Caffenio | Culture and Commitment

Infusing collaborative behaviors into a coffee brand

Customers who visit one of Caffenio’s drive-through locations across northern Mexico are often so well-known by the baristas they might not even need to place an order. José Antonio Díaz, the CEO and member of the third generation of the family-owned company, says his mission is getting to know his customers. He asks staffers at every location to build relationships with customers through familiarity.

“We know our clients by name, what time they’re going to arrive, and what they’re going to order,” Díaz says. “My job is ensuring a pleasant exchange, especially when that might be the first person they talk to all day.”

Caffenio recently celebrated the opening of its 120th drive-through location. The company’s origins date back 80 years. In 1941, Diaz’s grandfather, José Díaz Díaz founded "Café Combate" with door-to-door sales in Hermosillo, Mexico. Caffenio now employs approximately 3,100 workers, and it’s in the middle of a growth spurt. In addition to its drive-through establishments, its retail presence spans more than 19,000 OXXO convenience stores across Mexico.

One way Caffenio has built and consolidated a common culture across its operations is through tight-knit collaboration. It starts by defining a series of workplace behaviors aimed at building trust and respect among teams, as well as confidence among workers to try new things. The company actively encourages risk taking when employees have ideas for new products and services, even when they ultimately don’t pan out. “Mistakes are a source of learning,” Díaz says.

“We know our clients by name, what time they're going to arrive, and what they're going to order.”

Díaz says small details matter when building a culture of collaboration, so the company focuses on frequent communication with teams. Each month, Díaz records a brief video address for café operators and employees. The videos cover topics like sales results and tips on improving processes within stores. “These internal efforts have allowed us to create a culture of service that is valued by our customers,” Díaz says.

The videos also highlight employees, another area of focus for the company. Caffenio developed a workplace mobile application in which employees can identify colleagues who have excelled at one of the company’s workplace behaviors, such as execution or leadership. If the recipient accumulates a series of “coffee beans,” as they appear on the app, they can qualify for incentives such as travel vouchers.

Díaz notes that while instilling these behaviors has helped the company create an environment of cooperation, there are some challenges that arise when running a business with high employee turnover. Approximately 70 percent of the staff has been on the job for less than two years. “The current challenge for us is to be able to instill these behaviors in people quickly enough, because our growth requires that we hire a lot of people,” Díaz says.

Behaviors aren’t just taught to new employees, however. At Caffenio, workers get to rate their bosses through an annual company survey. “It’s a great opportunity to improve,” Díaz says. “Our goal is establishing a culture where people internalize these habits.”

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