Receiving Your Vending Machine First, inspect the vending machine as you unpack it and ask the driver to wait a few moments until you have done a quick inspection. Once you have signed off, you are responsible for the external condition.
If there are problems, note them on the bill of lading.
Receiving Your Vending Machine Review all documents attached to be sure that it is consistent with your order.
Once the vending machine has reached its destination, the shipping boards can be removed. Split the shipping boards with a wedge or crowbar at either end.
Do not tilt the vending machine or attempt to lift it with a two wheel truck.
Next, level the machine and adjust the four main legs so they are touching the floor.
Place the vending machine 5 feet from the designated power outlet. The ventilation opening in the back must be clear of obstructions.
For refrigerated models allow at least 4 inches between the wall and the back of the vendor for proper air circulation.
For indoor vending machines:
The power cord kit will be located in the coin box area. Before plugging the cord into the wall outlet, leave the metal cover attached and plug the cord into the connector at the rear of the machine. Using the screws provided, secure the protective cover and strain relief in place.
Warning: The false leg helps prevent the vending machine from tipping forward when the vending door is open and one or more bottle trays are extended. Failure to install the false leg on vendors with bottle trays may result in serious injury.
Receiving Your Vending Machine AMS SPEAKER: When the AMS vendor arrives, please take time to inspect the vendor as you unpack it. Whenever possible, ask the delivering driver to wait a few moments while unpacking is completed. This will be to the driver’s advantage since, if no problems are found, the driver and his company are not responsible for any external damage. Likewise, be sure that you inspect your vendor fully. Once you have signed off without comment, you are responsible for the external condition. If there are problems, note them on the bill of lading and be sure to keep a copy. Be sure to review any documents attached to be certain the information shown is consistent with your order. For example, match the serial number on the back of the carton with the serial number on the packing slips.
Receiving Your Vending Machine AMS SPEAKER: Once your vendor reaches its destination, the shipping boards can be removed. Split the shipping boards with a crowbar or wedge at either end. If necessary, lift the vendor to remove the broken boards using properly rated equipment. Do not tilt the vendor and do not attempt to lift the vendor with a two wheel truck. For safe operation, the vendor must be level. On the bottom of the vendor are four threaded leveling legs located at the corners of the cabinet and a fifth support screw is located under the door. With the door closed and locked, check the four main legs and adjust any leg that is not contacting the floor. A level may be placed on top of the cabinet.
AMS SPEAKER: Adjust the support screw after the machine is leveled until the door does not hit the roller. Place the vendor within five feet of the designated power outlet. The power outlet should be accessible when the vendor is in position and the ventilation opening in the back of the vendor must be clear of obstructions. For refrigerated models, allow at least four inches between the wall and the back of the vendor for air circulation. The following is for all indoor vendors only. A one quarter inch nut driver is needed. The power cord kit will be located in the coin box or coin box area. The kit includes the power cord, power cord cover, wire tie which is already attached to the cover, and six screws.
AMS SPEAKER: Before you plug the cord into the wall outlet, leave the metal cover attached and plug the cord into the connector at the rear of the machine as shown. Using the six screws provided, use a one quarter inch nut driver to secure the protective cover and strain relief in place. The false leg helps to prevent the machine from tipping forward when the vendor door is open and one or more bottle trays are extended. Failure to install the false leg on vendors with bottle trays may result in serious injury. Make sure to Receive your Vending Machine with these steps
Vending operators cause their own service calls by the actions or in-actions of the route man:
Without a well planned and timed service schedule (or route scheduling system), your machines will run out of product… and cause a service call.
You leave out of date product in your machines… “I bought the product and it’s stale.”
You open the door to your machine. Do you open the door of every machine at every stop even when if it’s only making enough money to open the machine every other stop? (Here’s an alternative) Every time you open the door of the machine, there is a possibility for something to go wrong in the machine. Mechanical and electronic things break over time with use.
You open the door, but you forget to lock it when you leave.
If you open the door make sure you close it, lock it and make sure it accepts money with a coin and bill test before you leave.
What service issues do you deal with? (Share them and any questions you have in the comments below)
Vending Operators Cause Their Own Service Calls Tom Shivers: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, here again with Larry Towner of Service Group International. He’s a vending business consultant and we’ve been discussing some interesting topics lately. What are we going to talk about today, Larry?
Larry Towner: Today I think we’re going to talk about, I know we’re going to talk about Vending Operators Cause their Own Service Calls, and you think it doesn’t happen, but it does.
Tom Shivers: So you’re saying vending operators are causing service calls?
Larry Towner: Yeah, they cause their own service calls, and between an operator and/or a route man, you get service calls that are caused by the actions or inactions that you take, I guess I want to say, so let’s start off with one of my favorites. It’s always the one I usually do.
Larry Towner: It’s called poor planning or a lack of a good schedule. You pretty much know if you don’t have a great schedule out there, you don’t plan your time well. You’re going to get service calls if your machines run out of product. This is a very simple thing, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t have a good route scheduling system so they run out of product or whatever, but they don’t show up at their accounts on a regular basis, so that’s really one of the first reasons why you can cause service calls into your own accounts.
Larry Towner: Another one of my favorites is you leave out-of-date product in your machines. Nothing will generate a service call faster than somebody saying, “I bought the product and it’s stale,” because I’m going to guarantee you, they’re going to call you when that’s the case. “I lost my last 50 cents forever that I ever had in my whole life. You need to come pay me back or send me the money.” Yeah. I would if you’ll send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, so that’s one of the things.
Larry Towner: Here’s a third one. This is one that’s going to surprise a lot of people, and you’ll laugh at this one, Tom. Big reason why you cause your own service calls, you open the door to the machine. Now, that’s sounds funny. You have to open the door to the machine to service it, right, and that’s true, but I guess the question is is do you open the door every time you go to an account or not on every machine. We’ve discussed this in a past show about it gets back to your scheduling and your route things, but if you don’t generate a certain amount out of that machine, like let’s say you’ve got a drink machine and a snack machine. The drink machine generates plenty of money out of it and the snack machine generates enough money for you to open the machine every two weeks, open the machine every two weeks. Don’t open it every week, because every time you open that door, here’s what happens, right? First off, the computer disables because you take the power off, or almost all machines, the interlock switch comes on and the power goes out on the machine. Well, every time you do that, you open the possibility for something to go wrong in the machine. It’s just the way mechanical stuff works. It’s mechanical, electronics, whatever it is. That’s how stuff happens.
Larry Towner: The other thing that you do is there’s cables between the door and the machine. Well, every time you move those cables, you cause to have the potential for pinching a cable or cutting a cable or, shoot man, wire breaks, just after a while, it work hardens and breaks. Anyway, so it sounds funny, but opening the door is one of the reasons why you cause your own service calls.
Larry Towner: Fourth reason why you cause your own service calls, and this has to do with opening that dad gum door again. This is a big problem. You open the door, but you forget to lock it when you leave. If you’ve been in the vending business for a while, you’ve gotten calls where hey, you left the door open, and unless somebody knows how to, on some of the doors, unless somebody knows how to operate it, they’ll lock the door, but they’ll leave the door open, so they might try to help you out, but generally if they say the door’s open, you need to go do it.
Larry Towner: One of the fifth reasons, and this all has to do with opening the door, if you open the door, make sure you close it, number one, make sure you lock it, number two, pull on the door to make sure it’s actually locked, which has always been one of my favorites. I always grab the top corner of the machine and yank on it a little bit, and if it didn’t open, it was good, but before I left every account for a machine that I opened, I coined and bill tested the machines. I made sure that when I shut that door that that machine functioned, at least took money, right, and so … it accepted money, that’s the better thing. It doesn’t take somebody’s money because we don’t want it to take somebody’s money without giving them product, but we make sure that that thing accepts coins and accepts dollar bills because you’d be amazed. Again, when you open those doors and the interlock switches and stuff, and the computers go down, stuff happens. It’s what happens.
Larry Towner: Tom, any questions on that?
Tom Shivers: That’s some great, great tips there. Maybe there’s some questions that people might have about certain service issues that they’ve had that they could add to the comments below.
Larry Towner: Sure.
Tom Shivers: All right.
Larry Towner: [inaudible 00:05:04]
Tom Shivers: Well, yeah, and do subscribe. We have a good time on this show, and we’d like to hear from you, so if you have a question, send it in, and you’ve been watching Vending Operators Cause their own service calls from the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.
Vending operator basic tools Tom: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show here again with Larry Towner, the vending business consultant with Service Group International and we are continuing in this series of vending business tools. Thanks for being here Larry. What are we gonna be talking about today?
Larry: Well, today we’re gonna talk about the basic toolkit for a route man and/or a basic toolkit for an owner/operator.
Tom: What’s first?
Larry: Well, let’s talk about a route man’s basic toolkit. You’re all, if you’re an owner/operator, you’re running route anyway so you’re gonna need these things but one of the big mantras in the vending business is clean, filled, and working and so we’re gonna talk first about cleaning vending machines. There are, it’s really, really important when you go into a, into one of your accounts and you’re servicing an account, that when you leave, that machine is clean. You want it to be clean but at the same time, you wanna be very efficient in how you clean and how you get things done because you want it to be, you want it, it’s your place of business. It needs to look good.
Larry: The first thing that I always like to carry, there’s several different things in cleaning supplies that I always like to carry, but the biggest that most vending companies have is glass because of course, the front of a vending machine is a large piece of glass so I always carried some kind of a glass cleaner. I just used basically Windex or any kinda multipurpose glass cleaner is what I use but I also always carried a squeegee and I’m gonna tell you why I carried a squeegee. The squeegee allows you to take that glass cleaner and clean it much faster and much more efficiently than if you tried to use paper towels all the time. So I always carried glass cleaner and a squeegee, along with paper towels, I would use the paper towels to clean the edges and I would also rub the front of the machine down if it was particularly dirty with the paper towels and then use the squeegee to liquid off.
Larry: There’s all kinds of cleaning techniques but in my opinion, you definitely have to have a squeegee. It makes things go much, much, much faster. I also always carried a soft bristle brush because I would take, and in a dusty location, you can take a soft bristle brush and you can just brush the dust right off the tops and fronts of the machine and you just brush that stuff off and it takes that dust off. Then I would actually brush it first and then I would go clean the glass from there.
Larry: I also found, had great success with one particular product. It’s rare that I support one particular product but I got a tip from a guy one time to use Dow Scrubbing bubbles and what he told me to use Dow Scrubbing bubbles for was that Dow Scrubbing bubbles will remove scuff marks from the fronts of your machines down at the bottom. Now, we all know Tom that nobody ever kicks a vending machine. We all know this to be the self-evident truth but every [inaudible 00:02:55] like in a lot of my locations, I would go in and find black shoe marks on the fronts of my machine.
Larry: Now I don’t when that was happening but it seems like that people must have tripped or something. That’s had to be what it was.
Tom: Yeah, there’s no way they were kicking it.
Larry: No, there’s no way they were kicking it. But anyway, so in their tripping, and they tripped and they happened to scuff the machines up, I found that Dow Scrubbing bubbles, you spray it on there, you let it sit for a minute and then you take the paper towels off, and it really, really works really well at getting those scuff marks off the fronts of the machine. I suppose there’s a generic brand of something like it, but I just had such good luck with that Dow Scrubbing bubbles that I always had Dow Scrubbing bubbles with me to get scuff marks and it’s also a good general purpose cleaner, but it really works well on scuff marks. There’s other products out there. There’s some products called Spray Nine that I know people use. Joe at A & M Equipment uses Spray Nine all the time. It’s a great cleaner for inside your machine. You need some kind of a general cleaner also to use, besides the Dow Scrubbing bubbles, just some kind of water and type mix to clean with.
Larry: But those are the big things. You gotta have the ability to clean the fronts of the machines. And the fronts and the insides too. I used to carry, I also carried a small vacuum with me that I would have in the truck if I needed it to go vacuum out a machine. If a package broke open inside a machine and it spilled contents into the vend tray or did something like that, I would have a small vacuum with me and I could vacuum out the insides of the machines. So those are some of the real basic cleaning tools that you need.
Larry: Let’s go into just the real, actual tools you need if you’re gonna do basic service on a vending machine and the tools are very, very simple. You need a number two Philips head screwdriver. You need a number two flat head screwdriver. I always carried a number one screwdriver that would clip on my pocket, in my pocket with me all the time. I had a quarter inch socket set. I always had an 11/32 nut driver D, and I always had a 5/16 nut driver D also. You’re gonna use both of those if you’re gonna do anything on a vending machine, you are gonna run into those two things. I always carry Cannalocks. I always carry vice scripts. Needle nosed pliers. Electrical tools, I had an electrical tester with me, a voltage tester. I had a strip and crimp tool with me also. Usually, had some electrical tape. Things like that. That’s the basic toolkit that you’re gonna need to do any kind of basic maintenance on a vending machine that does not have to do with doing installations. I mean, just talking about basic maintenance.
Larry: Then I always carried a marketing kit with me as well. And in that marketing kit was like a four inch wide clear tape. I had scissors. I had business cards. I had brochures. I had everything for contact information that somebody, if they asked me, and they needed to get a hold of me or get ahold of the company, I had a piece of information there for ’em. I think that route men should always have business cards of some sort that they can hand out to customers for contact information.
Larry: And then we have money handling tools. So you have money bags and then bill and coin counters. Those are kinda issues for the office to handle but money bags are critical for a route man, he’s gotta have money bags, gotta have a way to count out each machine and put it into his bags.
Larry: Those are the basic tools that you’re gonna need to run a vending a route actually, to actually service accounts. So we’ve talked about hand trucks in a previous show and how we got a basic tool kit. Tom, do you have any questions.
Tom: No, that’s a lot of tools there but I know those are all necessary so is there anything else we’ll be discussing in the next show?
Larry: We’ll probably talk about money handling next.
Tom: All right. Getting more good tips about the vending business. Be sure to subscribe. You’ve been watching Vending operator Basic Tools at The Vending Business Show, a publication of A & M Equipment Sales. More Vending Business Blogs Take Over A Vending Route Or Start Your Own?
Vending Operator Tools Planogram Download the sample planogram: pdf or Word doc
Vending Operator Tools Planogram A planogram is used in retail stores to arrange certain items in specific locations to get the maximum number of sales. In a vending machine we use planograms similarly: Once the items are put in a planogram items that sell in that particular location thus making more money. In the planogram we can then track what sells and what doesn’t. If an item is selling real well you might want to put two rows of the same item. This is a win for you and a win for the customer. An item that isn’t don’t run it. With a planogram you should be able to lower your stales or out of date merchandise in the machine thus saving money. You can then change out your next planogram to what is actually selling in the machine. Remember people get tired of the same old thing so change some items in your planogram every week.
Have all products arranged in the same place which will help with operations, continuity through all machines, helps with efficiency and profits.
Par levels are set to reflect the rate of sales for a product in the machine so that product does not run out but there are few left when the route man shows up.
Vending Operator Tools Planogram Most manufacturers of vending machines will show you where to place items for better sales.
Download the form or create your own, then post it inside your machines so you can see it when you open the door of the machine.
Vending Operator Tools Planogram Tom: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show. Here with Larry Towner of Service Group International. He’s a vending business consultant. Today, we’re talking about tools. Both conceptual tools that will help you be more efficient, and also, physical tools. Thanks for being here Larry. What are we going to start with?
Larry: Well, I thought today, that we would start with a conceptual tool. Vending Operator Tools Planogram One that has a lot to do with marketing and things like that. It’s called a planogram. What a planogram is, is a planogram is how you arrange your machines in the vending business. The concept comes from planogram, if you been in retail, you know what planogram is. You work in a retail environment, planograms are used all through grocery stores and almost any retail business has a planogram. It has certain items in certain places so that you get the maximum number of sales.
Larry: In a vending machine, what that is, is that there’s a couple of reasons to use a planogram. One is that you have your products all in the same place, which is going to help you operationally, so you’ll know what products go where. In particularly if you have a route man or multiple people servicing your machines. You will have continuity through all of your machines, which subsequently gives you better data as far as what’s selling and what’s not selling, and things like that. It’s a very, very powerful tool. It really wants to, rather, it helps you with how you set your machines up. It helps you with your efficiency. It helps you with your profitability.
Larry: In a previous episode, we had discussed where you could actually do placement of the machines, as far as which products go where, and that information is compiled by most of the manufacturers that tell you were to put things.
Larry: Vending Operator Tools Planogram So, what we’ve got here, is we’ve put up a picture here of what a planogram looks like. This is a planogram picture that I built a long time ago. We used it extensively when I was running a vending business. We actually have the word product on the top level and the par level below that. So, the product obviously, is what product are you going to put in there. That depends on the conceptual arrangement of your machines. But, you put your product, and you basically write it in there, or in this case, you can type it in there.
Larry: Par level is the other really important thing. Not everything sells all at once. So, different products sell at different rates. Our goal, when we were running a vending company, was to have machines not run out of product, but also not leave a lot of product left in the machine, which is a very bad use of inventory. We always put par levels in there. A par level, on a really popular selling item like a Snickers, or a Dorito product might be 12. You might put 12 items in there. On a real slow selling product, something that just might not sell that well, you might put a par level of four.
Larry: What you do is, when you come back to the machine, you’ll actually know if you had a par level of four and two items are gone, you know you sold two items. If you come back and you had a par level of 12 and all of the column is empty, well maybe you need to take that par level up to a 14 or something like that.
Larry: That’s the basis of what a planogram is. It’s how you’re going to arrange your machines. Again, you need to, with these forms, and we actually printed them out, and we taped them up on the insides of our machines. We put them up above the changers, so every time we opened the door, we knew what was supposed to be in the machine. That’s kind of an old school way to do it, but I’ll tell you what, it works. It’s inexpensive, and it’s very, very simple.
Larry: Tom, do you have any questions on a planogram?
Tom: So, I guess they’re different for every type of machine, perhaps. But, you can modify this anyway you want?
Larry: You can modify this form anyway you need. You can either add columns or subtract columns. You can cross things out. However you need it to work. Or, you can actually get into the program and actually change the form itself. But, the form isn’t what’s really important. What’s important is the concept and that you actually use it. So, take it and put it in your machines and make sure everybody follows it, or put it in a notebook and carry the notebook. That works too. I always found it easier to leave it in each machine. That way, you never had any doubt as to what’s supposed to be where.
Tom: Alright, Larry. Well, thanks so much. We’ll have a link to download this planogram, so you can just print it off or put it on your computer, modify it, use it the way you want.
Tom: Also, if you want more vending business tips like this, be sure to subscribe. You’ve been watching Vending operator Tools Planogram the Vending Business Show. A publication of A&M Equipment sales.
Servicing New Vending Accounts getting Organized An interview with Larry Towner Servicing New Vending Accounts Getting Organized In the last video, Larry explained how to efficiently load a drink machine. In this video we’ll learn how to organize your truck for efficiency.
When at your warehouse (or Sams Club) or buying product for your accounts, how do you put them in your vehicle? Do you: A. Throw the boxes in your truck helter skelter, B. Open the boxes and throw them in your truck helter skelter, or C. Arrange them in some kind of organized fashion.
Servicing New Vending Accounts Getting Organized is everything – your warehouse and vehicle – so you know where everything is located. We loaded our vehicles like we did our machines.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our video series on how to service a vending account (please share this series with a friend), more videos are on the way.
Tom Shivers: Servicing New Vending Accounts Getting Organized I’m Tom, with the Vending Business Show, here again with Larry Towner, where we’ve been talking about what to do when you land a new account in your vending operation. So last, we talked about to handle snack and drink machines. How to take care of those, stocking them and so now what’s next, Larry?
Larry Towner: Well this is kind of a combination deal. This is what you do before you go to service an account and what to do after you service account. This has to do … We’re gonna talk about how you handle your products, getting them in and out of your vehicles and in and out of your truck.
Larry Towner: Some of the things to think about, Tom, are that, again, we’ve talked about efficiency in the other segments that we did, and back to being efficient, you know. The only thing you really have is your time and we wanna be super, super efficient.
Larry Towner: So I have a question for you. When you’re at your warehouse or you’re at the Sam’s Club and you’re buying the product for your accounts, and you go to put ’em in your vehicle, how do you put ’em in? Do you, A, just throw them in helter-skelter, B, open all the packages and throw them all in helter-skelter, or C, put them in in some kind of an organized fashion?
Tom Shivers: Probably B. But I know that’s wrong.
Larry Towner: Yeah. Well. So here’s the deal right? The way that you would do that is … and I mention this ’cause you wanna be organized. Organization is everything. So when you purchase your products or you go to your warehouse if you have a warehouse, you wanna have your vehicle organized in such a way that you know where your products are. How you choose to do that is your business, but you need to have some sort of a system that organizes your products in a way that you understand, so that you can quickly access those products.
Larry Towner: We worked on a planner-gram, we’ll get into that. That’s an advanced vending concept, so we won’t talk about that right now, we won’t talk about that for some time yet in this series, but we worked on a planner-gram, and basically all our machines were the same. But we used to load our truck just like we loaded our machines, so everything was done by shelf and not so much by column, but definitely by shelf. So all of the shelves were the same, so that when we went to pick a product out of our truck or put product into our truck … it doesn’t matter, it’s one and the same … they went in into specific locations.
Larry Towner: So the top shelf items went in the top shelf, the middle shelf items went in the middle, bottom shelf items went in the bottom. That way … I’m a very simple person. I get confused easily. So if I have ’em all in the same way, very, very simple, the truck looked like the machines. Think that works, Tom?
Tom Shivers: That sounds like you’re cutting down on time there.
Larry Towner: Well we’re cutting down on the time ’cause we wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. So when we would come out of the Sam’s Club or come out of our warehouse … didn’t matter really, was one and the same, they’re all a warehouse … loaded the truck up in that way, and then when we went in to go take our product into the account, came out in the same way.
Larry Towner: And so, critical thing, because you’re not gonna realize how much time you waste if you just walk out and throw the full boxes out into the truck, with no organization, you’re digging and you’re moving and you’re doing this and you’re doing that and you’re moving it. Now, I mentioned that option B, the one you selected, was you open the boxes and just threw everything into the truck. When you go into the account, and you come out of the account, what do you have? You have a lot of open boxes with partial product in it, right?
Tom Shivers: Right.
Larry Towner: ‘Cause you don’t put the whole box out there all the time. You think that’s true, or not?
Tom Shivers: No, probably not. Especially if you have a pick-list.
Larry Towner: Yeah. We talked about a pick-list in one of the previous shows. But you go in, if you take 48 Snickers candy bars in there, you’re not gonna put 48 into the machine. The chances are, unless it’s absolutely their favorite item, you’re not gonna do that.
Larry Towner: So if you just throw the half-full box into the truck when you get done, that box is gonna break open and you’re gonna have Snicker bars all over your truck. Or you’re gonna have bags of potato chips all over your truck. Again, been there, done that, don’t wanna do it again. Terrible waste of time having to pick product up off the floor of your vehicle.
Larry Towner: So have an organizational system for your vehicle. It’s your choice. There’s lots of ways to set your vehicles up. Just know where everything is. That’s what we’ve got for this segment.
Tom Shivers: Excellent stuff there again Larry. Tell us how people can contact you.
Larry Towner: They can get a hold of me, they can contact me at email@example.com. That’s the best way. Send me an email. ServiceGroupInternational, one word, @gmail.com.
Servicing New Vending Accounts Loading Drink Machines An interview with Larry Towner
In the last video in this series, Larry goes into detail about handling the money from your vending machines. In this video,Servicing New Vending Accounts Loading Drink Machines Larry explains how to efficiently load a drink machine.
Do a pic list of the drinks you’ll need. Now is the time to use your hand truck and you’ll want to load them in order from back to front or first in last out.
On average we walked 6-7 miles per day, if you can cut that walking time down you’ll be much better off.
You’ll develop a rhythm for what we call “flippin” bottles and cans.
In the next video, Larry talks about trucks and security issues.
Tom Shivers Servicing New Vending Accounts loading Drink Machines : I’m Tom with the Vending Business show, here again with Larry Towner, and we’ve been talking about what to do when you land a vending account and we just talked about how to handle the money and now what’s next Larry?
Larry Towner: Well, we talked about a snack machine and we talked about handling the money on a snack machine. We haven’t talked about how to service a drink machine and so let’s do a real quick session on a drink machine just as an addendum to the snack machine, they’re very, very similar obviously except you have a lot less product or a lot less choice in your number of products and you have a different set of concerns.
Larry Towner: We should be able to get a drink machine in one video, I’m kind of assuming. So first thing is you know you’re gonna need some drinks. If you do ’em separately, snack machine and drink machine together, you can do ’em separately. Let’s just assume you’re gonna do ’em separately, just because you’re, just because, you’re gonna do ’em separately. If you’re gonna do them separately, you’ve done a pick list of what drinks you’ll need, ’cause you got your snack machine, you then open your drink machine, you look in, you need a case of Coke, a case of Pepsi, a case of Mountain Dew, a case of Diet Coke, you run out to the truck and you go get ’em.
Larry Towner: This is where you really need that hand truck, you need that hand truck or some kind of way to move that product in.
Tom Shivers: Hey Larry.
Larry Towner: Yes.
Tom Shivers: Just real quick. Explain what a pick list is.
Larry Towner: See I’m using jargon and I’m glad you picked me off on that. A pick list is a piece of paper that you take, and it can be cardboard. I used to use three by five cards ’cause they fit in the pocket of my shirt but it’s a piece of card and you actually go through and you pick exactly what products you wanna put into that machine so in a drink machine case, I always worked from left to right so I would look over to the far left and I’d say that was usually diet coke, I’d go I need a diet coke, I don’t need any of the grape, don’t need any of the tea, I need a Dr. Pepper, a Pepsi, a Mountain Dew, and a regular Coke so I’d have those things listed down or say I needed two Coke, whatever the quantity was you could do the same thing in a snack machine. You write down what that pick list. That’s a pick list.
Larry Towner: What am I going to the truck to pick up is what it is. That’s where the term comes from.
Tom Shivers: All right. Great.
Larry Towner: So you got your pick list. You go out to the truck. So yeah and you need to know that. You need to know that that’s a way to do it. So we got out to the truck. We get our pick list. We put the things done the way you, remember if you write ’em out one way up then you’re gonna load them backwards. You always load them in order. I said that with the snack machine and it’s more important with the drinks that you know where each item goes, put ’em on your handtruck or your flatbed. You’re gonna need a way to carry ’em ’cause carrying ten cases of drinks in, that’s where you lose the gym membership really really fast with the amount of time it takes you, the amount of time it takes you is what kills you ’cause that back and forth, we did a study one time.
Larry Towner: This is just kind of a boring little aside but we did a study and we spent on average walking during a day, we walked six to seven miles per day. Our longest walk from truck into a machine was about two hundred yards and our closest one was literally you pull the truck up to the machines but on an average day, about six or seven miles. If you can cut that walking time down, I know it’s good for the gym membership, keeps you young, keeps you healthy, but if you can limit the amount of walking that you do, you’ll be a lot better off. It just takes a whole lot less time so that’s just a quick tip that we have for doing vending route.
Larry Towner: So anyway, you roll in with your stuff, and then you just start filling and you’ll develop for what we call flipping drinks. You’ll learn how they go in, whether they’re bottles or they’re cans, you’ll get into a real rhythm for how to load those drinks up and how to make things happen really smoothly so that’s what you’ll get into, load again from right to left or left to right, always do it the same. Do all of the motions that you make to be exactly the same every time when you’re loading your machines.
Larry Towner: Handling the money on the drink machines again it’s the same as you do with the snack machines. You wanna close out the door. You wanna fill that bag up. You wanna get the money out of the validator and you wanna keep it out of sight as soon as possible. Same thing. Put it into a box or something to take it out of that building and head on your way. Remember, as I told you in the last one, don’t lose the money when you put it in the truck. Make sure you remember where you put it. We’ll get into trucks and security issues and things that happen on your truck or vehicle, whichever it is, in a future show. Any other questions, Tom?
Tom Shivers: Yeah so I guess that’s where we’re headed next in the next video, right?
Tom Shivers: You’ve been watching Servicing New Vending Accounts Loading Drink Machines at the Vending Business show. A publication of A&M Equipment Sales. Check out other blogs at Acquiring New Vending Accounts
Servicing New Vending Accounts Handling Money An interview with Larry Towner
In the last video in this series, Larry explains how to efficiently load a snack machine. In this video, Larry goes into detail Servicing New Vending Accounts Handling Money about handling the money from the machine.
In the vending business security becomes a big issue because the minute the money comes out of that machine, it is vulnerable to being stolen.
I can tell you from personal experience that being unprepared when handling the money can lead to theft. It happens if you aren’t prepared.
1. You need some kind of bag to put the money in.
Something that can handle lots of coin and dollar bills
I always did money last for a number of reasons, but you should either do it first or last.
2. When it’s time to handle the money, you want that bag ready and open.
Use the door of the machine as a block/barrier
Pull the coin box out and pour it into the bag
Slide out the bill validator and into the bag it goes
Close the bag up
Hide the bag in a box of chips and cover it up
These are simple security measures that allow you to handle the money in the safest way possible.
As you leave the building keep your head on a swivel because bad guys won’t come after you if you’re looking around.
In the next video, Larry will tell us how to load a drink machine efficiently.
Tom Shivers:Servicing New Vending Accounts handling Money I’m Tom, with the Vending Business show. Here again with Larry Towner. We are in the midst of a series where we’re talking about what to do once you land a vending account. In this particular show, we’re talking about New Vending Accounts Handling Money how to handle the money and a few other things. Take it away, Larry.
Larry Towner: We left off where we had filled all the snack machine up. We had gone tray by tray and we had had everything handled in the most efficient way. Now, the question is what do you do next? Where are you at? You’ve got a couple of concerns. Let’s go to the big one. Everybody likes to handle the money, right Tom?
Tom Shivers: Maybe.
Larry Towner: Maybe? Yeah, now there’s the key word, maybe. I say that in that there are some concerns of course when you’re dealing with money. It is not what you think. It’s not all that great. If you haven’t paid attention, in the vending business security becomes a pretty strong issue. One of the big security issues is when you handle your money because the minute that money comes out of that machine, it becomes vulnerable to being stolen. It can get stolen out of the machine too, but generally if you’re keeping your machines locked, they’re gonna have to break into that machine. I can tell you from personal experience, if you take the money out and you put it in a bag or you happen to take the dollar bills out and set them down behind you because you’re gonna get a bag to put them in, guess what happens? You set them down, somebody walks by, and poof, they’re gone. I say it because it’s happened. Or, somebody distracts you and somebody else grabs the money. You think it doesn’t happen, but it happens all the time if you’re not careful.
Larry Towner: When we talk about handling money, we wanna talk about a couple of issues. One is you need some kind of a bag to put your money in. We invested in some nice heavy duty canvas bags that you can buy through the various different banking outlets. Your bank people can hook you up with that kind of information, and there’s some blogs around on the vending business, but you want some decent money bags. Something that can hopefully handle quite a bit of coin and quite a number of bills. That’s the first thing. You need to acquire some kind of a bag. In a pinch, I can tell you I’ve used lunch bags. Forget the money bags, stop at the local grocery store, grab some paper bags. It’s just not a great solution for a long term situation. Anyway, when you get done filling your machines, I always did money last. You either do it first or last, it’s your choice. Do it first or last. We always did it last because we took it to the truck and the truck left the scene at that point, so they would’ve had to run the truck down to steal the money from us, not break into the truck to steal the money.
Larry Towner: With that said, it’s your choice folks. You can do it however you want, but that’s just a tip that we use. When you get ready to handle that money, you want that bag ready and open. I myself, and I trained all my people to do this, I used the door of the machine as a barrier and a block. I would never handle money without having the door usually up against my shoulder. I would wedge myself between the door and the machine and have my body blocking how much money I was handling. Because they, meaning the bad guys or the people in the account … First off, let’s even step back from that. You don’t want the people in the account to know how much money you’re taking out of that account. You just don’t. You want to give the impression that you’re not taking very much money out of that account because that just makes it easier for you to be in the vending business.
Larry Towner: Anyway, I always blocked that money. I put myself between the doors. I always did coin first. I would pull that coin box out and pour that money into the bag. At that point then, I would turn with this arm, reach, and I would open the bill valve there and slide the money out. Into the bag it goes in one big sweep. Put it in, close the bag up. You think I’m paranoid, but trust me. There’s enough times, if you do it long enough, and like Tom said it’s been 20 plus years of being in the vending industry, only takes getting stolen from one time, just once, and you’ll learn your lesson. Right? Does that make sense, Tom?
Tom Shivers: Yeah, it does. Makes a lot of sense.
Larry Towner: You wanna be quick in getting that money. At that point, I always took that money and would put it into one of my boxes and bury it underneath the chips. Do not set it out on top of anything. Do not set it out where somebody can snatch and grab it and it’s gone. It’s common sense, but I’ve seen it done over and over and over again. Put the money into a box, cover it up. If you really wanna be sneaky, as it were, you’re picking up money from multiple machines, put your money into multiple boxes. Just so long that you don’t forget where you put the money. I’ll tell you a quick story. We used to do that in the truck too, when we would do multiple stops. We would put the money around in the trucks in various different places. One day, we lost a set of money from one of the machines and for the life of us, it was myself and one other guy, for the life of us we could not remember where the money went and we thought we had gotten stolen.
Larry Towner: About two years later, I was cleaning the truck out and I found that bag of money. We had done a really good job of hiding it, I’m just gonna tell you. It was really a good job of hiding it. It took us two years to find it. Anyway, those are some real simple security measures. I know, it’s hard to believe, but that’s what it went. Those are simple security measures that allow you to handle the money in one of the safest ways possible. As you egress the building, as you leave the building, keep your head on a swivel. Be looking around. There are people, and again it depends on the account. There’s lots of accounts where you’re completely safe. But, if you’re in a kinda public location, keep your head on a swivel. Be looking around. You don’t know who’s gonna come around. All they want’s the money most of the time. By the way, if you ever do get confronted by someone, give them the money. Save your life. Let it go. It’s not worth it. These are just little tips. You start looking around, and I swear to God, bad guys won’t come after you if you’re looking around. They just don’t, because they know that they’re coming after you. Little tip, big payoff. Big, big, big payoff.
Tom Shivers: Thanks, Larry. Excellent stuff. What’s the next topic we’re gonna be talking about?
Larry Towner: We still haven’t worked on drink machines, so I guess we better work on a drink machine next.
Tom Shivers: All right. You’ve been watchingServicing New Vending accounts Handling Money at the Vending Business show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.
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.
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.
Servicing New Vending Accounts Part One With a new account you aren’t sure how much product you will sell, but over time you will learn. So when you are new think about these things:
How much extra product do you take?
How do you get your product from your vehicle to the machine – hand truck, platform dolly, etc? (drinks are particularly heavy)
What time of day would be best to service the account?
How to get the products into the machine is next in this series.
Servicing New Vending Accounts Part One Tom Shivers: I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, here with Larry Towner again, who is a vending business consultant and has been in the vending business for 20 or more years. Today, we’re talking about Servicing New Vending Accounts Part One what to do when you’ve got an account. Larry, let’s just role play on this one. I’ve just landed a new account, and by the way, it’s at a gym here by that I go to. What do I do now?
Larry Towner,: Let’s take a step back and let’s think about a lot of things. You’ve got your machines in there already, you’ve chosen your product, I’m assuming you’ve got your product already, you’ve got your idea of what you’re gonna put in there, it’s already in the machine, so from here on out, we’re looking at of you actually having to service the account. Is that a correct statement?
Tom Shivers: That’s right.
Larry Towner,: Okay. All right. These are things, this is kind of what we like to call this part of planning, because you have to think about what you’re doing. The first thing I wanna say is you have an idea of how much you think you’re gonna sell on any given product, but if you have a new account, and you don’t have a lot of experience, you have to be prepared for when you go in. What we’ll do, eventually accounts get to where you know what they’re gonna need, because you’ve been there so much and the clientele doesn’t basically change that, but when you go in new and when you have no experience, there’s a bunch of things you have to think about.
Larry Towner,: The first thing is, how much extra product do you actually take? Do you take 50 bags of chips in? Do you take in 50 candy bars? Pastries? What do expect to take in there? We always used to go in and do, just as a tip, we would go in and do a little recon beforehand. We would walk into an account and see what’s sold a couple of days before we were getting ready to service it, so that we knew what to bring because it’s different account to account.
Larry Towner,: For the new guy, I’m gonna ask a question. Tom, you’ve never run vending route. How do you get the equipment into the account … or get your product into the account?
Tom Shivers: Probably with a hand truck.
Larry Towner,: Okay. Do you have a hand truck first off?
Tom Shivers: Not yet.
Servicing New Vending Accounts Part One Larry Towner,: Not yet. All right. You have a lot of choices when it comes to going out and buying hand trucks and or ways to move your equipment. There’s platform dollies, there’s hand trucks, there’s pallet jacks, things like that. There’s all kinds of things that you’ll see to move product around. Probably the most common is the hand truck, but I do know several vendors that have run very successfully with platform dollies, which is a four wheel dolly with a fold down handle, that you can fold it up and they stack their product up on that. You’re gonna need something to move product, particularly if you’re moving drinks. Drinks are very, very heavy and if you have to move eight to ten cases of drinks, while you can do it by hand, meaning you can take two cases of drinks a time and walk them in there. You’ll certainly … by the way, speaking of your gym membership, you’ll be dropping that, because you’ll get very fit very rapidly.
Larry Towner,: That’s correct. Even if you don’t, you still have to move all that product in there, and if your accounts are good accounts, you’re gonna need to move a pretty good bind of material in. Thinks about how you’re gonna get things from your vehicle into the account. We can go on about vehicles as well, but we’re gonna stick to a single account right now, and just say that somebody’s working out of a car, pick up truck, or a small van, and you’ll be fine running one piece of equipment, I mean one account out of a small vehicle.
Larry Towner,: There’s a concern right away. Tom, when do you think you would wanna be in there servicing that account? These are things you have to think about. What time of day would be the best? Well, there’s a couple of questions. First off is, in the case of your gym, the very first thing you have to think about is when are they open? Right? In your gym’s case, they’re open from when to when?
Tom Shivers: They’re open, I guess, like 6AM until about 10, 11PM, but the thing is, there are a lot people there the very early hours in the morning, and then they’re a lot, the most people there in the evening. Probably the best time is in the afternoons or in the late morning to early afternoons, or something like that.
Larry Towner,: And why would you choose that?
Tom Shivers: There’s fewer people there then.
Larry Towner,: The people do what? They get in your way, don’t they?
Tom Shivers: Of course.
Larry Towner,: Yeah, and so vending is a lot about efficiency. It’s about getting in, getting your machines filled and getting out. We don’t mean that in a negative way, it’s just your time is money, you wanna get in there, you wanna be efficient, super fast, fill your machines quick and get out. Little tricks like that, we’ll probably go into it another show, but there’s a whole way to load a machine so that you are super efficient and you can do more stops in a day. More stops in day, these are more advanced concepts and things like that, and we’ll do a lot of this at the vending shows coming up, but there’s all kinds of things where you need to be very, very fast.
Larry Towner,: At this part, we’re gonna stick to that single kind of account. You’ve got your times narrowed down that you’re gonna go in there in the mid-mornings to mid-afternoons, because that’s the time when they’re the least busiest. In a more traditional business type sense, the times that you wanna be there are in the non-break hour type businesses. If you go into a manufacturing plant, they have a generally predetermined breaks on a specific hour of the days, and those are the times you try to stay out of the break room, because that’s the times when everybody’s coming into the break room.
Larry Towner,: You gotta think about those kinds of things first. You gotta think about the ability of how you’re getting your product from point A to point B. Then you have to think about how do you get the product into the machines. Well, it sounds easy, you just put them in and everything works, but reality of that statement is-
Tom Shivers: Let’s stop this right here.
Larry Towner,: Go ahead.
Tom Shivers: And pick that up in the next one, if we can Larry, where we’ll talk about that part of how to get the products into the machine. Is that all right?
Larry Towner,: Operating success tips from a professional, right?
Tom Shivers: Thanks. You’ve been watching Servicing New Vending Accounts Part One at the Vending Business Show
You’ve been keeping up with the Federal legislation as it relates to Government Regulations School Vending, what are you learning?
A couple months ago the USDA came out with a stringent ruling with a 60-day open opinion on it. The ruling is basically highly controlling of the content on the snacks and drinks served in schools. They are proposing tohave Government Regulations School Vending and regulate school stores, ala-carte lines, vending; they say they aren’t touching the fundraising, but the wording says:
“If there are too many fundraisers selling the traditional items, that will be regulated as well.”
It should be about choice, not regulation.
The USDA is focused on the childhood obesity issue in schools and vending seems to be an easy bulls eye. But there are so many other ways students get these items that it seems the wrong approach and too much regulation. The schools don’t want it either and are in favor of choice; they make money on the commissions; they are struggling with many cut backs. They don’t want the regulations to deal with and they don’t want to lose the funds.
Are there places that are benefiting from healthy vending?
I know from personal experience and from the corporate side, people want the choice. It’s good to have the option vs. “I’m told this is all you can have.” When the Government Regulations School Vending, I tend to find what I want elsewhere.
The government regulations school vending has also made a big push to get the calorie disclosure for all products and this might be a good compromise. Most people already know what’s what in terms of nutrition, but if you still don’t know what to pick, here’s all the calorie and nutrition info for each product. All vending machines are moving toward calorie and nutrition disclosure in 2014.
Do we want to be completely 100% healthy vending in a location? Absolutely not. Do we want to provide the choice? Yes.
There are many places where 100% healthy vending has gone into a government location and a year later you read the report that shows sales have plummeted and things aren’t doing that well. What happens to us vendors? It requires us to raise the prices and they don’t sell as fast so we’re dealing with expired product and a loss.
It seems like the government is saying “if you really don’t have other options as a child, you learn to chose what is more healthy.” What do you say about that?
In theory yes, your starving and trapped on an island that has nothing but bananas and coconuts, yeah you’re going to choose the healthy items. But these kids, and I have kids of my own who are teenagers. We are preparing them to go out into the world, especially high school kids, get jobs, join the military, become self sufficient, do you really believe that if you tell them “you can’t have this” that they’re not going to find a way around it?
We’ve already seen this with the American Beverage Association agreement that Coca Cola and Pepsi made. They agreed they would only stock certain types of drinks with less sugar. Sales plummeted, but what happened… kids stopped by QuikTrip before and during school. They find ways to circumvent it.
On top of that you aren’t teaching them anything, the forbidden is always more enticing. When you ban it, they want it even more.
What is the ABA?
The American Beverage Association (a trade organization representing the nonalcoholic beverage industry in the US) worked with Coca Cola and Pepsi to come up with a plan to meet these so-called healthy requirements and in the schools they agreed on the drinks that they will stock.
When this happened, sales went down, the kids found ways around it. And when some kids can’t find a coke classic, they do buy a diet coke – but it’s not solving the problem of obesity. It should be about doing things in moderation.
It’s my job as a parent to deal with obesity, not the government’s and not the school’s job either.
On a federal level, what can a vending operator do to let their voice be heard?
1. Look at the USDA website, especially when they are open for comments on policy from the public.
2. Contact your local representative, their job is to listen to you.
3. NAMA has been very helpful. Eric Dell, senior VP of government affairs, has been right there on the front lines. They can help with communicating with the government. The more operators we have contacting them, the more ammunition that they have at the ground level.
It’s almost understandable to regulate the elementary level students, but high school students? Really?
I have accurate records of sales in the schools we operate in showing what students are purchasing per capita between healthy vs. traditional items and it is not what you think.
When you aren’t in the vending industry it’s not obvious that there’s a business behind a vending machine. Healthy items are more expensive and when a customer asks to stock only healthy items, they often act like they are being price gouged when in reality the costs are higher for those items.
Episode Transcript: Tom Shivers: This is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Seden Harrison of Smart Source Vending. Today we’re talking about Government Regulations School Vending. How are you today, Seden?
Seden Harrison: I’m good, Tom, how are you.
Tom Shivers: I’m doing good. And I know you’ve been involved in keeping up with some of federal legislation and what’s going on there, especially as it relates Government Regulations School Vending. You’re doing vending here in the state of Georgia, what are you learning in that area?
Seden Harrison: I do know that, there’s different things going on different states as far as regulation that’s pending and out there, but the big thing that happened a couple of months ago is the USDA came out with a ruling of very, very stringent, and they came out with this ruling, and it had a 60 day open time for people to come in and to make their opinions known, whether they were for it or against it, and the ruling is, and I don’t have the details of what it is. But basically it’s pretty much very highly controlled as far as what the fat, the sugar, the salt and all these contents on all these snacks and on the drinks and everything.
Seden Harrison: What they’re proposing is not only to the vending, but in these schools, they want to regulate the school stores, they want to regulate any of the a la carte lines, they want to regulate vending, they say they are not touching any of the fundraisers, but when you read the ruling like the following paragraph says that if there are too many fundraisers that are selling the traditional items, that that will also be controlled. It’s, for me as an operator, and we are in a lot of schools, it’s very scary because the reality is the students, adults, everybody, it’s about choice, and when you tell someone, not to pick on granola bars, but, here’s a vending machine and it’s all granola bars and carrots and whatever that somebody has deemed as healthy, it doesn’t work that way. If somebody wants to get their Snickers bar, they’re going to find a way to get their Snickers bar.
Seden Harrison: Right not the USDA is focusing on this obesity issue and they’re focusing on the schools. Vending seems to be an easy bullseye because you’ve got this box with all these items that are deemed as unhealthy, and it’s just a very, very easy target. There’re so many other ways that these students can get these items, and they do get these items, that I think the approach is incorrect, and it’s just too much government control.
Seden Harrison: The schools don’t want it either. The schools aren’t looking for this either. The schools want to provide the choice. The schools make money on commissions from all these services, and that they utilize for things they need. All these schools are struggling with so many cutbacks and so many hurdles. They don’t need the regulation to have to deal with, and they don’t need to lose the funds.
Tom Shivers: It sounds like there’s a lot of fear about this issue. Are there some places that are really benefiting from healthy vending?
Seden Harrison: I think again, I don’t claim to know everything, but I know from our experience from the corporate side and from the school side, and things that I read, people just want a choice. I don’t know that there’s any operators out there … well, I shouldn’t say that. I think there are definitely some companies that are franchise sort of situation, and they market only the healthy aspect of things. That may be working great for them. I don’t even pretend to speak for them. I just know from personal experience, even on the corporate side of things, you go into a company and they want to have the choice. Me as an individual, myself as an adult, anybody walking up to a machine, if you go to that machine and you want to purchase a snack, it’s good to have the options versus I’m being told this is all I’m allowed to buy. And I’m not going to do it. If I don’t want it, I’m going to find another way to get the product.
Seden Harrison: This is the way in everything out there. Whether you drive to a restaurant that has healthier options or you choose to drive to a restaurant that has less healthy options, again it’s about personal choice, making that choice. I know the government too has made a big push about the calorie disclosure and trying to get all that. As much as that is a difficult thing for all of us as vendors to do, and I know they haven’t even figured out quite how that’s going to happen, that may be the compromise. That might be the middle ground that says, “Here’s a way to present the nutritional information on the products in a machine, and if you really have no clue still what to pick, guess what you can read the calorie information and the nutrition information.
Seden Harrison: The pointless side of that is I think most people still know whether they read what’s on the packaging, what’s good for them and what’s not good for them. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question. Do we want to be completely, 100% healthy vending in a location? Absolutely not. Do we want to provide the choice for whether it’s to students or to adults? Yes. The government is trying so hard, even … and I don’t know exactly which states, but I’ve read articles about different control in government buildings where they’re removing, it’s a county building or whatever, and they’re removing all their traditional items. And they’re only going to stock healthy items. And a year later you read the report that sales have plummeted and that things are not doing that well.
Seden Harrison: Unfortunately what happens to us in the industry is we go and we try to put all these healthier items in a machine. One, you have to raise the price on everything, and two, they just don’t sell as fast. Us as an operator, we’re dealing with expired product and a loss on everything. Nobody thinks past that point. They just say, “Oh, yes, stock it with all this stuff that’s supposed to be healthier for you.” It’s just not …
Tom Shivers: It seems like one of the government points is, “Hey, if you really don’t have other options, then you start, if you’re a child, you start learning to choose what’s more healthy?” What do you say about that?
Seden Harrison: All right, you want to hear my opinion about that? In theory, yes. You’re starving, you’re trapped on an island. It’s the only vending machine on the island has bananas and coconuts, nothing else. Yeah, that’s the only way you’re going to be forced to buy that situation. But these kids, without a doubt, and I have kids of my own that are teenagers, that I am constantly trying to get them to eat the right things and be healthy in their choices and everything. These kids, especially high school kids, that we are supposedly preparing to go out into the world, whether it’s go off to college, join the military, get jobs, become self-sufficient. Do you really believe that if they want to have a Coke, and I’m not trying to pick up one product, a sugar drink. Or if they’re trying to have a chocolate bar or candy or whatever.
Tom Shivers: Or sports drink.
Seden Harrison: Or Doritos or sports drink. Do you really, really think that if you tell them, “You can’t have this,” they’re not going to find a way around it? It’s already happening in schools. Schools where a few years back the American beverage association made an agreement with Coke and Pepsi that they were only going to stock these certain types of drinks, whether it’s Coke Zeros and Diet Cokes and waters, and not put the sugar drinks it. Sales plummeted.
Seden Harrison: But what’s happening? I have kids that are high school kids in these schools. These kids stop at Quick Trip in the morning before school, or they run across, if there happens to be a Quick Trip close to the school, they leave between breaks, even though they’re not supposed to leave campus. They leave campus, they go get their drinks. Kids bring it from home. They find ways to circumvent it. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Seden Harrison: And on top of that, the forbidden is always more enticing. You’re not teaching anything. You’re not teaching anybody anything other than when you tell them, “ban it, ban it, ban it, ban it,” they want it even more. All of this … see you got me mad and started now.
Tom Shivers: You mentioned the ABA. What is that exactly?
Seden Harrison: The ABA is the American Beverage Association. Coke and Pepsi, and I don’t remember how many years ago, Coke and Pepsi made, on a push to move forward on this initiative to show basically the world, the industry, that they are all about concern for the health and well being of children. They said, “Look, we’re going to come into this agreement with the American Beverage Association and come up with a plan of which drinks meet these so called healthier requirements. When we go into any of the schools, these are the only types of drinks we’re going to stock.”
Seden Harrison: That’s what’s going on. What I’m not sure about is, I’m don’t know if that’s in all the states. I know that’s here in Georgia, and I’m guessing it’s across the country. Anyway, that’s kind of what’s going on with the schools, but like I said, we’ve seen in action what’s happened. The sales went down, kids find a way around it. Yes, the occasional kids, when they can’t find anything else they go and they buy their Diet Coke instead of a regular Coke. They do all that, but it again is not solving the problem. The problem, truly, there is an obesity problem. There’s a health problem from adults to kids to everything. But it’s about being educated, it’s about knowing the right choices. It’s about doing things in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of snacks a week. If you have a Coke or you have a candy bar. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is balanced with healthy activity too.
Seden Harrison: Are there people that abuse it? There’s absolutely. I have to stop my kids from coming home and popping open a Cokes a day. I have question how many they had, and I try to limit them to one a day. Do they get around it? Of course they do, and I have to watch what they’re doing? Of course I have to. It’s my job as a parent. It’s not the government’s job. And it’s not the school’s job either. They have plenty on their plate.
Tom Shivers: On a federal level what kind of things can a vending operator do let their voice be heard?
Seden Harrison: I know when the ruling came out there was an open period where you could comment on the ruling. If you go to the USDA website, you can actually look up the ruling, you can read all the comments. They’re open for public view. What I have done, personally, there’s a couple of things. Contact your local representative for one. Their job is to listen to what you have to say, and if they can do anything to assist, they are your representative, they need to hear how businesses are affected in the area.
Seden Harrison: Above and beyond that, the biggest support and the biggest help I’ve received is through our association NAMA. They have been so great, and Erik Dell who is the senior VP, I believe, of Government Affairs. He is right there on the front lines. He has been so responsive, so amazing, so informative, guiding me through this. Not only him, but his staff too. I’ve written letters to different people, and I can send it to them. They read it, they proof it, they make sure I don’t sound like I’m just angry and spewing a bunch of stuff. They point me in the right direction, and they help me draft these letters so that they sound very good and I make very valid points.
Seden Harrison: The more operators that we have contacting them, the more ammunition that they have from the ground level to go, “look, you’re picking on an industry that is not going to solve this problem that exists out there. It has nothing to do with this industry. The schools too, the same thing.” The problem isn’t in the schools, it all starts at home, it starts at habits with home and what’s going, and what these kids are learning. The most ironic thing I go back to is trying to regulate high school kids who have mobility. They have jobs. They have money in their pockets. They have cars. To ban them, it’s almost understandable to say to the little ones that are very … even at home I’m sure not allowed to eat as much of the traditional items and have free access to the pantry. You control all that a lot more. I can even understand even on that level. But high school students? It’s so counterproductive to make the government to come in and control what they’re eating.
Seden Harrison: And another point I have to make is, without divulging all the details on sales, if you … I have accurate records on what the sales are in each of the schools that we are a part of. The quantity purchased from these kids is not as high as you would think. The reason it seems so high is when you deal with student populations of these big schools of 2,000-3,000 students, you’ve got a lot of students versus an office of 100 employees. 2,000 kids in a week, of course they’re going to purchase items and the numbers seem high. But when you break it down as to what they’re spending per week, per student, and you take an average, the number is very, very low. It’s not near what they seem to be thinking is going on.
Tom Shivers: In terms of the traditional versus healthy?
Seden Harrison: In terms of traditional versus healthy. For example, the way … some of the things I’ve read, they make it sound like each student is spending $10 a day on snacks and drinks. Their whole meal consumption is unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy. Are there some students that do that? There is no doubt there are some students that do that. And are there some students that don’t even go near any of this stuff? There’s some students that don’t even touch any of that stuff. It’s all about averages. It’s all about the balance. If you look at the balance. The usage is not the way people think. That’s my two cents.
Tom Shivers: That’s what I mean. If somebody wanted to get a breakdown on the numbers from the government without crossing the-
Seden Harrison: I’ve already volunteered all my sales information to these parties. To the USDA. To NAMA and everybody. I’ve said I have absolutely no problem showing this to you to prove to you that it’s not what you think. Unfortunately, I also get it. In theory I get what this is. I get it. But, as always when you’re on the other side of it and you’re a part of it and you’re in the industry, and you learn, I mean, I had a different view of the vending industry too. One of the things with vending, you almost don’t even think about it being a whole business behind it when you’re not in the industry. Everyone thinks that a vending machine, “Why aren’t things super cheap in here? Why is this much? Why is that much?”
Seden Harrison: No one thinks past the fact that there’s a whole business running behind it with all the operations and overhead and everything else. I’m going off on a different tangent, but it goes to the healthy when companies say, “I want you to stock only healthy products in here,” and then you tell them, “I’m sorry I can’t sell this product for less than $2 or $1.50. And they’re upset over that. They think you’re price gouging them, but you’re not. Your cost is high and the items are more expensive for those items.
Tom Shivers: Right. They can work in some environments. I’ve read where they do in certain areas. But across the board-
Seden Harrison: Well they do work. But again it’s choice. We have Avanti Markets in place too that have a wide variety of stuff. But both items sell. The healthier stuff sells and the maybe not-so-healthy sells. Inconsistent. I can see purchases on different people and one day somebody’s deciding they want to buy something healthier, and the next day they want that candy bar. It’s again choice. Provide choice for everybody.
Tom Shivers: Thanks Seden for sharing with us. Tell us a little more about your business.
Seden Harrison: We’ve been in the business not super long. Over four years. It’s growing. We love it and we’re learning a lot. This whole new USDA regulation or potential regulation is definitely caused a huge concern because we’re growing as I said, and we’re growing by word of mouth, which is wonderful, but you just don’t know if the government’s going to shut things done and pull the rug out from under us, and what exactly is going to happen. But we’re hoping for the best and just plowing for the best and moving forward. We love it. It’s been a great learning experience. Growing and learning every day basically.
Tom Shivers: You’ve been listening to the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.