9 Ways To Sell More Cheese

28 April 2016, 11:58 AM
  • Ruaridh Buchanan, founder of Buchanan's Cheesemonger, shares his expert advice
9 Ways To Sell More Cheese

1 Consider the space and conditions you have available when deciding which and how many cheeses to stock. Don’t feel like you have to have a massive range; less is more. I think it is better to carry larger pieces of fewer cheeses which you change regularly, allowing you to build some height into the display and keeping the cheese in better condition by turning the stock over more frequently.

2 Make sure you still have a variety of flavours and styles: mild through strong, soft through hard and a selection of milk types. Start with some classics and supplement this with a few more unusual lines. For example, add something new that you are really liking at the moment or perhaps something seasonal, and definitely include some local products.

3 In my experience, 80% of your sales are going to come from 20% of your range. These are likely to be the classics I mentioned – cheeses that people know and are comfortable with will no doubt be your best sellers. The other 80% of your range is what you can use to create an interesting offering and will keep people coming back. It also allows you a great opportunity to interact with your customers by suggesting products you think they will like, or encouraging them to explore different styles of cheese they haven’t tried before.

4 Once you receive your delivery, it is crucial to look after your cheese. Remember it is a living, breathing thing. Have a good look at each cheese and you will no doubt notice differences even within the same batch. Individual goats’ cheeses can sometimes be a bit wet when they arrive. If so, store them open in their wooden boxes to dry a little before wrapping the boxes in waxed paper to encourage the centre of the cheese to break down.

5 Soft, bloomy cheeses such as Brie like a more humid environment and benefit from being kept in their wooden boxes. A good visual indicator of their ripeness is the colour of the rind. Ideally you want a little bit of a caramel colour to the peaks but still white in the troughs. When selling, give it a gentle squeeze to see how soft it is in order to choose the best piece for your customer’s requirements and taste. Your washed-rind cheeses also like good humidity and we tend to add a layer of cling film on arrival to keep in more moisture. We display all of the above on the counter wrapped in clear cellophane rather than cling film as it stops them from drying but has enough of a gap so as not to damage the rind. Hard cheeses, due to their density, can be prone to a taking on a tainted flavour from being kept in the fridge. To avoid this, make sure you get a tight, clean seal with cling film on the cut face of the cheese. You should gently scrape the face of the cheese with the flat blade of a knife each day and replace the film to keep it tasting fresh and looking great. I recommend displaying your cheeses by style, making it easier for the customer to see what’s on offer. Don’t be afraid to move these groups around the fridge from time to time encouraging regular customers to look further than their favourites. I have found this to be successful with all displays.

6 I always think it’s welcoming to give the customer something familiar to taste just after you have smiled and said hello but before you have discussed what the customer is looking for. The public are much more knowledgeable about cheese, about food in general in fact, than they were, say, 10 years ago, but it is the perfect welcome and also allows you to show them how delicious and well-kept your cheese is. Tasting the cheese with your customer also helps in discussing the flavours with them and building a rapport. These small actions can help to remove any intimidation and get the taste buds ready to shop.

7 Once you have more of an idea of what you customer is looking for you can start to help them build their selection. A selection of three or four cheeses makes a balanced selection for a dinner party: a hard, a soft and a blue with something different for the fourth, perhaps another type of milk.

8 I think you and your team should have an underlying objective of offering customers samples from your full range over the course of each day and if something is regularly left in the corner then question whether you should continue to stock it. This approach is also a good training tool with less experienced staff that tend to stick to selling the cheeses they know, encouraging them to use the full range.

9 Most of my advice about looking after and selling your cheese boils down to constant tasting: taste it when it arrives, when it’s ready for the counter, with your staff and with your customers and you should feel confident in selecting and selling a delicious range of cheese.

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