New tools and technology are getting all the attention nowadays, but some concepts that were popular a long time ago and have since disappeared still have value. I’m talking about the countertop, cold beverage dispenser.
At the end of 2010, Coca-Cola Co. stopped providing products for the Breakmate, the postmix, countertop soda machine. The machines had quality control issues, and many operators found the sanitation issues challenging.
Operators like Charlie Ray of Ray Coffee Service in Savannah, Ga. who were successful with Breakmate because of their exceptional commitment to service had to bite the bullet. When Ray explained he had to pull the Breakmate machine, one of his biggest office customers implored him to find something else.
Ray, 71 years old, is the kind of guy who goes to the end of the world to meet his customers’ needs. He got in touch with B.L. Sizemore & Associates, Kernersville, N.C., which makes a countertop fountain vending system and learned about countertop fountain beverage options. He then contacted his Coke product distributor to see what type of postmix products they could provide for these machines.
The Coke distributor saw the sales potential, and agreed to not only cover the cost of the countertop fountain system, but to install it and service it when necessary.
The result has been a huge win for Ray. The 2.5-gallon postmix boxes are a lot more profitable than packaged containers. More importantly, it’s what the customer wants.
Providing a full size vending machine would be problematic at this account; space is limited. Delivering cans and/or bottles would also create a lot more work for Ray.
What this tale demonstrates is that refreshment services remains a business where innovative individuals who learn their customers’ needs and are willing to do what it takes to deliver can be successful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about Charlie Ray. Two years ago, I reported on how he used prepaid cashless to help an account that had downsized cut its costs and still provide coffee.
As more tools are introduced to the market, innovative operators find uses for them.
Times may be challenging, but in our industry, there is always opportunity.