“They (the manufacturers) are really helping us with what we’re trying to achieve,” said Frank.
REGIONAL COFFEE CHAIN BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITIES
The Franks recently added a regional coffee brand, Community Coffee Co., a roaster, retailer and OCS operator based in Baton Rouge, La., after that company contacted Café Liberty about carrying their line. “We tried a number of different coffees. They have a strong presence in the South,” said Frank.
Community Coffee flew the Franks to Louisiana to see their roasting plant. Frank was impressed and felt the quality control was excellent. “I figured carrying an exclusive coffee no else does would give us a competitive edge,” he said.
Café Liberty carries Community Coffee fractional packs. Community Coffee is gaining momentum in the Florida market with a distributor in Orlando and a shop in Tallahassee.
Frank is also planning to offer his New York private label.
EXTRA SERVICE A MUST
“When things get tough, you need to think outside the box to reinvigorate your industry,” said Frank. Luckily for him, some of the out of the box ideas in Florida were old school in New York. For account retention, he will slip cookie packages into cases of coffee to make customers feel special.
Because price has become more of an issue with customers, Frank has begun offering generic alternatives. When someone calls for a specific sweetener, the sales person informs them there is a cheaper, generic-type sweetener also available. Frank doesn’t want to force the change on the location manager, but gives them a choice. Many managers like the idea because it means they are saving their company money.
As a way to help his warehouse personnel and route drivers understand that not all coffee is the same, he holds internal tastings. He has drivers taste different “medium” strength coffees, for example. Educated drivers are less likely to substitute an unrequested coffee when servicing a location.
CONSTANT FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE
Being from a competitive market, Frank has a “never say no” approach to customers. He believes this is the “service” part of his office coffee service title. Companies that deliver just coffee, creamer and sugar are, in Frank’s opinion, just distributors. Service means delivering whatever the location needs, from a bottle of window cleaner to towels for a health club.
Frank attributes his success to always putting the customer first. He knows where they go on vacation and what their pets’ names are. “We treat our customers as we would want to be treated as customers,” he said. He feels that sort of dedication really travels by word of mouth. He projects, due to the volume of calls he’s receiving, that his coffee sales will again double in the next couple years.