Everyone knows someone who just can’t start their day until they’ve had their morning cup o’ joe. In fact, a Zagat study on national coffee trends found that Americans drink an average of 2.1 cups per day.
Regardless of your personal preferences, if you’re a business owner it’s likely that your employees consume a lot of coffee each day as well. Perhaps that’s why coffee is one of the most popular perks offered by employers to their staff. You may also be looking to provide this service to your customers while they wait to be helped, and these tips will generally apply to them as well.
Finding the right supplier for you can be tricky though, which is why we’ve put together a guide to help you determine how to find a coffee supplier for your office:
Step 1: Determine your cost-to-quality ratio.
For many businesses, cost is the most important factor to consider when choosing a coffee supplier. That makes sense; you wouldn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for something you’re giving out for free, right?
The cost is important, but be sure to also keep your purpose in mind. Not only is it a great way to “give back” to your staff and thank them for all the work they do, the morale (and caffeine!) boost it provides can actually make them more productive, which will pay off in the long run! For customers, the impact has more to do with making them feel valued and welcome which can result in higher customer retention. That is, as long as they’re actually drinking the coffee you’re paying for.
If you get bad coffee just because it’s cheap, you’ll actually end up losing money when nobody drinks it. It will go to waste, and you’ll lose all the potential benefits it could have provided. Try to find a good balance of cost and quality to avoid making this common mistake.
Step 2: Determine what kind of coffee you need, as well as any additional items.
Before you buy anything, be sure to check in with your employees to find out what their needs are. Do they prefer dark roast, light roast, flavored coffees? Does anyone want decaf, and do you have any tea drinkers? What kinds of creamer do they prefer? What type of coffee machine should you buy that can accommodate these items? Use their input to ensure you’re buying the coffee and machine that they’ll use and enjoy – they’ll thank you for it, and you’ll avoid wasting your money.
Step 3: Decide if you want to go national, local, or online. Know the benefits of each.
This is a crucial step in the decision-making process. There are a lot of suppliers out there, good and bad, and deciding how large of a company you are willing to work with will help you narrow it down.
National companies typically have the most experience and the largest selection. They may also have more reviews available, since their customer base is larger. On the other hand, their name recognition allows them to charge more than smaller companies, so they tend to be the costlier option.
Local businesses may not have the same level of experience or reputation, and their selections are usually smaller, but you’re able to have a much closer relationship with them. This can result in better, more accessible customer service. They’re also usually cheaper, plus there’s the added benefit of supporting the local economy!
Online vendors are often the cheapest option, but you get what you pay for. Their selections for coffee and brewing equipment are sometimes lacking, and there’s little opportunity for a close relationship. If price is your main concern, this might be the way to go, but remember that buying bad coffee may be worse than buying none at all!
Step 4: Select a supplier (or a few) to consider.
Congratulations! At this point, you’ve narrowed your options down to 1-3 potential suppliers – and that’s no easy task. From here, all that’s left to do is examine those choices to select the one that best suits your company’s needs. Here are a few criteria to pay special attention to:
Take a look at the supplier’s inventory. Do they have a large selection, or a small one? If they have the coffee varieties you need, then their inventory size won’t be a problem. However, if you think you might need more variety to satisfy your employees or customers (or if there’s a chance you’ll want to change up your coffee selection in the future) a large selection may be better.
Don’t just rely on product descriptions or reviews - ask your selected provider if they offer product samples or tastings! This is a great way to determine what options may be best for your staff, as you can allow them to sample different varieties of coffee and weigh in on each. Shy away from vendors who won’t provide you with product samples, as reputable coffee vendors will usually be happy to let their products speak for themselves.
What are their delivery costs, what will the coffee selections you want run you? Do they offer brewing equipment and maintenance for free with coffee delivery, or is that extra? Balance the costs with the other factors to ensure that this service will boost office morale without breaking the bank.
This is one of the most important factors to consider; a company may have great prices and a vast selection of high-quality coffees, but none of that matters if your deliveries are always late and you can never get someone to come out and fix your brewer when it breaks! Gauge their level of service based on both their behavior towards you in the decision-making process and on the reviews of both past and present customers.
That brings us to our last point - read the reviews! Even if they treat you like royalty to get you to sign up with them, that level of service may drop off quickly once they have you. To really determine what kind of business they are, read their reviews (both positive and negative) and ask for references as well if they have them.
Related: Office Coffee Delivery Services
Once you’ve examined all these aspects of your selected coffee provider, you should be able to move forward with confidence. If you need some assistance in figuring out which coffee machine might be the best fit for your workplace - before speaking with a supplier - read more here. If, after reading this guide, you feel ready to start looking for a coffee supplier for your office, we can help! 360Connect can connect you with up to 5 providers (both local and national) who service your area, and they are all well qualified to meet your needs. If you’re interested, visit us at 360Connect.com to request 5 free, no obligation quotes today.
Remember that for the best buying experience possible, we recommend comparing just 3-5 different suppliers and what they have to offer (don't over-complicate the decision by comparing too many options!) and prepare for your call with these tips to get the most out of your phone call with each supplier.