Retaining The Soul Of Coffee: This Is How Huggs Coffee Overcame Their Operational Roadblocks
Huggs Coffee is a well-known coffee franchise that primarily caters to the everyday coffee and food needs of their customers. We had a chance to talk to Ben Choo, their General Manager, who let us in on a few interesting facts about Huggs Coffee.
Huggs Coffee, in theory, is a brand that specialises in coffee, and while their coffees are to die for, their true focus is on the people who visit them. Huggs Coffee’s concept revolves around making their outlets warm and comforting safe-havens for their customers. Hence the name Huggs, where they welcome everybody with open arms to enjoy best of both coffee worlds - artisanal coffee and local ‘kopi’.
Ben considers the first 5 minutes with the customers to be crucial as it opens up an opportunity for them to have an intimate conversation with their customers to understand their coffee needs. He believes that people are the most essential element when it comes to coffee. “For a coffee business, it's a lot about people and the person brewing that soul into the coffee. No amount of machinery can recreate that experience”
Huggs Coffee has grown a lot since its opening in 2007. By the end of 2019, they will have opened 20 outlets all over the country, with 5 concept outlets and 2 corporate outlets.
We wanted to know how they managed such tremendous growth while always maintaining a human touch. Ben revealed there were many hiccups. Coordinating with suppliers has always been a challenge. There were a lot of long calls trying to follow up with deliveries as misunderstandings in order details were common.
They attributed these misunderstandings to language barriers, unclear instructions or emails lost in transmission. The loss of so much information was a headache they had to deal with every time. Finally, Ben proposed the need to modernise their operations while keeping the business human-centric.
Things started to change when they began using Zeemart. What once took hours now took minutes. It was a one-stop solution. The staff no longer had to worry about processing orders or forgetting to order as ordering could now be done anytime and anywhere, whether it was on the train or at work.
Protocols were also made a lot easier to follow as they had a crystal clear view of all the suppliers and their products. This has allowed them to become over 50% more operationally efficient.
"Usually when we do our inventory, we will have to call individual suppliers. But with Zeemart, it's just, order, tap, tap, tap, and done. So I think it does save a tremendous amount of time."
Ben Choo, General Manager of Huggs Coffee
For such a human-centric business, manpower is a very valuable asset. After Ben’s revolutionary proposal, they have seen tremendous savings in man-hours that were previously spent doing various back-of-house operations.
All that extra time has been channelled into creating value for customers with consistent taste, product, service and price. This is how they have created such a unique and consistent experience for their customers. Prioritising their customers and giving them a warm experience has, and will always be Huggs Coffee’s main focus.
Do drop by one of their outlets to try out their special coffee blends such as the H-Blend or the K-Blend. More info on their locations can be found here: https://www.huggscoffee.com/our-shops-1