Verve Coffee Roasters
Published on April 14, 2023
Verve opened its doors in 2007, working hard through the years that followed to become a mainstay brand in California and Silicon Valley’s coffee of choice.
In 2019, following over a decade of growth and expansion, Verve took its first step into a largely untapped space — RTD, or ready-to-drink, coffee products. Verve’s RTD entrance would consist of one core product — its Nitro Flash Brew — available in both single-serve and kegged packaging options.
Single-serve distribution was a new spin on an old approach, as Verve had distributed its packaged products through retailer networks for years, and was comfortable with the flow. The kegged product for licensee consumption, though, required a start-from-scratch approach. From packaging to storage to transportation, the team spent hours studying local breweries to better understand the task at hand.
By the summer of 2019, the RTD team — led by Baker Carroll — had everything in place. Production processes established, kegs ready for filling, licensee locations secured, and trucks ready to roll.
Distribution started strong, but within weeks, Baker noticed something interesting: They were sending hundreds of kegs out to businesses throughout Santa Cruz (and California at large) but had no plan to get them back. Working alongside former COO Rob Gaukel, Baker began exploring his inventory management options, and after weeks of stakeholder conversations, decided to give Kegshoe a shot.
Setting The Foundation
By the time Verve had started using Kegshoe, there were a number of kegs already out in the field. This made the initial setup somewhat challenging, as they were labelling kegs in their possession while also attempting to wrangle those which had left the facility.
After a few weeks of hard work, they had successfully dialled in all 600 of their initial fleet. “The setup was super seamless. We were a little concerned about introducing a new step in the production process, especially in terms of opening up room for error and impacting efficiency, but once all kegs were labelled and the team had been brought up to speed it was really great”, said Baker.
From there, they began to lean on Kegshoe for every step of the distribution process. Scanning kegs when filled, stored, delivered, returned, and cleaned allowed them to understand in great detail how their inventory was performing, and provided their management team with the insights necessary to make forward-looking decisions.
Kegshoe has been super helpful for our team, especially for production purposes. We can see how many kegs are ready for collection, ensuring our driver team picks them up prior to our next fill day. This helps ensure we always have the kegs needed and prevents us from purchasing new steel when it isn’t required.
With a solid foundation in place and keg fleet visibility established, Verve was able to set its sights firmly forward on the quality of its product and the growth of its RTD business.
Quality and Accountability
For the team at Verve, quality is everything. According to Meg Dodelé — Verve’s RTD Production Manager — RTD coffee doesn’t have the luxury of bacteria elimination via alcohol exposure that many craft beverages do. This means the team needs to be hyper-diligent about the conditions with which their product is being stored and the time each keg is spending out in the market.
When asked how Kegshoe was helping them remain confident in their product quality: “[Kegshoe] provides us accountability across all key fronts — from product and distribution lifecycles to keg maintenance and cleanliness. It helps us ensure that the right things are being done as often as possible, allowing us to deliver our best”, Baker said.
In addition to keeping kegs at their best, it also helps to keep the team aligned. “For us, the best part of Kegshoe is the accountability it affords us for individual teammate responsibilities. It allows us to handle our daily operations and assets with confidence, and make corrections quickly should errors ever occur”, Meg added.
In addition to its success on the product quality front, Verve has been able to keep a solid handle on its inventory over the years, succeeding at the very challenge that started their search. Having grown to a fleet size of almost 1,800 kegs now, Verve has maintained a healthy keg retention rate of approximately 98% per year (for comparison, the average craft brewery loses up to 10% of their kegs every year). Considering the price of steel kegs at the time of writing, that’s cost savings north of $15,000 per year (including the cost of Kegshoe Keg Tracking), not to mention the improved operational efficiencies that have accompanied it.
Preparing for What’s Ahead
As Verve continues to expand its RTD product across the United States — including a recent entrance into the East Coast market — they're excited to continue improving product and distribution quality with the help of Kegshoe.
A primary focus of theirs moving forward is the betterment of their customer experience, backed by data. “The reports are super helpful. It’s allowed us to communicate very clearly with our customer success team, helping them level up big-time on asset retrieval. We’re also using the data in Kegshoe to establish best practices for our rental program, from return deposits to late fees, all based on what works best for our customers and us”, Baker noted.
When asked to provide some closing thoughts on the Kegshoe platform and experience, and what the team at Verve is most excited about moving forward, Baker and Meg shared a thought in alignment:
“For us, it all goes back to the service. The kegged coffee space is still fairly small, and one of the benefits of being small (while growing) is that we get to interact with great companies and test out great products, and Kegshoe stands out as a leader across the board. You have an easy-to-use product that accomplishes all the things we need it to do (and then some), you’re constantly developing new features, and the ongoing support & service from the team have been incredible. We’re stoked to be supported by you guys & to be a customer, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”
You can learn more about Verve Coffee Roasters, their story, current lineup, and recent releases on their website.
To learn more about Kegshoe Keg Tracking, contact our team today.