Asolvi Knowledge Base

How often are ingredients getting missed in office coffee? And what can you do about it?

Ingredients are the biggest recurring revenue stream for most office coffee service (OCS) providers. That means their chief concern is encouraging customers to buy more coffee.

For many providers, poor service processes are causing ingredients to get missed and go uncharged-for. When that happens, ingredients don’t just become a lost profit. They become a cost. Every bag of beans missed off an invoice is a product given away for free. This is a major concern for any OCS provider that still relies heavily on product-based sales.

The pitfalls of paper

Why are there so many instances of customers getting coffee for free from their OCS providers?

Usually, it’s human error. And human error is facilitated and amplified if a company uses paper in its field service management system.

In office coffee, human error happens when field engineers tasked with topping up a coffee machine are required to write down on paper forms what they’ve delivered.

Where this involves crossing a product off a list, engineers might inadvertently cross off the wrong one. Sometimes they might have to handwrite a product name and serial number purely from memory. They will also be required to record quantities of items delivered.

The scope for error is substantial, particularly where engineers are entering serial numbers from memory. If you undercharge, i.e. for a too-low quantity or less expensive item, your key revenue stream takes a hit. If you overcharge, i.e. for a too-high quantity or a more expensive item, this can lead to disputes with customers. In both cases, there will be confusion over stock levels.

Sometimes ingredients sales are missed entirely due to engineers losing paperwork and simply not knowing or remembering what they’ve sold. Frankly, it’s easily done, particularly if your engineers are busy and have lots of customers to visit.

Other problems causing ingredients to go astray

Not all missed ingredients in the office coffee & vending industry can be blamed on paperwork. Some OCS providers have already moved beyond paper in the field. Their engineers are using mobile devices and recording the details of their ingredients sales in an app.

This eliminates the risk of lost paperwork. As to how far it reduces the scope for human error, that depends on what your engineers are required to do to record their sales. If they have to write down product names and serial numbers, you’re still at risk of incorrectly entered data. At least engineers won’t have to remember these details because, in theory, they should be able to use the system or the internet to look them up. But the scope for error remains substantial due to how easy it is to mistype a long serial number.

There is a second layer of risk to consider. If you are using a paper-based system, it means your data isn’t live and will need to be re-entered at the invoicing stage. Any time data has to be manually re-entered, more potential for human error is introduced to the process. Whoever’s entering the data into an invoice may mistype or misread the engineer’s handwriting.

Another cause of ingredients sales getting missed is poor stock controls. OCS providers need 360° visibility of all stock across multiple locations in order to keep track of it. With a paper-based system, this is impossible because none of the engineers’ data is live. There’s always a time lag when ingredients move between warehouses, vans and customer sites. The lack of visibility can lead to over and under ordering of ingredients, and makes it a lot easier for ingredients to get lost or missed.

Integration, live data and barcode scanning

Ideally, what OCS providers need is a field service management software solution where engineers enter their sales data into a live system in the field using their mobile devices. Invoicing should be fully integrated with this system so that the data is automatically pre-loaded into invoices, removing the need for manual data re-entry by finance teams.

The system should also be integrated with a multi-location parts management program so that all ingredients movements are captured and properly charged for.

To drastically reduce the scope for human error in the field, OCS providers need a system that minimises manual intervention in the recording of ingredients sales by engineers. Enter barcode scanners. An enterprise mobility app with a barcode scanner will instantly identify a product and download its details directly into the system — so your engineers don’t have to. Scope for mistyping and misremembering is eliminated.

No more free coffee

If you’re an OCS provider, selling coffee is likely to be the lifeblood of your business — so you don’t want to be giving it to your customers for free. Sharpening up your service management is how you stop that from happening.

Asolvi software makes missed ingredients sales a thing of the past for office coffee providers. Our enterprise mobility solution is fully integrated with our automated invoicing and multi-location parts management programs. Therefore, all ingredients are monitored and tracked and no duplicate data entry is required. Field engineers enter their data once and once only.

Our enterprise mobility app also comes with a barcode scanner. Your engineers simply scan the barcode on a bag of coffee or sugar or a box of paper cups and the product is automatically identified and entered into the system as a sale. There is no need for engineers to search for products or type out long serial numbers.

For more information about our coffee & vending field service management software and how it can help maintain your profitability, please contact sales@asolvi.com.