Getting the right office refreshments solution for your office is a complex solution – there are no one size fits all approaches, and indeed a correct solution for your workplace relies on a number of factors. Fortunately, the complexity is the reason I have managed to remain in business – and below I offer Seven Reasons as to Why Your Office Refreshments May Be Failing.
Reason Number 1 – It’s The Wrong Solution
Obviously at the top of the list is a solution that has been placed in an environment where it’s just not suited. Think about your work environment – are you surrounded by the top-level Execs of the organisation, are you in the warehouse, are you in a call centre, or are you located on Level 50 of some high-rise skyscraper in the middle of Canary Wharf? Each of these environments needs a different solution to tailor to their individual clientele – a worker in a factory will not need a bean-to-cup barista-style machine that whilst brews a brilliant drink, takes twice as long as a instant or ground coffee machine – in no way should we stereotype the people requesting these drinks, but speed is an issue because of the work environment.
Think about how your business will grow in 3 or 5 years time (both being the general lease terms for most office refreshment equipment); will the output and size of machinery be enough to meet your requirements in the future? A machine capable of being sufficient for 100 staff may not meet your requirements in 5 years time when your headcount is double or triple (or even more) than 100.
Surveying your staff and asking for their input on what refreshments solution they would like in their office is a key point that is, more often than not, overlooked by many of the people I have worked with in the past – implementing a solution that your employees and clients do not want, like or need can lead to more hassle than it is worth. Ask your staff for their input and work that into your budget.
Reason Number 2 – Outdated and Tired Equipment
“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” is a phrase most of us are familiar with – in the world of vending and office refreshments, it’s also a phrase that speaks of dread and increased service calls and one I never like to hear! Yes, your office refreshment solutions may last 8,9,10 years or even longer, and may have indeed been implemented for that long, but in the long run, re-leasing or financing current equipment can cause issues – both for the business and your staff.
Increased service calls are my number one complaint from the professionals I talk to, who complain of their machines “constantly breaking down” – the majority of the time this is from wear and tear caused over years of consistent use. Leasing new equipment does NOT have to be a costly experience, and in most cases you can deduct leasing payments from taxable business income, saving you money on your corporation tax bill* and working out less expensive than having to pay for parts for machines that no longer have their manufacturer warranty.
Finally, as with everything on the market, new innovations come along all the time and manufacturers have specific lifespans for all machinery – those that were purchased 15 years ago, although still working, risk being subject to the inability to get replacement parts for machines that are no longer supported by the manufacturer; meaning your staff are left without their morning coffee, water or snack food until you can budget a replacement machine or get your supplier to ship something from a dodgy dealer located 3000 miles away!
Reason Number 3 – No Implemented Service Level Agreements
Picking a new supplier can be a hard business, and can be even harder if their fail to live up their promises once contracted in to your company. Implementing a quantitive and measureable Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an important aspect of any contract, large or small, and allows you to benchmark your service partners’ performance over specific periods of time, and sets out pre-defined expectations for both your business and your service partner.
Without an SLA, neither party can comfortably agree what expectations are to be met and how to respond effectively to all issues. Additionally, without an SLA, a service partner that is failing to meet your expectations and delivering bad service can be harder to “remove” from site.
I will be writing a blog post in a few weeks on how to constructive effective SLAs – please subscribe here if you’d like to receive this (free, of course).
Reason Number 4 – No Customer Support
A good level of customer aftercare is important to any service provider – meeting expectations and delivering good customer service means repeated business and good references. We’ve all been with the companies that have extensive hierarchies of command – a worker who reports to a manager who reports to another, who reports to a divisional director, who reports to a national director, who reports to a group director, who reports to the CEO…big businesses have both their pros and cons, and for those companies that like a personable approach are more often than not better dealing with smaller companies who have limited command chains – there’s no “buck passing” or low employee motivation that I have experienced with when working with or for the “big boys” in our industries.
Regular account management is something that is often not implemented – account reviews are something that I am extremely keen on to keep everything in ship-shape condition. Without regular contact from account management, issues can be left without resolution for days or even weeks, and indeed without establishing a correct communication procedure with both parties (i.e. how complaints are dealt with, and furthermore escalated and their appropriate timeframes) can leave bitter memories when dealing with service providers in the future.
Reason Number 5 – Stale Ingredients and Stale Offers
Stale in this aspect means two things – ingredients that have gone past their paramount use date and refreshment solutions that have not changed since they were installed.
Did you know that coffee beans have a very short lifespan before they dry out and lose the majority of the naturally-occurring oils that give your espresso most of its taste? In time-terms, this can equate to as long as two weeks or as little as three days, depending on a number of factors (when the bean was roasted, humidity, light, temperature…). Not replenishing your coffee machines often enough to ensure your beans are never past the stage where the oils have evaporated is key when installing bean-to-cup machines. A once-per-week replenish is often never enough.
Office refreshment solutions that have not had any work put into them after install can tire out, with diminished used because the offer is the same. Snack and Cold drink vending machines are such an example, and operators should implement seasonal promotions where possible. Many machines now have “Winner” features on them that can be activated for promotional purposes to drive sales (after the Xst product has been vended, the next sale item is free, for example).
Reason Number 6 – Location
Do your employees actually know where the nearest refreshment station is? Do your clients have access to cold water or coffee in reception whilst waiting for their counterpart to meet them, or do your staff have to run from reception to fetch them something?
Location can be one of the smaller reasons why office refreshment systems fail, however it can also be one of the key reasons too. In public sites, it is usually of more importance – if you are looking to return a profit from pay-vend machines, are you placing them in areas that have the highest footfall, are you putting them in thoroughfares, are you matching the items in the machine to relate to it’s location (for example, in a hospital, machines near the children’s unit are better with fruit juices than energy drinks)? Think about your environment and whether location does play a role, as this can have an effect on the level of revenue generated.
Reason Number 7 – Lack of Water Filters
I am an ambassador of the importance of water filters (and those who work with me and regularly read this blog will be aware of this fact) and the problems that can be endured without implementing them on machines that are connected to the mains water supply.
I am often asked why regular filter changes are necessary – and the results speak for themselves. Limescale build up happens all across the UK and in fact the world, but it’s more prevalent in hard water areas such as mine, London. I have even had the case where two weeks after a coffee machine install and the client insisting they did not want a water filter jug to replenish their self-fill machine, everything failed – upon inspection, the water boiler was completely scaled up and needed to be replaced (needless to say, unfortunately this was an expensive bill for my client!).
The majority of service calls that I experience in the centre of London revolve around scale related issues – again, there is no “one size fits all” approach to how often water filters should be changed, and it’s something that needs to be analysed for the correct timing. Think about how often your coffee machines and water boilers have their filters changed, and make a note of how many drinks are being served annually – as a rule of thumb, in hard water areas such as W1 London, the large ScaleGuard Pro filters from 3M can process around 2,100 litres of water before the filter needs a change (which equates to approximately 17,000 120ml cups)
I have been advising business across London and its surrounding regions, and in some cases across the UK, on installing efficient, manageable and correct office refreshment systems long enough to know what works in almost every environment imaginable (even on-board an aircraft!) – take note of the above and apply it to your offices. If your current supplier hasn’t identified any issues already, or installed an incorrect system – then act before it’s too late.
To good health and good fortune, and a working refreshments solution,
David Rinaldo Cocozza