Over the years, I have written many sales and marketing articles for the office coffee service industry. I hope these articles have increased your sales and contributed to higher profitability for you and your OCS company.
One area that I have written about several times is ways to save money in your business. Below is a list of ideas that can add to your profitability and make your company more efficient, while maintaining quality customer service.
Establish training programs for all departments. Cross-train route drivers so they can make repairs to hot plates and lights, and in packing orders when available.
Vice-versa, you should train your outside repair personnel to upsell allied products when making a delivery and performing repairs or maintenance on equipment. Delivery trucks should carry a few spare brewers, bowls and airpots, etc., and repair vehicles should stock the most popular allied products. Delivery and service personnel should make a fresh pot of coffee before leaving an account.
Stagger work hours to accommodate heavy order volume; give monetary incentives to those who sell additional products and services. Offer achievement rewards to employees who drive company vehicles, by giving dollar incentives to those who have no accidents for the year.
Have company birthday celebrations and holiday parties to increase workplace morale and camaraderie. Invite the whole family. Conduct monthly department-head meetings to discuss issues and suggestions to save time and money. Reward those whose ideas are used.
Install security cameras to help eliminate theft. A policy of conducting drug tests and background checks also will help reduce theft. These measures unquestionably reduce employee turnover, and retraining.
Trucks And Other Vehicles
Make sure that delivery-truck inventories include spare brewing equipment, replacement hotplates and indicator lights, brew funnels, bowls, airpots and thermal servers.
Provide drivers with GPS land navigation equipment for use with all deliveries and repairs, to save gas and time. The correct system also can make management aware of a truck's location at all times, and how long it stays at each stop. Accountability is essential.
In-house automotive maintenance services should include oil, lubrication, tire rotation, fluid checks, washing and other first-echelon maintenance procedures for your company vehicles. The decision of what to do in-house, of course, depends on the size of the company and the amount of available space.
Negotiate fuel prices with one fuel supplier so that you can benefit from buying volume for all your company and employee vehicles; some corporate-branded gas credit cards give discounts per gallon.
Performing similar service on several brewers at one time will minimize the time spent in switching back and forth from one task to another. For example, when cleaning out brewer water tanks, it's faster and more efficient to clean the tanks with an acid solution by emptying one into another, once the first unit is sanitized.
Use a sandblaster to clean hotplates, thermostats and water tanks coated with heavy mineral deposits.
Change thermostats in all in-house brewers that are more than five years old, even if they are still working. They will most likely fail within a short time when placed on location. This will save you future service calls.
Design the service ticket so it features a check-off list for recording what parts of brewers were fixed, or tested and found to be in good working order. This will help insure that everything is working, resulting in fewer service calls in the long run.
Warehouse & Shipping
To avoid packing errors, order entry descriptions should be changed so the defining characteristic appears first. Some examples include:
» Use "Decaf Coffee" instead of "Coffee Decaf"
» "Diet Soda" instead of "Pepsi Diet"
» "Styrofoam" or "Paper" cups instead of "Cups: Styrofoam or Paper"
» "Vanilla K-Cups" instead of "K-Cup Vanilla."
It can be helpful to store merchandise on slanted inventory racks, so when one box or case is pulled, the next one slides down into position for easy removal of your packers, for the next order to be filled.
If you have a friendly competitor, look into purchasing together to take advantage of volume discounts. Delivery might be made to one operator's warehouse, and picked up there by the other.
Use UPS or FedEx to make distant deliveries, if possible.
Analyze your least profitable accounts and decide whether to get rid of them, to increase their orders by selling them products in more categories, to raise their prices or to add rental charges to their equipment.
Increase coffee case counts for customers who purchase large volumes at one time. An 84-ct. case takes up less space than two 42-ct. cases, so this will save space in your trucks and allow the customer to use up less space in their storage areas. This is a win for both the operator and client.
Barter with your local radio station that targets offices as its audience. Trade free coffee service for the station's employees for free radio advertising. Create a daily or weekly contest for offices, inviting them to win free coffee for the week or free breakfast and coffee for one morning.
All said, there are three approaches to increasing profitability. One is to increase sales; another is to increase prices; and the third is to reduce operating costs by being aware of the techniques available to you.
Please let me know what you have done to decrease your costs without hampering the service you provide to your customers. I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association. He is a speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing, and is the author of two OCS training programs.