Many small businesses feel that they have won the lottery, when they win a food and beverage contract at Sky Harbor Airport. But, as has been learned via the checkered history of lottery winners, there is not always a happy ending. The challenges—staffing, cash flow, irregular customer flow and other irregularities of airport life—make contract fulfillment iffy for small businesses, and some fail. But, there are examples, where excellent management and good timing produce great success stories. Press Coffee is one of those successes.
Owning a coffee shop probably would have been the last vocation military veteran Ron Williams could have imagined. He had been an Equal Opportunity Specialist with the City of Phoenix and President/CEO of the Grand Canyon Minority Suppliers Development Council until 2010. Then his consulting firm—Contacts to Contracts—began helping businesses compete for contracts. William's key business partner is Kurt Mangum, a former executive with Ford, Duns & Bradstreet, and Xerox. The parent company--Performance Management Consulting Services--was started by Mangum on 2009.
One of their clients—HMS Host, a corporation, which creates customized food, beverage, and retail programs at airports--was competing for the Terminal 4 Food & Beverage contract, when Williams took the risk of becoming a subcontractor restaurant manager, himself. It seemed an ominous task—replacing a Starbucks in the busiest terminal of the 6th largest airport in the US. But there are several contributors to Press Coffee’s success.
Just as in real estate, location is a critical factor. Press Coffee is located at the end of Terminal B, the first (or last) concession many travelers encounter before boarding/deboarding popular US Airways flights.
But that alone would not ensure success. Press Coffee designed an attractive and modern environment for weary travelers, which includes the first digital video screen in the airport, flashing high-quality enticing photos of its menu offerings.
Food variety and quality ensure return business. extensive taste-testing trials were used to select the best local pastries (Jonathan Robbins delivers fresh pastries daily), coffee (Press Coffee, an outstanding Scottsdale-based product) and wines.
Finally, and most important, are the 26-28 Press Coffee employees. “What makes us successful is our team and its over-the-top customer service,” says Williams. Williams and Mangum are selective, choosing honest, enthusiastic and hardworking people who love people.
Getting selected for an airport contract is only an opportunity. It takes great organization, design and human resource management skills to turn that opportunity into a successful business.