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.
Imbera Glass Door Coolers An interview with John Brock
John has served as a manufacturer’s representative in the vending and soft drink industries for more than 20 years and today represents MEI payment systems, Changer Services, and Imbera USA.
Listen to the podcast as John answers questions about Imbera Glass Door Coolers
Who is Imbera USA?
What type of equipment does Imbera offer?
Who are some of Imbera’s current customers?
Where is your equipment manufactured?
What are some of the features of your equipment?
What sizes does Imbera offer?
Imbera Glass Door Coolers Tom Shivers: I’m Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show here with John Brock. He lives here in Atlanta and has served as a manufacturer’s representative in the vending and soft drink industries for more than 20 years. Today John represents a handful of companies including NEI Payment Systems, Changer Services which is NEI’s authorized repair center, and Imbera USA. So thanks for being here John.
John Brock: Hi, Tom. Thank you so much for having me.
Tom Shivers: Who is Imbera USA? What are Imbera Glass Door Coolers?
John Brock: Well Tom, Imbera USA is part of a big company call FEMSA or “femsa”. FEMSA is an organization with business activities in the soft drink industry, breweries, and convenience stores. Imbera USA manufactures equipment to support customers throughout the United States and Central and South America.
Tom Shivers: What type of equipment does Imbera offer?
John Brock: Imbera Glass Door Coolers are some of the finest cold drink merchandisers in the industry. Our coolers are designed to deliver the coldest products, the best performance, the lowest cost of ownership, and superior energy efficiency. As you know, energy efficiency is a key topic in conversations today and Imbera does all this in beautifully designed, well thought out cabinets.
Tom Shivers: Who are some of Imbera’s current customers?
John Brock: Of course we have customers throughout the United States, Central and South America. Our primary customer is Coca-Cola. Imbera is a primary supplier to Coca-Cola in the United States. We literally have thousands of coolers on location throughout the country. In fact, Imbera serves as the largest supplier of coolers to the global Coca-Cola system. So we have a lot of equipment out there.
Tom Shivers: Where is your equipment manufactured?
John Brock: Imbera manufactures their equipment in a state of the art facility in San Juan, Mexico. We have multiple production lines and we manufacture coolers of all shapes and sizes. We offer both custom and standards graphics packages. We offer a level of design flexibility that really other manufacturers just can’t match. From the exterior cabinet to the glass doors to the refrigeration system, at Imbera we manufacture and assemble every component that goes into our equipment. Also, every Imbera cooler is quality tested for construction, for lighting, for refrigeration, and it’s completely tested before it’s placed in our inventory, which our inventory is at our warehouse in Laredo, Texas.
Tom Shivers: What are some of the features in your equipment?
John Brock: We have a lot of great standard features in the Imbera equipment in all of our models. First we offer electronic thermostats or electronic temperature controls on all of our equipment. The idea behind an electronic thermostat is to efficiently maintain the interior temperature of the cooler based on the surrounding conditions. What that means is that depending on what happens in the surrounding area around the cooler, the thermostat will adjust the temperature on the inside of the cooler. So it’s a very efficient way of managing the interior temperature within the cooler. We also use electronic fan motors and electronic fan motors are very energy efficient. They perform really, really well at a fraction of the energy that’s required by a standard fan motor.
John Brock: Next, we also offer fin less condensers on all of our coolers. Fin less condensers reduce the dust build up. By reducing the dust build up that comes through the refrigeration system we allow the compressor to cool more effectively and we also extend the life of the compressor because the dust build up doesn’t get in the way of the airflow, so the compressor is going to work more efficiently and more effectively for years.
John Brock: We also have great glass doors. We use a double panel door and we fill that door with argon glass. What that does is it allows for a more energy efficient door. In fact, the Imbera cooler, on all of our coolers we have the most energy efficient doors in the industry.
John Brock: Also another key feature of the Imbera line of equipment is we use LED lighting in all of our coolers. Imbera actually assisted Coca-Cola in developing the LED lighting systems. So today every Imbera cooler comes with LED perimeter lighting. LED lighting really makes products stand out. It does a terrific job of lighting the interior cabinet at just really a much lower energy cost than what a fluorescent light would be. The LED lights last for about seven years so it has a much longer life cycle than a fluorescent light would have.
John Brock: All of our cabinet are made of heavy duty 24 gauge prepainted steel, so our cabinets are strong and they give years and years of durability. We offer the highest quality painted finish that’s available in the market today. So that’s a few of the standard features of the Imbera equipment.
Tom Shivers: Well what sizes does Imbera offer?
John Brock: Imbera has a full line of equipment and we offer everything from the smallest counter top cooler … We have little tiny counter tops. We have full size counter tops. Then we have a line of single doors from small single doors to large single doors. Then we have a couple of different double door models. And then we even offer a really large triple door cooler. In all the standard sizes we offer coolers that can meet just about anybody’s needs.
Tom Shivers: Any closing comments?
John Brock: Sure. At Imbera our mission is to offer the finest coolers with the most energy efficient designs using the most environmentally safe components all at the lowest possible total life cost. So it really is our mission and we strive every day to do everything possible to make environmentally safe equipment that is energy efficient and still looks great. And that’s what we do.
Tom Shivers: Well thanks so much, John. Of course you can get Imbera Glass Door Coolers at A & M Equipment Sales by contacting your representative there or going through AMEquipmentSales.com. You’ve been listening to Imbera Glass Door Coolers at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A & M Equipment Sales. More Blogs at the Vending Business Show Getting Started With Vending Micro Markets
Joe Nichols- A Vending Veteran with over 40 years of vending knowledge explains how A&M refurbished vending machines look and act new.
We make our own polycarbonate trim, fronts, side and back panels for our refurbished vending machines.
Tom Shivers: I’m Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Joe Nichols, owner of A&M Equipment Sales. Today we’re going to talk about refurbished vending machines, Joe, thanks for being here.
Joe Nichols: Thank you.
Tom Shivers: Well, what’s new in refurbished vending machines?
Joe Nichols: Well, there’s been a lot of different changes in the … in our refurbished vending machines, a lot of people don’t do it the same way we do it. When we refurbish a vending machine, we want it to look brand new, we like to remanufacture everything in the machine to where it would look and act like a brand new machine. What we have done to better remanufacture our machines is we make our own polycarbonate trim now, and what that does is it’s a black trim that we can put on, it stays on, you know, if somebody kicks it or bumps it, it’s got a little give power on it to where it stays on the machine, and it looks nice. With it being black trim, it doesn’t show dirt like silver and some other color trims. We are also putting on a front … polycarbonate fronts on the machines now called tough fronts.
Joe Nichols: What a polycarbonate front does is it’s also black and it doesn’t show dirt, it doesn’t show scuff marks, scratches, it’s a real durable type of finish. We also put … we manufacture our own polycarbonate side panels, back panels, and we put them on. There’s a trim that we put on the sides and the backs of the machines, and then 3M makes a product … looks like the old double stick tape but everything technology wise on adhesives have come a long way and it’s a roll of … looks like tape, it’s about a foot wide and we put them all on the side of the machine and then we stick this panel on and it’s just about like super glue, it’s almost impossible to pull off.
Tom Shivers: So … it kind of looked like a brand new machine then I guess when you’re done with that.
Joe Nichols: Yeah, once we get done with it, we have new side finishes, back finishes, front finishes, and everything outwardly … appearances look brand new and you know, if there’s a scratch piece or anything like that we replace it because we want our machines to look brand new. There’s a lot of guys out there that will say they are in the refurb business and they’re in the back of somebodies garage with a bunch of cans of spray paint and they don’t change any of the stuff out and when the customer gets it, it looks like a used car, you know. You’ve seen some of the used cars that don’t look that great and you know, have a lot of miles on them and everything else. On the inside we pull all the parts out, we paint the door, paint the inside of the machine, we’ve remanufacture the changer and validator because that’s where the dollar bills and the coins go.
Joe Nichols: Chances are that’s where a bulk of your problems are going to be, with those two pieces right there. So everything is remanufacture, you’ve got a years warranty on it, and we do it to the highest standards. What we’ve been doing lately is we’ve been putting new electronics on the machines and what that does is it brings the machine up to the newest standards, which is the MDB standards, which means we gut the machine as far as anything electronic, we gut the board, the main board, the disk lay, the touch pad, we put all new electronics on it. Brand new or remanufacture MDB changer, MDB validator, and we also put a thing called guaranteed delivery on the machine.
Joe Nichols: What that does is it goes right above the delivery bin where your products and your snack machine drop through, and this little force field that tells the machine that the product has been delivered to the customer in the delivery bin. Now if that product doesn’t drop through that force field, what it’ll do is the machine will say make another selection, you might have vended an empty selection, or it will give you your money back, whichever one you prefer. So you won’t … a lot of times … what it does is it makes it to where almost everybody gets what they want and with no refunds.
Joe Nichols: What you want is a happy customer, that’s what we want too. Another thing that we’ve come up with is we import LED lighting and I feel like ours is the best LED lighting in the business because it looks just like a fluorescent bulb, it’s real easy to change out, it’s got the transformer and everything built in, and what you do is you pull your old fluorescent bulb out with the starter. You put the new LED strip back in where the fluorescent light went and it comes on and it’s super bright, it makes your products look 3D to where it gives off a different color light, it’s like a white casting light, and it just makes your products pop. Anybody that walks by and sees your products, you’ll instantly want to buy more, and you’ll get about 10 and 15 percent more sales because of that lighting. Plus the light will usually … it will last between seven and ten years, so you don’t have to change your fluorescent lights as much.
Tom Shivers: What about energy efficiency for the refurbished machines?
Joe Nichols: Well, we don’t have as many things happening in that. There’s a few things that we can put on a machine, one is the LED lighting that we have, it can go on all the snack machines and it will … instead of pulling 100-110 volts, it pulls maybe 8 watts, so it can save energy. We also have a thing that we’re putting on the drink machines, if you want it, called a vin-mizer, and what a vin-mizer does on a drink machine, it goes on the back side of the vending machine, it’s a motion detector. There’s a board inside the machine and when the motion detector detects that there’s nobody in the break room and it’s been … nobodies been in there for a certain amount of time, it will cut your machine off for 30 or 45 minutes and then it’ll cut it back on to cool the drinks down, and it’ll keep doing that from time to time, say all night long or until somebody walks in the door.
Joe Nichols: Other than that as far as re-manufacturing machines, that’s about all we have. Now new machines we have boards that will also do that on food machines and snack machines and everything else to where they’ll cut on or do the same thing as the motion detector. The new machines also have a thing called a econo-cool, and you can get it on a drink machine, now you can get it on the new AMS food machines and the drink snack machines. What econo-cool is and I was just talking to the AMS engineer last week when we had a meeting up there is, instead of having a 5/8th horsepower compressor, you have a small 1/3rd horse power compressor and you have a board on that thing, on the compressor that instead of the compressor coming on real fast and having a voltage spike, it gradually comes on and goes off and the board monitors the compressor for energy efficiency. It also has an energy efficient condenser and an energy efficient evaporator fan motor, so it pulls a lot less power than a normal compressor.
Tom Shivers: Okay, and it’s econo-cool, is that what you called it?
Joe Nichols: Yeah, econo-cool.
Tom Shivers: Okay, well what else is new?
Joe Nichols: We’re coming up with the ADA regulations, it should be coming up in March, where all new manufacturers must come up with a handicapped accessible machines and what that means is a handicapped person shouldn’t … if he comes up to the machine, the height that he can put his coins in, his dollar bills, the touch pads, and everything else is 48 inches and the minimum amount is 15 inches, so he can come up to … with a wheel chair, put his dollar in, and be able to pull his product out with no problems. All the manufacturers are looking at that right now. I know AMS has come up with a new delivery bin, it’s kind of a roll type delivery bin where the product drops down in the delivery bin and he pushes the handle and the product comes up to where you can pull it out at a minimum [inaudible 00:10:35] of 15 inches. I heard that the Winner Group has got some kind of little elevator on theirs where you press the button and the product comes up and he reaches in and gets it.
Joe Nichols: So everybody is in the midst of trying to take care of those specifications right now so that’s one of the main things coming up. Everybody is looking at different colors of machines, I know the Crane Company come along with a silver, AMS has gone with a silver and black, the good thing about going with a silver and black instead of an all silver is people like to kick machines from time to time and if you have an all silver machine you get scuff marks on the machine and they are hard to get out. If you have a silver and black machine and you know, the bottom part of the machine is black, you don’t see the scuff marks as bad so I would prefer a silver and black or black or something like that compared to all silver.
Joe Nichols: It’s pretty at first but then after about six months to a year it starts looking a little haggard there.
Tom Shivers: Alright, well Joe thanks for sharing, tell us about your business and what you do?
Joe Nichols: Well, we’ve been in the vending industry for a long time, we’re some of the pioneers. My father started the vending business in Fort Pierce, Florida, in 1953. Of course I grew up in the vending business and started in 73. We were actually vendors, we went out and ran routes, build up machines and everything else and … 1981 we started buying tractor trailers of used machines, refurbishing them, and putting them on our routes and word go around town in Atlanta that we would sell used machines and we started selling them to different people, different customers, our competitors, and what happened was we’ve sold so many machines to so many different people that we couldn’t go out there and get new accounts because everybody was buying machines from us. So we decided about 10 years ago to get out of the vending business and just sell machines but we still have that … we still think like vendors.
Joe Nichols: We know that you’ve got to have parts very quickly if there’s a machine that goes down, you gotta have good quality commercial grade equipment in your locations, you don’t need any of the stuff from China or something where you can’t get parts. Anything that you buy from us, normally we have the parts in stock, we can ship that afternoon and you get them usually the next day or the day after. We have three what you might call technicians that man the phones from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, they’ve been at it a long time. Like I said, we’re all old vending guys, we’ve seen just about everything good and bad in this industry. We know a lot and anybody that is thinking about getting in the business or is in the business and needs some help, we’d be glad to help you.
Tom Shivers: Okay. Well you’ve been listening to the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M equipment sales.
Scott: My name is Scott Kliendshimt. And I’m here to show you about the Vending Machine LED lighting that we offer at A&M Equipment. Vending Machine Led Lighting is a triple row LED, to replace the fluorescent bulbs that exist in the machines now. LED Lighting is much more energy efficient. the Vending Machine LED lighting don’t produce any heat. Vending Machine LED Lighting is much brighter than the existing fluorescent bulbs. When you first get them, they’ll have a cap on either end to protect the prongs. Remove the caps and discard them. To remove the old bulb from the machine, along with the starter. You no longer need a starter. Line the arrow on the end of the probe to the zero position on both ends. This is just for insertion. Place the bulb in the machine, and rotate it into position. Once the bulb comes on, then it can be rotated downward so as to shine towards the bottom of the machine and the lower racks. LED Lighting make the different items in your machine pop. Led Lighting is a white light instead of a soft light making every item pop. Only draw back is if you don’t keep the inside of your machine clean the customer can surely see it. Led Lighting last five to ten yeartsso you will have to change the bulb less. LED Lighting increases your sales, with a well lit machine. Thank you for watching Vending Machine LED Lighting at the Vending Business Show For More Vending Blogs Acquiring New Vending Accounts