To: Mauna Loa Management Team
From: Shasta Standon
Date: October 27, 2015
Subject: Shiny New Ideas
First off, I want to thank you for giving me the chance to prove to everyone how excited and grateful I am to be a part of the Mauna Loa family. I genuinely appreciate the chance for you to hear some of my ideas to help our company expand and grow. To be sure, coffee is my life. I grew up on a coffee plantation in my youth in Hawaii and helped in each and every step of the way, from bean to cup. I would help plant the seeds, harvest the coffee cherries, dry and mill them, roast and grind them, and of course the best part: taste the rewards of all that hard work. As you know, changes are needed to keep out the generic Starbucks that keep popping up all over like so many unwanted pimples. Time is of the essence to keep us competitive, so I immediately looked into the heart of what I think Mauna Loa represents and the below are some key concepts I believe we should focus on.
Each time a customer comes into our store, we greet them with the classic greeting of "Aloha!" The word Aloha means much more than hello and goodbye. It's deeper than that and can even be described as a way of life. We can integrate each of these into our business core:
A - "ala" or watchful, alertness
Many of our customers have expressed their desire for our cafes' to be open earlier or have longer hours. Due to this demand, it makes sense for us to transform into a 24 hour cafe, allowing our customers to get their coffee fix at any time that is convenient to them (thus keeping them "alert" and more "watchful"). To help keep labor costs low, during less peak hours of 11:30pm-4am, we would keep only a skeleton crew to manage the stores and only brew "to order" to ensure no waste. Longer hours and less waste would bring an additional 24% sales into our revenue stream after expenses.
L - "lokahi" or working with unity
Sometimes when we are shorthanded, we experience slower service times and our customers' have expressed their impatience for the long wait. Looking into why this was happening, I saw that newer hires were not trained on how to properly brew our coffees, and were only being utilized for customer sales and serving drinks. We were also losing a lot of sales due to improperly made drinks and causing excess waste. To help combat this, I suggest we immediately cross train every employee in each job function. To keep our high standards in place, the company should create a standardized training program that each member is required to pass before being released into the stores. This way, no matter which location customers go to, they will enjoy the same high quality product they have grown to love.
O - "oia'I'o or truthful honesty
One of the best things I learned growing up was the experience of helping create a delicious cup of coffee from the ground up. After polling over 10,000 customers via an app I created and posted on social media, I have discovered that many people would also enjoy seeing exactly how we make their coffees. Therefore, I suggest we remodel our beverage counters to have transparent glass walls, with glass openings in the grinders and millers (I have already contacted our lead espresso maker, Franke Sinfonia, with the idea and they will be able to process this new unit for us). This way, curious and first time coffee drinkers can see and appreciate the art we make for them. The cost for these espresso units will not be too much more than what is already on our budget plan, as it aligns wonderfully with the preapproved remodeling plan already on schedule.
H - "ha'aha'a or humility
We have to understand that we are not above anyone else in this business. Communication and understanding is critical for our success and that starts with our own employees. Everyone, from the president of the company, to the newly hired trainee, should participate in community service projects. We should understand that to build a better community where people are happy and want to enjoy our products, we must also contribute to it. We should build a center in each of our stores for people to drop off unwanted items for donation to charities and shelters. Employees would be given 5 days each year of paid community service time to help with these efforts, and of course while they are doing it, they would be wearing our company t-shirts and handing out samples of our delicious Kona coffee.
A - "ahonui" or patient perseverance
Finally, one of the hardest obstacles we will need to overcome is beating out our competition. Starbucks recently came out with their mobile app that allows customers to order and pay online for their drinks for fast and easy pickup. As I understand it, we are currently in the process of developing our own mobile app for ordering, but this isn't enough! We must do all the above and more. Customers love giving their opinions on things they feel should be improved, so we can easily add a suggestion box on the counter for this purpose. Monitoring and having a very active presence on social media is also critical. People love when a company responds to them personally on Facebook or Twitter. Making and keeping those personal connections is the key. It will take a lot of patient perseverance to keep a step ahead of Starbucks, but I believe we can do it!
In closing, I hope you like some of these ideas and if anything needs further details or clarification, please feel free to ask me. I'm so excited to be a part of these changing times with you.