Unless you have been under a rock the last couple weeks, you have probably seen the “Suspended Order” story floating around social media. The concept is that a customer buys a coffee and “Suspends” it for someone who is less fortunate. Snopes did a check on the story and found that this is indeed a concept that has been going on in parts of Europe. More information about this can be found here. There is even a Facebook page for Suspended Coffee that can be found by clicking here.
I think it is a great idea for coffee shops and restaurants and have been asked about how to handle it.
It presents some interesting questions from a reporting and operational side of things however.
Is the customer buying a specific drink? Are they simply putting cash into a fund? What about taxes, reporting and potential theft?
I got together with my team and brainstormed three different ways to handle this. Each has it’s own pros and cons.
- Rewards Method: If you are using a buy 10 get 1 free system, you can create a Suspended Customer and a suspended menu item. Each time someone buys a suspended drink, you sell it under the suspended customer account. This then earns 10 points per drink sold – effectively earning free drinks to be used. When someone asks about a suspended drink, you pull up that suspended customer and use the rewards system to process the order.
- Pros: Tracking of this is detailed. Employees can’t easily steal from it (other than using this for friends).
- Cons: You have to do this in two transactions. Especially if the customer buying the original drinks is earning rewards. Also, you have to have a reward system in place!
- Gift Card Method: This involves creating a gift card for suspended orders. It can even be assigned to a customer as well. If I want to buy a suspended drink, I’m actually putting that dollar amount on the suspended gift card.
- Pros: Easily tracked, difficult to easily steal from it, fully reported on and you can do it all in the same transaction.
- Cons: You have to actually apply a dollar amount. You can’t just say – two drinks.
- Receipt Method: This is a combination of high and low tech. It’s also the one method that we feel accomplishes this best. When someone orders from you, add the modifier button called Suspended to the order. This will then print on the customer receipt. Additionally, we have the ability to have the SP-1 print a 2nd receipt with just the suspended drinks on it. That allows you to set that receipt aside by the counter. Then when someone in need comes along, the employee can pull the receipt out, mark it and be done with the order.
- Pros: Very easy on the customer and the employee. It can all be done on the same transaction.
- Cons: Theft issues could arise.
Keep in mind that many of these options would work with sandwiches, food, pastries etc.