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04.13.2021

Julie Hamil: How Rochester Regional Health Negotiated Its First Beverage Partnership

By Heather Neisen

Enliven Beverage Deal Podcast Episode #16

If you’ve ever wondered what negotiating your first beverage partnership might be like, this episode is for you.

Julie Hamil, Senior Director of Food & Nutritional Services at Rochester Regional Health, joins the podcast to walk through her experience bringing to life her organization’s first pouring rights agreement.

On the episode, Julie discusses the reasons why her organization pursued a beverage deal, what the process looked like (including doing the process 100% virtually), how she handled objections brought up during the project, and what results she has seen.

 

Listen on Your Favorite Podcast Player:

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on

Related Resources:

The Best Customer Engagement Companies in the World Adopt Pouring Rights (And You Should Too)

The Difference Between Pouring Rights & Beverage Marketing Agreements (…And Why It Matters)

How Exclusive Beverage Deals Lead to Increased Sales

 

Transcript:

Tim Harms:

Welcome to the Enliven Beverage Deal podcast, where we’re all about helping you create beverage partnerships that make you money, save you money, and delight your customers. Week by week, we take the guesswork out of pouring rights. I’m your host, Tim Harms. We’ve got a great show for you today. Stay tuned.

Tim Harms:

Well, if you are listening to this podcast, I would guess that you are interested in exploring, maybe your first, or perhaps your next beverage deal, your pouring rights agreements. And it’s often that we talk to folks who are interested and intrigued, but kind of just want some more information, want to know what is the process like? Who do I need to get involved? How long will it take? What are the pitfalls to avoid? What are the challenges? How do I navigate this process? And people are looking for a roadmap, and more than even a roadmap, but maybe just another perspective of someone who has gone down this path before and what their experience was.

Tim Harms:

And I’m really excited about today’s episode because we are welcoming Julie Hamil. She’s a senior director of food and nutritional services at Rochester Regional Health. Rochester Regional Health is an IDN healthcare system based in Rochester, New York. They’ve got five hospitals, including home health programs and outpatient facilities, rehab programs, surgery centers, assisted living, and they recently went down this path. They negotiated with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for a pouring rights agreement, a beverage deal covering their entire healthcare system. And just a little while ago, actually our healthcare practice leader, Heather Neisen, she’s been a guest on the show before. She sat down with Julie to just discuss what her path was like and what her experience was negotiating this program and how the program worked for her. We thought we’d open up that conversation to you, let you listen in, and I really think you’re going to enjoy this episode. So without further ado, I’ll pass it off to a prerecorded interview between Heather Neisen at Enliven and Julie Hamil at Rochester Regional Health.

Heather Neisen:

Rochester Regional Health serves the greater Rochester area across Western New York and I have a map over here, Western New York, and the finger lakes region. Rochester operates five acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, and other sites, and is Rochester’s second-largest employer. And Julie is the senior director for food and nutrition services. She started at Unity Hospital nearly 20 years ago and was promoted to senior director in 2018. And so Julie, today, oversees all of Rochester’s food and nutrition operations, and she has been instrumental in designing and constructing multiple cafes and cafeterias, and kitchens, and most recently, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. So Julie, thank you so much for being here.

Julie Hamil:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, and you mentioned to me earlier that you had been to three different facilities this morning alone?

Julie Hamil:

Yes, yes.

Heather Neisen:

Fighting through the snow. That’s awesome. Well, good. Well, before we dive into your experience with beverage deal like you just talked about. Just want to acknowledge, of course, this year has been quite a year. How has the pandemic, and just all the different changes you’ve had to make, how has it been for you and your team?

Julie Hamil:

I think I guess I’m confident in saying, it’s been, part of the experience has been the same, very challenging as the rest of all the other healthcare facilities in the country have experienced. Having both acute care and long-term care, we met different challenges at both places that brought in all different stuff. But for our food service staff, I think mostly the biggest challenge was the staff shortages that we felt in nursing departments. A lot of new challenges for our staff. We actually have, in two of our larger hospitals, the foodservice staff actually going into COVID patients being fitted for N-95s, serving.

Heather Neisen:

Really?

Julie Hamil:

Yeah. So that was very challenging. And being in Rochester, two of our hospitals actually had the most cases. At one point we had over 400 COVID patients between two hospitals. So, it was challenging at times. But, we’re seeing that go down, so let’s see.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, and in your role doing food nutrition, still getting meals to patients and still needing to operate, right? I mean, there was not really a decline in your need for services. Yeah.

Julie Hamil:

Well actually in our census was, all of our census, in all of our locations were actually higher than the average. I mean, there were just so many patients, taking single rooms and making them double. And so yeah, it’s a challenge.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I know when we’ve spoken throughout the year, you’ve been always in the office and like I mentioned, we’re remote and we just are really, we don’t take it for granted and we really thank you for just going into the office and serving all these patients like you do every day. So, thank you.

Julie Hamil:

Yep.

Heather Neisen:

Awesome. Well, good. Well, let’s take us back, back in time, the beginning of 2020. So we met in person, which is crazy, in January of last year. So tell us a little bit about what was going on in January of last year that caused Rochester Regional Health to explore a beverage deal.

Julie Hamil:

Okay. So, you had mentioned in the beginning, a little quick, we merged in 2014, and it was midway through the year that the merger began. Which was going to be a four to the five-year merger. It started with two hospitals and gradually we added and got to the five hospitals and five long-term care facilities. So during those first few years, merging vendors and picking who we were going to go with was not really top priority. It was more just basically staffing and those kinds of things. But as the years got closer, we finally, I think it was in 2018, decided to come up with one primary vendor for our food service. And we started for our looking food, and then looking at our produce, and our bread, and all of that. Eventually, it got down to, okay, now we’re into Pepsi or Coke, because half of our facilities, literally half of the facilities are Pepsi and half of them are Coke.

Julie Hamil:

And at this point was causing some conversation amongst staff, because “why, when I’m over here, can I get this? But when I’m over at that facility, I can’t?” And we started to see a lot of the staff crossing over and going to multiple facilities and working. So that’s where it became an opportunity for us to decide.

Heather Neisen:

That’s right.

Julie Hamil:

It’s a hard decision to make when you’re just sitting there with purchasing. And so, having the opportunity to work with you guys helped us make a really good decision. You know, it made it a lot easier.

Heather Neisen:

I guess it, by default of your title, it makes sense why you were involved, but we had a couple people that were all involved. How did you guys decide on like, who would be part of that decision?

Julie Hamil:

So, all of our contracts always have to go through purchasing. And so, we definitely had purchasing drove it. They began the process for us, but it ended up being myself and purchasing who worked on it along with you all. But then once we got down to the actual facilities, we started to bring in each food service manager, or retail manager, or director from each facility. So the group grew, but in the very beginning, we kept the group fairly small with just myself and the two representatives from purchasing that would get involved with contracts and all of that.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. And it seems like you maintain a really good relationship with each of the sites, like the directors onsite. You talk to them all the time and have good communication. So you’re probably a great point person to kind of gather the feedback and the requests. Great, perfect, okay. So thinking back to that time, I’m like imagining us sitting around that table. But thinking back to when we first started talking, was there anything in particular you were worried about, or did you have any, kind of like, fears going into the project?

Julie Hamil:

I don’t really think I had fears, I think at the very beginning, when we first met, everything was so spelled out for it. This is how the process is going to go. I think maybe the biggest concern of mine at the time was that we were so large. We had vending machines, we brought vending into it, we had gift shops, we had doctor’s offices, just so much. And it was like, are we going to capture everything? Is everything on the paper? And actually, it was. And I think the other thing at the time when we first met was that there was plans for us to be able to tour the companies through and everyone was going to take over. So at the very beginning, no, there really wasn’t any concerns until COVID hit.

Heather Neisen:

Right. Right.

Julie Hamil:

And then at that point, it was like, “oh my God, how are we going to do this?” But we did it, and we did it great.

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great point. You’re right, Julie. In a pre-COVID world, we would love to have the beverage representatives come to each organization, and show samples, and taste it. And then the headquarters for both companies, we’ve done site visits, so you’re right. So COVID hit, and you’re right, I think we were chatting a lot during that time. How did it affect the process for you all? Obviously, we couldn’t do those tours, but in what other ways did you feel like it affected the project?

Julie Hamil:

I think we had a great opportunity in the very beginning that we were able to at least, with Enliven, and do the tours.

Heather Neisen:

That’s right.

Julie Hamil:

Yes, and we went around and I spent two days, I think, we did it in actually a day and a half. My God, we went to every facility.

Heather Neisen:

Yes.

Julie Hamil:

COVID was just starting at that time. You guys were able to take, I forgot who it was who came.

Heather Neisen:

Monica, on our team.

Julie Hamil:

Yes, Monica, and she took pictures of every location, of every piece of equipment, we documented everything. And we did that all in a day, or two days, but a half day, one day and a half day the other, because it was snowing and she needed to get out.

Heather Neisen:

Always snowing in Rochester.

Julie Hamil:

But we did, and there was a lot of picture taking, and a lot of time spent, and a lot of note taking. So, she had a very good idea when you guys were ready to work with the companies, with Pepsi or with Coke, on what we needed for equipment, where it was going to go. We had a really good understanding of that. So, when we went into the part where normally they would be able to come and see, and they wanted to, we were just, they couldn’t come in the buildings. So they really had to go on that information and it worked, everything was there. You know, you guys did a great job, letting them know the equipment that needed to be, it was a lot to equipment, a lot of places.

Heather Neisen:

Thank you for sharing that, too. Cause sometimes we focus so much on the numbers of how much is being purchased, right? Like, how many cases are being purchased in gallons. And part of our job at Enliven is to take the opportunity, in it’s kind of full scope, to the beverage companies and really make sure they understand the opportunity they have. And that does factor into the equipment, and even if you don’t have vending or you have a different company, Pepsi and Coke have really great ways of looking at those programs and they want to see the sites and they want to understand it. So Julie, you taking us around was really helpful having that information. And that’s what we would do for any system, is trying to capture as much information as possible, again, to be able to tell Coke and Pepsi. And, Coke and Pepsi have got a tough job, too.

Heather Neisen:

They’ve got to take the opportunity like Rochester Regional and go internally and sort of be the advocate for funding, right? So the more information they’ve got and the more excited they get, just makes for a really great process. So yeah, it’s time well spent. So thank you for doing that.

Heather Neisen:

Okay, so perfect. So some people may be thinking, “we’ve heard this before, a project like this sounds great, but we are busy.” So do you mind sharing kind of your involvement in the amount of time that you had to spend working on this project? Cause you were really our point person.

Julie Hamil:

Yeah, I was the point person and the thing that’s amazing is I feel like I spent very little time, because we were in the middle of COVID, so I didn’t have to do much. But the time that we did spend was scheduled, we would have our weekly meeting, we would get on, it was quick, and it was to the point, and it was “what was going on?”, And “what was the next step?” And what you needed from me or what I needed from you. And it was not time consuming at all.

Heather Neisen:

Good.

Julie Hamil:

Yeah. The most time spent in one lump sum was initially the first, when I took Monica and I went for those two days.

Heather Neisen:

Right.

Julie Hamil:

And looked at all the facilities. But after that, no, it really wasn’t. The communication was great. You guys were always on, I mean, sometimes I missed it because.

Heather Neisen:

It’s COVID, right. No, it makes sense.

Julie Hamil:

And I had your numbers. I could call and say, “hey, I’m not going to make it”, or, “I’m sorry I missed it”. It was just very, very smooth.

Heather Neisen:

Good, and I think that’s a good point, too. I mean, I think there’s the upfront, there’s always a little bit of extra work. We’re collecting data, we’re getting to know you, we’re putting together the RFP, but that’s our hope. And I’m so glad that was your experience, Julia. Once we got that initial information, it should be really hands off for you. And then our goal is to really bring you final offers from Coke and Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper to say, “choose one”. Here’s the pros and cons. So good. Okay, kind of last question, and then just any other thoughts you have on the whole experience, we’ll be happy to share them. But do you remember, I asked you about your fears at the outset of the program as you socialize the deal and you started to come to that, “Hey, we got to make a decision.” Did you feel like there were any concerns from stakeholders at Rochester? And if so, how are they handled?

Julie Hamil:

I think that there was a little bit of a concern, because like I said earlier, we were split 50-50. 50% of our facilities had Coke and the other 50 had Pepsi. It’s just like anything else. There’s always going to be somebody who says something, but there really wasn’t. I think that administration, and sharing with administration the savings that we were seeing as a system, and understanding why we were doing this. Really, we were very honest. If staff came to us and said, “why, why now? Why are we changing this facility to Pepsi?” The reason is, is that we’re doing an exclusive pouring rights in contract. We are saving the system money and it’s amounting to significant dollars. They were very understanding, they really were. We haven’t had any really, truly issues. And I think actually our CEO wasn’t really particularly fond.

Julie Hamil:

He was like, “I would rather deal with Coke.” And he’s fine with it, everybody’s fine. I think the only other concern that we probably had, was that with the exclusive pouring rights, we use the Pepsi products up on the patient trays. And the managers at the facilities were like, “oh my God, this is going to walk. The people are going to be taking things left and right. They’re going to be drinking it.” And we have not seen that. I mean, yes, you’re always going to get somebody who’s going to do something, but we have not seen this huge uptick in our usage for our patient care or anything. And if anything, we’ve heard positive comments back from patients.

Heather Neisen:

Oh, good.

Julie Hamil:

They like to see that name brand on the tray.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, it makes people feel like, it’s silly, isn’t it? How just a branded soda can make people feel like the experience is better. But you actually mentioned two really good common fears, right? Will the product walk because it’s now not an off-brand, and we haven’t really seen that. So, I’m glad that that’s been true for you guys. And then, yeah there’s always that fear around of taking away someone’s favorite beverage. But I think, what we’ve seen, and it sounds like what you’ve seen too, is that people, while they may not be able to get their favorite beverage, because those portfolios are so big, they’re like, well, I would normally get my favorite diet soda, but look, there’s sparkling water I want to try. And, so it almost opens up that opportunity. So, sometimes it is pushback. People love their products, but often it’s not as big of pushback as, as people kind of imagine, I think.

Julie Hamil:

That is really a very accurate statement because that was one thing we did do in some of our larger locations. We concentrated more on new things that they had not seen, even in our current locations that had Pepsi. We brought in the Bubly waters, and we featured those, and those things were exciting and new. So, I think people were surprised. I was pleasantly surprised. When you really sit down and take a look at the product line, and how large they are, and the opportunity. You don’t realize that when you just have your Pepsi or Coke person coming in, a salesman coming in once every month, or something like that. You don’t realize all the things that are out there. Yeah, and we also wrapped our coolers and did really neat things to make it look different and exciting.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, I should have put a picture in here. Yeah, Julie and her team got Pepsi, like she’s mentioned. And they were able to get these really neat cooler rappers that have Rochester’s logo on them and then a different, is it, I think it changes, right? Per season, of like, the messaging and highlights different products, which is just fun. Especially since you’ve been a part of so many cafeteria designs, you know you’ve got to keep it fresh and relevant. So this can help you do that too, without having to spend any of your own money. It’s just nice to have a partner to come in and do that.

Julie Hamil:

It was wonderful, a great experience.

Heather Neisen:

Good, and Julie knows this, but just for those listening, I mentioned earlier, that we stay engaged for the length of the term. So, the last thing we want to do is work with a team like Rochester, and Julie, and get these great promises and then a year out and you’re not getting the payments or you’re not getting the service you need. So, Michael and I work with Julie and her team still today and we will for the length of their contract. And any kind of issues that pop up, and we’ve had a couple, I mean, just run-of-the-mill issues that we’ve got to iron out. And so we still get to work with Julie, which is a pleasure and we still will. So you’re stuck with us, Julie.

Julie Hamil:

I did want to say that you guys have been very receptive and really quick to respond to any kind of concerns if there are any, and again, they’ve all been minor, but it’s just a simple phone call and you’re like, “I’m on it. I’ll take care of it”. And that’s just something that’s off my plate. I don’t have to worry about it.

Heather Neisen:

Good, exactly. I think that’s, I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier, but that is something that works with restaurants and with airports and, in a restaurant setting, your beverages, you can’t really get your sandwich, your pizza without a beverage. In healthcare, that is not your main concern. I mean, obviously, food and nutrition services are important, but beverages is not to the level of the main function of a hospital in caring for human life. But, it’s still really important. So, we just are happy that you’ve had the experience. Like I said, happy to partner with you. And for anyone listening would love to do that for you as well. So, Julie, thanks for your time.

Tim Harms:

Thanks, everyone, for listening I 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] And 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 clicking “free savings estimate”. On behalf of everyone here at Enliven, thanks for listening in.

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04.13.2021

Julie Hamil: How Rochester Regional Health Negotiated Its First Beverage Partnership

By Heather Neisen

Enliven Beverage Deal Podcast Episode #16

If you’ve ever wondered what negotiating your first beverage partnership might be like, this episode is for you.

Julie Hamil, Senior Director of Food & Nutritional Services at Rochester Regional Health, joins the podcast to walk through her experience bringing to life her organization’s first pouring rights agreement.

On the episode, Julie discusses the reasons why her organization pursued a beverage deal, what the process looked like (including doing the process 100% virtually), how she handled objections brought up during the project, and what results she has seen.

 

Listen on Your Favorite Podcast Player:

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on

Related Resources:

The Best Customer Engagement Companies in the World Adopt Pouring Rights (And You Should Too)

The Difference Between Pouring Rights & Beverage Marketing Agreements (…And Why It Matters)

How Exclusive Beverage Deals Lead to Increased Sales

 

Transcript:

Tim Harms:

Welcome to the Enliven Beverage Deal podcast, where we’re all about helping you create beverage partnerships that make you money, save you money, and delight your customers. Week by week, we take the guesswork out of pouring rights. I’m your host, Tim Harms. We’ve got a great show for you today. Stay tuned.

Tim Harms:

Well, if you are listening to this podcast, I would guess that you are interested in exploring, maybe your first, or perhaps your next beverage deal, your pouring rights agreements. And it’s often that we talk to folks who are interested and intrigued, but kind of just want some more information, want to know what is the process like? Who do I need to get involved? How long will it take? What are the pitfalls to avoid? What are the challenges? How do I navigate this process? And people are looking for a roadmap, and more than even a roadmap, but maybe just another perspective of someone who has gone down this path before and what their experience was.

Tim Harms:

And I’m really excited about today’s episode because we are welcoming Julie Hamil. She’s a senior director of food and nutritional services at Rochester Regional Health. Rochester Regional Health is an IDN healthcare system based in Rochester, New York. They’ve got five hospitals, including home health programs and outpatient facilities, rehab programs, surgery centers, assisted living, and they recently went down this path. They negotiated with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for a pouring rights agreement, a beverage deal covering their entire healthcare system. And just a little while ago, actually our healthcare practice leader, Heather Neisen, she’s been a guest on the show before. She sat down with Julie to just discuss what her path was like and what her experience was negotiating this program and how the program worked for her. We thought we’d open up that conversation to you, let you listen in, and I really think you’re going to enjoy this episode. So without further ado, I’ll pass it off to a prerecorded interview between Heather Neisen at Enliven and Julie Hamil at Rochester Regional Health.

Heather Neisen:

Rochester Regional Health serves the greater Rochester area across Western New York and I have a map over here, Western New York, and the finger lakes region. Rochester operates five acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, and other sites, and is Rochester’s second-largest employer. And Julie is the senior director for food and nutrition services. She started at Unity Hospital nearly 20 years ago and was promoted to senior director in 2018. And so Julie, today, oversees all of Rochester’s food and nutrition operations, and she has been instrumental in designing and constructing multiple cafes and cafeterias, and kitchens, and most recently, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. So Julie, thank you so much for being here.

Julie Hamil:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, and you mentioned to me earlier that you had been to three different facilities this morning alone?

Julie Hamil:

Yes, yes.

Heather Neisen:

Fighting through the snow. That’s awesome. Well, good. Well, before we dive into your experience with beverage deal like you just talked about. Just want to acknowledge, of course, this year has been quite a year. How has the pandemic, and just all the different changes you’ve had to make, how has it been for you and your team?

Julie Hamil:

I think I guess I’m confident in saying, it’s been, part of the experience has been the same, very challenging as the rest of all the other healthcare facilities in the country have experienced. Having both acute care and long-term care, we met different challenges at both places that brought in all different stuff. But for our food service staff, I think mostly the biggest challenge was the staff shortages that we felt in nursing departments. A lot of new challenges for our staff. We actually have, in two of our larger hospitals, the foodservice staff actually going into COVID patients being fitted for N-95s, serving.

Heather Neisen:

Really?

Julie Hamil:

Yeah. So that was very challenging. And being in Rochester, two of our hospitals actually had the most cases. At one point we had over 400 COVID patients between two hospitals. So, it was challenging at times. But, we’re seeing that go down, so let’s see.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, and in your role doing food nutrition, still getting meals to patients and still needing to operate, right? I mean, there was not really a decline in your need for services. Yeah.

Julie Hamil:

Well actually in our census was, all of our census, in all of our locations were actually higher than the average. I mean, there were just so many patients, taking single rooms and making them double. And so yeah, it’s a challenge.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I know when we’ve spoken throughout the year, you’ve been always in the office and like I mentioned, we’re remote and we just are really, we don’t take it for granted and we really thank you for just going into the office and serving all these patients like you do every day. So, thank you.

Julie Hamil:

Yep.

Heather Neisen:

Awesome. Well, good. Well, let’s take us back, back in time, the beginning of 2020. So we met in person, which is crazy, in January of last year. So tell us a little bit about what was going on in January of last year that caused Rochester Regional Health to explore a beverage deal.

Julie Hamil:

Okay. So, you had mentioned in the beginning, a little quick, we merged in 2014, and it was midway through the year that the merger began. Which was going to be a four to the five-year merger. It started with two hospitals and gradually we added and got to the five hospitals and five long-term care facilities. So during those first few years, merging vendors and picking who we were going to go with was not really top priority. It was more just basically staffing and those kinds of things. But as the years got closer, we finally, I think it was in 2018, decided to come up with one primary vendor for our food service. And we started for our looking food, and then looking at our produce, and our bread, and all of that. Eventually, it got down to, okay, now we’re into Pepsi or Coke, because half of our facilities, literally half of the facilities are Pepsi and half of them are Coke.

Julie Hamil:

And at this point was causing some conversation amongst staff, because “why, when I’m over here, can I get this? But when I’m over at that facility, I can’t?” And we started to see a lot of the staff crossing over and going to multiple facilities and working. So that’s where it became an opportunity for us to decide.

Heather Neisen:

That’s right.

Julie Hamil:

It’s a hard decision to make when you’re just sitting there with purchasing. And so, having the opportunity to work with you guys helped us make a really good decision. You know, it made it a lot easier.

Heather Neisen:

I guess it, by default of your title, it makes sense why you were involved, but we had a couple people that were all involved. How did you guys decide on like, who would be part of that decision?

Julie Hamil:

So, all of our contracts always have to go through purchasing. And so, we definitely had purchasing drove it. They began the process for us, but it ended up being myself and purchasing who worked on it along with you all. But then once we got down to the actual facilities, we started to bring in each food service manager, or retail manager, or director from each facility. So the group grew, but in the very beginning, we kept the group fairly small with just myself and the two representatives from purchasing that would get involved with contracts and all of that.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah. And it seems like you maintain a really good relationship with each of the sites, like the directors onsite. You talk to them all the time and have good communication. So you’re probably a great point person to kind of gather the feedback and the requests. Great, perfect, okay. So thinking back to that time, I’m like imagining us sitting around that table. But thinking back to when we first started talking, was there anything in particular you were worried about, or did you have any, kind of like, fears going into the project?

Julie Hamil:

I don’t really think I had fears, I think at the very beginning, when we first met, everything was so spelled out for it. This is how the process is going to go. I think maybe the biggest concern of mine at the time was that we were so large. We had vending machines, we brought vending into it, we had gift shops, we had doctor’s offices, just so much. And it was like, are we going to capture everything? Is everything on the paper? And actually, it was. And I think the other thing at the time when we first met was that there was plans for us to be able to tour the companies through and everyone was going to take over. So at the very beginning, no, there really wasn’t any concerns until COVID hit.

Heather Neisen:

Right. Right.

Julie Hamil:

And then at that point, it was like, “oh my God, how are we going to do this?” But we did it, and we did it great.

Heather Neisen:

That’s a great point. You’re right, Julie. In a pre-COVID world, we would love to have the beverage representatives come to each organization, and show samples, and taste it. And then the headquarters for both companies, we’ve done site visits, so you’re right. So COVID hit, and you’re right, I think we were chatting a lot during that time. How did it affect the process for you all? Obviously, we couldn’t do those tours, but in what other ways did you feel like it affected the project?

Julie Hamil:

I think we had a great opportunity in the very beginning that we were able to at least, with Enliven, and do the tours.

Heather Neisen:

That’s right.

Julie Hamil:

Yes, and we went around and I spent two days, I think, we did it in actually a day and a half. My God, we went to every facility.

Heather Neisen:

Yes.

Julie Hamil:

COVID was just starting at that time. You guys were able to take, I forgot who it was who came.

Heather Neisen:

Monica, on our team.

Julie Hamil:

Yes, Monica, and she took pictures of every location, of every piece of equipment, we documented everything. And we did that all in a day, or two days, but a half day, one day and a half day the other, because it was snowing and she needed to get out.

Heather Neisen:

Always snowing in Rochester.

Julie Hamil:

But we did, and there was a lot of picture taking, and a lot of time spent, and a lot of note taking. So, she had a very good idea when you guys were ready to work with the companies, with Pepsi or with Coke, on what we needed for equipment, where it was going to go. We had a really good understanding of that. So, when we went into the part where normally they would be able to come and see, and they wanted to, we were just, they couldn’t come in the buildings. So they really had to go on that information and it worked, everything was there. You know, you guys did a great job, letting them know the equipment that needed to be, it was a lot to equipment, a lot of places.

Heather Neisen:

Thank you for sharing that, too. Cause sometimes we focus so much on the numbers of how much is being purchased, right? Like, how many cases are being purchased in gallons. And part of our job at Enliven is to take the opportunity, in it’s kind of full scope, to the beverage companies and really make sure they understand the opportunity they have. And that does factor into the equipment, and even if you don’t have vending or you have a different company, Pepsi and Coke have really great ways of looking at those programs and they want to see the sites and they want to understand it. So Julie, you taking us around was really helpful having that information. And that’s what we would do for any system, is trying to capture as much information as possible, again, to be able to tell Coke and Pepsi. And, Coke and Pepsi have got a tough job, too.

Heather Neisen:

They’ve got to take the opportunity like Rochester Regional and go internally and sort of be the advocate for funding, right? So the more information they’ve got and the more excited they get, just makes for a really great process. So yeah, it’s time well spent. So thank you for doing that.

Heather Neisen:

Okay, so perfect. So some people may be thinking, “we’ve heard this before, a project like this sounds great, but we are busy.” So do you mind sharing kind of your involvement in the amount of time that you had to spend working on this project? Cause you were really our point person.

Julie Hamil:

Yeah, I was the point person and the thing that’s amazing is I feel like I spent very little time, because we were in the middle of COVID, so I didn’t have to do much. But the time that we did spend was scheduled, we would have our weekly meeting, we would get on, it was quick, and it was to the point, and it was “what was going on?”, And “what was the next step?” And what you needed from me or what I needed from you. And it was not time consuming at all.

Heather Neisen:

Good.

Julie Hamil:

Yeah. The most time spent in one lump sum was initially the first, when I took Monica and I went for those two days.

Heather Neisen:

Right.

Julie Hamil:

And looked at all the facilities. But after that, no, it really wasn’t. The communication was great. You guys were always on, I mean, sometimes I missed it because.

Heather Neisen:

It’s COVID, right. No, it makes sense.

Julie Hamil:

And I had your numbers. I could call and say, “hey, I’m not going to make it”, or, “I’m sorry I missed it”. It was just very, very smooth.

Heather Neisen:

Good, and I think that’s a good point, too. I mean, I think there’s the upfront, there’s always a little bit of extra work. We’re collecting data, we’re getting to know you, we’re putting together the RFP, but that’s our hope. And I’m so glad that was your experience, Julia. Once we got that initial information, it should be really hands off for you. And then our goal is to really bring you final offers from Coke and Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper to say, “choose one”. Here’s the pros and cons. So good. Okay, kind of last question, and then just any other thoughts you have on the whole experience, we’ll be happy to share them. But do you remember, I asked you about your fears at the outset of the program as you socialize the deal and you started to come to that, “Hey, we got to make a decision.” Did you feel like there were any concerns from stakeholders at Rochester? And if so, how are they handled?

Julie Hamil:

I think that there was a little bit of a concern, because like I said earlier, we were split 50-50. 50% of our facilities had Coke and the other 50 had Pepsi. It’s just like anything else. There’s always going to be somebody who says something, but there really wasn’t. I think that administration, and sharing with administration the savings that we were seeing as a system, and understanding why we were doing this. Really, we were very honest. If staff came to us and said, “why, why now? Why are we changing this facility to Pepsi?” The reason is, is that we’re doing an exclusive pouring rights in contract. We are saving the system money and it’s amounting to significant dollars. They were very understanding, they really were. We haven’t had any really, truly issues. And I think actually our CEO wasn’t really particularly fond.

Julie Hamil:

He was like, “I would rather deal with Coke.” And he’s fine with it, everybody’s fine. I think the only other concern that we probably had, was that with the exclusive pouring rights, we use the Pepsi products up on the patient trays. And the managers at the facilities were like, “oh my God, this is going to walk. The people are going to be taking things left and right. They’re going to be drinking it.” And we have not seen that. I mean, yes, you’re always going to get somebody who’s going to do something, but we have not seen this huge uptick in our usage for our patient care or anything. And if anything, we’ve heard positive comments back from patients.

Heather Neisen:

Oh, good.

Julie Hamil:

They like to see that name brand on the tray.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, it makes people feel like, it’s silly, isn’t it? How just a branded soda can make people feel like the experience is better. But you actually mentioned two really good common fears, right? Will the product walk because it’s now not an off-brand, and we haven’t really seen that. So, I’m glad that that’s been true for you guys. And then, yeah there’s always that fear around of taking away someone’s favorite beverage. But I think, what we’ve seen, and it sounds like what you’ve seen too, is that people, while they may not be able to get their favorite beverage, because those portfolios are so big, they’re like, well, I would normally get my favorite diet soda, but look, there’s sparkling water I want to try. And, so it almost opens up that opportunity. So, sometimes it is pushback. People love their products, but often it’s not as big of pushback as, as people kind of imagine, I think.

Julie Hamil:

That is really a very accurate statement because that was one thing we did do in some of our larger locations. We concentrated more on new things that they had not seen, even in our current locations that had Pepsi. We brought in the Bubly waters, and we featured those, and those things were exciting and new. So, I think people were surprised. I was pleasantly surprised. When you really sit down and take a look at the product line, and how large they are, and the opportunity. You don’t realize that when you just have your Pepsi or Coke person coming in, a salesman coming in once every month, or something like that. You don’t realize all the things that are out there. Yeah, and we also wrapped our coolers and did really neat things to make it look different and exciting.

Heather Neisen:

Yeah, I should have put a picture in here. Yeah, Julie and her team got Pepsi, like she’s mentioned. And they were able to get these really neat cooler rappers that have Rochester’s logo on them and then a different, is it, I think it changes, right? Per season, of like, the messaging and highlights different products, which is just fun. Especially since you’ve been a part of so many cafeteria designs, you know you’ve got to keep it fresh and relevant. So this can help you do that too, without having to spend any of your own money. It’s just nice to have a partner to come in and do that.

Julie Hamil:

It was wonderful, a great experience.

Heather Neisen:

Good, and Julie knows this, but just for those listening, I mentioned earlier, that we stay engaged for the length of the term. So, the last thing we want to do is work with a team like Rochester, and Julie, and get these great promises and then a year out and you’re not getting the payments or you’re not getting the service you need. So, Michael and I work with Julie and her team still today and we will for the length of their contract. And any kind of issues that pop up, and we’ve had a couple, I mean, just run-of-the-mill issues that we’ve got to iron out. And so we still get to work with Julie, which is a pleasure and we still will. So you’re stuck with us, Julie.

Julie Hamil:

I did want to say that you guys have been very receptive and really quick to respond to any kind of concerns if there are any, and again, they’ve all been minor, but it’s just a simple phone call and you’re like, “I’m on it. I’ll take care of it”. And that’s just something that’s off my plate. I don’t have to worry about it.

Heather Neisen:

Good, exactly. I think that’s, I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier, but that is something that works with restaurants and with airports and, in a restaurant setting, your beverages, you can’t really get your sandwich, your pizza without a beverage. In healthcare, that is not your main concern. I mean, obviously, food and nutrition services are important, but beverages is not to the level of the main function of a hospital in caring for human life. But, it’s still really important. So, we just are happy that you’ve had the experience. Like I said, happy to partner with you. And for anyone listening would love to do that for you as well. So, Julie, thanks for your time.

Tim Harms:

Thanks, everyone, for listening I 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] And 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 clicking “free savings estimate”. On behalf of everyone here at Enliven, thanks for listening in.

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