Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Surviving 2010, Continued…

Here are a few other areas we are going to work on:

Originally, we had a passion for coffee and it was our intention to just be a coffee shop, with a few pastries, as would be expected. However, we had people stop by the shop almost daily during construction and ask what we were going to offer for lunch! It very quickly became apparent that our future customer base wanted food to eat, not just coffee and pastries. We listened to that input and incorporated it into our plans, and I’m very happy that we did. Based on our coffee/espresso/pastry sales over the last 2 ½ years, we would have gone out of business by now if that was our only concept. Offering home made soup, salads, and sandwiches added another revenue source, and it has resulted in total sales that got us into the black and able to remain viable.

Now, the next step is to grow our food business. How do we do that exactly???
Here are my current ideas…
1. I have a photography studio, and I have some serious Photoshop/Graphic Arts skills. I’m going to take some product shots and incorporate them into an in-house marketing campaign using the 40” flat screen, as well as the 15” LCD digital photo frame at the POS, as I described previously with regard to photography sales. We have a number of regulars who see us as a coffee shop only. Getting some mouth-watering visuals up of our lunch products may convert some of them to lunch-regulars as well… We also offer some killer breakfast burritos made in-house (real scrambled eggs (not that egg-in-a-milk-carton garbage), Jimmy Dean sausage, potatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese, not to mention home made salsa!), as well as breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, and bacon on a toasted croissant or sunflower wheat bread. I think we can increase those sales with a few flashy photos!!
2. When the owner’s were completing the building façade remodel, we had no overhead signage. A work around for that issue was to get 4’ x 8’ signs made. I made an A-frame wood structure in the bed of my ’69 Chevy pickup and mounted the signs on that. That resulted in a mobile billboard, which I was able to move around every couple of weeks to get fresh eyes on it by passing traffic. I’m going to make new signs that will advertise our home made lunch items. If people have been driving by for 2 ½ years because we are a coffee shop, I hope to get some of them to come in for lunch!
3. Facebook has a pay-per-click advertising program that can be targeted to specific markets. I may try that, and direct the advertising to the Olympic Training Center, Memorial Hospital, and possibly to the 80909 zip code. I have not decided on this yet, but I think it will be worthwhile to try.
4. I bought a Panini grill, and offering hot sandwiches will boost our lunch sales. People get tired of the same old things, even if they are good. We will offer Panini specials, with a highlighted new sandwich every couple of weeks. These will get the visuals on the monitors as well…

I’m also looking into some unconventional revenue sources. One of those is to attempt to renegotiate our lease. We thought we did well when we nailed down our lease, but being rookies, we made a few mistakes. We agreed to rent increases over time based on an 11 year lease. We never planned for such difficult economic conditions… We just had a rent increase in December, and our rate is now too high for current economic conditions. We are hoping the owner’s will agree to new negotiations. Keep your fingers crossed for us, and we’d appreciate your prayers as well!!

Another area we have not developed is whole bean coffee sales. Our roaster was recently named Roaster of the Year!!! Our coffee product is top notch, and this recent national award confirms what we have thought all along. We sell very little whole bean product, though, because we have not marketed it. We don’t even have a whole bean menu board up!! I am working on some signage for the store to advertise our whole bean product, and we’ll be getting a whole bean menu board up. Since we only average about 5-10 pounds of whole bean sales a week, I think there is room for growth here. I’d like to get that up to 30 to 40 pounds a week by mid-year.

We have more ideas, but I’m out of time for now. I hope everyone is having a great week! Take care,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for new revenue for 2010…

2010 looks like it is going to be a tough year for small business.
So, how does a small business tackle this challenge? The wrong answer would be to keep doing the same thing and hope you make it. I’d rather think of ways to enhance our current revenue streams, as well as to develop new revenue streams.

OK, so I think we can all agree that makes sense. Now for the hard part… How do you accomplish it?

Part of the Nemo’s concept from the start was to incorporate my photography into the space and the revenue stream. I have certainly enhanced our income here and there with a few weddings and lots of high school senior and family portrait sessions. They have all been generated based on word of mouth marketing, with absolutely zero advertising or marketing efforts. When I broke my clavicle in November 2008, that effectively killed off everything I had going with photography, including hosting photography group meetings in the studio. For 2010, I have a number of activities planned to incorporate photography again…

1. Since we installed a 40” LCD tv in the café, I can use it as a marketing tool for my photography. I’m going to create a marketing DVD to promote my portrait and wedding photography, and I will play the DVD in the café.
2. There are a number of companies that will print hard and soft cover books with your photographs. I’m going to design books to promote my photography services and have a number of them printed. I’ll place the books on the tables at Nemo’s, at all three of the local Curves locations (owned by Tracy’s mom and sisters), and at other locations I can find to display them (other coffee shops, our church and other churches to promote wedding photography, etc).
3. I will also begin actively marketing my photography services via Facebook!
4. I am drafting a beginner Photoshop course curriculum. I will be offering a six or eight week session of Photoshop lessons, to teach new photographers a digital workflow. I haven’t decided on pricing yet, but I’m aiming for the $100-150 range. I will market this class via www.meetup.com, which was very successful when I offered Photoshop classes in 2007-2008.
5. I randomly put prints of my photography up in the shop, typically on the bulletin board. I haven’t taken the time to matte or frame them. We get requests at least once a week to purchase a copy of various images. For 2010, I will be selecting 20 or 30 of my most popular images and get prints made in various sizes, from 5x7 up to 20x30 (or even bigger if the image quality will support). I’m going to take the best 10 or so and have them matted and framed in the largest sizes the image quality will support and display them in the café utilizing our art rail. I’m also going to mount and matte the images in smaller sizes and merchandise them in plastic art sleeves and have them available for sale. It is so much easier for someone to grab it and pay for it, than for them to ask about an image on display and wonder if they can purchase a copy… I will also create a DVD to play on the 40” screen to highlight my images available for sale at the shop.
6. I bought a 15” LCD digital photo frame, which I will load with the images available for retail sale. People just love a moving image, and I think this will really grab their attention and sell some prints.
7. I have also had two galleries in town express their interest in displaying my work. I have one show confirmed for September 2010, and I need to formally submit images to the second gallery and chase that opportunity.
8. There are still photography groups organized through www.meetup.com as well as Strobist groups (see www.strobist.com to see what they are all about) in town that are interested in using my studio for meetings. I will begin offering the space to them again this Spring.

If these ideas are well executed (which is the only way I like to do things), I believe we can create a whole new revenue stream that will help us to survive these lean times. It will require a great deal of effort up front, but once established, will be easy to sustain.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow Economy – Where to save $$?

With the economy as slow as it is, and no improvement on the horizon, Tracy and I are looking for ways to save money at Nemo’s. Since we have ran our shop with a common sense approach from the start, there are not many places for us to improve. We did find a few, though…

1. Last night, I replaced the head gaskets and diffuser screens on our La Marzocco 3 Group Linea… My cost was about $40. The last time we had a service tech do the work, it cost about $180. I saved $140 and got to spend some quality time with La Marzocco!
2. Another critical maintenance item is to have our ice machine serviced. It was $168 the last time we had it done, and we are due for another. Since we bought our ice machine used, we had absolutely no documentation on it. Five minutes on the internet allowed me to find the Owner’s Manual, as well as the Service Technical Manual. Another 10 minutes of reading and I know everything I need to know in order to service the unit. I had to buy some nickel safe ice machine cleaner for $20. That saves us another $148.
3. For our first 2 ½ years, we have had our milk delivered to the shop by Royal Crest Dairy. They produce steroid and antibiotic free milk, all natural. There is no comparison between Royal Crest Dairy milk and store bought milk. The quality is top notch. However, we have paid as much as $4.50 a gallon (price fluctuates on this commodity). We found a retail source for the Royal Crest milk, and I now do two milk runs a week for the shop. The new price is approximately $2.60 a gallon and it costs me an hour of my time a week. That saves us $275 per month, with no loss of quality.
4. These are just a few ways we have found to save a few dollars at Nemo’s. We are going to continue to look for other ways to save…

Gotta run…

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm alive!!

I've neglected my blog for awhile now...
But, I'm alive and so is Nemo's.

I plan to do a better job with this during 2010, but not right now! Gotta run!