I recently returned from the National Automatic Merchandising Association's Coffee, Tea & Water convention and trade show in Nashville. The show is one that should not be missed in the future by any office coffee service operator. NAMA has done an unbelievable job of uniting the vending, office refreshment and water service industries.
THAT'S THE TICKET! Scratch-off cards resembling state lottery tickets can offer a choice of incentives for purchases of specified products. At the same time, they enable customer service reps to strengthen their ties with their client contacts.
One of the many educational seminars that I attended was called "Gamification for Success," and it described ways to build customer engagement by offering fun with a purpose -- a game, a drawing, a raffle and gift giving, among other diversions.
In my next two articles I will be describing several promotions that I have used successfully over the years in office refreshment. My purpose of having the following was, first, to inform our clients about the variety of products, equipment and services we were offering. Second, I wanted to increase gross sales per account, which would result in higher profits. My third objective was to increase the number of customers we'd gain through recommendations from happy accounts. Finally, I wanted to help our salespeople to reconnect with their customers.
Lotteries have been around for most of recorded history. Today, you can find a lottery system in 44 states and the District of Columbia. I wanted to introduce or sell more of some of my key products to my customer base, as well as build trust and credibility with the contact person in each of our clients.
I developed a simple lottery card that listed nine products and services that I wanted to promote. Keep in mind that this lottery game was promoted prior to the advent of single-cup for OCS, or I would have included those brewers in this program.
As you can see by the picture of the card, I included a few products and services that were brand new to the office refreshment industry at that time. These included Nestlé's individual iced cold beverage packets, an extended-life milk and bottled water cooler service, microwave ovens and refrigerators.
We decided that we would not simply mail a lottery card to each of our customer contacts, but rather we would have our delivery personnel hand deliver the ticket directly to them. It was important to monitor and control the program, and if we felt if we did a single mass mailing, we would be swamped with immediate phone calls and an abundance of returns by mail. After all, every account was a winner, and we were not staffed to handle a barrage of responses.
Our telephone account representatives were instructed to write "lottery ticket" on the invoice when each customer placed an order. The next day, our route drivers would deliver the orders and hand deliver a lottery ticket in an envelope addressed to the account contact. This was done so that, if some of the addressees were not present when the order was delivered, we'd make sure that they would get the lottery ticket when they returned.
Inside the envelope was a short note thanking the contact for being a valued customer and inviting him or her to follow the instructions on the card to get their free goods and services. Our telephone account reps would note in the computer order history that the lottery ticket had been delivered, to avoid sending a duplicate ticket on subsequent orders.
Our sales rep for each account redeeming a ticket would deliver the chosen premium to the contact person. The representative thus would be reconnect with his or her account, reinforcing goodwill between them and our company.
Also, our salespeople were required to ask for a recommendation or a referral to someone in business whom they knew, and who might be interested in using our services. The contact was offered a $25 credit for additional products, or a personal gift worth $25, if the referral turned into a new customer. (The dollar amount should be adjusted for 2017.)
Next month, I will be discussing a few other promotions that worked well for our company.
I recently received a phone call from one of my readers, and I want to share with you some great ideas that came from Sydney Slutzky, the daughter of Coffee Unlimited's Elliot Slutzky (Chicago). Elliot and I attended the Coffee, Tea & Water show, where we and many of our OCS industry colleagues were inducted into the association's new Coffee Service Hall of Fame.
Sydney, who oversees sales and marketing at Coffee Unlimited, wanted to find ways of motivating every department in her company, besides the sales team. She felt that the company would be more successful if management made sure that a morale-boosting system was in place for all departments.
She implemented a contest by installing a flatscreen monitor, visible to the whole warehouse staff, which displayed the number of product orders packed per employee. The goal was to create friendly competition and motivate her employees to make fewer packing errors. The top three packers who went the longest with the least number of picking errors were recognized on the screen.
Similarly, the service department was motivated and rewarded by tracking and celebrating the highest number of service calls completed each day. And Coffee Unlimited's customer service people were rewarded when presenting a new product. If the entire CSR department was able to move 100 cases of a new product for the month, each participant who sold a minimum of five cases would be rewarded.
As Sydney stated, "This makes it a team effort, and fun."
There are many ways to motivate your customers to increase their orders and employees to be more productive. I will continue next month with additional ideas to increase your profitability.
Let me know what you have done to stimulate your sales. I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or OCSconsultant@aol.com .
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.