My Start at Parks Coffee

It’s hard for me to imagine ProStar as a one-man operation.  As a two-man operation.  As a business that operated out of a garage.  When I was hired to work at ProStar as the receptionist over two years ago, the human resources manager led me on a tour of the buildings.  I saw the roaster and the warehouse and the corporate offices.  When the drivers came in from their routes, I saw the parking lot fill with a fleet of trucks…

And in my first few days on the phones, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of calls coming in.  Sometimes multiple phone lines would ring in at once, lighting the switchboard and sending me into a breathless panic as I repeated down the line:  “Thank you for calling ProStar Services.  Can you please hold?  Thank you for calling ProStar Services.  Can you please hold?  Thank you for calling ProStar Services.  Can you please hold?”

But serving as the receptionist provided me with a great introduction to the company.  I quickly memorized every employee name and extension number.  And I began to see interesting patterns in the phone calls.  Monday mornings were always especially busy as customers coming off the weekend assessed their coffee supplies and realized what product they might need to get through the week.  Conversely, Friday afternoons were often slow and quiet.  (I myself am not thinking about coffee come Friday.  I’m thinking of the weekend!)  After our accounting department would send out monthly billing statements, we would be inundated with requests for copies of invoices.  Regardless of what city they were calling from, most customers knew their driver by name, and if they didn’t, they knew the route supervisor in charge of their account.

In a way, a receptionist at a large OCS company is like an air traffic controller.  She (or he) sits high in her glass-walled tower ~ untouchable at the end of all those phone lines ~ and simply directs traffic.  Lots of traffic.  Calls come in.  Calls go out.  Calls get re-routed to the correct person….  And business is conducted.  People MOVE.  Service techs are dispatched all over the metropolis, where they install coffee and vending equipment or replace machines that are on the blink.  Drivers deliver that extra box of creamer canisters to the customer who has run completely out.  (Hey ~ we understand coffee preferences are crucial.  If you don’t drink black coffee, then You Don’t Drink Black Coffee!).  Sales guys extend a demo to businesses interested in setting up a coffee service, providing them with a coffee tasting and donuts.

It’s a powerful feeling to direct all that traffic.

But in the years I’ve worked for ProStar (not only as a receptionist, but also in accounting and now in marketing), I’ve had few chances to meet our customers face-to-face.  While I was indeed the “voice of our company” as long as the phone lines were mine, the “face of the company” is composed of all the drivers and supervisors and sales guys who are out in the field, delivering coffee every day, helping customers choose the product line that is best for them.

Maybe I should be a driver for a day…?  Now THAT would be a true initiation into the OCS business!