Velveteen wrote:.Our shop makes a ton of money on giant flavored mochas (often skim). We usually have a bigass rush of these drinks in the morning and then various others peppered throughout the day. As a barista who often works in the afternoons/evenings when people are more likely to want to sit around with a cuppa, I like to subtly encourage customers to try two small drinks instead of one large.
If you wish to be rude, you can tell customers the nutritional information of their non-fat mega-mochas. Of course, this doesn't help sell them two; it most likely makes them buy none--at least from you. I guess that's not subtle.
If you wish to be romantic, you can highlight and emphasize the fleeting beauty of fresh espresso and related beverages. Of course, this demands customers to taste and appreciate at levels they might not find comfortable. Perhaps too subtle.
If you wish to be dogmatic, you can eliminate the larger than large "milkshake" drinks altogether from the menu. Of course, customers may still ask for them, suggest them, even demand them. You may have to hire a bouncer.
If you wish to be clever, you can rename your drink sizes as Large, Extra Large, Extra Super Large and Blubber's Bladder Buster Bucket. Of course, this may be an accidental marketing hit. You may need to install an extra toilet. Or two.
Other impractical and downright awful ideas:
* Competitive Coffee Consumption Contest.
* Jukebox loaded with timeless drinking songs.
* Hyper Hour with straight-jackets and adult moon-bounce.
* Free salty sleepy snacks like Ambien pretzels and Valium peanuts.
* On-site defibrillator and T-Shits that read, "I was Cardiac Arrested at X Cafe."
* A giant gong that customers can bang after ordering a second, third, fourth or subsequent drink, with a big sign up front that dares, "How Many Times Are You Going To Hit It Today?"
More practically and tastefully (not to mention effectively), I would be looking to further attract and nurture those customers who care about quality, taste, service, experience. Not everyone is going to go for smaller drinks, just as not everyone is going to appreciate a beautiful straight espresso.
As for offering second-drink discounts or making smaller drinks less expensive, I wouldn't do it. If you wish to compete on the level of price alone, you may attract some bargain-hunting customers; however, these customers will not be adequately "sticky" over time to truly bring about the change you desire. Further, you risk losing your focus on furthering quality and being reduced to the lowest common denominator in the cup.
It is important that you market and target your small drinks and repeat drink hopes to those people whom you identify as having the best chance of truly appreciating, learning and growing as coffee consumers through your interactions with them. By this, I don't mean judging individuals; rather, I mean creating the atmosphere and opportunity that allows the sorts of customers you seek to reveal themselves to you.
To me, the key is to remain focused on positive, beneficial aspects of small drinks or multiple drinks rather than dwell on negative aspects of large or single drinks. Don't engage in any practice or commentary that will make customers feel bad or awkward or unenlightened or unwelcome for ordering what they want at the moment. (If its on your menu, make it and serve with the utmost of pride.) Instead, emphasize the opportunities and possibilities of what you have to offer that is unique, differentiated and of potential value to your customer now and, most importantly, in the future. You need to introduce the concept of small and repeat drinks, build the value of small drinks and repeat drinks, and then deliver on consistently providing that value to your customer as promised.
Introducing small drink and repeat drinks can be done simply at the time of drink presentation. After thanking your customer, simply mention, "I hope you enjoy your mega-mocha/whatever. If you would like any suggestions on an appropriate follow-up drink, I'd love to tell you about some special ideas I have in mind," or something like that. Whatever you do or say at that time, don't sell, don't make specific recommendations, and keep it as simple and clean as possible. You're just opening the idea of a second and unique drink to your customer with an intriguing invitation. Your entire objective is to have the customer return after they've consumed their current drink or to ask your advice upon their next visit, at which point you can ask questions, initiate discussion, and make specific recommendations. You want them merely to consider, not decide nor choose at this point. This only works if you bring a high degree of grace, honor, respect, care and humility to your service. This means appropriate eye contact, tone, demeanor, pace, body language, etc.
One of the most effective ways to introduce a new customer to a small or second drink is for them to witness others drinking them. "What's that over there?" is a common reaction when someone orders something unusual or different. Use that to your advantage by making service and presentation of small drinks as flawless and special as possible. I don't mean adding hokey bells and whistles and take-home tiki glasses. I mean having high quality and most appropriate for-here cups, saucers, spoons readily available at all times for your smallest drinks. I mean practicing the pour on your smallest drinks until they are predictably perfect. I mean pulling every single shot of espresso to the most discriminating degree. If you stumble or falter in the slightest when someone orders a small drink, then you are diverting attention away from the drink and to your execution. My goal as barista and server is to be as invisible and seamless yet attentive and present as possible. It will never be about me as much as the coffee and my customer. When customers see other customers enjoying small and second drinks, when customers taste the difference of beautiful small-drink coffee, that is far more effective than any spiel I may ever elucidate about why mega-mochas are ridiculous bastardized profit-generating consumption-oriented corporate-marketing health-imperilling bullshit.
Building value of small and repeat drinks is rooted in quality of taste, of which I'm sure you already do an exceptional job; nonetheless, value is developed in total experience of your customer on many dimensions of sensory and emotional response. We need to educate and elevate our customers without coming off as indoctrinating pretentious snobs. Help your customers pay attention and begin to develop a vocabulary for their coffee experience. Concentrate on exactly what you wish to convey and hone in on articulating and demonstrating one point at a time through multiple mediums such as conversation, print and pictures. Have and keep a determined focus, a measurable goal, a testable hypothesis about how to communicate and effect change to bring out the best in what you have to offer others. Again, you can never tell who in particular will respond to your efforts; nonetheless, you need to keep broadcasting your signal to each and every customer to get yourself on the radar of those who will respond positively.
My recommendation here is build value beyond the intellectual sensory analysis of great coffee. Most people feel this sort of discussion is too high-brow or elitist for them. Using poetic descriptions of flavors and sensations that people can't identify or don't experience yet serves to alienate the common coffee drinker from ever venturing beyond House Blend or 20 ounce triple non-fat sugar-free raspberry white chocolate mocha with half a Splenda. I'm not saying these descriptions are not valuable nor worthwhile; just that you need MORE than telling. You need to challenge your customer and give them gentle guidance, confident leadership and inspiring direction to achieve their own experience. Don't ever say, "Oh, these people don't care," or, "Nobody will notice," or, "My customers are idiots." There are lots of people out there thirsting to learn, discover, grow, and enjoy a better coffee than they currently know. The problem is that almost all of the hype out in big-time mass-market coffee marketing land does not deliver where it matters: increasing respect, advancing knowledge, and inspiring confidence in the veracity and integrity of the specific marketing claim and the coffee industry as a whole. Understand that your customers have been told dozens of times, "This is the best," or, "This is gourmet," or, "This is the ultimate," only to be overcharged and sorely disappointed by inferior product, improper preparation, incomplete knowledge, bad service, and/or poor support. Thus, the cornerstone of building value for your effort begins with developing trust and earning the earmark of integrity. This is done largely on an emotional level. Of course, you better bring your best game and deliver your best coffee at all times, whether others appreciate it yet or not, whether they will appreciate it ever or not.
This leads me back to consistency. Without a certain level of consistency, nothing you do will matter very much in this business. My goal as barista is to exceed expectations at every opportunity, and to simultaneously raise those expectations whenever possible.
To sum up my long-winded exegesis here: Be graceful, stand proud, earn trust, encourage people to try new things, deliver the best possible drink and coffee experience at all times. Don't hard sell. Don't price discount. Present appealing opportunities for discovery in a safe and friendly environment that concentrates on truth in the cup and the ultimate overall experience of your customer.
I'm sure you already do a great job. I know you work at a great shop. From one barista to another, thank you and keep at it!
There are articles I would recommend as reading regarding this topic:
Tim Harford's Slate article concerning Starbuck's short size.
Shannon Brownlee's Washington Post article on Portion Distortion.
Julie Deardorf of the Chicago Tribune's article on Portion Distortion.