Times Tough? Veteran Charlie Ray Studies Up And Makes It A Great Day

Jan. 6, 2010
Coffee Service operator installs payment mechanisms on single-cup coffee machines.
Adversity is part of being in business, but some people in our industry recognize it as a fact of business life. Talking to these people can invigorate you.I checked in with my old pal, Charlie Ray of Ray Coffee Service in Savannah, Ga. Charlie turns 69 this month and hes operated his two-man business since 1970 and hes weathered the ups and downs over the years.Charlie was on a roll last year before the recession pulled the rug from under his feet. His biggest account decided they no longer wanted to provide free coffee. Charlie had just placed a lot of single-cup brewers at this account. Then they decided to cut expenses. Charlies only option was to install payment mechanisms on these machines. This meant an added expense with the understanding that sales would be cut in half.The customer wanted to offer payment cards to employees so they could cover some of the cost of their office refreshments.Charlie studied up on his options. He learned about prepaid card systems from Vendors Exchange International Inc., Microtronic US, and Multi-Max LLC. He ended up investing six figures in prepaid card systems.And the big customer has loved it. It has also helped Charlie recover some of his sales and given him something new to offer his other customers.Getting into cashless wasnt easy. Charlie is turning 69 and he isnt the most technology savvy guy in the industry. But he knows the importance of educating himself. He was one of the first coffee service operators to introduce single-cup brewers in Savannah.By listening to customers, Charlie also learned that many of them want to be able to place orders online, so he recently launched a superb looking Website, http://raycoffeeservice.com.Whats great about guys like Charlie is they prove how great our industry can be. There are always new and better ways of doing things that allow an operator to be the solution provider for his customers.Times may be tough, but opportunity abounds.