Whats New in Vending Machine Tech Support An interview with Joe Nichols
- Joe was brought up in the vending business, his Dad being a vending operator
- After success as a vending operator, Joe tells how he got into the equipment business
- “We want to give support that we never had”
- Frustration with complicated manufacturer manuals
- The CD is in all our refurbished machines
- The technical support video library is available to anyone for free
- Phone tech support is for our customers
- We support what we sell, but we’ll have a full scale of everything before long
- We’re not movie guys, but you’ll like it
Whats New in Vending Machine Tech Support Tom Shivers with Vending Business Show here with Joe Nichols of A&M Equipment Sales. Joe has been in the vending business for 39 years and started as a vending operator, became successful but began selling refurbishment vending machines exclusively in 1992. Today we’re going to talk about vending machine tech support. Joe, thanks for being here.
Joe: Thank you Tom.
Tom: How’d you get started in the vending business?
Joe: Well my father started in vending in 1953 and of course I was born in 1954 and of course being my father’s son, I used to ride around in the truck with him because he used to fill up the candy machines and I love candy, so I was riding in the truck all the time with him. I started full time after high school, of course I was going to college too but I started in 73 full time and I had lots of energy and I thought bigger was better and we went out there and we started getting a lot of accounts, refurbishing a lot of machines and once we ever did in the Atlanta area was about a million four. We had 4 full vending routes and we were doing a lot of business.
Joe: Now the way we got into the equipment business is we bought tractor trail loads of vending machines and we would refurbish them and we wanted them to look and act like brand new, so we put a lot of extra parts on them, a lot of new front parts to make them look new and act new and everybody in the Atlanta area started buying vending machines from me. When everybody starts vending machines from you, when you go out there and start taking their accounts, they don’t like that. We had to make a decision whether to stay in the vending business or get into the equipment business full time and we decided to we’d like the equipment business and everything. We decided we’d do this full time and everybody in the Atlanta area still buys from me and I’m friend with everybody and we do real well.
Tom: Tell me more about the vending machines that you sell now.
Joe: What we want to do is we want to make a machine that looks and acts like brand new and we want to give support that we never had. When I was coming up when you a buy a machine, you buy new machine, you buy refurbished machine, you could go back to the manufacturer, they’d give you some ideas on what to do. They had certain hours and you could look at the manual but when you started looking at the manual they are so many things in the manual. It took you forever to try to figure out what was going on and you just very, very frustrated.
Joe: You are out there on location, you got all the customers wanting to know when the machine is going to be fixed and you are constantly trying to go through this manual. Now what we have done when we sell a remanufacture machine, we put a CD-ROM in the machine and what that CD-ROM does is you can pull it out and you can take it and print it out and print as many copies as you want. In that way a lot of times when I’d get to a machine, the manual wasn’t in the machine and I’m trying to figure out. You can’t even remember how to even price the machine because there is too many different machines.
Joe: What we’ve been doing is we put the CD-ROM in the machine and you can print out a copy of every manual and put it in the bottom of the machine in that way you got something to go on. Now what we’ve come up with lately is we want to go above and beyond that and we’re doing videos. We’re getting somewhat in depth into the machine but not all the way in depth yet and what we’re doing is we’re making a technical support video library that you can go on our website at www.amequipmentsales.com and then you click on the technical support and put your email address in, it’s free of charge and you can go in there and everybody got their little iPads on and everything else now and you can go on there and you can pull up a video of the machine that you are working on.
Joe: A lot of times you forgot how to price up the machine or you know there is a configuration problem or different little things that you could program in and you can go into there and look at it and remember how to do it and then go in there and take care of it. Now if you buy a machine from us, we also have telephone technical support live for the machine. I can’t give it to people that aren’t buying machines from us because we’re trying to give it to the customers that do buy machines from us but if you buy a machine from us, you can go and it be nice if you look at the video so you can get all the terminology and everything else right if you don’t know it, but you can call us up. Get in front of the machine, call us up with your cellphone and we’ll lead you through what it takes to fix the machines.
Tom: How long are the videos?
Joe: Normally they are 3 to 5 minutes. You can sit back. What I would do is if I was a newer type customer and didn’t know that much about the machines, the machines that I ordered, I would go ahead and run a video on them before and watch the video before I got the machine. When I got the machine, you’ll know where the changer, the validator, the money box, the board, the mode switch, how to program it. You can learn all of that before you get your machine. You’ll know a lot more once you go into the location because the worst feeling in the world is to be able to go in that location and not know what you are doing and you got all these customers hounding you.
Tom: Yeah. What type of machines do you all support?
Joe: Well, right now we’re doing the AMS, the National, the APs, we just put a National Coffee on there, we’re doing Vendo, Dixy, Royal, pretty well we’ll have a full scale of everything before long. Mainly it’s what we sell that we’re trying to do first. As far as the videos, we’re ex vending guys, we’re not the movie guys, some of these videos are not going to be the best in the world but you can get a, try to see what we’re doing let’s put it that way.
Tom: It’s not going to be entertaining necessarily.
Tom: You sell mostly remanufacture machines, is that right?
Joe: We sell new and remanufacture. Right now with the economy the way it is we sell probably 75% remanufacture and 25% new. There is locations where if it’s a really high volume location, you’re better off buying new. If it’s a real low volume location, you’re better off buying used. It’s just according to, if you call me I’d be glad to go over it with you and tell you what I would do. Now you can do whatever you want to do but I’d be glad to help you in anyway on that. My phone number is 1-800-713-6217. I’d be glad to talk to anybody around the country about vending. Like I said, if you want to go to the video technical support, go to the website at www.amequipmentsales.com and click on the technical support at the top of the page and put your email in and you can go in there. We also, we’d put changers, mores changers, validators, con locks, coinco. If you are having problems with the changer or a validator, you can figure out how to program it and clean it and do other things.
Tom: Okay. Thanks for sharing Joe. You’ve been listening to Whats New in Vending Machine Tech Support at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales. More Vending Business Show blogs Gym Vending Machine