2020...the year the world shook.
Needless to say, your world probably shook too. How could it not with such a momentous event? And though you are undoubtedly aware of the effects of 2020, our hope with this blog series is to share a little of our 2020 story. In the last blog, you can read more about our biggest fundraiser ever accomplished in our toughest year ever. In this blog, I want to pull back the curtain to reveal our team's behind-the-scenes creativity.
"The measure of intelligence is the ability to change."
You know who said that? Albert Einstein. And from what I hear (mind you, I'm just a 'coffee guy'), he was pretty smart. Actually, he was brilliant. Much of his scientific work laid the foundation for understanding how the world works.
And yet none of these achievements and discoveries came without difficulty.
Firstly, it took years of research, study, experimentation, and failure to arrive at his conclusions. More so, he had to fight through cultural rejection for many of his outlandish theories. Lastly, there was political turmoil in Germany with the rise of the Nazi party, convicting him to renounce his German citizenship in 1933.
In all these obstacles, Einstein adapted. He evolved. Or as the business world would put it, he pivoted.
Our work in coffee is not as vital to human understanding and existence as Einstein's work (or is it...). But we've certainly had to overcome obstacles during 2020 to find ways to serve our customers, protect our staff, and keep our business running. Below is a list of just some of the ways we had to change during the pandemic. To me, it is a badge of honor towards our team's incredible intelligence.
Trolley Neighborhood Tour
To me, the most impressive idea our managers came up with was taking our Coffee Trolley to neighborhoods during the shutdown. Not only were customers able to look forward to cherished comforts, such as lattes, pastries, and free cookies for the kiddos, but they were also able to get certain necessities. In partnership with Bulloch Janitorial, we were able to distribute over 100 toilet paper and paper towel bundles (remember when you couldn't buy toilet paper???). We made bulk lunches for those who had trouble accessing groceries. And, of course, we had bags of our locally roasted coffee to keep customers caffeinated through weeks of isolation. Utilizing masks, gloves and distancing, we were able to keep our staff safe and paid while bringing joy to our neighbors. THAT is ingenuity.
Trolley Drive-thru Brunch
Our Saturday Biscuit Brunch at the Statesboro location is a pivotal part of our business' success. And that isn't surprising considering the food is insane (a moment of silence for Chicken and Waffle Nachos...). However, with the shutdown in March 2020, we had to close our doors to in-house seating making this pillar of our business nearly obsolete. So we pivoted. And once again, Teeny the Trolley saved the day. We created a 'drive-thru' brunch system out of the Trolley where customers could safely order their brunch favorites and then enjoy it in the parking lot. Like drive-in dinner and a movie, but instead it was pancakes and a smoothie. This sounds simple enough, but creating an efficient drive-thru is no small task even though Chick-fil-a makes it look easy. We quickly had to solve logistical issues, such as how do servers know where to take the customers food, how will baristas and cooks inside be notified of the order, and how do we handle call-in orders in this workflow. Without much time, we created an incredible experience that not only helped sustain our business, but brought a smile to many of our customer's faces.
In all of the chaos of 2020, our mission never took the backburner. We noticed many of our non-profit friends struggling to fundraise during the pandemic prompting us to create Fruitful Fundraisers, a simple virtual fundraising platform. After signing up, organizations can encourage their supporters to buy our coffee online with 50% of sales going towards the fundraising organization! We do the rest and non-profits raise funds. It was through this new initiative in which we raised $5,000 for Out of Darkness. We've also had other organizations and non-profits sign up with their own fundraisers!
One of the unique additions to our product line-up was bottled lattes! These were available not just through the Trolley Neighborhood Tour, but also offered through free local delivery to our local communities. Even though customers couldn't come in Three Tree Coffee Shop or The Front Porch Coffee House, they could still get their Honey Lavender Iced Latte or Cold Chai Latte at home! Once again, sounds simple enough, but developing a new product and coordinating efficient delivery processes can take months! But our team's ingenuity shined through yet again cranking these delicious bottles out in no time.
Lastly, our team had to adapt to numerous safety measures. Our baristas already work hard to bring an incredible experience to our customers. But the pandemic forced them to fight through more protocols to do that. Within a couple weeks, they had to increase sanitation schedules, wear masks & gloves, communicate through plexiglass, and quarantine at the THOUGHT of COVID! These measures (and many more) were necessary to keep the customer and each other safe. The changes also make the job much more difficult and less enjoyable. However, I never heard a word of grumbling. Never. Not ONCE! Like...WHAT?!?! So either they are really good at not letting me hear things, or they have great adaptability.
I'm convinced now more than ever; this team can overcome anything with our creativity and ingenuity.
And in the words of infamous Georgia Southern coach Erk Russell...