How Grinders’ Immersion program helps cafés improve

Grinders Coffee Roasters

Grinders Coffee Roasters talks to BeanScene about how its new Immersion program can help cafés improve their operations while helping each other learn.

You’re never too old to go back to school, according to Grinders Coffee Ambassador Jonathan Goldthorpe. For café owners and baristas alike, Jonathan says Grinders Coffee Roasters’ Immersion program is the ideal training opportunity to expand skillsets and gain valuable coffee industry knowledge.

“We wanted to give [our customers] something over and above just supplying great tasting coffee,” says Jonathan. “We looked at what was going on in the industry over the last couple of years in terms of trends, and how we can communicate what we found to our customers to help them out with their businesses.”

With these lessons, the team at Grinders constructed a series of classes that addresses key issues and learnings for café customers in today’s evolving environment, such as branding, and how to market on social media. This was the first masterclass topic Jonathan hosted with industry experts Ben Bicknell and Mirko Bonmassar from marketing agency Social Fixation.

“The best cafés nowadays all have their own brand and identity, and they’ve been able to incorporate it into every single part of their business,” Jonathan says. “Whether it’s through their food, their service, or even a logo on the wall, the brand is there.

“Social media is easy, cost effective, and a great way for you to communicate with a larger audience.”

While social media is popular in mainstream culture, Jonathan says it can get forgotten by cafés that are solely focused on day-to-day operations.

“One of the challenges we found with our customers is that they don’t have time to [post to social media] themselves,” he says. “[The class] looks at other options cafés have for those that might not be comfortable with social media or just simply don’t have the time.

“I think the biggest mistake is not utilising [social media]. It can take a lot of time, but constantly communicating with your customers and engaging with them is very important.”

In the second masterclass, Grinders’ Dale Pollard and Jonathan discussed the benefits and brewing techniques associated with single origin coffee, and how to effectively market new additions to a café’s menu.

“We want to make single origin brewing techniques accessible at an entry level for customers that aren’t currently offering it,” Jonathan says.

“It’s really good for your café’s credibility, and it’s an effective way to get an upsell for a premium product. It also adds extra variety that allows you to attract a new type of coffee drinker to your venue that might not have come in otherwise.”

In the third masterclass, Shaun De Vries from Open Pantry Consulting and Beck Bachelor of Beechworth Bakeries discussed how cafés can improve their customer service, and create a positive environment, which can lead to better customer retention. Jonathan says a large contributing factor is having the right people on your team.

“The cafés that did well during lockdowns were the ones that provided a great customer experience, so it’s certainly something that has grown in importance over the last few years,” he says. “We want to talk about how you can find the right staff, how you can advertise job vacancies, and how to create a good onboarding process for new staff.”

Full Immersion was the final part of the program. The day began with a welcome breakfast and meet-and-greet before World Latte Art Champion 2015 Caleb Cha took attendees through a latte art masterclass. Meanwhile, the Grinders team conducted a brewing class, roastery tour, and coffee cupping session, before concluding with a dinner function.

Throughout the Immersion program, café owners and baristas are encouraged to network through online channels the Grinders team set up. Jonathan says creating a support network is a crucial part of the experience, which is why the major event, the Full Immersion, began with a welcome breakfast and meet-and-greet before concluding with a dinner function.

“If you talk to your competing café 100 metres down the road, they’re not going to share too much information that would help you out,” he says. “However, if there’s a café on the other side of town that you’re not in competition with who uses the same supplier, they’ll be able to give you some helpful advice.

“We want to connect these cafés so they can talk through issues they’re having, whether it be contracts, leasing agreements, whatever. They might have gone through similar problems so they can lend a hand when needed.”

Jonathan says Grinders’ initial trial classes were a great success, and the company has plenty of faith in continuing the program going forward.

“We got some really positive feedback from customers,” he says. “It built a lot of faith in our brand and what we can offer.”

This year’s program was restricted to select Victorian Grinders’ customers, but Immersion will be launched nationwide as early as next year. One major change is incorporating more live streams so that the program is easy to attend, and prevents baristas travelling far from their venues.

“A lot of what we did was face-to-face,” Jonathan says. “It’s hard to get café owners in one spot all at the same time, so we want to work out the best way to get in front of more people, while retaining a personal touch.

“We want our customers to feel as strongly about our brand and our products as we do.”

For more information, visit www.grinderscoffee.com.au

This article appears in the October 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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