Grouping Office Coffee Equipment And Related Items Makes Menu Easier To Use

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 6/24/2016

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TAGS: Vending Times columnist, OCS salespeople, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, coffee business, office refreshments, OCS sales training, Len Rashkin, OCS allied products, OCS promotions, OCS sales brochures

Last month, I discussed reasons for you to have an office refreshments brochure or menu, and the overall process of planning and creating one. I reminded you that if your customers do not know what you offer, they certainly can't place orders. In this month's article, I will suggest an actual layout to use that will help increase allied product ordering.

"Dare to be different!" Take a look at most of the brochures and menus prepared by your competitors and, in most cases, you'll see an attractive piece that describes their services, shows their equipment and details their product lines. They will list such categories as coffees, teas, condiments, paper and plastic products, janitorial, snacks and beverages, among others. Most use the same layout and sell the selections to most of their accounts. But with a little originality, you can increase the sale of your products substantially by positioning them differently. Let's take a look.

Our industry provides and services a wide array of equipment, including brewers, grinders, espresso machines, water coolers, refrigerators, microwave ovens and ice cube makers, to name a few. Instead of listing all your products within those appliance categories, you can show one or several illustrations of your brewers, and below those pictures, list all the products you offer that can be used in conjunction with them. The same holds true for pictures of your other equipment and its related products.

Just think of what you or your family members do before going out to shop. You make a list by looking in the refrigerator and pantry, and you note what is missing or almost empty. But you don't make a list of your drugstore items by looking into the refrigerator; you go to the medicine cabinet and then make your list. You look under the kitchen counter to see if you need any additional paper towels or cleaning supplies.

Here is a partial list of what you could list under the different categories of equipment you supply:

Brewers » List your coffees, espresso and related products, teas, hot chocolates, soups, cups, lids, sugar, creamers, sweeteners, stirrers, etc.

Refrigerators » List all of your cold products that would be related to using a refrigerator: soda, juices, iced teas, milk/creamers. List other products such as mayonnaise, ketchup, aluminum foil, napkins, plastic garbage bags, cold cups, straws, etc.

Water coolers (hot/cold) » Itemize all of your instant products. These might include Sanka packets, Crystal Lite, flavor packs, iced tea and iced coffee mixes, hot chocolate, hot soup mixes, sugar, creamers, sweeteners, cold and hot cups, etc.

Microwave ovens » Popcorn, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, hot cups, utensils, Fantastik spray cleaner, hand wipes, plastic garbage bags, etc.

You may be saying to yourself as you read the above, "Len mentioned paper plates, cups, garbage bags and some other items more than once." Yes -- that's the idea! There are many items that are linked or "bridged" to one another, and your message to your accounts is simply to inform them, in the most efficient way, what you offer to fill the needs of all their employees who use the equipment you have provided. It is very simple.

Show a picture of a cupboard, filled with many of your products.

Numerous businesses entertain throughout the year, hosting purchasing-agent and sales meetings and conducting holiday events, birthdays, promotions, trade shows and charity events. Create an "entertainment" category by showing a picture of party hats and confetti and listing your premium plastic plates, utensils, beverage ware, napkins, plastic tablecloths, birthday candles and other party supplies. List your snack lines, which could include nut mixes, assorted wrapped candies and chocolates, and so on. Don't forget to list all those beverages that go with mixing liquors (ginger ale, tonic water and club soda).

You should also have a place on your menu for miscellaneous items.

You are now thinking outside of the box, and the decision-maker will find the new approach much more efficient and appealing than having to look down a long list of hundreds of items (and sometimes more than a 1,000 allied products) to find a particular item. Your new brochure/menu will sell more of your product mix and you will see your profits rise.

Lastly, you are selling to a wide range of different size accounts and you must make it easy for a buyer to make a purchase. Selling by the full case makes deliveries easier, but the quantities could be too much for many of your smaller customers. They also may not have the storage space to stock a full case of cups, paper towels or toilet tissue. Breaking down a case gives you the advantage of selling to more customers -- and you can increase the markup to accommodate smaller purchases.

Keep in mind that you can even sell a mixed case of soda and juices by just providing them in six packs, rather than a full 24-ct. case of Diet Coke.

In my next article, I will take a close look at how to promote to your current account base with product specials.

If you have any suggestions for future articles, or questions that you would like answered, please pick up the phone and call me at (516) 241-4883 or email

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.