Balmforth & Co
hot beverage offer

Is it time to review your hot beverage offer?

Posted on 20/06/2018 by RSL
Estimated reading time: 5 min read
Categories: Coffee Trends, HORECA

Is it time to review your hot beverage offer…?


So, we have had many different phases of coffee, beginning with the 1st wave many many years ago, right through to the 5th wave (in the present day) – but what does this actually mean for the hot beverage offer in the 2,500 garden centres Nationwide?

Garden centre sales are set to top £4.3bn by 2021 – so it is very much still a growing market. It has also been reported that some centres have seen up to 30% of their overall sales coming from their restaurants and cafés (the national average according to https://www.hortweek.com/ is around 15-20%).

With high margins and a desire to increase dwell time – there has never been a better time to deliver a “best in class” food and beverage offer (to support this growth).

With strong price competition from the high-street and online discount stores on gardening tools, plants, and light machinery – garden centres are now investing quite heavily in expanding and improving other offers within their site, to keep footfall high and ultimately keep the customer there for longer.


What are successful garden centres doing right?

Dobbies Garden Centres have started to open at 7 am for takeaway coffee and breakfasts (two hours earlier than most garden centres). This increases the availability of food and beverages for customers and helps to drive revenue. Whilst other garden centres have introduced soft-play centres (for children) and indoor branded concessions, encouraging customers to stay on-site for longer.

Tong Garden Centre (“2017 Garden Centre Outlet of the year Destination” – Garden Retail Awards) has gone so far as developing a huge outdoor adventure playground – boasting giant jumping pillows, zip wires, massive sand pits and go-cart tracks. The best thing about this offer at Tong?….they welcome families bringing picnics from home…

Strange as you may think….but the dwell time at Tong for families can be well over three hours and the sandwiches and snacks (from the picnic) can only last so long – with various Cafés and a Yorkshire Ice Cream parlour for top ups – there are opportunities everywhere for driving more food and beverage purchases.

So, what are the successful garden centres focusing on?


Putting the customer first

With strong competition on the high street from artisan coffee shops and discount garden supply stores, it’s time to focus on what makes YOUR GARDEN CENTRE different from the rest.

With so many branded offers in the marketplace, your hot beverage landscape needs as much focus as your food offer. For a brand to work well it needs time and effort putting into it, as well as support from your coffee supplier. It is all about being consistent and reinforcing the overall message of your brand, as this will build brand awareness and loyalty, as well as encourage return custom.

There are many different brands out there so you need to try and engage, and immerse, the consumer into your offer right from the start, whether it is on your website, social media or when entering the site itself. Driving digital awareness is also crucial and this should not stop just because the customer is on site – product offers, competitions and daily specials can be introduced to encourage customers to spend more whilst on site; or for when they return within a certain time period.


What Refreshment Systems suggest

Try and reflect the menus of the large chains – they are successful for many reasons and again, the consumer has come to expect the same quality, choice and value for money that they receive on the high street.

Again, look to your hot beverage suppliers for innovation – they should be forthcoming with new ideas, menu extensions and thoughts on what the upcoming trends are. If in doubt….trial for a limited time and see what works and what doesn’t….trust me, the consumer loves trying new hot beverages!


Here are a few top tips for nurturing hot beverage sales to get you thinking…

  • The main “on trend” hot beverages currently range from Nitro cold brew coffee through to more luxury hot chocolates…..however, watch out here as not all trends work in all establishments. What may work in an artisan coffee shop in the centre of town may not work in a garden centre – and of course vice versa!
  • If you want to introduce something, trial it for a period and get consumer feedback, if it works, then put it as a mainstay on the menu
  • You should always ensure that what you offer is either increasing sales, margin or can be a value-added offer for your team to upsell. But don’t scrimp on quality – it can backfire…
  • You offer flowers and plants for each of the seasons – why not offer a signature drink to suit? Not only a fantastic opportunity to upsell but it keeps your hot beverage menu fresh and enticing…
  • Speak to your suppliers – they should have a wealth of knowledge and be keen to grow your business

But…here is my best bit of advice – put the customer first – don’t always look for the cheapest coffee or the most cost-effective way of delivering your hot beverages – look to offer the best you possibly can. Just like planting out – customers need care, attention and a lot of love!

Just because you may have a relatively captive audience doesn’t mean you need to treat them any differently and take shortcuts.

Offer the best you can afford whilst looking after the margins – but above all, do it with passion and pride.


You will reap what you sow

Refreshment Systems has been providing Hot Beverage Solutions for over 50 years across the UK and is still a family run business. From traditional espresso machines to our beautifully crafted range of Balmforth & Co. coffees…

A complete, one-stop shop for all of your Hot Beverage needs!

Contact our dedicated business managers today to arrange a free consultation or tasting session by completing the online enquiry form, emailing info@refreshmentsystems.co.uk, or calling 0800 169 3686

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