When most people think of eating on college campuses, they picture unappetizing cafeteria food. The use of University Vending Machines can change that.
Although cafeteria food has significantly improved, this is not always an option for a hurried college student. Students may not have time between classes to stop by the commons, and hunger can interfere with concentration and ability to perform.
Vending machines are both helpful and profitable. By placing a snack or soda machine in an ideal location, such as a college campus, you can help college students curb their hunger as well as make a profit from your sales.
The Benefits of University Vending Machines
Sometimes, hungry college students do not have the time to navigate their way through the cafeteria for a quick snack. Therefore, snack machines are ideal for universities. On-the-go students simply have to dig up their pocket change in return for an easy, tasty snack. Other benefits of college vending machines include:
Helping students get their “caffeine fix” to perk up for class
Providing college students with bottled water to prevent dehydration
Offering students both sweet and salty treats for a midday pick-me-up
Additionally, specialty devices like laundry vending machines can help college students with laundry, which is often a big step for new students. Others, such as medical aid vending machines, offer bandages and alcohol wipes to prevent infections and the spread of germs.
Vending machine technology is ever-evolving, from the days of holy water dispensed at the drop of a Drachma to a world where live animals can survive inside a machine, convenience vending is a rapidly changing industry. Some of the Vending Machine technology advances to hit the industry have been subtle enough to avoid public recognition. Others have amounted to great fanfare (Redbox, anyone?) – whatever the case, vending machine technology is cutting edge…
Cashless Vending Machines
Today 90% of all Vending machine sales have credit card readers installed. Vending machine technology has been advancing so rapidly that some machines accept payments from your cell phone.
Big Brother Machines:
Napa Valley Vending has come up with a novel idea, the Vending Miser. This senses when no one’s in the room with your machine and powers it off. Thus, saving money and electricity. Savings aren’t huge, only about $150 per machine per year. But, it’s got to be good for the planet. Besides, what’s more fun (or terrifying) than a vending machine that magically turns itself on when you walk by it?
Saving the environment is the name of the game for Coke and Pepsi. Both have worked tirelessly to reduce reliance on Hydro-Fluorocarbons to power their machines. Hence, the introduction of HFC-free machines at the US Capitol. These new machines are cooled by natural refrigerant gas. This is positive since the last thing Capitol Hill needs is more hot air.
Remote Pharmacy Machines:
A breakthrough in conventional medical care or another sign of the impending apocalypse, depending on who you ask, pharmaceutical vending machines are becoming less of a rarity and more of a common sight in cities throughout the US. The machines process prescriptions entered remotely by a doctor then ask patients for a code, dispensing medications with a few simple buttons. These vending machines should do wonders to pacify the angry mobs that claim doctors just aren’t doing enough to make them feel like a number rather than a patient.
Marketing Vending Machines
Vending machines can make a company’s products available where people may need or want them. For example, Snapchat, a well-known media company, has adopted a strategy of placing their sunglasses in vending machines and randomly placing a machine outside a location across the country. Snapchat’s marketing idea has become a huge trend among young consumers. The non-traditional use of vending machines was a big winner for Snapchat, and many companies are following suit.
Vending machines lend themselves well to advances in technology, though some question how far we can push the limits of human decency when so many life-altering products are served via the push of a button. The answer to that question is more philosophical than practical, however, and technology must keep pushing on. So if you’re still rocking a flip phone and manual car windows, perhaps you’re just not the target market for this new generation of 21st-century vending machines…
You’ve been keeping up with the Federal legislation as it relates to Government Regulations School Vending, what are you learning?
A couple months ago the USDA came out with a stringent ruling with a 60-day open opinion on it. The ruling is basically highly controlling of the content on the snacks and drinks served in schools. They are proposing tohave Government Regulations School Vending and regulate school stores, ala-carte lines, vending; they say they aren’t touching the fundraising, but the wording says:
“If there are too many fundraisers selling the traditional items, that will be regulated as well.”
It should be about choice, not regulation.
The USDA is focused on the childhood obesity issue in schools and vending seems to be an easy bulls eye. But there are so many other ways students get these items that it seems the wrong approach and too much regulation. The schools don’t want it either and are in favor of choice; they make money on the commissions; they are struggling with many cut backs. They don’t want the regulations to deal with and they don’t want to lose the funds.
Are there places that are benefiting from healthy vending?
I know from personal experience and from the corporate side, people want the choice. It’s good to have the option vs. “I’m told this is all you can have.” When the Government Regulations School Vending, I tend to find what I want elsewhere.
The government regulations school vending has also made a big push to get the calorie disclosure for all products and this might be a good compromise. Most people already know what’s what in terms of nutrition, but if you still don’t know what to pick, here’s all the calorie and nutrition info for each product. All vending machines are moving toward calorie and nutrition disclosure in 2014.
Do we want to be completely 100% healthy vending in a location? Absolutely not. Do we want to provide the choice? Yes.
There are many places where 100% healthy vending has gone into a government location and a year later you read the report that shows sales have plummeted and things aren’t doing that well. What happens to us vendors? It requires us to raise the prices and they don’t sell as fast so we’re dealing with expired product and a loss.
It seems like the government is saying “if you really don’t have other options as a child, you learn to chose what is more healthy.” What do you say about that?
In theory yes, your starving and trapped on an island that has nothing but bananas and coconuts, yeah you’re going to choose the healthy items. But these kids, and I have kids of my own who are teenagers. We are preparing them to go out into the world, especially high school kids, get jobs, join the military, become self sufficient, do you really believe that if you tell them “you can’t have this” that they’re not going to find a way around it?
We’ve already seen this with the American Beverage Association agreement that Coca Cola and Pepsi made. They agreed they would only stock certain types of drinks with less sugar. Sales plummeted, but what happened… kids stopped by QuikTrip before and during school. They find ways to circumvent it.
On top of that you aren’t teaching them anything, the forbidden is always more enticing. When you ban it, they want it even more.
What is the ABA?
The American Beverage Association (a trade organization representing the nonalcoholic beverage industry in the US) worked with Coca Cola and Pepsi to come up with a plan to meet these so-called healthy requirements and in the schools they agreed on the drinks that they will stock.
When this happened, sales went down, the kids found ways around it. And when some kids can’t find a coke classic, they do buy a diet coke – but it’s not solving the problem of obesity. It should be about doing things in moderation.
It’s my job as a parent to deal with obesity, not the government’s and not the school’s job either.
On a federal level, what can a vending operator do to let their voice be heard?
1. Look at the USDA website, especially when they are open for comments on policy from the public.
2. Contact your local representative, their job is to listen to you.
3. NAMA has been very helpful. Eric Dell, senior VP of government affairs, has been right there on the front lines. They can help with communicating with the government. The more operators we have contacting them, the more ammunition that they have at the ground level.
It’s almost understandable to regulate the elementary level students, but high school students? Really?
I have accurate records of sales in the schools we operate in showing what students are purchasing per capita between healthy vs. traditional items and it is not what you think.
When you aren’t in the vending industry it’s not obvious that there’s a business behind a vending machine. Healthy items are more expensive and when a customer asks to stock only healthy items, they often act like they are being price gouged when in reality the costs are higher for those items.
Episode Transcript: Tom Shivers: This is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Seden Harrison of Smart Source Vending. Today we’re talking about Government Regulations School Vending. How are you today, Seden?
Seden Harrison: I’m good, Tom, how are you.
Tom Shivers: I’m doing good. And I know you’ve been involved in keeping up with some of federal legislation and what’s going on there, especially as it relates Government Regulations School Vending. You’re doing vending here in the state of Georgia, what are you learning in that area?
Seden Harrison: I do know that, there’s different things going on different states as far as regulation that’s pending and out there, but the big thing that happened a couple of months ago is the USDA came out with a ruling of very, very stringent, and they came out with this ruling, and it had a 60 day open time for people to come in and to make their opinions known, whether they were for it or against it, and the ruling is, and I don’t have the details of what it is. But basically it’s pretty much very highly controlled as far as what the fat, the sugar, the salt and all these contents on all these snacks and on the drinks and everything.
Seden Harrison: What they’re proposing is not only to the vending, but in these schools, they want to regulate the school stores, they want to regulate any of the a la carte lines, they want to regulate vending, they say they are not touching any of the fundraisers, but when you read the ruling like the following paragraph says that if there are too many fundraisers that are selling the traditional items, that that will also be controlled. It’s, for me as an operator, and we are in a lot of schools, it’s very scary because the reality is the students, adults, everybody, it’s about choice, and when you tell someone, not to pick on granola bars, but, here’s a vending machine and it’s all granola bars and carrots and whatever that somebody has deemed as healthy, it doesn’t work that way. If somebody wants to get their Snickers bar, they’re going to find a way to get their Snickers bar.
Seden Harrison: Right not the USDA is focusing on this obesity issue and they’re focusing on the schools. Vending seems to be an easy bullseye because you’ve got this box with all these items that are deemed as unhealthy, and it’s just a very, very easy target. There’re so many other ways that these students can get these items, and they do get these items, that I think the approach is incorrect, and it’s just too much government control.
Seden Harrison: The schools don’t want it either. The schools aren’t looking for this either. The schools want to provide the choice. The schools make money on commissions from all these services, and that they utilize for things they need. All these schools are struggling with so many cutbacks and so many hurdles. They don’t need the regulation to have to deal with, and they don’t need to lose the funds.
Tom Shivers: It sounds like there’s a lot of fear about this issue. Are there some places that are really benefiting from healthy vending?
Seden Harrison: I think again, I don’t claim to know everything, but I know from our experience from the corporate side and from the school side, and things that I read, people just want a choice. I don’t know that there’s any operators out there … well, I shouldn’t say that. I think there are definitely some companies that are franchise sort of situation, and they market only the healthy aspect of things. That may be working great for them. I don’t even pretend to speak for them. I just know from personal experience, even on the corporate side of things, you go into a company and they want to have the choice. Me as an individual, myself as an adult, anybody walking up to a machine, if you go to that machine and you want to purchase a snack, it’s good to have the options versus I’m being told this is all I’m allowed to buy. And I’m not going to do it. If I don’t want it, I’m going to find another way to get the product.
Seden Harrison: This is the way in everything out there. Whether you drive to a restaurant that has healthier options or you choose to drive to a restaurant that has less healthy options, again it’s about personal choice, making that choice. I know the government too has made a big push about the calorie disclosure and trying to get all that. As much as that is a difficult thing for all of us as vendors to do, and I know they haven’t even figured out quite how that’s going to happen, that may be the compromise. That might be the middle ground that says, “Here’s a way to present the nutritional information on the products in a machine, and if you really have no clue still what to pick, guess what you can read the calorie information and the nutrition information.
Seden Harrison: The pointless side of that is I think most people still know whether they read what’s on the packaging, what’s good for them and what’s not good for them. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question. Do we want to be completely, 100% healthy vending in a location? Absolutely not. Do we want to provide the choice for whether it’s to students or to adults? Yes. The government is trying so hard, even … and I don’t know exactly which states, but I’ve read articles about different control in government buildings where they’re removing, it’s a county building or whatever, and they’re removing all their traditional items. And they’re only going to stock healthy items. And a year later you read the report that sales have plummeted and that things are not doing that well.
Seden Harrison: Unfortunately what happens to us in the industry is we go and we try to put all these healthier items in a machine. One, you have to raise the price on everything, and two, they just don’t sell as fast. Us as an operator, we’re dealing with expired product and a loss on everything. Nobody thinks past that point. They just say, “Oh, yes, stock it with all this stuff that’s supposed to be healthier for you.” It’s just not …
Tom Shivers: It seems like one of the government points is, “Hey, if you really don’t have other options, then you start, if you’re a child, you start learning to choose what’s more healthy?” What do you say about that?
Seden Harrison: All right, you want to hear my opinion about that? In theory, yes. You’re starving, you’re trapped on an island. It’s the only vending machine on the island has bananas and coconuts, nothing else. Yeah, that’s the only way you’re going to be forced to buy that situation. But these kids, without a doubt, and I have kids of my own that are teenagers, that I am constantly trying to get them to eat the right things and be healthy in their choices and everything. These kids, especially high school kids, that we are supposedly preparing to go out into the world, whether it’s go off to college, join the military, get jobs, become self-sufficient. Do you really believe that if they want to have a Coke, and I’m not trying to pick up one product, a sugar drink. Or if they’re trying to have a chocolate bar or candy or whatever.
Tom Shivers: Or sports drink.
Seden Harrison: Or Doritos or sports drink. Do you really, really think that if you tell them, “You can’t have this,” they’re not going to find a way around it? It’s already happening in schools. Schools where a few years back the American beverage association made an agreement with Coke and Pepsi that they were only going to stock these certain types of drinks, whether it’s Coke Zeros and Diet Cokes and waters, and not put the sugar drinks it. Sales plummeted.
Seden Harrison: But what’s happening? I have kids that are high school kids in these schools. These kids stop at Quick Trip in the morning before school, or they run across, if there happens to be a Quick Trip close to the school, they leave between breaks, even though they’re not supposed to leave campus. They leave campus, they go get their drinks. Kids bring it from home. They find ways to circumvent it. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Seden Harrison: And on top of that, the forbidden is always more enticing. You’re not teaching anything. You’re not teaching anybody anything other than when you tell them, “ban it, ban it, ban it, ban it,” they want it even more. All of this … see you got me mad and started now.
Tom Shivers: You mentioned the ABA. What is that exactly?
Seden Harrison: The ABA is the American Beverage Association. Coke and Pepsi, and I don’t remember how many years ago, Coke and Pepsi made, on a push to move forward on this initiative to show basically the world, the industry, that they are all about concern for the health and well being of children. They said, “Look, we’re going to come into this agreement with the American Beverage Association and come up with a plan of which drinks meet these so called healthier requirements. When we go into any of the schools, these are the only types of drinks we’re going to stock.”
Seden Harrison: That’s what’s going on. What I’m not sure about is, I’m don’t know if that’s in all the states. I know that’s here in Georgia, and I’m guessing it’s across the country. Anyway, that’s kind of what’s going on with the schools, but like I said, we’ve seen in action what’s happened. The sales went down, kids find a way around it. Yes, the occasional kids, when they can’t find anything else they go and they buy their Diet Coke instead of a regular Coke. They do all that, but it again is not solving the problem. The problem, truly, there is an obesity problem. There’s a health problem from adults to kids to everything. But it’s about being educated, it’s about knowing the right choices. It’s about doing things in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of snacks a week. If you have a Coke or you have a candy bar. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is balanced with healthy activity too.
Seden Harrison: Are there people that abuse it? There’s absolutely. I have to stop my kids from coming home and popping open a Cokes a day. I have question how many they had, and I try to limit them to one a day. Do they get around it? Of course they do, and I have to watch what they’re doing? Of course I have to. It’s my job as a parent. It’s not the government’s job. And it’s not the school’s job either. They have plenty on their plate.
Tom Shivers: On a federal level what kind of things can a vending operator do let their voice be heard?
Seden Harrison: I know when the ruling came out there was an open period where you could comment on the ruling. If you go to the USDA website, you can actually look up the ruling, you can read all the comments. They’re open for public view. What I have done, personally, there’s a couple of things. Contact your local representative for one. Their job is to listen to what you have to say, and if they can do anything to assist, they are your representative, they need to hear how businesses are affected in the area.
Seden Harrison: Above and beyond that, the biggest support and the biggest help I’ve received is through our association NAMA. They have been so great, and Erik Dell who is the senior VP, I believe, of Government Affairs. He is right there on the front lines. He has been so responsive, so amazing, so informative, guiding me through this. Not only him, but his staff too. I’ve written letters to different people, and I can send it to them. They read it, they proof it, they make sure I don’t sound like I’m just angry and spewing a bunch of stuff. They point me in the right direction, and they help me draft these letters so that they sound very good and I make very valid points.
Seden Harrison: The more operators that we have contacting them, the more ammunition that they have from the ground level to go, “look, you’re picking on an industry that is not going to solve this problem that exists out there. It has nothing to do with this industry. The schools too, the same thing.” The problem isn’t in the schools, it all starts at home, it starts at habits with home and what’s going, and what these kids are learning. The most ironic thing I go back to is trying to regulate high school kids who have mobility. They have jobs. They have money in their pockets. They have cars. To ban them, it’s almost understandable to say to the little ones that are very … even at home I’m sure not allowed to eat as much of the traditional items and have free access to the pantry. You control all that a lot more. I can even understand even on that level. But high school students? It’s so counterproductive to make the government to come in and control what they’re eating.
Seden Harrison: And another point I have to make is, without divulging all the details on sales, if you … I have accurate records on what the sales are in each of the schools that we are a part of. The quantity purchased from these kids is not as high as you would think. The reason it seems so high is when you deal with student populations of these big schools of 2,000-3,000 students, you’ve got a lot of students versus an office of 100 employees. 2,000 kids in a week, of course they’re going to purchase items and the numbers seem high. But when you break it down as to what they’re spending per week, per student, and you take an average, the number is very, very low. It’s not near what they seem to be thinking is going on.
Tom Shivers: In terms of the traditional versus healthy?
Seden Harrison: In terms of traditional versus healthy. For example, the way … some of the things I’ve read, they make it sound like each student is spending $10 a day on snacks and drinks. Their whole meal consumption is unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy. Are there some students that do that? There is no doubt there are some students that do that. And are there some students that don’t even go near any of this stuff? There’s some students that don’t even touch any of that stuff. It’s all about averages. It’s all about the balance. If you look at the balance. The usage is not the way people think. That’s my two cents.
Tom Shivers: That’s what I mean. If somebody wanted to get a breakdown on the numbers from the government without crossing the-
Seden Harrison: I’ve already volunteered all my sales information to these parties. To the USDA. To NAMA and everybody. I’ve said I have absolutely no problem showing this to you to prove to you that it’s not what you think. Unfortunately, I also get it. In theory I get what this is. I get it. But, as always when you’re on the other side of it and you’re a part of it and you’re in the industry, and you learn, I mean, I had a different view of the vending industry too. One of the things with vending, you almost don’t even think about it being a whole business behind it when you’re not in the industry. Everyone thinks that a vending machine, “Why aren’t things super cheap in here? Why is this much? Why is that much?”
Seden Harrison: No one thinks past the fact that there’s a whole business running behind it with all the operations and overhead and everything else. I’m going off on a different tangent, but it goes to the healthy when companies say, “I want you to stock only healthy products in here,” and then you tell them, “I’m sorry I can’t sell this product for less than $2 or $1.50. And they’re upset over that. They think you’re price gouging them, but you’re not. Your cost is high and the items are more expensive for those items.
Tom Shivers: Right. They can work in some environments. I’ve read where they do in certain areas. But across the board-
Seden Harrison: Well they do work. But again it’s choice. We have Avanti Markets in place too that have a wide variety of stuff. But both items sell. The healthier stuff sells and the maybe not-so-healthy sells. Inconsistent. I can see purchases on different people and one day somebody’s deciding they want to buy something healthier, and the next day they want that candy bar. It’s again choice. Provide choice for everybody.
Tom Shivers: Thanks Seden for sharing with us. Tell us a little more about your business.
Seden Harrison: We’ve been in the business not super long. Over four years. It’s growing. We love it and we’re learning a lot. This whole new USDA regulation or potential regulation is definitely caused a huge concern because we’re growing as I said, and we’re growing by word of mouth, which is wonderful, but you just don’t know if the government’s going to shut things done and pull the rug out from under us, and what exactly is going to happen. But we’re hoping for the best and just plowing for the best and moving forward. We love it. It’s been a great learning experience. Growing and learning every day basically.
Tom Shivers: You’ve been listening to the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.
Energy Saving Vending Machine Coca Cola Japan has announced what they call the peak shift vending machine. It shifts the use of power from the peak daytime hours to the nighttime to reduce the strain on the power supply. In the summer, the machines can produce cooled products for 16 hours and at the same time reduce daytime power consumption by 95%.
Energy Saving Vending Machine Pretty impressive. This machine hasn’t launched yet and it’s unclear whether Coca-Cola will bring this technology to the US. You are listening to the Vending Business Show Energy Saving Vending Machine More interesting Blogs Take Over A Vending Route Or Start Your Own?
Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd. recently announced what it called the most innovative vending machine in these past 50 years, “peak shift vending machines.” The peak shift vending machine shifts the use of power for cooling from the general daytime peak demand period to nighttime, when relatively less strain is placed on the power supply. In summer, these machines can provide cooled products for 16 hours while reducing daytime power consumption by 95 percent. Power consumption is also reduced in winter by 20 percent compared to current vending machines and, combined with power consumed for cooling, these vending machines are a global forerunner that can reduce power consumption by 68 percent, according to the company.
“We started in the vending industry interested in promoting the healthy vending options to the schools… and we learned very quickly that all healthy vending is not necessarily the way to go. People like choices – some of the products are healthy, but then there’s your traditional, not so healthy stuff, that’s also available in the machines.”
“Our biggest thing with the schools is… we make sure they are very well taken care of. So if that school needs something, we are there that day to take care of the problem… It’s a priority to take care of those kids that day and to make sure the administrators are happy.”
“There’s talk about all sorts of regulation that really is in the pipeline (regarding healthy)… to regulate the vending in schools… it’s going to become problematic because students will figure out how to circumvent the system.”
“Why can’t you marry the two together, why can’t that choice be there?”
Seden shares more experiences, opinions on regulation (quite humorous) with healthy vending and school vending or School and Healthy Vending integration in the podcast:
School and Healthy Vending integration Tom: I’m Tom Shivers with The Vending Business Show, here with Seden Harrison of Smart Source Vending. Today we’re going to be talking about a few topics: healthy vending and school vending. Thanks for being here, Seden.
Seden: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Now, tell me, how did you get into school vending?
Seden: A little bit of an accident, actually, but it turned out to be a good accident. We had originally started into the vending industry really interested in promoting healthy vending options to the schools. That was the key approach when we first started in with the school. We learned very, very quickly that all healthy vending is not necessarily the way to go. People like choices. People like choices. We provide … Some of the products are healthy, they can definitely choose those products, but then there’s your traditional not quite so healthy stuff that’s also available in the machine.
Seden: The thing about the schools is they’re a very hard group to get into, but if you do well with one, they will definitely refer you to the next, and onto the next, and onto the next. Our biggest thing with the schools is … We have our own kids in the Gwinnett County School System. We’re very active in sports, in schools, and everything else, so there’s that connection we naturally have to the schools. We wanted to definitely give back and take care of … We just make sure that they are very, very well taken care of in the sense of, if that school needs something, we’re there that day to take care of the problem.
Seden: If anybody tells you that a vending machine is never gonna jam, or a vending machine is not going to have a problem, they’re not telling you the truth. The key is, what does the operator do to resolve that? If we get a call that says there’s a problem with a machine, we are out there that day to take care of it. We don’t push it off. It’s a priority to make sure those kids are taken care of and the administrators are happy, because another thing you don’t want is mad kids in the school. Those machines, if something jams, they love to rock it and shake it and try to get their product out and do different wonderful things to it, so you’ve gotta stay on top of it.
Seden: As far as the healthy goes, it comes down to choices. There’s talk about all sorts of regulation that really is in the pipeline. Whoever gets elected is going to depend on what happens, but there’s a lot of talk about regulating the vending in the schools. It’s happening in a lot of other states and could very well happen in Georgia. It’s gonna become problematic because students will figure out a way to circumvent the system, and that’s the bottom line. I’m a strong proponent on choice, just put part healthy, part junk, if I can say that, but part not so healthy, and let the person choose. These kids are old enough to make these decisions. We’re not talking about elementary school kids. These are high school kids that are driving and are working, and they have money. If they don’t buy it at school, they’re gonna buy it somewhere else. They are past that point of forced decision, making them to make the right choice. They know right from wrong and what they should do.
Tom: So regulation ain’t gonna help them, huh?
Seden: Regulation’s not going to help them. I would say it’s like prohibition, it didn’t work. The kids are going to black market sell the candy. They are going to figure out ways to get around it, and ultimately that hurts the schools. The schools do get commissions from these machines, and if sales drop, those are funds that the schools use for multiple things. If sales drop, it does, it affects the schools, and they already have a tough time with the budget cuts and everything else. I don’t know.
Seden: I read the different vending articles that come out across the country that such-and-such parks and recreation has decided to only provide healthy products in their machines. I think having the healthy option is great, and I think it’s absolutely necessary, but I really don’t believe in it needs to be all or one or the other. Why can’t you marry the two together? Why can’t that choice be there? Why does somebody have to tell me, if I’m craving a Snickers bar and I walk up to that machine and all I’m looking at is granola bars, and I don’t want that granola bar, I want a Snickers bar, you know? Give me that choice. It makes me mad.
Tom: You’re gonna go somewhere, you’re gonna pay somewhere to go get you a Snickers bar.
Seden: You’re gonna figure out … That’s exactly right, you’re gonna figure out a way to get it. Same thing with the drinks. If I walk up to a machine, and I’m a Coke, a Diet Coke, or a water person, if I want that Coke, and the machine is only filled water, well I am not gonna buy the water. I’m not. And that’s exactly what happens. People don’t get forced into making the right choice, they just don’t make the choice. They walk away from it. It is going to hurt a lot of operators. It almost sounds like we’re saying, “Eat junk, eat junk, eat junk, eat junk,” but you know, it’s not that. Provide the choice, provide the options. It goes with everything. There’s good restaurants and bad restaurants. There’s restaurants that have healthier food, there’s restaurants that have worse food. If you-
Tom: The problem is a little deeper than just regulation, if there’s a problem at all. It’s something that has to be … Your kids aren’t eating right, then-
Seden: I’m the first one, I mean … We have teenagers that eat horrible. They eat horrible, and I’m constantly battling that, but I don’t think that it’s because the government hasn’t done their job, it’s probably ’cause I haven’t done my job. They’re my taste-testers, I bring home samples all the time. Try this, try that, try this, does this pass the test? Okay, then I’ll put it in the machine.
Tom: Very smart.
Seden: They’re the garbage disposals.
Tom: Only violence sells, right?
Seden: But the thing is, it is up to me. It is up to me, from a young age, to teach them. I’m sure everybody’s like this. You have kids that one kid gets it and eats right, the other one doesn’t, and me telling them that when they … I just know for a fact anybody who has teenage kids know that they are going to make the choices in some … They’re gonna find a way to get what they want when we’re talking about the food and doing what they … Where they’re gonna go and find the product they want at the place they want to buy it.
Tom: Well thanks a million. Tell us more about Smart Source Vending.
Seden: We are in the area in Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, primarily what we service. We work in a lot of the high schools. We have a lot of micromarkets and the corporate accounts. Growing and working hard, and keep … One day at a time, you know?
Tom: You’ve been listening to School and Healthy Vending Integration atThe Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales. More Vending Business Blogs New To The Vending Business?
Future Vending Technology ROI An interview with Mike Bunt, General Manager of Corporate Marketing Equipment of the Buffalo Rock Company
Future Vending Technology ROI The future of vending as it relates to sales and service is a topic that lots of vending operators are interested in but may not be able to evaluate from an operations point of view. Some of the hot topics today are healthy vending, interactive displays, campus id cards, mobile commerce, and micro markets. Have you evaluated any of these or similar opportunities in vending for Buffalo Rock?
“You must be careful on the new technology, we are, there’s a lot of it out there we call ‘foo foo’ technology that really is a marketing ploy today to those who like all the gadgets… but if it increases service calls, we have to be careful not to get overly involved with it.”
“We look at up front costs, then increased sales or decreased service calls and a lot of times it’s easier to come up with a decrease in cost of lifecycle than pin pointing an increase in service calls.”
Mike gives several examples of what he calls a win on technology, listen to the podcast:
Future Vending Technology ROI Tom Shivers: This is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Mike Bunt of Buffalo Rock, general manager of corporate marketing equipment of the Buffalo Rock Company. Thanks for being here, Mike.
Mike Bunt: You’re quite welcome.
Tom Shivers: Today we’re going to talk about the Future Vending Technology ROI and especially as it relates to sales and service because it’s kind of a popular topic today among vending operators, and sometimes it’s hard to evaluate from an operations point of view. Some of the hot topics today are healthy vending, interactive displays, campus ID cards, mobile commerce, and micromarkets. Have you evaluated any of those or similar opportunities in vending for Buffalo Rock?
Mike Bunt: Yes. Buffalo Rock is always looking at new technology. As a matter of fact, I attended the NACS trade show in Vegas and brought back six new pieces of equipment for testing. When we analyze equipment, we look at it from two points of views. One is the sales side and the other obviously is the service side of it. There’s all kind of new technology in the trade that is exciting. However, does it bring a value to the customer or to the company, and that’s what we have to look through.
Mike Bunt: For instance, LED lights. They claim to increase sales, which is a hard claim to back, but it does present the product in a much better light. However, we know LED lights last longer than the standard lighting and we know it’s going to reduce service calls, so the upfront cost of the LED is a no-brainer to us because we know we’re going to save service calls down the road.
Mike Bunt: And everybody must be careful on the new technology. We are, and there’s a lot of it out there what we call foo-foo technology that really is a marketing ploy to the youth today that likes all the gadgets and the gizmos, but if it increases service calls, we have to be careful not to get overly involved with it.
Tom Shivers: Yeah, for new vending technology, how do you go about weighing the cost versus benefits or say return on investment?
Mike Bunt: Well, we look at it from the standard ROI procedure. We look at the upfront cost and then we’ll look at increased sales or decreased service calls, and a lot of times like I say, it’s easier to come up with a decrease in cost of life cycle than pinpointing an increased service call. For instance, a few years ago everybody migrated to the electronic boards on equipment, and one of the things we noticed is that we were going to a lot of vending machines just to reboot the boards in the machines. Well, talking with the manufacturers, we convinced one, Vendo, to build a reboot chip if you will that basically just checks itself on all its boards, and if it senses a loss of connectivity, it reboots itself automatically. The boards that we were in test with, it drove service calls practically out of it for won’t take money calls, so that would be what we’d consider a win on technology. Now the consumer never sees it, but they enjoy the benefit of it because every time they go to the machine, they can buy a drink.
Mike Bunt: The interactive display boards, to me that’s more of a marketing ploy to the youth. It does draw excitement to your machines, but then you look at the cost of the doors versus the increased sales, and the placement potentials on those are very limited because you can’t just take an interactive vending machine and place it anywhere you have a vendor, so down the road, if we invest capital in equipment like that, we have to be very smart because you’re only going to be able to put in specific locations.
Tom Shivers: Are there any other examples that you have for evaluating vending technology?
Mike Bunt: We tested the [dex 00:04:52] project, where [dexing 00:04:56] was a huge technological win for Buffalo Rock is that you’re able to minimize routes on the streets, you increase sales, you reduce spoilage or outages of the machines, and that’s a huge cost to the company to get into [dexing 00:05:15] on 20,000 machines, but we know the payoff’s gonna be there through the efficiencies that the program’s gonna bring.
Mike Bunt: The MEI recycler, for instance. The big question is credit cards versus recyclers, and every machine that goes out into trade gets a changer and validator on it, so the upcost of the recycler, we have done tests on equipment where we put recyclers, and we’ve seen 30, 40, 50%. On a military base, we’ve seen 200% increases on machines for adding a component onto a machine that was already there operating, so that was a huge impact for us on sales, the return on investment was minimal, and it’s not like every machine doesn’t get a validator anyway.
Tom Shivers: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, it sounds like you’ve tested a number of products, perhaps several of the MEI products, and it sounds like the LED lights tend to pass the ROI test as well. Are there other features or ideas that are being touted today that make you wonder what the ROI might be for some of these?
Mike Bunt: Yeah. Right now, telemetry is a hot spot along with the interactive equipment, and the one challenge you have with telemetry is sales signal, and I don’t believe there’s anybody in this country that’s ever been on a cell phone that didn’t drop a call or it lock up. Well, that’s the same type of opportunities that you have when you put telemetry on your vendors. However, there’s a value to telemetry because it does allow you to preload your trucks, it can alert you for service calls, and I think once the technology is perfected and the calls droppage reduced, I think that you’ll see a lot more telemetry in the trade. You just have to weigh out the cost, the monthly fees versus the value of what you’re getting out of the system.
Tom Shivers: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, do the telemetry manufacturers allow for a testing period before making a decision?
Mike Bunt: Yeah, I would imagine they would. Again, that would be up to each company that’s selling the system, but like with most equipment, they’ll let you evaluate it and analyze it.
Tom Shivers: Well, thanks, Mike. Tell us about Buffalo Rock.
Mike Bunt: Well, we’re one of the largest privately owned Pepsi bottlers in the country. We have over 2000 employees and around 90,000 assets in the trade in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
Vending Technology From Vending Operators This technology panel Q&A discussion was recorded at NAMA OneShow 2012 and includes:
Doug Haddon, MEI
Stu Riemann, D & R Star Vending
Scott Meskin, Black Tie Services
David Sours, Coca-Cola United
Cliff Fisher, MEI (moderator)
Vending Technology from Vending operators This is a gathering of large and small vendors gathered at the NAMA show trying to find answers on Vending technology. This includes Vending credit card readers and vending telemetry Vending is starting to move towards prekitting all your products and then just having the route person bring them in and install them in the vending machine. Telemetry keeps track of sales – money in the machines and items that are sold. With this the owner has a clear knowledge what the machines and account is doing. This is your chance to hear from operators who are actually implementing many effective processes and technologies that include – but are not limited to – telemetry. They’re doing it on a large scale and to great success. Different operators discuss different credit card readers their effectiveness and cost as well as security and reliability. They also discuss telemetry whick systems are good and which systems are very reliable.
Vending technology From Vending Operators There are excellent questions from the audience for each panelist, in fact, that is the point. If you’ve ever had questions about telemetry or other vending technology implementation questions, you may find your answer in this video. You may want to see additional blogs of the Vending Business Show Vending Machines: How to Strike a Deal with an Establishment
Youth Market and Vending Machines Food and Drink Digital interviewed Michael L. Kasavana, Ph.D., who is a NAMA-endowed professor at Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business on the topic of the youth market.
Youth Market and Vending Machines Kasavana says a major trend is enhancement of the consumer interface and for vending machines that means a more interactive transaction – one that youth who shop and play games online are used to including payment options available online. “Why can’t you do that at a vending machine?”
Another trend is the products being sold are no longer traditional, but moving toward non-traditional items like energy drinks, trail mixes, things perceived to be more healthy.
Youth Market and Vending Machines Also product information like nutritional content. The younger generation is watching what they eat. Vending machine manufacturers will soon be required to project the food manufacturer’s nutrition label like you see on most packages. USA Technologies already has a screen that will retrofit on the vending machine that shows nutritional content. It is also a credit card reader. For more information on Usa Technologies USA TECHNOLOGIES ePORT G9 You are watching the Vending Business show at A&M Vending Machine Sales. For more videos you can go to www.ameqquipmentsales.com and go to vending business blogs. Over one hundred vending blogs available.
Are you curious how you, the vending operator, can leverage technology into your vending business? There was standing room only at the 2012 NAMA OneShow in Las Vegas to hear the four panelists explain where things are going.
Chuck Reed, of MEI: “If your machines can take only $1 bills, you’re missing sales.” Currently, cash is used for 50% of small transactions; debit and credit combined represent about 30%. “You can’t force a patron to use one or the other.”
MEI is the industry leader in providing bill recyclers, a device that accepts larger bill denominations and utilizes $1 bills to replenish a reserve. Studies have shown that bill recyclers increase sales per vending machine.
Anant Agrawal of Cantaloupe Systems: “The Cantaloupe Systems principal envisions a not-so-distant future in which someone can tell his or her smartphone, ‘I want a Mountain Dew,’ and the instrument will display vending machines and other retail outlets in the vicinity. The thirsty consumer will go to the nearest machine, tap the phone on the card reader, and receive the drink — plus loyalty points and a discount on a Frito-Lay snack.” All this new technology will make it easier for the vending operator.
Michael Lawlor of USA Technologies: USA Technologies maintains a knowledge base that keeps track of overall card sales through ePort-equipped vending machines. Michael said 21% of card sales were for products costing less than $1, and 34% for items priced above $2. He recommends that operators need to raise vend prices, he predicted that consumers are more likely to choose the cashless option for higher-ticket sales if that option is available to them.
Chris Lilly of Best Vendors and chairs NAMA’s Vending Data Interchange Committee: “Most of you are not software engineers,” Lilly said, “but you want your systems to work together, to pass ‘messages’ back and forth.” The VDI standards describe protocols for those systems.
Smart Vending Machines The potential for smart phones to interact with signage of all sorts is phenomenal and has lead Vendors Exchange International to make smart vending machines with touchscreen displays.
Smart vending Machines Here are some of the things these tech guys are working on:
cashless payments via phone
phone triggered games on vending machines – win and get an instant discount
facial detection technology to determine age and gender to adjust on screen content accordingly
Smart Vending Machines Mobile interactivity with other larger screens almost certainly will not be confined to the familiar living room “second screen” scenarios. The potential for using phones to link with, activate, or play off of out-of-home signage of all sorts is phenomenal.
QR codes at bus and train stops are the most rudimentary form. A number of companies going way back have played with various Bluetooth models that activated movie posters and such. But one of the most promising screen-to-screen connections may be the simple vending machine.
We have all heard the stories of people m-paying for their Cokes at vending machines with a shortcode. In the scenario woven by Vendors Exchange International, makers of “smart vending machines” with touchscreen faces, the next step is turning the machine into an interactive touchscreen that can scan a code off of your phone and trigger a game. Win a game and get an instant discount — or even a free drink.