OCS Operators: Look To The Past For Current Solutions

June 22, 2020

Over the last 90 days, there has been plenty of talk about pivoting, reinventing and the new normal that awaits office coffee service operators when workplaces finally repopulate. We need to look beyond the necessary short-term solutions. Coffee service companies need to focus on what made them successful before the pandemic.

Focus on the core business

Instead of chasing down dollars in pursuit of the “work from home” market, focus your efforts on streamlining your existing operation and doing what you do best: operating equipment, selling refreshment products (profitably) and providing exceptional service.

Trying to deliver snacks and coffee to individual households is a great way to churn dollars and burn energy in pursuit of minuscule profits. For many operators today, both dollars and energy are in short supply. Even Amazon is challenged by that “last mile of delivery.” Home delivery is not the business you are in.

Focus on being the expert

An operator who sits back and waits for clients to establish the service protocols associated with newly repopulated offices will find themselves dealing with a myriad of different requirements at each location. Because there is no “pandemic playbook” for office managers, your clients will welcome the thought-out strategies that you present to them. Be the expert.

Lisa Marquis, president at Marquis Project Management, who serves some of the nation’s largest tech and media companies, said facility professionals are looking to convenience services operators and other vendors to provide best practices advice. “There are going to be new delivery protocols in place, so we need some help from our vendors to make it work,” she said.

Focus on customer service

Since they generally do not produce income, customer service reps would seem to be an obvious choice when positions need to be eliminated. In these most challenging of times for the OCS industry, everyone on board needs to be highly productive.

Great customer service reps should be retained if possible, because right now, providing the best customer service is more important than ever. We need to distinguish ourselves clearly from online suppliers. The human touch associated with customer service will set your company apart.

Keep your best customer service reps, especially the ones who enjoy strong client relationships.

Focus on technology

As an operator, you have made all the right moves in terms of offering state of the art coffee brewing equipment and point of use water filtration systems. It is time to focus on touch-free equipment. The move to touch-free can be relatively inexpensive, since some manufacturers have moved quickly to offer smartphone apps that work with their existing equipment.

One company that is currently offering a touch-free hot water system and developing touch-free point of use water dispensers took a creative approach that easily converts most coffee urns into touch free dispensers. Anastasia Chovan, national sales manager at Marco Beverage Systems, said the adapter attaches simply onto the tap and offers a quick, easy and cost efficient solution for operators who need a touch-free OCS option.

Focus on pricing

If there was ever a time to review pricing, this is it. If an operator is expected to provide exceptional service for fewer employees — while jumping through more hoops than ever to service locations — this is the time to raise prices.

Any operator today who sells based on lowball pricing will not survive. The cost of doing business is going up and clients consider our services more essential than ever. Why? Because employers would rather have their team members stay in house, avoiding potential infection in public places and avoiding temperature check lines that will be commonplace in many buildings.

Focus on “building the ticket”

As your clients lay down the law about sanitizing procedures, entry protocol and other requirements designed to protect their employees. Be bold enough to ask your clients to give you an opportunity to provide more office pantry products like paper goods, beverages, snacks, cleaning supplies and first aid supplies.

Here is what that conversation might sound like:

Operator: “Susan, is it fair to assume that you would like to limit the amount of outside traffic coming into your office?”

Susan: “That is definitely the case.”

Operator: “That is great news. Since we are completely dialed in to your building and office delivery protocols, and since we can deliver everything in your office kitchen that you are currently buying online, wouldn’t it make sense for you to consolidate vendors, take advantage of our service and buy these additional products from us?”

Remind your client that your company is a local business, a part of the community and that your company is doing their best to retain local jobs.

Focus on the frequent theme

“We’re all in this together.” This is a theme we hear frequently today, but it should also translate to “Loyalty goes both ways.”

Operators need to remember how important they are to their clients. Reliability in times of crisis is valued by facility managers. We need to do our best to provide exceptional office refreshment, but at the same time, we must maintain the focus on profitability. If that means raising prices and adding more products, then that is exactly what your essential service needs to do.

Industry consultant Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q & A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.