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Summer Selling: Promote And 'Bridge' To Cut Winter Inventory, Boost Volume

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 5/21/2012

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summer coffee promotions, snack-coffee promotion, bridging OCS products, office coffee service, OCS education, coffee business, Len Rashkin, office refreshments, office coffee delivery service, OCS business, OCS sales training, sales training, vending, vending machine, vending machine business, coffee education

Now that warm weather is upon us throughout the country, it is time to sell iced beverages to your accounts. I want to assist you in promoting your beverages, as well as in tying them in with snack promotions. Also, I am going to help you reduce your inventory of hot beverages such as hot cocoa, soups and other products that did not sell as well as you had expected, maybe as a result of the mild temperatures that a large part of the country experienced this past winter.

It is very important to understand that when you promote, you must "bridge" from one product to another. Bridging is simple, and I have covered the technique in earlier articles. In short, it is suggesting a product that relates to the one you just mentioned, or the one you will offer next.

Let's take a look at how this works. When a customer places an order for a case of coffee, you respond, "how about a case of decaf coffee for those who do not drink regular coffee?" That's certainly simple enough. The series of bridging products would then naturally continue through tea, decaf teas, flavored teas, cups, spoons, sweeteners and on and on.

I bring this up again because, when you promote, you have to be ready to "up the sale" from the specials or promotional items you are selling to other bridgeable products. The buyer is already on the phone or in front of you.

Now let's make some money by reducing your inventory of hot beverages. Place on your desk or on your customer service personnel desk a box or two of hot cocoa, soup and any other beverages you want to promote. This visual is a strong reminder to promote them whenever you speak to a customer. Your route drivers should bring a box of hot cocoa, soup and so forth with them when making a delivery to an account, so the client can actually see the products. Again, these visuals can help entice the customer to make additional purchases when the driver tells them about the promotions.

Oreo cookies and peanut butter cheese crackers are loved by most, and using them as "giveaways" to sell your hot beverages is a natural. The promotion is, "Buy one box of hot cocoa or package of soup and get 10 packs of either Oreos or Peanut Butter Cheese for free; buy a second and get an additional packs for free -- and if you purchase any combination of three, get an additional 20 packs on the third item free!" You can also substitute Saltines for those who order hot soups, but add packages, since they are much less expensive.

Another promotion that you can use to sell seasonal products is to "Buy one and get one free," "Buy one and get the second for half price" or "Buy one and get the second for $1." The idea is to sell off your winter inventory, so that you can increase your cashflow for the current buying season.

Now let's kick off our summer specials by promoting iced drinks. As before, always place the items you are promoting in front of your telephone customer service staff, as a reminder to sell.

"Good morning, Excellent Coffee & Water Company, this is Carrie, how may I help you today? Thank you for your coffee order, and I want to tell you about our new month of May money-saving promotions on all of our leading brands of Coke and Pepsi products. When you order any two cases of soda pop, you have a choice of either 10 packages of Oreo or Peanut Butter cookies per case or 15 bags of Lay's Potato Chips or Frito's Corn Chips. What would you like today?"

(Wait for an answer!)

"Thank you; and that will be a case of Coke and a case of Pepsi, along with 10 Oreo packs and 15 Lays potato chips. Would you like to also order Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi for those watching their intake of sugar? (This is simply bridging and increasing profits).

When your customer service person just mentions cookies and snacks, this informs the buyer that they are available for sale. Many times an order will also be placed for these snacks, especially if it is asked for. "By the way Ms. Buyer, we offer for purchase a wide selection of snacks and cookies; would you like me to tell you about our selections?"

The same style of promotion described above can be used for your other cold beverages, such as juices and iced teas.

Now that you have the buyer purchasing additional items, use the "bridging" technique to increase the order. "Mr. Buyer, with your beverage order we carry a wide variety of paper and plastic cups, straws and plastic bags to dispose of the empty recyclable cans. Would you like to add any of these to your order today?"

There are many types of promotions that can help you sell your allied products and services. Here is a list that you can use throughout the year:

» Temporary pricing: Ends at a set date
» Seasonal pricing: Holiday special
» Close-out pricing: End of the season or end of the holiday
» Regular price with special pricing: Buy one at regular price, get the second at a discount
» Multiple: Discounts for orders of more than one (Purchase two, get 10% off; purchase three, get 15% off, etc.)
» Coupon discount: Given as a reward/incentive, but put in an expiration date
» Category discount: Purchase any janitorial product and receive a 20% discount

Lastly, if your telephone service people are rushing your customers on the phone so they can service the next caller who is on hold, you are defeating the process for selling more products. For those times in the morning when you are bombarded with calls, hire part-time staff to make those additional sales. The same holds true with your route drivers: they should not rush the customer when trying to sell. The answer to gaining greater sales is to give incentives to your people, so they can share in the profits, as well.

I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or by email at OCSconsultant@aol.com to assist you in adding more allied product sales to your orders.

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.