Office coffee service (OCS) is reaching new heights. The overall industry revenue has increased again this year, according to our annual State of the Office Coffee Service report on page 18, reaching $5.4 billion. Operators give credit to premium coffee and allied products as well as high-end single cup systems. The companies to which OCS providers give service are opting for more expensive offerings, and its directly related to the low unemployment.
Record high unemployment
As of press time, the 2018 unemployment rate was sitting at 3.9 percent. That is a low unseen for at least 10 years. In some areas of the country, such as Denver, the unemployment rate is even lower. It means that job searchers have choices. It means that businesses who want better employees are budgeting money to recruit employees and increase benefits that keep those employees. Now there is more talk about employee engagement and the employee experience, including job titles with these terms. When I searched for “director of employee experience” on an internet jobsite, I got 147,098 matching job openings. This speaks to the changing times and how human resource (HR) departments specifically are being tasked to create an employer brand that is attractive to current and potential employees. It has to be good and look good on social media platforms as well as online job sites. Simple things can make a big difference in how companies are perceived.
OCS is about image
Most offices offer coffee to employees. However, I have seen it be very different. One office I worked at offered airports full of a coffee brand no one had ever heard of as well as a canister of generic creamer powder. A different office in the same town offered a bean to cup machine that made dozens of hot drinks and sported a national brand coffee. In the first office, many employees had small coffee brewers on their desks, or in empty cubes, and the co-workers took turns buying and brewing the brand name coffee they wanted. In the latter office, I was told that employees felt appreciated by the company because of the investment in such a sophisticated system. Those employees felt pride in their workplace and talked often about the coffee.
While extreme examples, these illustrate the point of coffee service as it relates to image. As OCS providers, you are the expert and can help the decision maker at a location understand just what this or that type of coffee brewer or ancillary offering will reflect about the commitment of the business. Today HR professionals are acting as recruiters as well as handling typical HR responsibilities. Help them turn the breakroom into a showpiece for the employer and provide a backbone for an authentic and attractive story that will appeal to new hires and existing staff.
Premium OCS doesn’t mean one kind of coffee or one kind of brewer. Bill Levine, long-time operator, does very well with private label coffee, his coffee service division alone maintaining 10 different types. Read about how this satisfies the demand of his price-sensitive consumers in addition to everything else he offers in the success story on page 28. It’s one more example of the good position OCS providers are in. As the economy improves, locations are looking for employee benefit experts, and OCS can be part of the solution.