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Changing the world for better… at least the world of gas stations)

Tag: Ksenia Van de Kamp

Remote coffee machines monitoring – Saving 2 billion. Part 4

Part 4. Remote monitoring of coffee machines

Dmitry Petrov: It’s not the first time I hear from you about the remote monitoring of coffee machines – what’s that?

Artem Astafurov: Remote monitoring and control system is designed to bring together in a single control network an unlimited number of coffee machines installed on your chain of filling stations, regardless of their location. The main functions of this system will be the remote control of the settings, on-line monitoring of technical condition, collection of statistical data, as well as the exclusion of the risks of abuse and / or unskilled actions by gas stations’ personnel and service engineers.

In addition, the remote monitoring system allows timely identification and prevention of attempts to change coffee machines or data-sensors settings. If you try make any unauthorized changes, the system automatically restores the specified configuration parameters, and in case of disconnection of hardware and software module, it will immediately report violations in accordance with information algorithm (sending notification in an agreed format – in the form of SMS or e-mail to the list of responsible recipients).

Dmitry Petrov: I.e. instead of choosing the “best” of beans, you are suggesting installing yet another IT-solution?

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Customer service

The way to a man’s customer’s heart is through his stomach. The girls also love a cup tasty coffee, and the long journey makes everybody equal. The role of the café at gas station is to provide a tasty meal!

Gas is the same and let’s say it is equally good or even great everywhere, but we brew some gourmet coffee and will treat our customer with tasty buns, and now he’s here to stay with us. Real life experts are rubbing their hands as if they were saying “Wait ‘till we’ll tell you”. And indeed they do tell a never-ending story about customer service.

Recently I have found on the Internet one such story.

It happens that two experts are looking at the same situation from different angles. It does not change the components of the situation – poor customer service is still being that way. But an expert on corporate culture sees a way out in the education of adults, which is a hard task. From where I stand it seems to be as one more validation of propriety of non-fuel business automated straight-line organization. I swear, half of the dialogue between the well-known business coach Konstantin Kharsky and an unknown employee of the gas station would not have happened even if only the business process was organized properly.

This is an audio recording of this story. >> 

I do not know the cost of a liter of gasoline

Drivers often choose the gas station not because of the cost of a liter of gasoline – over the last few years the prices in most gas chains have been almost identical. Chains are competing via related services.

If the driver can fill a full tank or refuel it at 1000 rubles – this is a good and profitable customer. This man before this whole story had no particular preference, but chose this particular chain as it  guaranteed the quality of fuel and related services. Pretty ordinary course of conduct of our time.

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Remote coffee machines monitoring – Saving 2 billion. Part 2

Рart 2. You propose to replace “the art of the barista” by an automated technology?            Part 1.
Alexander Kuzmin: Absolutely. Gas station café is not a glamorous coffee shop. Business of gas stations is a continuous-process model, in which customers have a clear request for the speed of service delivery and quality of products offered. The staff caters to the flow of the gas station’s customers hurrying about their business who want to spend a minimum of time to refuel their car and do not plan to “linger” in the limited space of a gas station. Therefore, making coffee at the gas station is “entrusted” to automatic coffee machines, despite their high cost in comparison with manually driven ones.

Ten years ago, “premium” filling stations segment had a brief period of time during which the leader of the Moscow market had tried to use manual espresso machine, but later abandoned it in favor of a super automatic one. For you, the quality of the coffee beans is primarily determined by whether it is suitable for the use in professional automatic coffee machines installed at your gas station.

Dmitry Petrov: Why do you talk only about super automatic machines? It seems to me that a good coffee is an “alive” beverage and it only should be made manually. At least, this is the kind of coffee I prefer to drink. This usually determines my choice of coffee. You propose to replace “the art of the barista” by an automated technology. Will the result of such a replacement instead of a fragrant invigorating drink be a taste that only remotely resembles the taste of a “real” coffee?

Alexander Kuzmin: Your question already contains part of the answer. At the station works personnel without any special training as barista. Making coffee manually is not a part of their job description, so gas station operators do not have neither time nor the necessary qualifications.

Short-term training for staff will not solve the problem, because it gives only a superficial understanding of the topic and does not provide results of equal quality drinks throughout the whole chain. Let alone of an equally high level of quality. Therefore, the only solution for the given conditions is the use of professional automatic coffee machine which is properly configured and capable of producing required quality of the beverage in the required amounts with minimal staff’s participation in the preparation and service of the coffee machines.

Ksenia Van de Kamp: Business of selling coffee is based on repeated purchases. We, in the US market, see that the mass consumer is inclined to assess the quality of the coffee only in terms “tasty – tasteless” or “like – dislike”, so competitive opposition is won not by the one who beautifully describes the wonderful taste and quality of a coffee blend, but by the one who offers the solutions allowing to form in consumer’s mind a steady cliché “at gas station of this chain they always serve a delicious coffee” or even better – “coffee – it’s that particular gas station”.

Probably for this reason, among the participants of our round table there are no traditional suppliers of HoReCa, whose marketing is based on a long and futile arguments about the “unique” properties of coffee beans offered by them, which the end user is often simply fail to appreciate. We are focusing on another issue – how to ensure the quality of the coffee at all stations of the chain, to ensure repeatability of taste, in fact – how to make the customer think that it was at the stations of the given chain he liked coffee the most. And not to disappoint in this sense. After all, only 5% of visitors to the cafe at the gas station can be classified as true gourmets, who already know in which coffee shop their own personal coffee “guru” work and perceive gas station coffee as a reasonable compromise. The remaining 95% of customers are not interested neither in geography of coffee grains from which a purchased drink is made, nor in the sacrament of roasting. Even the starting year of manufacturer’s coming into market doesn’t matter. At the heart of their interest is still the same taste and smell of the coffee, as well as the ability to quickly get a flavored drink and be on their way.

By the way, the same demands to coffee are generated by office workers who can not leave their posts for a coffee break. Perhaps that is why it was so easy for us to work with Artem’s company – IT-specialists have always loved coffee and know the price of automatic systems. Our proposal to work on the remote device for management systems to ensure the quality of the beverage in the café at the gas stations was accepted with predictable enthusiasm.

Remote coffee machines monitoring – Saving 2 billion… Round table in the office of RusHOLTS

Рart 1. The secret of success are not the coffee beans, but the type of coffee machines and proper setting

Much has been written about the gas stations – it is a unique segment of the market, interest in which won’t disappear as long as there is a need to fill cars with the fuel. According to the standard classification businesses of any gas stations network are divided into two main categories – fuel (fuel) and non-fuel (nonfuel) ones.

“Cafe at the gas station” not only creates the “atmosphere” of the gas station, but also has a huge business potential that has yet to open on the Russian market. Indicative is the experience in Europe, where sales of non-fuel products account for about 60% of the overall gas stations’ profits. The Russian players have this figure in the range between 5 to 20%. There is some work to be done.

Interestingly enough, gas station is the only place where the business linked with the global product №1 (oil and oil-based products) is closely related to the business linked with global product №2 – coffee. So it is not surprising that these two businesses, each in their category are the main sources of profits for gas stations. Without going into the intricacies of stock prices and the prices of green coffee beans, we decided to discuss the development of this category in the domestic market and to answer the question of how the modern Russian gas station managers might enhance the effectiveness of coffee-related businesses of their chains.

This round table was attended by:

Alexander Kuzmin – an expert who has spent more than 20 years in non-fuel businesses in Russian and foreign gas station networks;

Ksenia Van de Kamp – managing partner of BMS (USA);

Artem Astafurov – Managing Partner, Senior Vice president of DataArt (USA);

Moderator – Dmitry Petrov;

Dmitry Petrov:  Today we have a rather unusual audience to talk about coffee – there are no famous barista or traditional suppliers of coffee grounds for HoReCa market among us. Instead we have an expert on non-fuel businesses for gas stations, innovative marketing specialist and IT-manager of a global level company, a rather peculiar team of participants to discuss a business, traditionally surrounded by an aura of mystery and magic of coffee aroma. Don’t you think?

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