Tag Archives: vending accounts

Vending Sales Large Accounts

Larry shares a story about Vending Sales Large Accounts

Vending Sales Large Accounts or taking it to the next level involves persistence because big accounts get called on by most sales people.usually once or twice a month.  Vending Sales Large Accounts is just as easy as small accounts just take longer to get usually.  Persistence Persistence is the only way.   Vending Sales large accounts – make sure they remember you.  Drop off a few boxes of donuts every time you go by.   Who doesn’t like free donuts   Once they know you and like you they will contact you first to be their next vendor.  Vending Sales Large Accounts – Make sure you have great references that can back up your great service.  Vending Sales Large Accounts – See if there are some employees in the account you service now that know someone in the large account you want.  Have them give you a good word.  Friends buy from friends.

Sometimes big accounts get frustrated with their current vending operator over something small, that’s when they look for a replacement. So, stay in front of them consistently and call on them.  Do you like to work with people who want your business? Most people do, so prove it to them. Big vending operators get big because they take care of their accounts. but sometimes they are too big and can’t take care of their accounts

 

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

TOM: Hi, I’m Tom, with the vending business show, and I’m here with Larry Towner, a vending business consultant. He’s been in the vending business for a few decades and has sold his own business. We’re just talking about how to talk about Vending Sales Large Accounts.

TOM: So, can you help us with that Larry?

Larry Towner: Well, I might be able to. We were discussing earlier about just telling some stories about how you go and get new vending businesses. So I was just going to tell some stories about a phone call that I received one day, and here is the phone call. A guys says, he picks up the phone and he says, “Is this Larry Towner?” I said, “Yeah, it’s Larry Towner. How can I be of assistance?” And he goes, “Well.” He says, “You know I got a folder here. In this folder is, oh I don’t know, there’s gotta be 40 cards and brochures from your company here in this business. I’ve decided I guess I want to talk to you and see what you have to offer.”

Larry Towner: So I kind of said to him, I said, “Well, what company is it?” And he told me what company it was, I said “Oh, yeah, I come by your place all the time.” And he goes, “Yeah, I’m aware of that. Like I said, I’ve got about 40 of your cards here.” Blah, blah, blah. We went on, we set an appointment, we came down and we looked at his facility, and we closed an account, right. You know, a nice big sized account. One of those good things.

Larry Towner: So, you and I were talking earlier, it’s just kind of one of those things that we were talking about persistence, we’re talking about taking it to the next level. So I was going to ask you Tomas, on your big accounts, do your big accounts just call you up and they say, “Hi, this is IBM, Tom, we’ve heard you do good things, we want to talk to you.” No, has that deal ever worked for you? Has that ever happened to you?

TOM: No that doesn’t come very easily, or very often, either.

Larry Towner: Yeah, and it rarely comes to you in the vending business, too. Just because you’ve got your vending business, and you’re driving around in your truck, generally people in big accounts don’t come seek you out, and there’s a reason for that.

Larry Towner: Largely it’s because they get called on by people over and over and over again. People like me, you know, pesky salesmen like me, that are stopping in and saying, “Hey, you know, we’d like to earn your business, here’s my card.” And they figure after all, if we put this guy off, and we just take his card, eventually he’ll go away, or he’ll go out of business, or whatever, right. And largely that’s what happened to most of my competitors, it still happens even today.

Larry Towner: But eventually, something will change in their organization, and the guy will open up his file, and there’s, of course in my case, there’s a large number of brochures, cards, whatever. And he gets an email from me once a month, and he’s like, I wish this guy would go away. One of the great ways they they’ll make me go away, is “I’ll put him to work, prove him that he can’t do the job, then I’ll be able to get rid of him.”

Larry Towner: Right? That’s what happens, you know. So the next thing you know, they’re going like, “Yeah, my guy, he just doesn’t. I was wanting a Snickers the other day, and there wasn’t one in the machine. I’m just pissed, so I’m getting rid of him.” You know, out he goes. “I’m calling this guy that calls me every day, because I know he’s going to -” Not every day, but, “Calls me on an regular basis, because I know he wants my business.”

Larry Towner: That’s how you get big accounts. Big accounts rarely are out going, “Well, we’re going through the yellow pages looking for..” You know, yellow pages, going on the internet, whatever. “Oh, I think we’ll take, oh, this company.” It just doesn’t happen that way. And that spans all industries, and all sales prospects. The really good accounts, you have to go get them. They’re not going to come to you.

Larry Towner: Occasionally, once in a blue moon, you’ll get a phone call from one of those accounts. That’s usually because of some other marketing method that you’ve done, and somebody’s referred you to them. They’re buddies with somebody at church or whatever and they say. “You know, this guy takes really good care of us, give him a call.” That kind of thing, but that’s the only way you get those big account references. They just don’t … You have to go call on them because it’s just like that.

Larry Towner: Tom, let me ask you a question. Do you like to do business with people that want your business?

TOM: Absolutely, I know they … If I check them out and they’re good, usually that’s a sign that they’re good.

Larry Towner: Yeah, how do they prove to you that they want your business?

TOM: They don’t give up, they keep after me.

Larry Towner: Stay in contact with you, they’re not too obnoxious. Sometimes. They say sales guys are obnoxious, it’s not really that way. They’re just forever just looking for that chance that maybe we can give you a better opportunity than what you have with your current provider. Everybody’s got somebody, right? For something.

Larry Towner: If you look the big three phone providers, you’ve got At&t, you’ve got Verizon, you’ve got Sprint, all those guys are doing is trading back and forth. There’s no new business, they’re 100% saturated in the business. It’s not like I … If I go after dogs and cats now, I’m going to get more business. There’s no more dogs and cats to get really.

Larry Towner: And it’s the same thing in vending. There are thousands and thousands of vending providers. Right? We all know this, and how to the big guys get big? They take care of their customers and they sell. You’ve got to sell.

Larry Towner: What questions do you have for me, Tom?

TOM: That’s good stuff, we’ll be continuing the series on taking it to the next level, and what topic do you think we should tackle next, Larry?

Larry Towner: Well, we need to get back and kind of round up the circle and say once you get a bigger account, what do you really need to do? What do you determine your … The situation is not as it was when you get the larger accounts, so you have to look at some of the logistical concerns, and how do you serve those customers, and what are their expectations. We’ll talk about that in the next show.

For Vending Machines for large accounts you might want to look at the  Dixie Narco 501E and the Automatic Products 113 Snack Machine.

TOM: Awesome. You been watching the vending business show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.

Vending Business December Slow Season

Vending Business December Slow Season The problem with December is cash flow. During the holidays people are getting ready for Christmas and are a little tighter with their money. Another problem is competition with food in the break room. Here are two saving strategies and one income strategy:

Saving strategy 1
Vending Business December Slow Season  You know your sales are going to be off in December so save some money up over the year.

Saving strategy 2
Vending Business December Slow season If you have a slow account consider waiting until December to pick up the money from that account.

Income strategy
Go after accounts that are very busy during the holiday season like the travel industry and retail. If you land a good size department store account, you will likely find that December will really pick up in a magnitude of one to two times as much business as normal. You don’t need a lot of those kinds of accounts to get you through the holiday season. Retail accounts typically don’t do much during the rest of the year, but can be nice for 6-8 weeks of the year. This just happens to be the opposite of how most of the traditional and industrial accounts perform during the year.

So get yourself some retail or travel industry accounts. Share any tips or ideas you have discovered in the comments below.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Tom Shivers: Hi. I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, here again with Larry Towner, Vending Business consultant. Today, we’re talking about Vending Business December Slow Season  vending opportunities, especially in a slow season like December. Thanks for being here, Larry.

Larry Towner,: It’s good to be here, Tom. We decided we would do this show because, for lack of a better word, the problems with December have to do with cash flow, right? In your world, Tom, do you have cash flow problems in December?

Tom Shivers: Sometimes.

Larry Towner,: Yeah, usually it’s an excess of cash going out and no cash coming in.

Tom Shivers: Yeah.

Larry Towner,: Essentially, in the vending business, that’s really where the problem comes from. The problem in the vending business is that during the holidays, there’s a couple of things at play. One of them is that people’s money is tight. They’re getting ready for Christmas and they’ve got the families coming in. They’re planning a big meal and all this kind of stuff, so people are a little tighter with their money. Most vending is considered disposable income. It’s kind of excess money, so money gets tight that way.

Larry Towner,: The other problem with December is that we have a lot of competition from Grandma’s cakes and pies, and everything gets put out on the break-room tables. We’re just gonna present a couple of strategies, I guess, on how to deal with the cash flow issues that come in the vending business during December.

Larry Towner,: One of them is … and the simplest one to do is just basically set some money aside for December. It’s a strategy. It’s kind of a savings strategy. I’m gonna present two saving strategies and one income strategy. The one way to do it is just set some money back. You know your sales are gonna be off because for most vendors, your sales are gonna be off. We just don’t have the kinds of accounts that do well in December, from traditional vending standpoint. Save some money. Put it away.

Larry Towner,: I came up with a savings strategy. I did it by accident, actually. I had a very, very slow account. I just never picked the money up in that account. It was so slow that I … It was a single-drink machine. I would go to the account and I’d put a case of drinks in about once a month, so I just never really picked up the money. One day, I went to pick the money up and it happened to be towards the end of November. I took just a big old wad of bills out of that machine and I said to myself, “Huh. You know, I think next year we’re just not gonna pick up the money until December, when we actually need it.” Sure enough, it really carried us over through the next year because what happened was, you’re putting the drinks in and they would come out of inventory, but they came out of inventory kind of slow through the whole year. Then you ended up with this big chunk of change that you had at the end of the year. It worked out really well and you didn’t really miss it from the standpoint of your accounts. Your inventory was a little screwed-up, but not really all that much. It’s just another savings strategy.

Larry Towner,: One other thing that we used to do a lot of is we would actually go after accounts that were very busy during the holiday season. You might ask, “What are those accounts?” Tom, ask me what are those accounts?

Tom Shivers: Hey, Larry.

Larry Towner,: Yes?

Tom Shivers: What are those accounts?

Larry Towner,: There you go. There’s two things that come to mind here, too, as well. One is, we were doing a show with the Association for the Blind … a show very much like this. We had a round table discussion that we were doing with them. The blind guys all do vending, also. We were doing these things with one of the State Associations for the Blind. They told me, they go, “We’re talking about how December’s so slow.” They’re all like, “Hey, wait a minute. December’s our busiest month of the year.” I’m going, like, “Really?” They go, “Yeah.” I go, “So what gives? Tell me what makes December so busy for you?” They all go, “We have rest areas. We have all the rest areas on the highways.” I thought that was really, really interesting because, of course, during the holiday season, people are traveling. They stop at the rest areas. They get drinks, snacks, sodas, coffee, all that stuff. Those guys are just jamming during the holidays.

Larry Towner,: Even before that … and I thought that was interesting. Maybe something in the travel industry is a potential account that gets busy during the holidays. The other thing that traditionally always gets busy during the holidays is retail. The regular retail shops are drawing in tons and tons of people. If you get a good stand-alone retail shop, say, a good-sized department store or something like that, December can really pick up. I’m talking about in a magnitude of one to two times as much business as they do normally. You don’t need a lot of those accounts to carry you through the time, ’cause your vending doesn’t stop, of course. It just slows down, so go out and get yourself some retail stuff.

Larry Towner,: I will say this on the retail stuff. It doesn’t do very much for the rest of the year in general. You’ve got about a six to eight week period where it really does something, but it happens to be exactly opposite of what all your traditional industrial accounts do.

Larry Towner,: Those are a couple of strategies that we had discussed about working during the December doldrums. If you guys have any ideas, please don’t hesitate to send us some emails, because we love to learn this kind of stuff and we’ll do whatever we need to … We’ll add that into these shows coming up in the future or something. Tom, what else do we have?

Tom Shivers: Yeah, absolutely. Just right below there, put a comment about what your experience is for December and any questions, and be glad to respond to those. We’ll be continuing on with these vending opportunities, vending business opportunities, in future shows, so subscribe.

Tom Shivers: You’re been watching Vending Business December Slow season  at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A & M Equipment SalesOther Vending Blogs at the Vending Business Show  Vending Business Opportunities: Buyer Beware

Basic Vending Sales Presentation

Basic Vending Sales Presentation number one don’t be late and if you are call and apologize.  Basic Vending Sales Presentation number two  Get there in plenty of time to ride around in the parking lot in order the count the cars for population and to see how many deliver vehicles and other walk in traffic is there.  Basic Vending Sales Presentation number three meet your contact and ask him questions about his current vending service and how he thinks it could be run better.  Basic Vending Sales Presentation number four  Ask to go see the current vending machines.  Most times you can show the contact machines that are dirty or with stale product.   Basic Vending Sales Presentation Number Five  Point out everything that is wrong with the service he now has but be careful not to look like you are bad mouthing too much.  Fine Line. Tell him how your service would be better.  Listen to him and tell him how you could improve what he has.  .

Basic Vending Sales Presentation Have a plan and practice it. Always ask positive leading questions like:

  • What do you like about the vending service that you have right now?
  • If you had a choice is there anything you would change about your vending company right now?

Listen to these answers and with that you have enough info to make a very professional sales presentation in vending. You’ll want to cater your presentation.

Most of the time you already have the products they want, so by asking questions you will learn what all you need to do there.

Next, you’ll explain how your system works and incorporate in it the things they like right now and that you will fix the things they don’t like right now.

The majority of the complaints about vending is not product but service related, so ask plenty of questions to understand how to cater to that prospect.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Tom: Hi I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show and today we’re talking about  basic vending sales presentation. So, Larry Towner’s here with us, so what is a basic sales presentation look like?

Larry Towner: Well, so we wanted to just go over some of the basic things cause I … let me tell you the genesis of this story. I was sitting in my new job, as it were, and we had a coffee man come in and he was gonna do a sales presentation to us at the shop that I work at. I was like, “Okay. This sounds like fun. I’ve been selling coffee for a little while, selling vending and coffee and doing all of this stuff for a little while.”

Larry Towner: It spurred this idea to come up with how to do the basics of a sales presentation. This guy come in and he had set up an appointment. He had done a cold call and he had set an appointment to come in and talk to us at eight o’clock in the morning.

Larry Towner: Let’s talk about the first thing. Tom, when should you show up at for an eight o’clock appointment? A: at 5:00, B: 8:00, C: 8:05, D: Next week.

Tom: Well I would say B, but …

Larry Towner: I would say that’s A or B. By the time 8:00 rolls around, you better be there and ready to go. Don’t show up late. If you are gonna be late, even if it’s a few minutes, make sure you call and talk to the man or woman or whomever you’re talking to and who you’re presenting to. In this case, we had eight people standing there waiting for this to happen and he was late. It started him off on the wrong foot straight away, so be on time. Number one.

Larry Towner: So number two. Have a plan. Understand what you’re trying to do. Come up and practice this once in a while. When you go in to do a vending presentation, always ask lots of questions, right? So one of the first questions is, and stay positive, what do you like about the vending service that you have right now. Listen, right? Pay attention to what they say, then cater your presentation to what he said right after that. So what do you like, so if there was anything and also again staying positive, ask another question.

Larry Towner: If you had a choice is there anything you would change about your vending company right now, and listen to what he says. Then you can go in and you can say okay, with that, those two questions right there give you enough information to make a very professional sales presentation in vending, because what you’re going to do is cater your thing. If the fella says, you know, we just don’t have the products that we want here. Fella or woman I should say, because many times you’ll make a call to a woman. But, if the person says to you, “You know, we just don’t have the products that we want here”. “Well what kind of products would you like?” Another question right? But again, you want to listen and half the time those products are going to be on your truck anyway, so all you’re really doing is finding out what you’re going to need to do there.

Larry Towner: You’re just asking a series of questions and then you go, “Well here’s how our system works” and you have a pre-prepared statement of how your system works. Now, you’re going to modify that a little bit and incorporate, of course, all the things that they said that they liked about what they have now and you’re going to fix all the problems for the things they don’t like right now. So, if the guy comes in and he says, “Well you know the product, you know if I had to change anything, I’d make sure that the products are in date”. So, when your going down your presentation and you say “Well here’s how our system works”. We come in every two weeks. Well the first thing we do is we open the machine and we check all the dates, and we’ll remove any of the product out of there, that’s out of date or close to date.

Larry Towner: So immediately, you’re doing two things. You’re showing what you do and you’re also showing how you’re going to fix what they don’t like about their situation right now. That’s the basics of a sales presentation. Ask some good qualifying questions, and the two questions that I just asked out there, you want to stay positive. Don’t say what do you not like about your vending company right now?, you don’t want to say that. You want to say if there was anything you would change, what would you change? And, he’ll, he or she, will come out and tell you exactly what it is that they don’t like about the vending company and conversely, what do they like about what they have? Because, of course, to be successful you want to do what they want. We would hope anyway. Do you agree with that Tom?

Tom: That sounds like a great plan Larry.

Larry Towner: It’s really tough. Really tough.

Tom: I’m sure it is. It’s just a matter of getting some new habits going though.

Larry Towner: It is a question of habits, and it’s a little bit of a question of being, of just maintaining a positive spin on it and you don’t need to badger your competition, because they’ve already done that. If you have the opportunity to be in there, there’s something there that’s not right with the customer, and the customer will eventually tell you. You just have to keep asking those questions and if it gets down to it, says you know, because this is the question you’ll get. “His products are just too much money”. Your only answer to that, really is, “Well this is driven largely, you’re in business yourself, if you’re costs exceed your income, what’s that called? It’s called a loss and our company, we need to run at a profit, just like your company. Unfortunately, we don’t control the costs of our products and we don’t control the cost of gas and all of the expenses that go along with this business. The product costs what the product costs.”

Tom: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Larry Towner: That’s the only answer to have in those kinds of situations, but other than that, most of the time if they’re looking to, if you’re there, there’s a reason that you’re there. It’s usually service related, so, anyway.

Tom: Thanks so much Larry. If you want to subscribe to get more vending business tips like this The Basic Vending Sales Presentation, you’ve been watching the Vending Business show a publication of A & M Equipment Sales.

Great Vending Machines that can go in any location is the Dixie Narco 501E and the Automatic Products 113 Snack Machine

Power Of The Free Honeybun

Power of the Free Honeybun  Use a food giveaway as an information gathering device to learn what’s happening in your accounts and the people you are working with that might impact your business:

  • Pulse of the management
  • Business expanding or contracting
  • Builds personal relationships
  • Makes you more valuable

Power of the Free Honeybun When you have a new product, introduce it with a giveaway to get feedback. It starts a conversation that can reveal important info to better understand their wants, needs and desires.

Very few people turn down free food.

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Episode Transcript:

Tom Shivers: Hi I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, and I’m her with Larry Towner of Service Group International, and we’re talking about a concept called the power of the free  honeybun. You may have heard Larry talk about this before, but tell us more about that Larry.

Larry Towner: When we talk about the power of the free honeybun, first off we’re talking about just the caloric intake of a honeybun. A good honeybun is at least 600 calories. Don’t tell anybody that. You don’t want to know what the fat level is either. With that being put aside. When I talk about the power of the honeybun, what we’re talking about is using a giveaway, as it were, a food giveaway, as a marketing tool or as an information gathering device for a way for you to get good information on what’s happening in your accounts in getting people to work with you. Tom is it important to have people work with you when you’re running a small business?

Tom Shivers: Yes, and incentives can really do the trick sometimes.

Larry Towner: Yeah, and that’s kind of what it is. In vending you’re working within another company generally, and you just want to know what the pulse of the management, the pulse of what’s happening in the business, what’s going on that might affect your business. Are the expanding? Are they contracting? Is the manager mad at you? Does the manager like honeybuns? If he liked honeybuns, drop one on his desk every once in a while when he least expects it.

Larry Towner: Essentially what I’m talking about is, is that I used to do, not a huge amount of giveaways, but I would od a number of giveaways. I always had a few people in an account that I would try to use as a good sounding board for a lot of different issues. One, and I was telling you this earlier, one thing is, when you have a new product, I always would take one of my new products, if I had a brand new introduction, say something that was just brand new to the market, and we really didn’t know if it was good or bad. Whether it was, a new flavor of Doritos or something like that. And I’d take one, and I’d say, “Hey, if you would give this a try and tell me what you think and tell me if you like it or don’t like it. I’m going to put a few in the machine, and if you can, just listen to what people say about them, and see what they say. Is it good or is it bad?”

Larry Towner: It’s that kind of thing. That allows you to start a conversation with somebody, and in that conversation you can find out all kinds of things about how your machines aren’t working right, the manager’s getting pissed off or, “Gosh you guys are doing a great job, did you know we’re opening another location in the next town over?” All of this information comes about from doing a free giveaway every once in a while, and just getting a personal relationship built with a couple of people that work within your accounts, because, gosh, it’s like any business, it’s understanding what their wants, needs and desires are, and then satisfying those wants, needs and desires, and doing a good job for them. It builds to business growth. It helps you grow your business. Is that how you built your business Tom, I bet it is?

Tom Shivers: Oh yeah. Yeah, there’s all kinds of ways to do incentives. I’m certainly involved in that one. I like it.

Larry Towner: So it works really good. We call it the power of the honeybun ’cause the honeybun of course is our most popular selling item as far as a pastry goes, and very few people turn them down unless they’re watching their weight. ‘Cause they’re a little caloric. It’s like eating a Big Mac if you really want to read the package, but that’s okay.

Tom Shivers: It can work with any kind of healthy item as well.

Larry Towner: Yeah, it works with anything. Whatever your particular contact likes. If they’re a granola bar person, give them a granola bar. Snickers bar, whatever. M&Ms are really good. They work really, really well because, the of course, they don’t melt and they stay for a while. Just depends on what the specific of the account are. We like to call that the power of the honeybun or the power of the free giveaway. It really, really can do wonders for your business. Like I say, it gets a little conversation going. Gets you in the loop. Gets you working with your people. Makes you more valuable, basically.

Tom Shivers: Awesome. Thanks Larry. Be sure to subscribe. You’ve been watching the power of the free honeybun by A&M Equipment Sales.

Check out more of our vending business show topics  Take Over A Vending Route Or Start Your Own?

 

The Vending Business Seasonal Sales Part One

Vending Business Seasonal Sales Part One A business cycle reflects human nature because people tend to cycle…

Two different business cycles in the vending business: account sales and retail sales of product.

Spring is the time of growth and renewal – more sales and opportunities. Time to sell product sometimes due to the warmer weather. On the account sales side, refrigeration equipment tends to begin showing problems which is a customer service issue but also an account sales opportunity. Any time you have a lot of service calls it’s a good time for account sales.

Summer, retail sales shift from snacks to drinks. As the temperature increases people tend to buy non-carbonated beverages. Summer account sales are tough because people take vacations and their mind isn’t on vending typically.

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Episode Transcript:

Vending Business Seasonal Sales Part One  Tom Shivers: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, here again with Larry Towner who is a vending business consultant and today we’re talking about vending business cycles in the average vending business over a year, annual basis.

Tom Shivers: So, thanks for being here Larry. How do we get started with this?

Larry Towner: Well, Tom. Vending Business Seasonal Sales Part One.  One of the things that we deal with when we’re dealing with a business cycle is it has a little bit to do with human nature and what people’s cycles are throughout the year. So, I’m gonna ask you some questions too, because after all the last time I checked you were a human being.

Larry Towner: I always start with spring, because spring is the time of renewal and things like that. It’s when it’s exciting. For you, in the springtime are you … Do you look forward to spring? I mean, is spring a time that you enjoy as a general rule?

Tom Shivers: Absolutely. Oh, yeah. It’s a great time, because it’s right after a cold winter.

Larry Towner: A long, cold, and dismal winter. We’re gonna talk about wintertime last. Let’s start with spring. But, again it gets back to human nature.

Larry Towner: People tend to cycle. They go through yearly cycles, they go through monthly cycles. There’s a lot of things that affect how people do business, what they purchase, and when.

Larry Towner: It’s simple things like life events, job changes, things like the weather. The weather has a huge amount to do with the Vending business, whether you believe it or not. But, we’ll go into some of those specifics.

Larry Towner: One of the things that … I’m gonna break this out into two areas too, because Tom, do you agree with this? That there’s two different business cycles in the vending business?

Larry Towner: There is the account sales portion of the vending business, which is when you’re selling to actually go achieve accounts. And then, there’s the retail sales portion of it for the actual sales of product and service out there. Does that sound about right to you?

Tom Shivers: Yeah. I can see that.

Larry Towner: Yep. So, I’m gonna address … When we address these issues we’ll address the retail side of it first, and then I’ll talk a little bit about the account sales side of it. Some of these things are cyclical or most of these things have a cycle anyway through them.

Larry Towner: So, let’s start off with spring. Springtime is generally the time of growth and renewal, I like to call it. It’s when your business starts to pick up and you start to start seeing more sales than you do in the wintertime … I’ll get to winter towards the end, but you start to see things picking up.

Larry Towner: It picks up in the vending business. Now, most of my operations I did in the south. Although, I did work in the greater Boston area for a number of years and these cycles work pretty much the same even north and south. They’re somewhat geared more towards the south, but they still work for the north.

Larry Towner: Springtime. Springtime is the time to sell product. In the springtime we tend to have an increase in product sales, largely because of the weather. It’s cold in the morning, it’s warm in the afternoon. That’s lends a great amount of credence to selling snacks in the morning and selling cold drinks in the afternoon.

Larry Towner: And then, of course coffee if you sell coffee. That sells always usually when it’s cold, but good coffee drinkers drink coffee all the time. So, we’ll leave that one out. But, that’s what springtime does for you.

Larry Towner: Spring is time to sell and people … Their money’s loosening up a little bit, and they’re looking forward to warm weather, and it tends to give them a very positive attitude, which in turn helps with your sales.

Larry Towner: It’s gonna help people feel better about themselves and that will lend to your sales on a retail basis. Now, on the account sales side springtime is kind of a tough time to sell. You need to be doing your calls in the spring, but the calls that you do in the spring are gonna be geared until a little later on in the year.

Larry Towner: One thing I always mention about sales calls in the spring is, spring is the time when you start to see some problems with machines. Particularly the refrigeration side of the business. Because, as the machines are coming out of winner they’re not … The machines aren’t cycling on and off a lot.

Larry Towner: And so, what happens is, is when the weather starts to warm up a little bit the refrigeration units start to kick on and off and that’s usually the time that you’ll start seeing some problems with refrigeration equipment. Largely drink machines start to have failures in the springtime, particularly as there’s big changes in humidity.

Larry Towner: What that spurs is that gives you an opportunity to go in and sell from an account standpoint, because if the existing vendor isn’t out there making his service calls and isn’t aware that the springtime is gonna create service problems he’s gonna have a bunch of service calls saying the drinks are hot, this and that.

Larry Towner: Anytime you have service calls it’s a good time to go with selling accounts. That’s the time when you want to sell accounts. Summer time. We’ll go into summertime. Retail sales in summertime your whole product line shifts from snacks over to drink, because as we like to say it’s 80 to 100 degrees out.

Larry Towner: People aren’t really hungry, they want cold drinks and you’d even be surprised they’re gonna drink more … As the temperature increases they drink more and more of the noncarbonated kind of drinks. They’re gonna drink sports drinks, water, things like that. Noncarbonated stuff.

Larry Towner: Nobody wants a lot of sugar when it’s really, really hot. There’s always exceptions to these rules, but as a general rule this is what you’re gonna see from a realistic standpoint. Fall time … Oh. Account sales. Summertime account sale’s really tough and this goes for the retail side too.

Larry Towner: People take a lot of vacations in the summertime, so what you see is your workforce gets diluted a little bit. If you’re in the traditional vending account where you’re within somebody’s business, a lot of people on vacation means your numbers are down, so your sales fall a little bit.

Larry Towner: But, getting to account managers in the summertime is difficult. They’re on vacation, they’re not really … Their mind isn’t really on vending per se, it’s more on production and on getting their business up and running than it is on changing out the vending company.

Larry Towner: Again, service calls. If they have service calls it’s a perfect time to go sell. If they have any issues or they have recurring issues in particular, good time to go sell.

Larry Towner: You got to make your calls, but your chances of success are less so than they are at other times of the year. Fall time. From a retail-

Tom Shivers: Hey, Larry. Can I interrupt right here? I think that’s about all the time we have for this show, can we pick up with fall and go into winter in the next one?

Larry Towner: We certainly can.

Tom Shivers: Okay. Great. You’ve been watching Vending Business Seasonal Sales Part One  at the Vending Business Show, a production of A&M Equipment Sales.

New Vending machines are available at https://www.amequipmentsales.com/prodcat/new-vending-machines/ 

Sales Success Secrets of Vending Pros

 

Sales Success Secrets of  Vending Pros Episode Transcript:
Tom:  Sales Success Secrets of  Vending Pros is a webinar coming up February 25th, and joining me to talk about it is Larry Tanner, who is a vending business consultant with Service Group, International. So, Larry, what’s this webinar gonna be about?

Sales Success Secrets of Vending Pros  Larry Tanner: Well, Tom, our goal in this webinar is to help you, or help our audience, to become better sales people in regards to vending, going out and getting new accounts, generating new accounts, and becoming more profitable.

Tom: Okay, and who’s gonna get the most from it? Who’s this webinar designed for?

Larry Tanner: This webinar is really designed for an owner/operator, but it could be designed for a sales manager as well. It’s designed for a guy that needs to go out and generate some accounts, wants to get profitable accounts, wants to learn a couple of new techniques, or maybe, quite a few new techniques, on how to generate leads, how to get good prospects, and how to actually close deals. So, that’s who’s gonna get the most out of it.

Tom: Okay, and what’s your background in the vending industry?

Larry Tanner: I’ve been in the vending business for about 35 years. I owned my own vending company for over 15, finished up with in excess of 500 thousand dollars a year in sales, and in three route guys, and we had about 110 or so accounts, 350 machines. Built that from the ground up, from zero. So, that’s my experience in the vending industry.

Tom: Okay, and who else is gonna be on the webinar?

Larry Tanner: We’re gonna have two other guests; Dan Jordan, who is a professional sales guy. He owns a staffing company right now, but he has been selling for almost all of his professional career. He does sales consulting as well, and we’re also gonna have Joe Nichols, president of A and M Equipment. And Joe is a very seasoned vending professional. He has been in the business for 40 plus years. Grew up in the business, basically, has run all aspects, and currently sells vending equipment.

Tom: Thanks, Larry. You can learn more about the webinar in Sales Success Secrets of Vending Pros, at amequipmentsales.com. And there should be a link to the registration page somewhere on this, around this video, either below it or somewhere around it. We’ve got room for a hundred people.

Servicing New Vending Accounts Part Two

Servicing New Vending Accounts Part Two An interview with Larry Towner

In the last video Larry discussed getting product from your vehicle into the facility at the best time of day.

In this video Larry talks about Servicing New Vending Accounts Part Two loading your vending machines efficiently because your time is your money. The more stops you can make, the more money you make.

Efficiency is key.

Setup a system, one example is a pic list and a box to carry product in from your vehicle. Another system might use a pre-filled kit.

When loading bins, load them in the same order as the machine from top to bottom. When you are in front of the machine, the last thing you want is to go from tray to tray in a random order.

Critical info to be successful in the vending business.

In the next video, Larry discusses how to handle the money.

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Tom Shivers: Servicing New Vending Accounts Part Two  I’m Tom with the Vending business show here again with Larry Towner, who is a vending business consultant and we’ve talking about how to get started in the vending business and specifically what to do after you land account so and the last time we ended by talking about how do you get the product into the machine and how can you be efficient in that area so thanks for being here, Larry, and let’s continue the discussion.

Larry Towner: Sounds like a plan. When we left off in the last show, we were working on, actually we had the product from your vehicle into your facility at what we consider to be a good time, and you can watch the previous show to figure out what we were talking about there. Now we’re actually gonna talk about loading your machines and when I ran my businesses, I was very heavily involved in efficiencies in making sure that my employees and myself worked at maximum efficiency because, after all, your time is your money and the more that an employee and I always considered myself an employee could get done, the more stops I could get done and the more they could make.

Larry Towner: And now, I don’t know too many people that are in the vending business to not make money. What do you think Tom? Do you know anybody in the vending business that just likes to have a good time and go fill vending machines?

Tom Shivers: They’re probably out there but I don’t many of ’em.

Larry Towner: Right. So efficiency becomes key in filling out your vending machines. Now, when we set ourselves up for the vending business, we set ourselves up with a system and our system included, we used boxes that, when we originally started and I’ll tell you why this is important when we originally started, we used to do a pick list at every stop. We used to walk into the account, go through every machine and go to the levels of inventory that we had pre-determined, but we would re-stock to those levels and we would actually write down what we needed on a piece of paper, walk back out to the truck, pull those products and come back in and fill the machines.

Larry Towner: Towards the end of my business, we started carrying a pre-filled kit into the accounts so we had a bits and pieces. We had enough product to fill up a whole machine if it was empty. We carried those in bins and all of those bins came in at once. Your choice of doing this is your choice. You can do it one way or the other. It doesn’t matter. The premise is exactly the same. When we would load our bins, they were loaded in the same order as our machine so that all the chips that were on the top row were in one box. Same thing on all the rows of your snack machines, that how we loaded our boxes.

Larry Towner: If you go and you do a pick list, you go back out to the truck and pick the things, you pick them in order and you do that for a reason. When you get to the front of the machine, the last thing that you wanna do is start going from tray to tray, meaning you don’t wanna pull the top tray out, put one product up there, then have to go three trays down and then go back to the second tray. Do you see where I’m going with that, Tom?

Tom Shivers: Yep.

Larry Towner: You wanna go to the top tray and you wanna fill every slot on that top tray that you need to, right? That takes organization folks. You gotta think about it a little bit before hand. So, you get yourself in an organized system. Either you do a pick list or you do it in boxes. When we went to the end, we started doing it by boxes ’cause we just re-stocked the boxes at the end of every stop actually, they took ’em back. So we walk in and we had the things for the top shelf that we needed. We pulled the top shelf down, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. Shelf goes in. Box goes down. Next box comes up, bing, bing, bing. Same thing on a pick list.

Larry Towner: If you do a pick list, you go in, you write down I need five of these, five of that, five of this, you put ’em into the box that you’re gonna draw out of five of these, five of this, five of that, and then they come out exactly the reversed order. Critical information if you wanna be successful in the vending business. You can go back and forth and do it the way I described. You’re gonna spend five times as much time servicing an account as you will if you put it into an organization and that’s just one of the success tips. One of the other great success tips is along with that, how you handle the money. You know, we never took the money out until the very last.

Tom Shivers: I was headed out the door. Let’s reserve that for the next video here in the series and so we’ll be talking about how to handle the money next, is that right?

Larry Towner: Well that and also how to handle a drink machine. We haven’t gotten there yet either so we’ve still got more. We’re on snack machines. We’ll do drink machines and money handling in the next show.

Tom Shivers: All right. You’ve been watching Servicing New Vending Accounts Part Two at  the vending business show. A publication of A&M Equipment Sales.

Check out our new vending machines Finding New Accounts and Placing Vending Machines

Finding Profitable Vending Locations

Finding Profitable Vending Locations  An interview with Larry Towner of Service Group International

Finding  Profitable Vending Locations?  How do I get more vending accounts?
Finding Profitable Vending Locations is based on a number of things.  Are your current accounts close together or spread out? Think about geography. What’s in the neighborhood? Look for at least 20 people in a location, for example look at the number of cars in the parking lot.

How do you get to the decision maker at that location?
Rather than talk to the secretary, go around to the back or to someone who works there to learn about the status of their vending and how happy they are with it.

Tip: Make a sales call a day.to finding profitable vending locations

When you talk to an employee at a potential location, this is market research.

A: Do you have vending?
B: Are you happy with it?

These two questions will tell you everything you need to know when prospecting.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Tom: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show and here again with Larry Towner who is a vending business consultant and has been in the vending business for a number of years and sold the share of his company in 2012. So glad to have you here Larry. Today, we’re talking about finding profitable vending locations. Why don’t we do a little role play, say I’m new to the vending business and I’ve got one vending account and I want more, how do I get more of vending accounts?

Larry Towner: Well, that’s a great question. This is a question I get asked an awful lot is how do I get more vending accounts. So I’m going to ask you a couple of questions. First, your account, is it close to where you drive all the time? Is that something, when you go there, how many times you go there a week? Tell me that first.

Tom: Well, I go there probably four times a week and it’s full of people during the evening hours, mainly.

Larry Towner: Mostly during the evening hours. Okay, great. So you’re there, usually you service it during the day because you don’t want to be there when people are there, I’m assuming that’s correct. Is that correct?

Tom: That’s right.

Larry Towner: Okay. All right. So you’re looking for something during the day. You’ve got a rough idea of how many people are there and I don’t need specifics, but you’ve got this idea and you think in your head and you know this account because you’ve probably had it for some period of time. So the big question is, is do you want another account like that or do you want something that’s close by? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and a lot of it just depends on do you want to spend your time closer? Do you want to drive distance to get say bigger accounts? Just for example, let’s go over it. Let’s just go over the scenario that you want to stay close.

Larry Towner: The first thing that I always did is first off, let’s understand that this is called selling, right? Now, nobody likes to sell, but everybody needs to know how to sell. Selling in the vending industry is not as difficult as people want to think. Selling in the vending industry is actually pretty easy, particularly if you have just one satisfied customer, which obviously if you have the one account, you’re maintaining it, you’ve got a satisfied customer. So it kind goes this way. The first thing that I always do, this would be very, very basic prospecting. I get into the vehicle or I walk, it doesn’t really matter, but I drive around and see what’s around the neighborhood, what’s within a mile, right?

Larry Towner: If you go in a circle around the place and if you’re in any kind of an urban area, which perhaps you’re not, you might have to expand your search out a little bit. But I drive around and I look for potential candidates. For me, if I’m looking for a vending account, I want 20 employees in there all the time, or at least 20 people there during an eight hour work shift, for my personal model that worked for us for years, that’s a very big base minimum number. How do you determine if there’s 20? Well, you can tell an awful lot by the size of the building, the size of the parking lot, number of cars in the parking lot is actually a really good way to kind of figure out how many people are actually in that facility.

Larry Towner: So you go and you find there’s a place that’s got 50 cars in the parking lot. All right, that’s somebody that I think I’m going to go in and talk to. Now what do you have to do? Well, what do you think you have to do, Tom?

Tom: You got to get to the decision maker somehow and convince them that you’ve got a very good thing for his business.

Larry Towner: That’s exactly what you have to do. How do you go about doing that? How would you go about doing it?

Tom: Well, I would want to show, I mean, I’d want to not go in there with any assumptions except that I can contact, talk to the person who’s at the top if possible, the manager of the location.

Larry Towner: Well, that’s correct and that’s what we all would want to do. The tendency, at least in my sales experience in all the years I’ve been selling, is you tend to go in the front door and talk to the secretary. What’s the secretary’s job?

Tom: To keep you out.

Larry Towner: To keep you out, that’s correct. You’ve done this before. I can tell. So for me, what I do is I figure out, I usually go around to the back. I usually go to a loading dock or something like that and I try to just find somebody that works there and I don’t bother him because you don’t want to bother them. But I go in and I find somebody that works there and I asked him a couple of questions. The first question I always ask is, I don’t assume anything, the first question is do you have vending? You might laugh at that, but you’d be surprised, there are places out there that they have a big facility and don’t have vending.

Larry Towner: The next question is of course is if you do have vending, it’s like, “Hey, tell me, I run a vending business, are you guys happy with who you have?” Now that guy back there, he’s got no skin in the game. He’s going to tell you the way it is. “Ah, this or that or whatever.” He’s going to tell you everything you need to know nine out of 10 times, at least that’s been my experience. He’s going to tell you whether they’re, “Yeah, they do a really good job. It’s this XYZ Company and the guys here and the machines work.” He’s going to tell you everything you need, that you need to know about how it’s going as a general rule because people will talk about it. Particularly if he uses it a lot.

Tom: Right. So you bring up an interesting point there, Larry and that is it sounds like you’re not making phone calls to get this information.

Larry Towner: Well, you can go and make … You can do telemarketing if you want to call it that. You can make your phone calls and solicit the information. It’s just that if you’re going to go on what I call a geographic base, which means you want to be within a certain radius around your existing accounts, if you want to do it that way, you’re almost better just to do it by driving because sometimes you’re in industrial parks or sometimes … One of the things I tell everybody, this is a success tip for vending professionals, is make a sales call a day, make one sales call a day and that just means stop in somewhere on your route, stop into one of the businesses you don’t have as an account. You drive by hundreds of accounts every single day. I mean, just to and from, you drive by probably 10 accounts going to the grocery store every day. You just don’t realize they’re potential accounts, right?

Larry Towner: There are a lot of venting accounts out there. You just have to know which ones really work. So anyway, so yeah, so I mean I talk to … I do it by the old fashioned cold calling, if you want to call it that or in this case, this is kind of market research. When you get in and you talk to an employee, you’ll find out what … Are they happy? What do they like? You want to listen to what they have to say because essentially they’re the ones that pay your paychecks. Now at the same time, I’ve had guys come in, I’ve walked in and talked to an employee and the guy says, “Oh my God, I’m so glad you’re here. This guy is terrible and the foods’ old and it’s molding and and it’s this. Come on with me.” I got dragged into a president’s office one day by the dock manager and he said, “You need to talk to this guy.” Well, we closed that account that day. So this is, while it sounds cumbersome, it works. It really does work. You find an employee.

Larry Towner: You can do the same thing for prospecting. You can do it at your local church or you can do it … People you know. You ask everybody you know, “Do you have vending A? Do you have vending B? Are you happy with them?” There’s a million ways to prospect. We could do hours on this topic, hours and hours and hours. But like I say, if you’re going to do a geographic center in your planning, you want to do it around the center, then you do it that way. If you want to do the other kind where you want to do a size comparison, then you get on the internet. You get on the phone, you do your research. You say, “I want to find places with 200 employees.” The number of places with 200 employees is a much more limited thing you have. You can do the same techniques, but it’s just a little … It takes a little bit more time and you’re going to have to actually identify those prospects before you go in. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not.

Tom: All right, well thanks Larry. Tell us about what you do.

Larry Towner: Well, we do consulting for vending industries. We do big companies, small companies. We specialize in startups. If you need help, give us a call or actually send us an email. It’s [email protected] Again, [email protected]

Tom: Oh, you mean … Go ahead, do it again.

Larry Towner: [email protected] That’s what I meant to say.

Tom: You’ve been watching Finding Profitable Vending Locations at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A & M Equipment Sales.

Vending machines for Finding Profitable Vending locations check out the Automatic Products 113 Snack Machine

How The Vending Business Works

How the Vending Business Works with An interview with Larry Towner, vending business consultant

How the Vending Business Works is well first thing that’s most important in any business venture is do a little planning. The second thing is before you go out and buy equipment, how about have a place to put it – go get an account first.

What are some of the better accounts for vending today?

I would look for businesses that are growing. Businesses that supply the construction industry in the current economic environment, but it depends on what you want to do – your goals.

When you land an account, what’s next?

Now it’s time to go buy the equipment and to keep expenses low I would go for refurbished equipment from a quality supplier.

After you buy your equipment, then what?

Have someone who knows what they are doing move your equipment because there are lots of tricks in moving vending machines through doors, etc. Then you’ll need to setup the equipment.

In a future video we’ll be covering what products to include in your vending machines that really sell.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTS:

Tom: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show here with Larry Towner who is a vending business consultant. He’s been actually run his own operation in the vending business for quite a while, a couple of decades and recently sold his vending business in 2012. So we’re happy to have him on the show today. Thanks for being here, Larry.

Larry Towner: Oh, I appreciate it, Tom.

Tom: Today we’re talking about how the vending business works. A lot of times, people that are new to the vending business think they have to buy a vending machine first. But, what’s the most important thing to start with,On How the Vending Business Works Larry?

Larry Towner: Well, Tom, I always like to say that the first thing that’s most important in any business venture that you undertake is to do a little bit of planning, number one. The second thing is before you go and buy equipment, how about have a place to put it? When I say that, what I mean is go out and do some sales and actually get an account first.

Tom: Yeah. So, yeah, let’s say, what are some of the good places to find or to locate … What are some of the better places?

Larry Towner: Well, there’s all kinds of places. I mean, you see vending machines out there in the world, you see them everywhere from on street corners into businesses, retail shops. Some vending machines are becoming retail shops. This is kind of where we have to get into a little bit of the planning thing like we were just talking about. You can go into a planning situation, you kind of decide what do you think is going to be best for the for the business and to help you make money. Perhaps the reason you’re actually watching this video is just to find out that kind of information. So we’re here, you and I, we have these discussions on a fairly regular basis to discuss some of these things.

Larry Towner: So when we get into that planning thing, you should sort of develop an idea of what you want to do and then you decide what businesses or what the vending types of locations are going to do to do your best. That’s kind of a roundabout way around your question there, Tom. But in effect it’s the same thing. I can answer what the best locations are for me, but that’s not necessarily what the best locations are for you as one of our potential viewers.

Tom: Well, that’s a good point, Larry. So let’s just say if you were starting a vending business today, where would you … How would you go about finding locations? What would you go for?

Larry Towner: Well look, what would I go for? I’d be looking for areas where there’s growth in business and to that, while that sounds broad, it’s where you’re looking for. There’s less competition and growing businesses and things like that. In business cycle, they come in and out. They go through various different stages of growth. Right now we’re in a somewhat depressed real estate market or at least the construction industry and real estate is off a little bit, but it’s going to, it’s starting to make its motions back. So some of the things that I would be particularly looking for would be into accounts that might supply the construction industry and things like that, in the current, this is 2013 under the current environment. So those might be some things that I would be looking at. A lot of it’s going to depend on what are your particular ideas. Do you want to be in schools? Well, school vending is going to be there for quite some time as long as there’s school. So really depends on what your particular goals and objectives are.

Tom: Okay. Now let’s say you land a placement, you get a deal with the business or organization that wants your vending machines. What’s next?

Larry Towner: Well, you get this business, now you need to actually go out and it sounds like you need to go buy the equipment. Of course there’s probably a thousand choices on equipment. One thing that people need to understand in vending is is that you have to keep your expenses low. So if you’re new to vending, my suggestion is you go for refurbished equipment and you go to a quality supplier, someone that’s been doing refurbished equipment for quite some time. My particular choice is A&M Equipment Sales, which is probably where you’re looking at this video from.

Tom: Okay. So after you’ve gotten your equipment, then what?

Larry Towner: Well, then it actually comes time to actually install the equipment, that be a simple or difficult job just depending on the location. Usually, there are several people in a [inaudible 00:04:55] area or actually anywhere that can actually move equipment for you. I would suggest if you’re starting that you have someone that knows what they’re doing, move equipment, vending machines are heavy. There’s a lot of real tricks and moving vending machines that if you’ve been doing it for unfortunately 30 years, like I have, you know all of the tips and tricks to actually getting them through doors, how to do it without taking them apart and so forth and so on, but I suggest you just hire somebody to do it. There’s plenty of qualified people in any given market that’ll move things for you. You move it in, you’re going to set it up. At that point, it doesn’t walk into that account completely filled and completely working and completely priced out. Now, again, depending on where you purchased your equipment from, some of those issues might be done for you, but you will eventually have to learn how to do those things anyway, so.

Tom: Right. So yeah, I guess, supplying your whatever products fit that particular business, you’ll have to find out what those are and find a way to learn what works in that particular machine, right?

Larry Towner: Well, one of the great things about that, Tom, is I think we’re going to do another video on that in a future installment, aren’t we?

Tom: Yeah, absolutely. We will get to that one.

Larry Towner: So say that so that you all come back and take a look, but we’ve got all kinds of tips and tricks that are going to come on to teach you what products you should be considering when you go and put them into a machine because a lot of it, it’s its own topic, but there’s lots of variety and lots of choices. So we’ll do that in another one.

Tom: Okay, great. Tell us a little more about what you do, Larry, and then we’ll sign off.

Larry Towner: Well, we do vending consulting for particularly for startups and also, but for people that are looking to maximize their operations, get the most money out of their operation that they have now and try to help them, give them some consulting services. We’re available at [email protected], if you care to contact us, that’s all one word. [email protected]

Tom: You’ve been watching the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.

Check out our remanufactured Dixie Narco 501E Drink Machine

Vending Efficiency Delivering Product

Vending Efficiency Delivering Product  An interview with Larry Towner, vending consultant

In this podcast, Larry discusses:  Vending Efficiency Delivering Product

  • Plan your route schedule in advance
  • Park out of the way and avoid being off the curb if possible: marketing, security, safety
  • Inventory of each machine in one box
  • famous saying: “Vending is a business of minutes”
  • Do a pick list
  • Limit trips from truck to machine
  • Items to keep in your pocket
  • Drive in a line to limit windshield time
  • Plan well for a smooth and efficient route

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Tom Shivers: I’m Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show here with Larry Towner who is a vending business consultant. Larry sold the majority share of his vending business a few years ago. Thanks for coming back, Larry.

Larry Towner: Good to be back, Tom.

Tom Shivers:  Our topic Vending Efficiency Delivering Product  The last time we talked, you had a lot of interesting things to say about efficiency and specifically you’re talking … told us a lot about loading the truck effectively so that you can have a smooth flow of your … of the products from the truck right into the machine. What are we gonna cover today?

Larry Towner: Well, I think today, Tom, what we’ll talk about is now that we’ve got the truck loaded and we’ve got it ordered in a way that makes sense, basically the way you have your machines laid out, let’s talk about getting out to the machines and getting out to the accounts.

Tom Shivers: Okay.

Larry Towner: Like I say, you’ve got your truck loaded. You’re ready and you’re rearing to go. Generally, just as a course of action, I usually started my day the night before. What I would do is … Well, actually, I started a week before, but I would have my route schedule printed out on a weekly calendar program. I used a office shelf calendar program that you can get at any store, but that allows you to do repeating schedules where you can do things weeks and weeks and weeks in advance. The keys here are is when you’re scheduling your time, you do it the night before so you have an idea. One thing that a lot of people don’t do, they don’t plan around traffic. Tom, you live here in metro Atlanta like I do. Is traffic a factor here?

Tom Shivers: Just a little bit.

Larry Towner: A little bit, yeah. We, in the vending business, don’t get paid to sit in front of the windshield of the truck. We get paid to sit in front of the glass of the machine and actually fill that machine up. One of the things that I always did, and just depending on the days, I would go and look on … look at my schedule and say, “Where do I need to be during the traffic time?” [inaudible 00:02:19] and I always used both traffic times, both morning and afternoon. I would be making sure that I had a series of stops that were all very, very close together during those traffic times.

Larry Towner: Generally vending people start very early in the morning. They start 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM in the morning. By the time the main traffic time rolls around, you are pretty much … you should be in a stop if you’re doing everything right. Of course, here in metro Atlanta as you know, you can get stuck in traffic anytime of the day, anytime of the night. It’s just how it goes being a major city. Anyway, you start the night before you go and you lay out your route and where you wanna go and when you think you wanna be there. You give yourself an approximate amount of time as far as your sales and your dollar [inaudible 00:03:01] per your accounts. That’s the first place where you start.

Larry Towner: When you get into the accounts, there’s a couple of techniques … Or, you’re heading into the accounts. You pull up into the driveway. There’s a few things that I used as a rule of thumb. One is I’m very marketing oriented and also … but also safety and security conscious, too. I would be very careful. I usually parked on the loading docks and I wanted to make sure that we were out of the way. We didn’t wanna be an eyesore to anyone and we didn’t wanna have to work off a curb if we could help it. You end up working off a curb a lot, but you try not to work off the curbs where you’re out in the plain view of everyone, at least that’s my opinion. I always liked to kind of stay back and out of the way.

Larry Towner: Then again, I don’t like to be in dark corners either for security purposes where there somebody might come and accost you because the minute they know you’re in the vending business, they know you’ve got cash and you become an easy target. Try to stay like, if you’re working at night, well-lit areas and things like that. You get out of your truck. Now, there’s several different ways to do it in the vending business. One way … The way that I currently do it is I have boxes inside the truck. Inside each box I carry a whole inventory of a machine, rolls into the account with me. I have a set … preset level of inventory that’s in each box and it’s arranged just the same way as the machines are. I start top shelf down and work my way down through the machine using my boxes.

Larry Towner: You think this is kinda silly, but the amount of time that you spend walking back and forth between your truck and your … the machines can add up to considerable time. In past shows, we talked about how the vending business is a business of minutes. It’s all about how many minutes. If you can cut five to ten minutes out of each stop, you can add one to two stops per day, which is giving you an extra impact on your bottom line of your business.

Larry Towner: We roll in to our stops with basically a full amount of snack on the thing and then we do a pick list on the drinks. You can roll in and do a pick list on your accounts if you want. I do that on some of the more difficult locations that I have. If I have to go up some stairs and I don’t have an elevator access or something like that, I might go in and make a pick list. A pick list just is you go into the machine and you pick out the particular items you need as per the shelf and you write them down in a card you brought. You pull them out. You put them into a box and you just carry one box in instead of carrying in nine boxes, which is what I currently take in with me every time.

Larry Towner: If I have a good, easy access, I roll the whole thing in. I make one trip into the machine. I don’t have to make multiple trips in and out in and out and in and out. Generally we try … Right now we limit our trips in and out to two. We can’t carry the whole amount of product with drinks and snacks in our hand truck all at once. We usually do too much volume to do that. That’s should be your goal that you have that much volume. Do you get an idea of what I’m talking about, Tom?

Tom Shivers: Yeah. It sounds like you wanna cut off those minutes and find a way to get things in and out quickly.

Larry Towner: Right. Right. That’s really the key. You also, when you make your lists, make sure you can read your lists so that you know. When you come out to get your drinks, don’t guess. Make sure you know exactly what you need. Again, to make one extra trip back out to the truck takes anywhere from two to five minutes just depending on the stop, but two to five minutes adds up at the end of the day. That’s what we do. We also walk in with our money bags.

Larry Towner: We walk in … I keep in my pocket, you’re gonna think this is funny, but I keep in my pocket, I carry two pens, a small screwdriver, a magic marker, and I also carry a three by five pack … I don’t use three by five cards, but they’re the three by five spiral ring notebooks is what I use now. I used to use three by five cards. They got a little pricey. I keep those in my pocket. I always have something to write with. I always have something to do a small minor repair and or open a box, which is what that little screwdriver is for. If I need to mark on something, I always have a marker. Don’t think it means that much, wait til you forget and you have to run out to the truck to get a small screwdriver to tighten something up or to cut something.

Tom Shivers: How ’bout a stopwatch?

Larry Towner: We’ve … We’re not UPS yet. If you’ve ever talked to … When you get out there, talk to a UPS driver. They’ll tell you, they’re measured by the minute with a watch, too. It is something that if you wanna do it, actually, we used to do a little bit. We tried. We’d time ourself and see how long it’d take us to get in and out. We would strive to do better and better on a daily basis.

Larry Towner: The key, again, it starts at night though. You wanna make sure you have all the prior … It starts the day before. You want all that product on the truck and you wanna make sure you have enough. You wanna make sure you get your boxes full and get your route scheduled because it’s the same issue if you’re driving … you don’t wanna drive back and forth and back and forth. You wanna drive in a line. We generally work our route lines … or routes in circles, where you start at one place, you go out, you loop around, and you end up back at home. We try to limit the amount of windshield time between stops because, again, we don’t get paid to drive. We get paid to fill.

Larry Towner: That’s really, really critical. All it takes is good planning. I think in a previous show we had talked about scheduling as far as your … how …what’s your interval between stops are as far as weeks go or months or days. It just depends on the size of the account. Again, you have to integrate all this information together so that you’re nice and smooth and efficient. Theoretically, on a great day, you’re gonna spend 80% of your time filling machines and 20% of your time driving, if you’ve really got everything clicking and doing really well. That’s where you’ll be.

Larry Towner: That’s some of the tips is basically use a pre fold type system. If you get farther on and you have better resources, there’s all kinds of technological things that stream real time data back into your handhelds or into your iPhones and stuff like that. For most guys starting out, you can’t afford that technology. It’s very, very expensive. It works great for very, very large companies, but for small guys it’s just a little pricey.

Tom Shivers: Good stuff, Larry. Thanks for the tips. Tell us a little about your business and what you do.

Larry Towner: Well, we do vending consulting. We specialize primarily in startup type operations and helping guys get out there and get efficient so that they can start to make some money in this business because, believe it or not, just because you buy it for a quarter and sell it for 50 cents, you can’t necessarily make money on that. We help people get efficient so that they can start earning money faster.

Tom Shivers: How can people contact you?

Larry Towner: Best way to get ahold of us is send us an email. It’s [email protected]

Tom Shivers: You’ve been listening to Vending Efficiency Delivering Product at  the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.  More Blogs of the Vending Business Show  Vending Efficiency Operating Procedures