry sales still don't hold a candle to their coffee and drink sales.

I agree that putting together some marketing materials that can help inform their clients about your products would be helpful. Perhaps some stickers they can attach to the plastic containers. Talk to them about whether you want to put your logo, or even their logo on the stickers or little cards for the display. Some shops like to give their customers the perception that THEY make the pastries. Also, if you're using wholesome or natural ingredients, be sure to supply those for people. People are becoming increasingly conscious of ingredients, so that can help.

I know it's so hard to put the selling of your pastries in someone elses hands. Clearly, you can do a better job selling your own pastries, but for now, try to bridge the gap between you and the end consumer by increasing your communication efforts.

Good luck!

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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