Happy New Year to all of my readers. I hope that 2013 is your best year for health, happiness and wealth. Over the years, we all have had "wish lists" of the things affecting our OCS business that we want our customers, staff, suppliers and even our competition to be, or to do differently. So I thought that, as the new year begins, I would list my wishes and see if yours resemble mine in these areas.
1. Please don't just pop in to see me, but call first for an appointment, so I can give my full attention to your products and services.
2. Create a "focus group" of OCS operators to gain insight into what our industry needs and how it should be packaged.
3. National brand coffee roasters, please mention in your ads that people can also get great coffee in their offices by calling their local office coffee and refreshment service providers.
4. Paper manufacturers should repackage their products to appeal to small or midsize offices, not just the high-volume users of the industrial-size cases they now supply.
5. Portion-control product suppliers should develop variety packs of salt, pepper, ketchup and mayonnaise, similar to the in-room coffee service package that includes stirrers, sugars, sweeteners, creamers and napkins.
6. Brewer manufacturers should produce Internet videos for the repair and maintenance of their brewing equipment and accessories. This would provide a quick start when training a new technician.
7. Brewer manufactures also ought to produce three-dimensional cutouts of their brewers, so that a salesperson can actually place the replica on the customer's counter to show how it would look. This would be much more professional than just showing a picture.
1. Respect all of our loaned equipment as though it is yours.
2. If the check is not in the mail, don't tell us that it is.
3. List the invoice numbers that your check is paying.
4. Place orders early in the day.
5. Stop losing invoices, thanks to scanners and computers.
6. Check that your equipment is plugged in and turned on before calling us for repair.
7. Stop pouring coffee into the top of the brewer.
8. Stop going to stores to purchase coffee for use in our equipment.
9. Turn off hot plates to avoid burnt bowls.
10. Refrain from making our driver return because "I just forgot to get a box of hot chocolate" (or if you must do that, don't scream).
11. Perfection: All of our accounts order all of our products, don't care about prices, own their equipment and pay COD when they pick up their products at our warehouse. (All right, Len, wake up -- it's time to go to work.)
1. Always think about profitability when quoting prices.
2. Never promise what our company can't deliver.
3. Follow up, follow up and follow up.
4. Remember that a sale is not a sale until it is paid for.
5. Start the sales day early and end the sales day late.
1. Treat a company vehicle as though it is your own, and keep it looking clean.
2. Stop throwing away parking tickets.
3. Report all customer requests to the office.
4. Answer your cellphone when it rings.
5. Maintain your truck and report any difficulties.
6. Lock the truck before you walk away from it (famous last words: "But I was only gone a few minutes").
7. Spare us the explanation, "The accident was not my fault." It never is.
1. Rotate all the products to avoid any "out of date" issues.
2. Combine any broken cases to make a full case during inventory.
3. Report out-of-stock merchandise before it really goes out of stock.
4. Develop an "inspected by" slip with a picture of the order-packer, to help maintain quality control.
5. Get drivers checked in and out faster.
6. Turn off the lights when you leave your work area.
7. Mark the cases in multiple-box deliveries, so customers know where to find each product.
TELEPHONE ACCOUNT REPS
1. Stop saying, "Do you want anything else today?" Start saying, "How about a delicious hot cup of creamy hot cocoa on a cold day like today?"
2. Smile when you're speaking to a customer on the phone. It comes through.
3. Blow off steam after hanging up with your customer. "Put brain in motion before mouth." ["Make sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear."]
4. The customer is always right (well, let them think so, anyway).
1. Stop ruining profitable accounts by low-balling the prices, just to take away a client. Remember that you need to make a profit too.
2. Join the National Automatic Merchandising Association and learn the proper way to run your business profitably.
3. Give something back to your industry by sharing ideas with your fellow OCS operators throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Well, there is my "wish list" for the New Year. As operators, you must orchestrate all of your departments in order to work towards your goals of providing the best products and services, at fair prices to your customers, with the end result of turning a healthy profit for your company. This calls for "working smart."
I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to share your new year's "Wish List" with me.
LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and after 22 years merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million dollars. Rashkin is also a founder and officer of Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage Products Association. His industry honors include NCSA's (now NAMA) Silver Service Award and NBPA's Lifetime Achievement Award; he was inducted into NBPA's Hall of Fame in 1996. His marketing excellence earned him NBPA's Crystal Bean Award and three NCSA Java Awards. He is a frequent speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing and has is the author of two OCS training programs.