Why you should (almost) never sign an office coffee service contract.
Why Contracts Matter
We’ve met with hundreds of office managers and facilities managers to improve their office coffee life. A common story is this:
“Okay, we’ve got a problem. We're totally unhappy with our current coffee vendor. They don’t show up to fix equipment for days. They overstock product. I don’t feel listened to at all. I’m at the end of my rope. But, none of this allows me to break my contract and I’ve got 2 years left on it! Any advice?”
Yikes. To put it bluntly, stuck for 2 years with a service you're unhappy with sucks. So, how can this be avoided?
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with the word “contract.” By contract, we mean a binding agreement that locks you into a service for a specified amount of time, e.g. 1 year, 3 years, 5 years. A contract is not to be confused with a service agreement, which is basically a signed agreement outlining the vendor’s services to your company. Most service agreements allow you to cancel for any reason you see fit.
In short, a contract says: Sorry, you can’t leave.
A service agreement says: Hey, we promise to do these things for you. Stick around if you like.
Why You Should Avoid Office Coffee Contracts
The simple answer:
If you can cancel anytime, you’ve created a massive incentive for your office coffee vendor to keep you, the customer, happy on a daily basis.
After combing through office coffee contracts attempting to help frustrated office managers, we’ve learned a few things to avoid with office coffee contracts. And here's the big one:
If you want office coffee with basic brewers, then you should never sign a contract.
A contract for standard equipment is not necessary. This is because a business's standard equipment can easily find a new home if you discontinue. It is, after all, their standard setup. So, why would a business try to get you to sign an unnecessary contract?
One reason is it guarantees your money to them, regardless of the quality of their performance. To put it another way, your dollars are going to them, but is their hard work going to you? Unfortunately, after a contract is signed, there's no way for you to require good service.
In fact, many office managers have shared with us that the only way out of their contract is if an issue isn’t resolved within 30 days. 30 days! Call us crazy, but coffee issues should be resolved within 1 day!
And that's because services like Belmont keep your commitment another way: By making you happy to choose to stay with us. And, there's no question, it's a much more rewarding way to do business on both sides.
When Coffee Contracts Make Sense
Let's be fair now, not all contracts are bad. They have their time and place. In the office coffee or business coffee world, here are two reasons for you to consider.
1. If your company requires term contracts to be signed with all vendors. (Rare)
2. If you’re requesting special equipment or extremely expensive equipment, you should be open to a contract.
Though, we don't run into this issue, we do want to give a fair view of contracts.
For example, if you’re requesting uncommon equipment the vendor doesn’t normally use or you’re asking them to purchase a $10,000 espresso machine or something, that's a risk for them. They might be willing to go out of their way to make this happen for you. So, the coffee vendor might need to know you’re going to stick around long enough to make sure that piece of equipment gets paid for in the long run.
In simpler terms, this contract says, "Alright, I'll get this expensive thing for you, if you promise you're not gonna change your mind."
In this case, we'd say it's fair--or at least polite.
But, wait. A word of warning.
In the situation of requesting expensive or rare equipment, one thing is absolutely necessary from your coffee service representative: To be completely honest and transparent about the perks and shortcomings of said equipment.
After all, both sides are taking a risk in this situation. You're wanting your office to be happy. And hopefully, your coffee service is wanting you, the office manager, to be happy too. So, if you get a piece of equipment that is wildly out of line with your expectations, you'll be stuck with it.
Making Honesty Matter
Aside from honesty being the obviously right thing to do, there's one more thing to consider with your office vendors--it's better business all around.
If the aim is to keep your commitment though happiness, and not contracts, then honesty is of obvious importance. Because it becomes an ongoing partnership based on trust and exceeding expectations. It's really as simple as that.
We know from experience that honesty with our customers makes our own company a happier place to work, it creates longtime customers, rewarding relationships, and in turn, makes your office a better place to be too.
That's the Belmont Way.
More questions about contracts or why we think they're unnecessary? Drop a line below and we'll see what we can do.
Ready for great coffee service?