Students and faculty may view Java Junction as the campus’s successful, student-run coffee shop, but internally it has a reputation of barely breaking even.This year, the management team is determined to change that.
Micah Shenk and Connor Daniel are business majors at Goshen College and have been a part of Java’s management team since the start of the 2022-23 school year, with Shenk overseeing inventory and Daniel marketing.
Shenk and Daniel moved up from their original roles as assistant managers and are using their increased responsibilities to make major positive changes to Java’s internal operations, profit margins and customer satisfaction.
In terms of operations and profits, Shenk said, “Our revenue is marginally lower than last semester, but we are saving costs on a much more efficient basis, so we’re making more by far for the hours that we are working.”
“For example,” Shenk added, “we cut out two hours from 4 to 6 p.m. because it’s a time when athletes are practicing, and we are closing earlier because there is not as much traffic from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.”
This equates to 10.5 hours a week. According to Shenk, that will save them over $100 weekly on labor and operations costs.
“We’re saving money,” he said, and “it puts less pressure on our workers to be in at inopportune times during the day.”
Shenk explained that fall months always sell better than winter because “you have [freshmen] using their free drink coupons.”
He said that the $3,009 in revenue they had in the first nine days last semester wasn’t unusual, but getting close to that in a winter semester was unprecedented.
“I can tell you that we are sitting at $2,883 [of revenue] in the nine days that we’ve been open,” Shenk said. “Last winter’s revenue was $2,128 in the first nine days they had been open.
“We had a record selling day from a revenue perspective [on Jan. 31],” Shenk added, “which is two consecutive days of record setting sales this semester! There is always a big drop off after the first few days of Java being open, so to see it happening this late is really exciting.”
“We’re up [on] everything,” Daniel said. “Facebook’s up … we’ve revamped Twitter, we’ve put out quality stuff.”
Daniel also noted that this semester he is “really focused on posting quality content instead of quantity.” He’s found that it has led to increased social engagement.
He also mentioned his rather unique method of getting potential customers to buy items that they otherwise wouldn’t: “We just sit in [Java] and tell people to buy stuff when they’re walking by and it works. That’s marketing.”
He added, “We’re also trying to make Java ‘home-y.’ We’re changing up the lights and the furniture. Hopefully [we make it] to the point where people want to do homework in there instead of ‘grab your drink and go’ because that’s not very appealing.”
In addition to this, Daniel said that the team was also challenging themselves to come up with creative ideas for weekly drinks and other products they could sell at Java, including food.
“My biggest thing that I’m working on right now is getting Cup Noodles into Java,” Daniel said. “We’ve brought up frozen pizza … and energy drinks … We’re trying to push ourselves to sell new stuff and it’s going to be a really fun process.”
When asked if they were happy with everything the management team had implemented this semester, Shenk said, “It’s just encouraging to know that we’re doing something right. I equate this success to increased word of mouth, quality marketing and the whole management team taking genuine interest in the business.”
Daniel agreed and added, “We’re just getting started. We have so much ahead.”