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  1. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Lessons learned

    Hey everybody, just wrapped up the event late last night. Some things we learned -

    The hard lessons and things that didn't work:

    • People - Estimating number of attendees based on porta potty contents is not valid and should not be given to a vendor to either lure them in or aid them in estimating sales. Many if not all of the people who attended the event came every day. And that doesn't mean they bought a coffee everyday. So maybe there were 3-4000 (different) people who attended.
    • Exclusivity - The vendor coordinator was not 100% honest when he said we'd be the sole coffee provider. There was a booth selling coffee and ice cream (not coffee as 1 of many food items) and their coffee was $1. It was terrible, true, but it likely pulled some of our sales away.
    • Location - We were placed in what was supposedly a 'good spot' because we were the first booth between the music and the food vendor street. However, many people couldn't find us. We had big signs and an LED coffee sign. Many vendors came over and told us that they are sending people our way but they 'can't find us'. I believe our shady location between two structures made us semi-invisible and people got distracted while trying to figure it out.
    • Signs - we printed our 3 page signs and stapled them to big poster paper. Our first round (which said menu with our discount cup incentive, our prices and then bean/origin characteristics) was replaced by a more personalized version (which said "First specialty coffee roaster..." with a picture of our shop and directions from the festival, our prices and then origin characteristics) . The new signs worked MUCH better. We created a ton of interest and were able to gesture at the picture of the shop and give better directions. We didn't put the new signs up until Sunday and may have lost considerable traffic due to our delayed change.
    • Coffee runs - We got slammed on Saturday and started doing coffee runs with only 1 airpot. Always insist on doing trips of 2 airpots or more even if that means an origin is completely out at the festival for a short period of time.
    • Tent support - We added additional guy lines on Saturday because of the crazy wind. Friday would have been better if they'd been there.
    • Communication - A lot of people come up and said "Just give me your darkest" and it was hard at first to field it knowing whatever two coffees we were offering were far from the grocery store version of a dark roast. I worked out my lines in time but it would have helped to anticipate that request.

    The great lessons & things that worked:
    • The event was excellent exposure for us. Despite having been open for 4 weeks prior to the event and being on a highway that everybody drives on, a large percentage of the town still doesn't know we exist. We met a lot of people who were real coffee enthusiasts and only drink good coffee. They were thrilled we were there; very appreciative and supportive.
    • Many people who visited our booth have since come by this morning (the next day) and purchased either beans or a drink.
      • We had one lady get upset because I wouldn't make her iced coffee with 20 oz of coffee and 2 ice cubes. I insisted that I knew how best to serve it and the ratio/recipe is in place for a reason. She commented on the price and grumbled the whole time; even making an unsavory comment to the next lady in line. I made the cup how I felt it should be served and she paid and left....
      • She came this morning and said our coffee was amazing, she absolutely loved it and wanted some beans. She bought a pound of the bean used for the iced coffee and raved about us to everybody in line (which was a ton of people who parked in the drive-through and stood in a huddle outside our window, chatting it up...strangest thing I've witnessed here so far.)

    • We decided to roast about 7 lbs of each origin to have ready for brewing and to give us enough to get into this week. We used our classic tasting Colombia for the iced coffee. All of the origins were very well received and we had to come into the shack mid-festival to roast MORE so we could restock our supply for the regular workweek. Despite the hectic mid-weekend roasting, it felt nice not to end up with a ton of beans that were advancing in age and declining in quality.
    • While our semi-invisible location was not good for those looking for us, it was great for those that did find us. By being away from the food vendors, we had a quiet, nice space where people congregated and drank their coffee. Our "fair regulars" would dash over for their refills, catch up with someone they had met during their first coffee order and dash off again. We were a convenient and peaceful location for those that appreciate the good stuff. We somehow managed to create a temporary, fair community.
    • Pricing was great. People didn't blink at $3 and only the one lady grumbled about the $5 iced. Everybody appreciated the idea behind 'keep your cup & save a buck' but most of them just paid full price again. Either money isn't an issue or they're not into the eco-friendly incentive.
    • Portable creamers and sugars worked great; Having the customer take care of their drink allowed me to progress to the next person in line and be faster overall.
    • Assigning one person to the stand worked better than rotating between us. I learned people's names and people became comfortable with me. I knew what they'd order before they arrived at the table and they appreciated me being ready for them. I think it was better for relationship development. As sexist as this will sound, being a woman may have helped also.
    • Because I was solo, I used a money apron with different pockets designated for different bills - $10s, $5s and $1s. I never had a change problem and was pretty quick getting people their money.
    • We used a whiteboard marker to indicate the number of cups that had been served out of each airpot. By doing so, I could request the next coffee based on what was moving quickly and I always knew how much I had left.
    • We had decaf available on Friday but learned that for the most part, it is only ordered in the afternoon. On Saturday, we had a line form that was waiting for it and we went through 3 airpots back-to-back. No decaf sales at all on Sunday.
    • Iced coffee was great and worth the effort. The weather was beautiful and hot coffee out-sold iced coffee. That being said, we were the only vendor with iced coffee and some people don't like it hot.
    • I don't know if this can be generalized for other events, but Friday was almost dead, Saturday was nearly crazy and Sunday was nice and mellow.

    Overall - the financial payoff was not much and barely covered the booth fee. It was helpful that we did not hire anybody to help. Maybe having a different location or exclusive rights to coffee would have increased volume. But we decided to think of the event as promotional - we got our name out there and a lot of people drank our coffee. A TON of locals learned who we are, met me and/or my husband, loved our coffees and will probably be stopping by soon. I consider this past weekend a success.

  2. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Just looked back through the thread and wanted to add a few more things -
    -Loads of local kids and I'm sure they used the pots (inflating the attendee number) and none of them bought a coffee.
    -We are thinking of next year asking for the spot next to the funnel cake vendor but kind of don't want to give up our peaceful location
    -We sold nearly no bottled waters...maybe 8-10. I think there was a girl scout troop walking through the lawn with a wagon. The only ones we sold were at night, presumably after the girls went home.
    -Mornings were DEAD all three days. We were there everyday by 7:30/8:00am and probably didn't start selling coffee until 11am. I think people got coffee before they arrived so they didn't want more until mid-day. And evenings on Friday (opening day) and Sunday (closing day) were pretty weak.

  3. #13
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Near Philadelphia, PA
    Wow! Thanks for the update.

    It sounds like it was quite an adventure as well as a good learning experience for you. Thanks for letting us know how it worked out.

    Do you think you'll do it again next year??


  4. #14
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    We will very likely do it again next year. The only thing to figure out is the coffee runs. Friday and Saturday are usually our best days at the drive-through. During this past weekend, we had to close it down every time a coffee run happened so it would be closed for 20-40 minutes at a time (with a sign in the window). That seriously hurt our regular sales and possibly upset our regulars. The easiest solution would be to hire a runner but there is so much downtime, that they would be paid more for doing nothing than helping.

  5. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Good day everybody,
    I have an awesome experience last year, first time in my life I visit London reason was my date of birth. I decide to celebrate my birthday in London because I have a lot of friends there.
    I was confused how I will arrange the party in city where I was never before, but finally everything was wonderful due to the fact that I found a company that helps me out with decorations and all the offer stuff like hire the audio and visual systems. Also, this company in London builds exhibition stands.
    Last edited by Stiipper; 09-09-2020 at 03:01 AM.


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