Third Generation Operator Educates As Much As He Sells

Sept. 24, 2018

Drew Warner, president of American Coffee Services, sets himself apart with what he tells customers, not just what he sells them. “I’m very informative,” explained the New Jersey native. Many of his Northeastern customers love the newest model of coffee equipment, especially the bean to cup machines that make premium drinks and quality coffee. They look impressive and provide lots of drink variety. However, Warner has found that if he doesn’t educate customers on the machine specifics, problems can ensue later.  

“The machines are getting larger and larger,” explained Warner. “Often people with offices don’t have space for these machines. It’s not just the actual height, but the space needed to fill the machine from the top with beans or solubles.”  

Warner's team will do an in-person site survey for customers, including measuring counters and clearance between upper and lower cabinetry. This assists in the discussion about what type of coffee equipment to install, especially if the decision maker is in a different part of the country than the location where the brewer is to be used.   

“If the decision maker is in Dallas, TX, but the office is in Manhattan, N.Y., they might not realize the space limitations in Manhattan,” said Warner, as an example. “This is where I come in. I copy everyone on an email so we can all be on the same page.”  

Warner believes it’s better to be transparent about the equipment needs with the customer upfront rather than selling them something and locking them into a contract that will force them to redo their breakroom cabinets later. “There’s going to be problems if they aren’t aware upfront,” he said.    

Besides the height requirement, there is also the regular maintenance needs of bean to cup coffee machines that Warner reviews with customers. It’s less than five minutes for most models, but it keeps the coffee tasting good and the machine working properly.   

Bean to cup brewers make up 50 percent of Warner’s OCS business, equating to millions of dollars in revenue. 

An emphasis on education 

It’s not just Warner who knows the details about all the equipment American Coffee Services sells. 

“I tell my staff, and not just sales, but my customer service people too, that part of the job is to make sure you are up on what’s new,” said Warner. He wants employees to be informed about the equipment, with the ability to answer common questions that arise from locations. Because there are several brewer models, all with different components, it can require regular updates and communication. Warner holds a company-wide staff meeting each morning to keep employees in the know. The agenda includes what is new in the industry, new equipment that came in, installations taking place that day, the service schedule, etc.  

In addition to meeting with his staff, Warner stays in close contact with the coffee brewer manufacturers as well to ensure they send the latest information about upcoming models. He also attends the NAMA trade shows and CoffeeTea& Water event to see equipment in person and bring back relevant information.  

“We want to sell the correct machine to the customer, so they don’t have issues at the location,” he added. “It [staying informed and educating customers] is just part of what we do.”