Case Study: Coffee Shop Leverages Dayparting to Perk Up Afternoon Lull

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Coffee Roasters

Merchant: Sunshine Coffee Roasters
Location: Sonoma County, California
Vendors: ShopKeep, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Bottom Line: Dayparting can be a useful tool for generating increased foot traffic and converting infrequent customers into regulars.

Walk into any coffee shop in the late afternoon and you probably won’t have a problem finding an open table. Many business owners struggle to overcome that afternoon lull. At Sunshine Coffee Roasters in Northern California, owner Mike Doherty’s approach to bringing in customers adds a shot of technology to established outreach tactics.

As the owner of two retail espresso bars in Sonoma County, California, in addition to a wholesale roasting division, Doherty has taken it upon himself to research which marketing vendors and social networks he should use, and he now spends about 10 hours each week on marketing-related tasks. Although Doherty says the best tool he’s found for customer acquisition is social media —along with regular donations to the local community — he relies on his cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system, ShopKeep, for the majority of his promotional work and business management.

In addition to the “classic” POS function of processing transactions, Doherty uses ShopKeep as a bundled business management platform. He logs in frequently to manage inventory, track sales and employee hours, and download business reports.

By analyzing ShopKeep’s hourly reports, he was able to pinpoint his slowest times of day. In response, he created a daily “Organic Happy Hour” with coffee specials and exclusive discounts designed to bring people in during that time. “From 3 to 6 PM each day, we feature $1 brewed coffees,” he says. “This has really helped build our new customer base and convert infrequent customers into regulars. Those same folks now come in at different times throughout the day.” Combining dayparting and targeted promotions has helped Doherty boost sales.

He’s also a fan of ShopKeep’s digital gift cards, to which he has turned in lieu of paper gift certificates. “Since the gift cards are reusable and prepaid, a lot of our customers will buy one for themselves on Monday and use it throughout the week so they don’t have to worry about cash,” he says.

Doherty promotes daily events online through social media — Sunshine Coffee Roasters has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — as well as with printed banners and signs, which he posts inside and outside of his shops. Doherty also prints information about happy hours on the bottom of customer receipts.

“Social media is very important to us. It allows us to connect with our customers and their friends on their time,” he says. “We share timely news, offers, and glimpses of our company culture.”

Outside of his daily happy hour events, Doherty’s marketing tasks involve tracking which drinks are most popular at any given time, and placing additional emphasis on those drinks that might not be getting as much attention.

“We typically run specialty sales for a week at a time to encourage customers to try new products. The carryover has been great,” he says. “Drinks that have been slower to sell have been pumped up.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.