Breaking In

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DauphinKaffee's picture
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Good morning all, I have a question for the group. My company recently landed a historic inn in Virginia and they turned out to be a great client. We are a purveyor of small batch artisanal coffees. Our average customers are restaurants with a dedicated food and beverage manger who’s job it is to deal with suppliers such as my company. But what I am observing in the B&B and Inn world often the proprietor is handling all of the operational and guest experience functions. Net result you are always busy. Any suggestions on how we could reach out to the inn keepers without being a nuisance? We would love to grow this part of our business if possible but not at the cost of obtaining a bad reputation. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Have a great day.

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gillumhouse's picture
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I buy green coffee beans and roast them fresh for my guests. Do I know what I am doing? Heck no. I buy single source, dump it into my handy dandy coffee roaster and voila, I have fresh roasted coffee. My guests like being able to choose from 16 to 20 countries of coffees.  I have some from countries no one ever heard of - part of the schtick.

DauphinKaffee's picture
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Wow that actually sounds great. I am impressed. You know, the way you prepare and serve your coffee is identical to the traditional service in Ethiopia and among Bedouin tribes to this day. Well done Smiling

Generic's picture
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One thing that people don't think about is that consumers don't often "try" things on their own dime but they do when they are out of their element. They buy the same things all the time. So actually getting a B&B to use your product is worth more than advertising in many ways because being that they have no other coffee brand choices, they must try yours where they are staying.

So, even selling your coffee at cost on condition that a sign be posted saying that you serve X brand coffee might actually be worth more than even advertising would be. So you might consider that B&Bs might be your lost leader.

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DauphinKaffee's picture
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Thank you Mr. Sable, that is an astute observation. Even with our current hotel and restaurant commercial clients we have experience a growth in consumer purchase after having sampled our coffees. On the other side of the coin, we also receive almost 90% of our new commercial clients either through direct referral from existing clients or managers moving on to new restaurants or properties. One thing that we are considering (if we can make the math work) is giving our smaller hotel clients small sample packs of complimentary coffee. When a guest inquires about the coffee, instead of giving them a web site address the guest would be presented with a complimentary sample to take back home with them. It would be a win/win for the property as well as an opportunity for us to gain a new consumer client. Which is always nice because they refer as well and tend to give our coffees as gifts during the holidays. It's a pretty "virtuous cycle."

Madeleine's picture
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I don't think they want retail sales. It sounds like they want corporate accounts.

We used to do the iloveinns promos and those were good for getting retail products into the hands of consumers.

But if their coffee isn't in the supermarket then having a sign up doesn't help the guest unless you sell the coffee right there.

Which we are planning to do. House branded from a local roaster.

So, of they have a plan to package coffee for retail sales at inns then that's a good idea.

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DauphinKaffee's picture
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Hello Madeleine, I wouldn't necessarily say that we don't want retail clients. Truth be told retail margins are higher. Also you are correct that we are not nor ever will be on supermarket shelves because one of our core convictions is that coffee must be fresh. To us, fresh actually means no older than 30 days preferably only 14 days old. All that said, the house branding that you are doing is great. One suggestion would be to also extend those sales through an online ecommerce presence. Simple and affordable systems like Shopify could be a great place to start. Essentially, your guests would be drinking your house brand of coffee every day and no doubt every so often remember the great time that they had at your property in New England. It certainly would not hurt the chances of referrals or repeat business. We actually provide a similar Bespoke service (we develop a proprietary blend recipe for them) for a few of our clients and they handle the ecommerce sales and fulfillment themselves.

Generic's picture
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True. But I have always wondered why the national brands don't approach successful innkeepers. People often ask us brands when they try something they like. Of course, most of the time I don't have a brand, it's home made... at which time I sell them my jar Smiling

DauphinKaffee's picture
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You know Mr. Sable I think it's a matter of scale. If your one of the Coagras or Nestle of the world scale is everything. Luckily however there are inn-keepers like you who roast their own coffee. Others that support local roasters, something that I am 100% in support of. To the point where I have been faced with coffee on par with ours and I've said something to the effect of, "well our coffee is no 'better' than the one you're using now - why switch?" In the, you're producing a better experience for your guests, creating small great memories which will help your business. Just remember each time you serve a cup of coffee from a non-national brand... that's one less chance got reading a "bad coffee" review on a travel website.

Kay Nein's picture
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Thanks for coming across as a real person looking for some perspective rather than a slick sales person.  

Personally, we don't have the budget for fancy coffee.  We buy MaxHse and get compliments from our guests who are shocked to find out what brand it is.  If we had to take inventory, place orders and deal with invoices we'd much rather stop by the local grocery store - UNLESS you can prove that it's cheaper per cup.  Then, I'd wanna talk!  

I am a reformed coffee snob - I understand the brag-factor behind having high quality, specialty, custom roasted beans that are uber fresh.  But, for us that's not critical for our operation.  

I think you've been given some great ideas of where to start (Listed to Joey, she knows & works the social media angle!).  Once you get your foot in with the masses that go to these conferences, the word will start spreading.  There are linen and mug companies that have used that approach and their names are common and recognized even by those that don't use their products. 

DauphinKaffee's picture
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LOL. Thank Kay and I am super-real person Smiling I have to tell you, if I wanted to be a coffee snob and would be the Thurston Howell the Third (from Gilligan's Island fame) of snobs. But truth be told, I simply love coffee. Now if I can avoid "bad/stale" coffee I will but in a pinch I'll drink damn near any coffee. I was recently on a road trip and had a cup at a greasy spoon chain Mississippi called "The Waffle House." I have a friend who is a very well known chef up in Manhattan who told me a funny story. Apparently she was training in Torino Italy and staying with a family after culinary school. Every day the woman of the house made this "incredible" espresso. She of course fell in love with the coffee only to discover that it was Chock Full of Nuts coffee the entire time. LOL. Your mood, environment and companion are all factors on how  "good" or "bad" anything tastes or for that matter "feels." It's all subjective when all is said and done Smiling

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Go to some conferences and set up a table and share your coffee! Give away samples. Unless you have already done this, I know there were a couple at the last PAII conference i believe.

Coming here and posting all over is considered spam, this is the first post where you are upfront and it was not flagged btw. (Just so you know, if you do it and every 25 other vendors do it then we are not happy campers)

I know this is a business for you, but why do you think those innkeepers here have inferior coffee and would even considering switching? There are many here who buy local and support local businesses in their coffee purchases. Or have a set standard for their coffee.

I know you know that. I also know you know there are those who don't who only buy whatever they feel like buying.

Here is a suggestion for you, if you are willing to take it. You can send out some samples and allow some B&B;s who have blogs and heavy into social media review your coffee. You could also host a contest of the same, send out samples, let them take photos at the inn using and serving your coffee as the entry to win a supply of it or something. If it were me and I wanted into the B&B market I would try this.

Sorry I can't be more helpful. 

DauphinKaffee's picture
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Hi and thanks for the observations. Believe me the last thing I want to do is spam. I have actually been a member of this forum for months, just reading through the posts trying to understand the challenges, posted a recipe and made a couple of comments on a few posts that really struck me. As with all things, coffee is a subjective matter and who I am to even imply that another coffee is inferior? I have been looking at the conferences and we have a remarkably liberal sampling policy. I’d just like to clarify that I am a normal person (not a corporate spammer) with a genuine question I am not trying to sell anyone anything – that’s not how we conduct business. Thanks for the comments and honestly they were actually very helpful ☺

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Madeleine's picture
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Go to the trade shows the innkeepers attend. Best way to see and be seen without being annoying.

Join PAII. Get your info listed with them. Join the innkeeping group in your state.

We source our coffee from a local purveyor. They go directly to the growers and we buy from them.I think you might find a lot of innkeepers are trying to work locally. That's why I recommend joining the innkeeping group in your state.

DauphinKaffee's picture
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Good ideas. Thanks very much - while I typically stay in Inns (Florida Keys and Naples) I hadn't thought of joining  a state organization. Thanks again - that was a eye opener for me.

Joey Camb's picture
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whatever you do don't cold call! drives us all mad and immediately puts our backs up against your product!

Also do your homework - find out the owners real name and don't buy old lists - mail addressed to the Previous owner does not go down well or give a good professional image.

 

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