I'd like to start off this month's column with huge congratulations to my company partner and right-hand man at Heritage Coffee, Brian Martell. Brian won the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association Customer Service Award for 2012, honoring his personal approach to customers and exceptional commitment to addressing their needs and concerns. Martell is a recipient of the Don Storey Award (2008) and the Stuart Daw Gold Service Award (2010), and as such is the first CAMA member to earn all three CAMA accolades.
NAMA's Coffee Tea & Water took place in mid-November, and I hope many Vending Times readers made their way there. I personally was looking for new developments in pod brewing, and seeing old friends while hopefully making a few new ones.
We are quickly nearing the end of the calendar year, and the Presidential election has been decided, so it's time to start putting our fiscal house in order.
I recently received a call from a longtime industry friend who has been so concerned over where the country is headed, that he decided to sell his business while the present capital gains tax rate stays intact. He was actually wondering what protections Canada might offer to capital, and whether he should consider parking some money up there. While the quick answer is decidedly no -- Canada might not be the wisest choice for sheltering assets -- the deeper reality that he had finally thrown his hands up and decided to get out of the fray for fear that even darker days lay ahead, and that despite his best efforts there might not be a better time for an exit, left me quite disconcerted.
PROPERTY IS NOT THEFT
The popular opinion that business is somehow inherently evil and that none of us really deserves what we earn because we must have somehow done it to the disadvantage of others, is something my father contended against for most of his life. It is very easy to target business when considering how to pay for the enormous and ever-growing federal deficit, since businesses themselves don't cast individual votes; but when business owners/entrepreneurs begin to exit the stage in a real-life version of Ayn Rand's epic novel Atlas Shrugged, we as businesspeople need to step up and voice our belief that businesses are the growth engine of this world, built by people for the benefit of all involved in the process. At the very least, we need to maintain and keep intact our competitiveness on the global stage, so business that is based here will remain here. I doubt that it is easy to handle a service call that comes in from China. I hope there are enough smart minds in Washington that realize this, despite all the rhetoric.
While we look to the future and what will hopefully be an ever improving economic picture, it would serve you well to make an appraisal of your own operation and consider doing a little "fall cleaning." During your month-end inventory counting, keep a keen eye on date codes. Any product gathering dust should be quickly put onto a special holiday sales sheet and immediately emailed to your clients. This should then be given a quick follow-up by an inside salesperson. You might consider giving your route salespeople a special bonus for flyer sales, to help them have a happier holiday season while they help you move out some aging inventory.
Consider the value of giving any remaining product to local charitable organizations. Your old brewers, that you know in your heart will never find their way back into a client location but that you've been reticent to remove from the books, would be well-received by local fundraisers for their own headquarters brewing needs. If they are gussied up enough, they can be offered as silent auction/raffle items. Often times what starts out as, and is intended to be, a gesture of goodwill, seconds as a lead-generating device. Many community movers and shakers get heavily involved in local charities, and they often feel happy and obliged to reciprocate where they see an effort to help and participate on the part of local businesses. Take the concept a step further, and offer to provide/serve a special coffee at local charitable fêtes or even prospective clients' holiday parties. The goodwill and contacts will be well worth the effort.
KEVIN DAW is president of Heritage Coffee Co. (London, ON, Canada), a leading private-label roaster serving the breaktime management industries in North America. He is in charge of coffee buying for Heritage. A 30-year veteran of the workplace service business, Daw has served as a commission coffee service salesman, a principal of a vending operation and president of a bottled water company. Since 1990, he has concentrated on coffee roasting. Active in industry affairs, Daw is a Specialty Coffee Association of America Certified Brewing Technician, a member of the National Beverage and Products Association Hall of Fame, a recipient of the National Automatic Merchandising Association Supplier of the Year Award and a NAMA Coffee Service Committee member.