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03.9.2021

6 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement with a Beverage Deal

By Heather Neisen

Enliven Beverage Deal Podcast Episode #15

 

Can beverage agreements really help you improve employee morale at your organization? Yes!

Join us as Heather Neisen, Healthcare Practice Leader, brings 6 real-life examples of how companies have used their beverage partnerships to delight their customers and to bring to life employee engagement programs that would otherwise be impossible.

 

Listen on Your Favorite Podcast Player:

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on

 

Related Resources:

Won’t My Patients and Nurses Revolt if I Sign a Beverage Deal?

Airport Selected to Test New Hydration Platform to Improve Health & Sustainability

How Exclusive Beverage Deals Lead to Increased Sales

 

Transcript:

Tim Harms:

Welcome to the Enliven Beverage Deal podcast, where we’re all about saving and making you money by taking both the guesswork and the legwork out of your beverage partnership and by leveling the playing field when it comes to negotiating your beverage contracts. I’m your host, Tim Harms. We’ve got a great show for you today. Stay tuned.

Tim Harms:

Welcome, everyone. Today, we have Heather Neisen, our healthcare practice area leader, that we’ve invited back to the podcast. Heather, how are you?

Heather Neisen:

Good. Thanks for having me back, Tim.

Tim Harms:

Yeah, it’s always a pleasure to have you on. Today, we’re going to talk about the connection between workplace engagement, making employees happy-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. It’s really important.

Tim Harms:

…and how beverage deals can help in that aim. You actually have a background in HR. You came to us-

Heather Neisen:

I do.

Tim Harms:

…as an HR director, really. I know a passion of yours is to see employees engaged, having fun, firing on all cylinders at work. Before we get into it, can you talk a little bit about what made you so passionate about this topic and about making sure employees have fun coming to work?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. You’re right, Tim. In my previous couple of roles actually, I either lead HR or HR was a key component of my work, whether it was hiring new staff/training them. I’ve always worked at small companies. You wear a lot of hats, but this has always been a piece like you said, that’s been really important to me. I guess what stems from that is when you have people that are at work, and they’re really happy with the type of work they’re doing, and they feel like they are adding value and they have a purpose, that positivity extends back to their family life, their personal life. They come to work refreshed, and they are a joy to work with. Just when you can start that cycle, it has a big impact on the work that you do but also on individual people’s lives.

Heather Neisen:

They’re happier. They’re less stressed. It’s just a joy to be a part of that process. It’s like this age-old question: everyone wants to know what this silver bullet is for making employees happy. I think if I had stayed in a pure HR role, that’s like the question you’ll chase forever. But I think what we know is that its lots of little moments. Everyone is a little different. I think just those little moments compounding on each other and just having leaders who are thinking about it and trying to create those moments is a great starting place.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. I think you put it really well. I mean, in my limited experience, helping try to run a team and… It is those little things that you can so easily forget about. It’s the first to go when stress gets high and deadlines come. But it’s not these expensive trips across the country or huge retreats-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Tim Harms:

It’s just that email. It’s engineering those fun moments. I know you have some examples of just different clients that you’ve been involved with or your team’s been involved with, and how they have taken some intention… Of course, when you negotiate a strategic partnership with Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper, the big beverage companies, I mean, there are so many boxes to check. First and foremost, making sure that the price is right, the finances are right, but there are so many other things that you can accomplish negotiating a partnership like this. Can you just walk us through and maybe introduce us to the topic of how this came to be, even in your mind, of coming on the show and talking about this?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Like you mentioned, when we put together a beverage partnership, again, I would tell you that 100% of the clients that we work with are looking to drive savings and also increase funding rebates. They’re looking for an opportunity to exchange exclusivity for value. We always start there. But as we get into it with the clients… We talk about key initiatives they may be working on as a company, or different stakeholders may have different agendas. As we start to talk about those elements, often what happens is we work on challenging the major beverage companies to come alongside our clients and to either tag onto those initiatives and really, I guess, add fuel to the fire for them or just be creative about the way that they can engage.

Heather Neisen:

Oftentimes, we find that employee engagement and making sure that employees feel appreciated that they have some extra fun in their day-to-day is a key priority for a majority of our clients. I put together a little list, just as sampling, to show what’s possible. I think we often say, “Major beverage company would love to partner with you and do something within employee engagement.” It’s really helpful to hear how they’ve done that, to hear some examples of how they’ve added joy to the employee experience.

Tim Harms:

That’s awesome. I mean, even before you get into that, do you feel like… I think you used the word “challenge.” The client challenges the beverage company to come to the table, to partner with them, to add on to their existing initiatives. Is that a conversation that beverage companies welcome? Do they want to have those conversations, or do you really have to engineer those and keep reinforcing/bringing that point home?

Heather Neisen:

That’s such a good question. The answer is, it is a challenge, but it’s more about letting Coke and Pepsi and letting the major beverage companies know that it’s a priority. What we see is these companies are already doing it. They have world-class training/leadership development programs for their own people. We’ve seen everything from just social circles to extra training, to… I mean, they’re engaging their employees and offering them such fun and innovative experiences already. They would love to bring those best practices to working with their customers. They just have to know that it’s of interest and that the customer really wants to partner with them. As long as we can understand, again, what those strategic priorities are, all we’ve got to do is introduce the two together, and it’s a great conversation.

Tim Harms:

Let’s not delay any longer. Let’s jump in. Can you just-

Heather Neisen:

Great.

Tim Harms:

…give us a few examples of what this might look like in action, or what this has looked like in action?

Heather Neisen:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, absolutely. Just to kick it off, one thing that is true of major beverage companies is they love to partner with sports teams, local event venues, artists, celebrities. You’ve seen that in commercials, but what’s possible is to leverage those assets, especially in regional markets. We’ve seen this play really well: local baseball team, a local hockey team. They’re able to get tickets and provide that to customers.

Heather Neisen:

It could be tickets. It could be swag to those local teams. But they’re taking those assets, and they’re allowing the customer to have access to them in a way that makes sense. That could be like I said, tickets. It also could be swag to go to that game. We’ve seen one customer in the Midwest has used those tickets as a way to create competition in their warehouse. Employees get to compete for certain metrics, and then they get to win tickets, so they get to go to a game for free that week. We’ve also seen it just be an employee incentive. Again, department competitions… This would give you a way to incentivize your employees or just to give a really hardworking employee just a gift.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. I love it. We had one client that I can think of, even that rewarded a few key employees for hard work by putting them on the NFL team’s plane and flying them to the Monday night football game, seeing the game in the box, and then flying home with the team all empowered-

Heather Neisen:

Oh, yeah. That’s right.

Tim Harms:

…by their beverage deal that they negotiated that year.

Heather Neisen:

Great. The next one would be brand engagements. When you think of a major beverage company, you think of the big classic soda brands, but all of the major beverage companies are innovating. They’ve got brands. You’ve got the Smartwater, Lifewater. You might have Aha or Bubbly. Each of those brands actually has their own marketing priorities. They’ve got their goals around getting that product to consumers. We’ve seen some really neat brand engagements.

Heather Neisen:

One example is an airport that we manage. A premium water brand actually took an entire walkway and plastered it… I guess, not plastered, but put on almost a stained glass-looking decal on the windows so when you come down through the terminal, you see these beautiful pieces of artwork. It was actually a premium water brand being able to advertise some of the artwork that’s associated with that brand, but really elevate the experience for the traveler who’s walking through that terminal. It used to be clear windows that overlooked the tarmac, and you might have some delivery trucks, and now you’ve got this beautiful art installation. That’s just elevated the experience for the traveler. Again, it’s just an advertisement for that brand. It was a great partnership.

Tim Harms:

Actually, no. I mean, I know what you’re talking about. It is gorgeous.

Heather Neisen:

Gorgeous.

Tim Harms:

It is beautiful. This area that was drab before just completely transformed. I think one of my favorite features of that is there’s actually a QR code that you can scan on the art installation. It brings up this interactive experience to even take it beyond just what you see visually for those people that want to engage in that way, so really innovative piece. I mean, I got to imagine if you’re walking those halls day in and day out, you enjoy going down that tunnel a lot more now with that piece installed.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Again, the brands each have their own mission and their own strategy. In the right situation, this airport had an initiative to really bring art to the passenger experience. It was a perfect fit with that brand. If you’re willing to open that conversation, it can really produce some great engagements.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. It’s just those fun, small moments. It’s not a huge thing in this grand scheme of things, but how many people’s days were made just because of some surprise just a little bit in their routine day. Yeah. I love it.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. I think this goes really hand in hand with another point I was going to mention, but piloting new innovations, new products, and new equipment is just another piece of a partnership that I think people don’t think about a lot. But major beverage companies are always putting out new equipment, new technology. Even this year, with COVID, we’ve seen innovations around touchless fountain equipment. When you are a key partner of one of these beverage companies, you’re on a shortlist and first to get access to some of that equipment, those products, and those do innovations.

Heather Neisen:

There was a brand new water dispensing unit that one of our clients was able to pilot in the Northeast because, again, they had that exclusive partnership, really cool equipment. Again, if you think about people that are coming, whether they’re customers, or travelers, or patients, or guests, whatever your situation may be, they also have that opportunity to test, taste, see the newest equipment. It’s a special moment for employees. It’s a special moment for folks that are coming and visiting. And then new products too, there are so many new products that are coming out. If you have an exclusive partnership, it is a ripe market for bringing in those new products, trying them out, getting first access. Even equipment beyond the fountain equipment, we’ve seen new glass front vending machines that offer more product selection. Again, we’ve seen those installed first where there’s a partnership.

Tim Harms:

Right. Yeah, no. That’s a great point. Negotiating the partnership is really the first step. Then, if you structure it the right way over that multi-year agreement, it’s going to open up doors for you to really be a playground for the beverage companies-

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great way to put it.

Tim Harms:

…in a way that makes sense for you. I mean, you ultimately get to decide what could end up at your property. It’s got to make sense for your experience. It’s got to make sense for your brand. It’s got to make sense for your employees. But if you have a bit of an open mind and you keep those doors open, it could really open up some fun conversations/some fun possibilities.

Heather Neisen:

Yes, absolutely. Good. Another one that’s on the list is a contribution. Maybe that’s a fundraiser or a foundation, maybe that’s a 5k, or even we’ve seen scholarship funds being part of these partnerships. If there’s a key scholarship or a key initiative throughout the year that you already know of, it’s a great opportunity to have your beverage partner be a part of that, contribute to it, both in funding but also in products. Even just showing up to the event itself and being a sponsor, there are lots of different ways you can make that happen. But those contributions can be a part of the partnership as well.

Tim Harms:

I love it. I love it. Is it important for clients to seek out what the beverage companies are doing individually and try to pursue the one that seems to match up with what they’re doing, or do you just come into those conversations saying, “This is what we’re about. This is scholarships we want to support. These are the community engagements and the things that we’re doing. Who wants to partner with us? Which way works best?

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great point. I think that we’ve seen it done both ways. We like to challenge different organizations to think about what really matters to them. Organizations have lots of different partners, not just a partnership with a beverage company. Thinking about their typical year and ways that they could really appreciate the support is something we like to do in that initial stage. Now, we also love to give the beverage companies an open book and say, “We would love to see your best thinking. Researched this customer, research what they’re all about, and let’s all have a conversation about what makes sense.” It’s really cool to see what may come out of those conversations. We love to see the best thinking from the beverage companies. Know what you’d like as far as support. If you’re not sure, just being able to tell the beverage companies that you’re open, maybe giving them some limits. But ultimately, just hearing from them and seeing what can transpire.

Tim Harms:

I love it. I love it. Awesome. Are there any more examples you have for us?

Heather Neisen:

I do. I’ve got just a couple more. Promotions and giveaways are really commonplace, and we see week over week with all of our clients. That’s everything from promotions, which could be incentivizing, buying two products for a cheaper price, but that could also be purchasing beverages in the hopes to win a really neat item of value, something like a Fitbit or a bicycle or a WONDERBOOM speaker. If you’ve seen that, we’ve seen all of these be giveaways in exchange for purchasing beverages and getting excitement up about new products.

Heather Neisen:

We’ve also seen giveaways, especially when a customer switches to one beverage company exclusively. We’ve seen swag bags that are really nice that showcase products, so people can get a taste of everything, with lots of tastings and samplings onsite, really, again, adding that employee engagement piece. Can you imagine being a nurse and working an eight-hour shift and then getting a free Gatorade or a free Powerade on your break and just having a lot of fun on campus.

Tim Harms:

All of these are our value-added too. I mean, this is in addition to the nuts and bolts of the finances that the deal. Is that correct?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. That’s a good point. These promos and giveaways we’re talking about are all in addition to the value already negotiated in the beverage deal. Now, as matter of course, these major beverage companies should be doing promotions and samplings. But it’s really hard in an environment where the competition is in those environments to get equal playtime. It’s a lot easier to take an organization and to do a promotion across that organization and to really partner. I think, you know, we’re all craving those metrics and results. If you’re a beverage company, you really want to partner with an organization where you can try out your October promotion for the whole organization instead of just doing one-off locations here and there. It’s much more likely that we see a really concerted, excellent effort from the beverage companies when they know they’ve got that exclusivity and they’ve got that partner.

Tim Harms:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I would also just add as well in the contracting phase… I mean, there are pitfalls to avoid to make sure that these things are truly value-added, or you’re not hit with some surprise. That’s discussed on the front end, but-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, that’s a great point.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. In our normal engagements, these things would always be in addition to what you’ve received on the front end. It’s funny. I used to think that all of that, I’ll call it soft benefits, really took away from the financial value of the partnership. But as we’ve been doing this, I’ve come to realize that these beverage companies want to partner with like-minded organizations or organizations that feel to them like it’s not transactional. It’s about a true partnership. We actually see the financial value even increase as some of these soft benefits and soft partnerships get added to the table. It’s not like the pie getting bigger and smaller-

Heather Neisen:

That’s a good point.

Tim Harms:

It’s actually the pie getting bigger. If anyone’s skeptical, listening in, I think, really, run wild with this stuff.

Heather Neisen:

I mean, Tim, you’re right. I think it brings me to… Honestly, my last point I was going to mention today was just the way that as partners, just like any good relationship, as the years go on, how new and innovative partnerships or engagements can occur. Specifically, this year, during the pandemic, we saw one client and their beverage company come together. Normally, this client would have employee engagement picnics. They would do a fun summer event. They would do a holiday party. Obviously, those large gatherings of people got canceled.

Heather Neisen:

The beverage partner said to the client, “We would bring beverages. We would come and add some fun. What could we do to pivot now that this is just the new normal?” What they were able to do is they created these… This was in place of their summer picnic. They actually got these swag bags full of beach balls and beach towels. They went around the organization, and they passed them out. They were able to still have that employee engagement piece. But again, completely not in the contract, not something discussed previously. But because of the good partnership, they were saying, “Let’s figure out how to make this event and replicate it and do it in a really unprecedented time.” I just love to see the beverage companies step up and do things like that too.

Tim Harms:

Yeah, it’s so good. That’s so helpful. You see the smiles on the employee’s faces. We got all the pictures back. We love it. Once again, it doesn’t have to be huge, but these small moments during a week or during a year really add up to really memorable experiences. Hopefully, once COVID subsides, and we get past it… Right before COVID, the labor market was red hot. Companies were competing for talent. I think we’ll be back there soon. It’s just those little things that can make all the difference.

Tim Harms:

Heather, I appreciate you coming on and really hope this inspires our listeners to think about beverage companies in a different way, to think about the partnership in a different way, and really brainstorm and get those creative juices flowing about what this could mean. I think it’s so helpful. Thanks for coming on.

Heather Neisen:

Absolutely. Thanks, Tim.

Tim Harms:

Thanks, everyone, for listening in. Hope you found that informative. If you have a burning question about your beverage negotiation or partnership, we’d love to hear from you and answer it on this podcast. Reach out to us by emailing [email protected]

Tim Harms:

Hey, before we sign off, I want to remind you that you can take both the guesswork and the legwork out of your beverage partnership. You can level the playing field in your beverage negotiations, and you can save or make your company millions through a new or an improved beverage agreement. The first step is a free beverage opportunity analysis, which will tell you just how much you can save, or you can make. Sign up for your free beverage opportunity analysis at enlivenpartnership.com and by cooking free savings estimate. On behalf of everyone here at Enliven, thanks for listening in.

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03.9.2021

6 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement with a Beverage Deal

By Heather Neisen

Enliven Beverage Deal Podcast Episode #15

 

Can beverage agreements really help you improve employee morale at your organization? Yes!

Join us as Heather Neisen, Healthcare Practice Leader, brings 6 real-life examples of how companies have used their beverage partnerships to delight their customers and to bring to life employee engagement programs that would otherwise be impossible.

 

Listen on Your Favorite Podcast Player:

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on

 

Related Resources:

Won’t My Patients and Nurses Revolt if I Sign a Beverage Deal?

Airport Selected to Test New Hydration Platform to Improve Health & Sustainability

How Exclusive Beverage Deals Lead to Increased Sales

 

Transcript:

Tim Harms:

Welcome to the Enliven Beverage Deal podcast, where we’re all about saving and making you money by taking both the guesswork and the legwork out of your beverage partnership and by leveling the playing field when it comes to negotiating your beverage contracts. I’m your host, Tim Harms. We’ve got a great show for you today. Stay tuned.

Tim Harms:

Welcome, everyone. Today, we have Heather Neisen, our healthcare practice area leader, that we’ve invited back to the podcast. Heather, how are you?

Heather Neisen:

Good. Thanks for having me back, Tim.

Tim Harms:

Yeah, it’s always a pleasure to have you on. Today, we’re going to talk about the connection between workplace engagement, making employees happy-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. It’s really important.

Tim Harms:

…and how beverage deals can help in that aim. You actually have a background in HR. You came to us-

Heather Neisen:

I do.

Tim Harms:

…as an HR director, really. I know a passion of yours is to see employees engaged, having fun, firing on all cylinders at work. Before we get into it, can you talk a little bit about what made you so passionate about this topic and about making sure employees have fun coming to work?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. You’re right, Tim. In my previous couple of roles actually, I either lead HR or HR was a key component of my work, whether it was hiring new staff/training them. I’ve always worked at small companies. You wear a lot of hats, but this has always been a piece like you said, that’s been really important to me. I guess what stems from that is when you have people that are at work, and they’re really happy with the type of work they’re doing, and they feel like they are adding value and they have a purpose, that positivity extends back to their family life, their personal life. They come to work refreshed, and they are a joy to work with. Just when you can start that cycle, it has a big impact on the work that you do but also on individual people’s lives.

Heather Neisen:

They’re happier. They’re less stressed. It’s just a joy to be a part of that process. It’s like this age-old question: everyone wants to know what this silver bullet is for making employees happy. I think if I had stayed in a pure HR role, that’s like the question you’ll chase forever. But I think what we know is that its lots of little moments. Everyone is a little different. I think just those little moments compounding on each other and just having leaders who are thinking about it and trying to create those moments is a great starting place.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. I think you put it really well. I mean, in my limited experience, helping try to run a team and… It is those little things that you can so easily forget about. It’s the first to go when stress gets high and deadlines come. But it’s not these expensive trips across the country or huge retreats-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Tim Harms:

It’s just that email. It’s engineering those fun moments. I know you have some examples of just different clients that you’ve been involved with or your team’s been involved with, and how they have taken some intention… Of course, when you negotiate a strategic partnership with Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper, the big beverage companies, I mean, there are so many boxes to check. First and foremost, making sure that the price is right, the finances are right, but there are so many other things that you can accomplish negotiating a partnership like this. Can you just walk us through and maybe introduce us to the topic of how this came to be, even in your mind, of coming on the show and talking about this?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Like you mentioned, when we put together a beverage partnership, again, I would tell you that 100% of the clients that we work with are looking to drive savings and also increase funding rebates. They’re looking for an opportunity to exchange exclusivity for value. We always start there. But as we get into it with the clients… We talk about key initiatives they may be working on as a company, or different stakeholders may have different agendas. As we start to talk about those elements, often what happens is we work on challenging the major beverage companies to come alongside our clients and to either tag onto those initiatives and really, I guess, add fuel to the fire for them or just be creative about the way that they can engage.

Heather Neisen:

Oftentimes, we find that employee engagement and making sure that employees feel appreciated that they have some extra fun in their day-to-day is a key priority for a majority of our clients. I put together a little list, just as sampling, to show what’s possible. I think we often say, “Major beverage company would love to partner with you and do something within employee engagement.” It’s really helpful to hear how they’ve done that, to hear some examples of how they’ve added joy to the employee experience.

Tim Harms:

That’s awesome. I mean, even before you get into that, do you feel like… I think you used the word “challenge.” The client challenges the beverage company to come to the table, to partner with them, to add on to their existing initiatives. Is that a conversation that beverage companies welcome? Do they want to have those conversations, or do you really have to engineer those and keep reinforcing/bringing that point home?

Heather Neisen:

That’s such a good question. The answer is, it is a challenge, but it’s more about letting Coke and Pepsi and letting the major beverage companies know that it’s a priority. What we see is these companies are already doing it. They have world-class training/leadership development programs for their own people. We’ve seen everything from just social circles to extra training, to… I mean, they’re engaging their employees and offering them such fun and innovative experiences already. They would love to bring those best practices to working with their customers. They just have to know that it’s of interest and that the customer really wants to partner with them. As long as we can understand, again, what those strategic priorities are, all we’ve got to do is introduce the two together, and it’s a great conversation.

Tim Harms:

Let’s not delay any longer. Let’s jump in. Can you just-

Heather Neisen:

Great.

Tim Harms:

…give us a few examples of what this might look like in action, or what this has looked like in action?

Heather Neisen:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, absolutely. Just to kick it off, one thing that is true of major beverage companies is they love to partner with sports teams, local event venues, artists, celebrities. You’ve seen that in commercials, but what’s possible is to leverage those assets, especially in regional markets. We’ve seen this play really well: local baseball team, a local hockey team. They’re able to get tickets and provide that to customers.

Heather Neisen:

It could be tickets. It could be swag to those local teams. But they’re taking those assets, and they’re allowing the customer to have access to them in a way that makes sense. That could be like I said, tickets. It also could be swag to go to that game. We’ve seen one customer in the Midwest has used those tickets as a way to create competition in their warehouse. Employees get to compete for certain metrics, and then they get to win tickets, so they get to go to a game for free that week. We’ve also seen it just be an employee incentive. Again, department competitions… This would give you a way to incentivize your employees or just to give a really hardworking employee just a gift.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. I love it. We had one client that I can think of, even that rewarded a few key employees for hard work by putting them on the NFL team’s plane and flying them to the Monday night football game, seeing the game in the box, and then flying home with the team all empowered-

Heather Neisen:

Oh, yeah. That’s right.

Tim Harms:

…by their beverage deal that they negotiated that year.

Heather Neisen:

Great. The next one would be brand engagements. When you think of a major beverage company, you think of the big classic soda brands, but all of the major beverage companies are innovating. They’ve got brands. You’ve got the Smartwater, Lifewater. You might have Aha or Bubbly. Each of those brands actually has their own marketing priorities. They’ve got their goals around getting that product to consumers. We’ve seen some really neat brand engagements.

Heather Neisen:

One example is an airport that we manage. A premium water brand actually took an entire walkway and plastered it… I guess, not plastered, but put on almost a stained glass-looking decal on the windows so when you come down through the terminal, you see these beautiful pieces of artwork. It was actually a premium water brand being able to advertise some of the artwork that’s associated with that brand, but really elevate the experience for the traveler who’s walking through that terminal. It used to be clear windows that overlooked the tarmac, and you might have some delivery trucks, and now you’ve got this beautiful art installation. That’s just elevated the experience for the traveler. Again, it’s just an advertisement for that brand. It was a great partnership.

Tim Harms:

Actually, no. I mean, I know what you’re talking about. It is gorgeous.

Heather Neisen:

Gorgeous.

Tim Harms:

It is beautiful. This area that was drab before just completely transformed. I think one of my favorite features of that is there’s actually a QR code that you can scan on the art installation. It brings up this interactive experience to even take it beyond just what you see visually for those people that want to engage in that way, so really innovative piece. I mean, I got to imagine if you’re walking those halls day in and day out, you enjoy going down that tunnel a lot more now with that piece installed.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Again, the brands each have their own mission and their own strategy. In the right situation, this airport had an initiative to really bring art to the passenger experience. It was a perfect fit with that brand. If you’re willing to open that conversation, it can really produce some great engagements.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. It’s just those fun, small moments. It’s not a huge thing in this grand scheme of things, but how many people’s days were made just because of some surprise just a little bit in their routine day. Yeah. I love it.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. Yeah. I think this goes really hand in hand with another point I was going to mention, but piloting new innovations, new products, and new equipment is just another piece of a partnership that I think people don’t think about a lot. But major beverage companies are always putting out new equipment, new technology. Even this year, with COVID, we’ve seen innovations around touchless fountain equipment. When you are a key partner of one of these beverage companies, you’re on a shortlist and first to get access to some of that equipment, those products, and those do innovations.

Heather Neisen:

There was a brand new water dispensing unit that one of our clients was able to pilot in the Northeast because, again, they had that exclusive partnership, really cool equipment. Again, if you think about people that are coming, whether they’re customers, or travelers, or patients, or guests, whatever your situation may be, they also have that opportunity to test, taste, see the newest equipment. It’s a special moment for employees. It’s a special moment for folks that are coming and visiting. And then new products too, there are so many new products that are coming out. If you have an exclusive partnership, it is a ripe market for bringing in those new products, trying them out, getting first access. Even equipment beyond the fountain equipment, we’ve seen new glass front vending machines that offer more product selection. Again, we’ve seen those installed first where there’s a partnership.

Tim Harms:

Right. Yeah, no. That’s a great point. Negotiating the partnership is really the first step. Then, if you structure it the right way over that multi-year agreement, it’s going to open up doors for you to really be a playground for the beverage companies-

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great way to put it.

Tim Harms:

…in a way that makes sense for you. I mean, you ultimately get to decide what could end up at your property. It’s got to make sense for your experience. It’s got to make sense for your brand. It’s got to make sense for your employees. But if you have a bit of an open mind and you keep those doors open, it could really open up some fun conversations/some fun possibilities.

Heather Neisen:

Yes, absolutely. Good. Another one that’s on the list is a contribution. Maybe that’s a fundraiser or a foundation, maybe that’s a 5k, or even we’ve seen scholarship funds being part of these partnerships. If there’s a key scholarship or a key initiative throughout the year that you already know of, it’s a great opportunity to have your beverage partner be a part of that, contribute to it, both in funding but also in products. Even just showing up to the event itself and being a sponsor, there are lots of different ways you can make that happen. But those contributions can be a part of the partnership as well.

Tim Harms:

I love it. I love it. Is it important for clients to seek out what the beverage companies are doing individually and try to pursue the one that seems to match up with what they’re doing, or do you just come into those conversations saying, “This is what we’re about. This is scholarships we want to support. These are the community engagements and the things that we’re doing. Who wants to partner with us? Which way works best?

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great point. I think that we’ve seen it done both ways. We like to challenge different organizations to think about what really matters to them. Organizations have lots of different partners, not just a partnership with a beverage company. Thinking about their typical year and ways that they could really appreciate the support is something we like to do in that initial stage. Now, we also love to give the beverage companies an open book and say, “We would love to see your best thinking. Researched this customer, research what they’re all about, and let’s all have a conversation about what makes sense.” It’s really cool to see what may come out of those conversations. We love to see the best thinking from the beverage companies. Know what you’d like as far as support. If you’re not sure, just being able to tell the beverage companies that you’re open, maybe giving them some limits. But ultimately, just hearing from them and seeing what can transpire.

Tim Harms:

I love it. I love it. Awesome. Are there any more examples you have for us?

Heather Neisen:

I do. I’ve got just a couple more. Promotions and giveaways are really commonplace, and we see week over week with all of our clients. That’s everything from promotions, which could be incentivizing, buying two products for a cheaper price, but that could also be purchasing beverages in the hopes to win a really neat item of value, something like a Fitbit or a bicycle or a WONDERBOOM speaker. If you’ve seen that, we’ve seen all of these be giveaways in exchange for purchasing beverages and getting excitement up about new products.

Heather Neisen:

We’ve also seen giveaways, especially when a customer switches to one beverage company exclusively. We’ve seen swag bags that are really nice that showcase products, so people can get a taste of everything, with lots of tastings and samplings onsite, really, again, adding that employee engagement piece. Can you imagine being a nurse and working an eight-hour shift and then getting a free Gatorade or a free Powerade on your break and just having a lot of fun on campus.

Tim Harms:

All of these are our value-added too. I mean, this is in addition to the nuts and bolts of the finances that the deal. Is that correct?

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. That’s a good point. These promos and giveaways we’re talking about are all in addition to the value already negotiated in the beverage deal. Now, as matter of course, these major beverage companies should be doing promotions and samplings. But it’s really hard in an environment where the competition is in those environments to get equal playtime. It’s a lot easier to take an organization and to do a promotion across that organization and to really partner. I think, you know, we’re all craving those metrics and results. If you’re a beverage company, you really want to partner with an organization where you can try out your October promotion for the whole organization instead of just doing one-off locations here and there. It’s much more likely that we see a really concerted, excellent effort from the beverage companies when they know they’ve got that exclusivity and they’ve got that partner.

Tim Harms:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I would also just add as well in the contracting phase… I mean, there are pitfalls to avoid to make sure that these things are truly value-added, or you’re not hit with some surprise. That’s discussed on the front end, but-

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, that’s a great point.

Tim Harms:

Yeah. In our normal engagements, these things would always be in addition to what you’ve received on the front end. It’s funny. I used to think that all of that, I’ll call it soft benefits, really took away from the financial value of the partnership. But as we’ve been doing this, I’ve come to realize that these beverage companies want to partner with like-minded organizations or organizations that feel to them like it’s not transactional. It’s about a true partnership. We actually see the financial value even increase as some of these soft benefits and soft partnerships get added to the table. It’s not like the pie getting bigger and smaller-

Heather Neisen:

That’s a good point.

Tim Harms:

It’s actually the pie getting bigger. If anyone’s skeptical, listening in, I think, really, run wild with this stuff.

Heather Neisen:

I mean, Tim, you’re right. I think it brings me to… Honestly, my last point I was going to mention today was just the way that as partners, just like any good relationship, as the years go on, how new and innovative partnerships or engagements can occur. Specifically, this year, during the pandemic, we saw one client and their beverage company come together. Normally, this client would have employee engagement picnics. They would do a fun summer event. They would do a holiday party. Obviously, those large gatherings of people got canceled.

Heather Neisen:

The beverage partner said to the client, “We would bring beverages. We would come and add some fun. What could we do to pivot now that this is just the new normal?” What they were able to do is they created these… This was in place of their summer picnic. They actually got these swag bags full of beach balls and beach towels. They went around the organization, and they passed them out. They were able to still have that employee engagement piece. But again, completely not in the contract, not something discussed previously. But because of the good partnership, they were saying, “Let’s figure out how to make this event and replicate it and do it in a really unprecedented time.” I just love to see the beverage companies step up and do things like that too.

Tim Harms:

Yeah, it’s so good. That’s so helpful. You see the smiles on the employee’s faces. We got all the pictures back. We love it. Once again, it doesn’t have to be huge, but these small moments during a week or during a year really add up to really memorable experiences. Hopefully, once COVID subsides, and we get past it… Right before COVID, the labor market was red hot. Companies were competing for talent. I think we’ll be back there soon. It’s just those little things that can make all the difference.

Tim Harms:

Heather, I appreciate you coming on and really hope this inspires our listeners to think about beverage companies in a different way, to think about the partnership in a different way, and really brainstorm and get those creative juices flowing about what this could mean. I think it’s so helpful. Thanks for coming on.

Heather Neisen:

Absolutely. Thanks, Tim.

Tim Harms:

Thanks, everyone, for listening in. Hope you found that informative. If you have a burning question about your beverage negotiation or partnership, we’d love to hear from you and answer it on this podcast. Reach out to us by emailing [email protected]

Tim Harms:

Hey, before we sign off, I want to remind you that you can take both the guesswork and the legwork out of your beverage partnership. You can level the playing field in your beverage negotiations, and you can save or make your company millions through a new or an improved beverage agreement. The first step is a free beverage opportunity analysis, which will tell you just how much you can save, or you can make. Sign up for your free beverage opportunity analysis at enlivenpartnership.com and by cooking free savings estimate. On behalf of everyone here at Enliven, thanks for listening in.

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