Vending Operations Making More Money Chuck Reed of MEI facilitates a panel of five outstanding vending operators to emphasize the main points:at the Nama show about Vending Operations Making More Money. Vending Operations Making More Money These large vending operators are talking about the basics of making money in the vending business and some of the new technology that keeps track of sales and inventory. There are new inventory controls from the warehouse to the route truck and into the vending machine. Vending Operations Making More Money a lot of the telemetry that are on vending machines can now tell if the machine is working or not and send a message when it is not. Recyclers were a big thing at this conference thus generating more vending profit. Installing credit card readers and telemetry that goes with it was also a big plus. To increase your vending business or keeping it at a manageable size. Good employees make mor profit. A good route man is worth his weight in gold. He sees your customer every day and can keep that account for you. Employee pay make sure some sort of commission. The better job he does the mmore money he makes and you make. Listen to some of the great ideas these guys come up with. You have been listening to Vending Operations Making More Money at The Vending Business Show only at A&M Equipment Sales. For More information Acquiring New Vending Accounts
Smart Phone Ap and the Vending Machine An interview with Neil Swindale of VendCentral
Excerpts from the interview:
Smart Phone Ap and the Vending Machine “There’s a big opportunity in mobile right now and we thought it was good timing to tweek it so it can fit the needs of vending companies around the country…”
“It allows the customer to pick up a smartphone, scan a QR code on the vending machine and it comes right to our mobile request platform and from there a customer can communicate directly with the vending machine manager.”
“It’s a two step process: 1. We design the app where they tell us what buttons go on it. The default buttons include request a refund, tell us how we’re doing, report a machine issue, request your favorite product… 2. We redesign your sticker that goes on the vending machine… include the phone number and the QR code that takes customers to the mobile request platform.”
“It involves a small upfront fee and a small ongoing monthly fee… It’s very affordable.”
“We’ve had customers tell us this is exceptionally good on a sales presentation to really help win accounts… an app for customer service.”
Smart Phone Ap and the Vending Machine Tom: I’m Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show here with Neil Swindale of VendCentral. He’s been in the full line vending business for 15 years, and sold it his own business. Also, he previous to that worked with Coke, Frito Lay, and Nestle Water. So, thanks for being here, Neal.
Neil: I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you very much.
Tom: Today, we’re talking about your smartphone app for vending machines. What inspired you to create that smart phone app?
Neil: Well, we’ve been working on it for about a year, but we put it on the shelf, and I recently came back from the NAMA Coffee and Tea Show in New Orleans, and I sat next to a computer engineer on the way home. And all we did was talk about mobile, and how things in the mobile community are blowing up. And I told him a little bit about the app that we started a year ago, and he was the guy that just kind of inspired me to take it off the shelf and continue with that development. Because with, I think over 75% of the people that own cellphones have got smart phones. So, there’s just big opportunity in mobile right now, and we just thought it was perfect timing to bring it off the shelf and tweak it so it can fit the needs of vending companies around the country. And sure enough, we launched it about two and a half months ago, and it’s selling like hot cakes. So, we’re pretty excited about it.
Tom: Well, what does the smart phone app do exactly?
Neil: So basically what it is, when you’re shopping out of a vending machine, certain things can happen. You could potentially lose your money. You could … A product could get stuck. Maybe your Diet Coke selection is running out on Tuesday and the route guy’s not getting there ’til Wednesday. So, the smartphone app allows the customer to pick up a smartphone, scan a QR code that is on the vending machine, and it comes to what we call our Mobile Request Platform. And from there a customer can communicate directly with the vending machine management. Instead of either picking up the phone and calling, which a lot of people don’t like to do, or going over and bugging the facility manager to tell them their problem and the facility manager’s busy doing what they do, or timing it to meet the route guy. So, this way the customer can talk directly with vending management and let them know what’s going on.
Tom: How does a vending operator get started with this smartphone app?
Neil: So basically, it’s a two-step process. One is we design the app, where they tell us what buttons are going to go on it. Now, the default buttons are request a refund, tell us how we’re doing, report a machine issue, request your favorite product. And then we’ll do two or three buttons underneath it. One, if you’ve got a company video, we can link to the company video. We can refer you to friends if they think that the service is quite good. They can refer it to a friend by clicking a different button, and then another button usually clicks over to the full website. And then we’ve had other companies expand it out to include their micro markets. One customer’s put a link directly to his Yelp account. So, the platform is easily expandable to suit whatever a vending company’s doing. So, that’s part one.
Neil: Part two is we’ll redesign your sticker that goes on the vending machine. So right now, it’s probably just got your phone number on there and probably an email address or a website address. Now, we’ll redesign the sticker, include the phone number, as well as the QR code that the customers will scan to take them right to the mobile request platform. So, it’s pretty simple. It takes us probably about two to three days to get the mobile app programed and up and running. And then usually three to four days of back and forth designing to get the sticker exactly how a customer wants to see it.
Tom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay, so what is the cost for getting going with one of these?
Neil: We’ve got a price list and it’s three tiers, just depending on the size of the company. But it’s basically a small, upfront fee and then a small monthly fee to keep it going, and it’s not a monthly fee that’s per machine, it’s just a flat monthly fee. And then at full service, we buy the domain name that hosts the platform, we support the platform. We expand the email bandwidth out if necessary, if a lot of calls come in, we can expand that out. So yeah, it’s very affordable. We’ve got about 25 customers up and running on it already, and we’re only two and a half months in, and I’ve sort of had a lot of communication with the first customers that took it, and they said, Neil, this is the slickest tool that has come through the vending channel for a while that can legitimately help us grow our business and save our business as well, for extremely affordable price.
Neil: A lot of this kind of wireless technology that is out there now that you can get some pretty good data and improve on customer service, it’s pretty expensive. You’re paying, you know, sometimes $10, $12 per machine per month to get that sort of data, and it’s sort of more machine data, whereas ours is a lot cheaper than that. I mean, basically we’re talking 100s of dollars upfront and then somewhere between $25 and $100 a month for the monthly fee. It’s extremely affordable. We’ve had a lot of customers tell us that it is exceptionally good on a sales presentation, so it can really help you win accounts. And that’s the thing about vending is that everyone’s doing pretty much the same thing, and you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the other vending companies, and one of the ways is obviously customer service. So, to have an app that is designed specifically for customer service, it’s a big point of differentiation.
Tom: Anything else operators should know?
Neil: No, I think get in quick. Like I said, it’s brand new technology and it’s just a great way to one up the other venders. If you’re walking in on a sales presentation, what some other customers have done and stuff, put the QR code on their sales presentation, and then they get the facility manager in the meeting to scan that QR code, and then the facility managers will immediately see the platform, and they’ll get it. I mean, it’s very simple. Once they see that platform, the facility manager will totally understand how it can benefit them.
Neil: I think in the past too, vending owners invest a lot of money in setting up these customers with equipment and everything, and we kind of put our faith in the hands of the route driver. And the route guys are out calling on maybe 30 or 40 customers, and this app just supports the route guy. The management are going to see requests coming in from this app, and they can actually go to the route guy, and say, hey listen, we’re getting quite a few calls from this bank and equipment, what’s going on? Why are we running out of Diet Coke so early? Do we need to put another column in there? And it saves the facility manager getting bombarded with requests.
Neil: I know a lot of venders around the country over the years if you’ve been in this business a long time, you’re going to get a phone call from a facility manager going, “Hey, thanks for the last five years of service, but come and pick up your machines, because we’ve decided to change because the service wasn’t that great.” As a business owner, they might not have even known that they had bad service. So, with this app in place, if you start getting a lot of requests coming in from the app, you’ll obviously know that there’s a problem, os you can maybe send a customer service rep out there and just keep an eye on things, and check with the facility manager that everything’s cool and you’re on top of your game basically.
Tom: Well, Neil, thanks for sharing. Tell us where people can find out more about the smartphone app as well as about your business.
Neil: Yeah, so we’re … Our company name is VendCentral, and we’re online at vendcentral.com, and we’ve been in business now about seven years. And we basically provide marketing services, web design, search engine optimization, social media video production. We’ve got probably about 135 customers between Hawaii and New York and then a couple up in Canada. But yeah, the mobile app is featured predominantly on our website, and yeah, if anyone has any extra questions or want to know a little bit more about it, just check out our website or give me a call.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks When it comes to using vending machines, we all have our fond associations. For many, vending machines bring connotations of going swimming when we were young and eagerly tucking into a packet of chips and cup of soup from the cafeteria’s vending machine after the swim! For others, vending machines may remind us of our university years, when the students would gather outside the lecture hall’s vending machine in order to stave off hunger pangs after a rather laborious two-hour lecture!
Whatever vending machines remind us of, it has to be said that what have now become an almost inherent feature of both urban and even rural landscapes around the world, never fail to cease in popularity. Given the somewhat unique longevity of what could be described in the modern era as being a slightly old-fashioned piece of equipment, it would be interesting to know what the most popular snacks are that people demand out of the time-honored vending machine.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks According to American Merchandiser’s the top selling snack in vending machines are Snickers. Part of this chocolate bar’s popularity is likely to stem from the fact that comprising of caramel, nougat, peanuts and chocolates, Snickers are not only mouth-wateringly delicious but they fill you up as well, which is, after all, what vending machines are all about.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks The great thing about Peanut M&Ms is not only do they taste great and keep you going until lunchtime, but they are also more nutritious and healthier than you may think. Being a predominantly peanut snack, with a light coating of chocolate, Peanut MandMs are the perfect way to satisfy those pangs of hunger and cravings for a sweet snack without devastating the diet. Given the fact that Peanut MandMs are tasty, nutritious and filling, it is hardly surprising that they are one of the most popular snacks to be bought from vending machines, as they really can refuel you whilst you’re on the go!
Popular Vending Machine Snacks Unlike a ‘conventional’ bag of chips, Doritos seem to go that bit further. This ultra-crunchy snack that comes in a variety and bold and unique flavors certainly fills an empty gap in stomachs and therefore have almost inevitably proven to be a popular choice of snack from vending machines around the world.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks The one thing that is great about the world-famous Twix is they are a fantastic accompaniment with a cup of coffee or tea. More often than not people will buy a coffee or tea from one vending machine and then choose a snack to go with it from another vending machine, which, according to American Merchandiser, is a decision which often falls in favour of a Twix. More exciting videos at Vending Machine License: Is It Something You Need?
Harry Kelly has been installing vending machines across the UK for the best part of five years and therefore has a good understanding of what snacks are popular. Harry writes for numerous websites, including www.wholesalecoffeecompany.co.uk.
AMS Vending Machines Durable and Dependable An interview with John Whitwell of Buffalo Rock
John has been buying AMS equipment for 8+ years and comments on the quality, customer appreciation from the factory and factory reps and the versatility of their machines.
“The reason I use them is they are really dependable. We use very few parts on them over the past 10 years.”
“The brand new machine that’s coming out this year; we just got a few in. The appearance of the machine is just unbelievable compared to what it used to be. The numbers are lit up, everything looks great, compared to what it used to look like.”
AMS Vending Machines Durable and Dependable “Again, I couldn’t praise more about the durability and dependability of these machines compared to what we used to deal with… good product.”
“One other plus about the AMS refrigerated machines, the 35 and 39 inch machines, is they use the same parts. Besides the shelf being wider, I don’t have to carry duel parts.”
AMS Vending Machines Durable and Dependable Tom: This is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, and I’m here with John Whitwell, who is the market equipment manager for Buffalo Rock. Today we’re going to talk about AMS equipment. So thanks for being here, John.
John: Thank you.
Tom: Now with buying AMS equipment, what do you think about the quality, the warranty, and customer appreciation from the factory and factory reps of their five wide snack machines?
John: I really enjoy using the AMS. I think we started back about eight or nine years ago, and I pretty much exclusively use AMS. I toured their facility. I’ve watched from the metal coming in to the end product. I’ve met Roy Steeley, the owner of that company, all the people that work there.
John: But the biggest factor, the reason I use them, is they’re really dependable. We use very few parts on ’em over all the last ten years. And then the sales rep that I have, Tim Paul, is really knowledgeable on the equipment, and if I need him here today, he’ll come today, if he’s in the country. There are times he’ll be in Puerto Rico.
John: But generally we have a great relationship, they do a great job, and that’s one thing that I never got out of some of the other manufacturers.
Tom: Now you buy both the snack machines and the refrigerated machines, is that right?
John: That’s right.
Tom: AMS is the only manufacturer that makes a 35″ four wide, refrigerated vendor. Do you use a lot of those?
John: Well when we first started purchasing them, we bought only the refrigerated, and that’s because the refrigeration unit was, actually, the expense was only a few hundred dollars more, and we lease them back to ourselves, so that’s a big savings. And they also make a food … I don’t know if you knew that, but they make a food machine, a 35 and a 39, and that’s all I use on food as well. I use their AMS 39 and 35s.
Tom: What types of food do you dispense from the refrigerated food machines?
John: We do everything from the big sandwiches, to some of the platters, like wing platters. You can just about configure it any way you want. And, of course, that’s pretty much set through our corporate office, how they want the machines set. But we can pretty much sell anything through ’em. And we sell a lot of different things.
Tom: AMS is the only company that makes an ETL approved, high security, outdoor vendor. Do you use a lot of those?
John: We use them in the schools.
Tom: Okay. What configuration of snack machine do you buy from AMS? Single helix or dual helix? Regular fluorescent light or LED light? Gum-
John: Well, everything that’s coming to us now is the dual helix, and LED, and, of course, they’re all ADA approved. Actually the brand new machine that’s coming out this year, we just got a few in, and the appearance of the machine is just unbelievable compared to what it used to be. The numbers are lit up, everything looks great compared to what it used to look like.
John: To me, again, I couldn’t praise more about the durability and the dependability of these machines compared to what we used to deal with. Just a good product.
Tom: What do you think about the new epoch look on the machines now?
John: That’s what I was saying, the new look, to me, is just unbeliev … you know where it extrudes out and it just looks way better than the other ones. It’s a little bit more. Again, to me, as long as they work, that’s bet … you can have the best looking machine out there with all the bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t work, it’s not dependable and you’re going back to it, and you’re putting money in it as far as parts trying to make it work, then it’s no good unless it’s dependable. I think these things work great.
Tom: Do you use any of the healthy vend machines?
John: I don’t think we’ve gotten into that, I think there might be a few selections in there that they’ll code healthy vend, as far as whether it be a … I ain’t gonna say a chip because I can’t, I don’t think they are, but I know that the full line vending team does recognize, they’ll put something on there, I’ve seen it before, it says, “Healthy vend,” or something that’s on there. Is that what you’re talking about?
Tom: Yeah. Overall, which company, in your viewpoint, makes the best refrigerated vendor?
John: Again, to me, because I use AMS and I wouldn’t have stayed with them if I didn’t like it, but it’s not hard to change out the refrigeration unit if it’s bad. After a couple times, if you ever had to do it, pretty simple. So we stay with them, we really enjoy that machine. My guys’ll like it. Simple to use, that’s the biggest thing. Simple to work on.
John: One other plus about this machine, and again, I hadn’t … I’m not in touch with what the other ones do because I hadn’t given over the last ten years probably haven’t given them a whole lot of opportunity to come in here, because I get such good service out of the people from AMS, but the parts I use in an AMS 35 are the same parts that go in a AMS 39. Besides that shelf being wider, everything else is the same, so I don’t have to carry dual parts, and that’s a plus in itself.
Tom: That’s great. Now is there anything you’d like to tell us about Buffalo Rock?
John: We’ve been in business for a pretty good while, over a hundred years. I don’t know what, it was a hundred years a few years ago so I don’t know the dead on number. But I think it’s a great place to work for. I think we all is … because we have divisions all over Alabama and Georgia, and Mike Bunt is the CME, corporate marketing equipment, guy in Birmingham. We all work well together. And if we need things from each other, it’s just a phone call or an email away. We meet quarterly, and just a great place to work.
Tom: Alright, well, you’ve been listening toAMS Vending Machines Durable and Dependable at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales. More Vending Business Blogs USA TECHNOLOGIES ePORT G9
Future Vending Technology ROI An interview with Mike Bunt, General Manager of Corporate Marketing Equipment of the Buffalo Rock Company
Future Vending Technology ROI The future of vending as it relates to sales and service is a topic that lots of vending operators are interested in but may not be able to evaluate from an operations point of view. Some of the hot topics today are healthy vending, interactive displays, campus id cards, mobile commerce, and micro markets. Have you evaluated any of these or similar opportunities in vending for Buffalo Rock?
“You must be careful on the new technology, we are, there’s a lot of it out there we call ‘foo foo’ technology that really is a marketing ploy today to those who like all the gadgets… but if it increases service calls, we have to be careful not to get overly involved with it.”
“We look at up front costs, then increased sales or decreased service calls and a lot of times it’s easier to come up with a decrease in cost of lifecycle than pin pointing an increase in service calls.”
Mike gives several examples of what he calls a win on technology, listen to the podcast:
Future Vending Technology ROI Tom Shivers: This is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show, here with Mike Bunt of Buffalo Rock, general manager of corporate marketing equipment of the Buffalo Rock Company. Thanks for being here, Mike.
Mike Bunt: You’re quite welcome.
Tom Shivers: Today we’re going to talk about the Future Vending Technology ROI and especially as it relates to sales and service because it’s kind of a popular topic today among vending operators, and sometimes it’s hard to evaluate from an operations point of view. Some of the hot topics today are healthy vending, interactive displays, campus ID cards, mobile commerce, and micromarkets. Have you evaluated any of those or similar opportunities in vending for Buffalo Rock?
Mike Bunt: Yes. Buffalo Rock is always looking at new technology. As a matter of fact, I attended the NACS trade show in Vegas and brought back six new pieces of equipment for testing. When we analyze equipment, we look at it from two points of views. One is the sales side and the other obviously is the service side of it. There’s all kind of new technology in the trade that is exciting. However, does it bring a value to the customer or to the company, and that’s what we have to look through.
Mike Bunt: For instance, LED lights. They claim to increase sales, which is a hard claim to back, but it does present the product in a much better light. However, we know LED lights last longer than the standard lighting and we know it’s going to reduce service calls, so the upfront cost of the LED is a no-brainer to us because we know we’re going to save service calls down the road.
Mike Bunt: And everybody must be careful on the new technology. We are, and there’s a lot of it out there what we call foo-foo technology that really is a marketing ploy to the youth today that likes all the gadgets and the gizmos, but if it increases service calls, we have to be careful not to get overly involved with it.
Tom Shivers: Yeah, for new vending technology, how do you go about weighing the cost versus benefits or say return on investment?
Mike Bunt: Well, we look at it from the standard ROI procedure. We look at the upfront cost and then we’ll look at increased sales or decreased service calls, and a lot of times like I say, it’s easier to come up with a decrease in cost of life cycle than pinpointing an increased service call. For instance, a few years ago everybody migrated to the electronic boards on equipment, and one of the things we noticed is that we were going to a lot of vending machines just to reboot the boards in the machines. Well, talking with the manufacturers, we convinced one, Vendo, to build a reboot chip if you will that basically just checks itself on all its boards, and if it senses a loss of connectivity, it reboots itself automatically. The boards that we were in test with, it drove service calls practically out of it for won’t take money calls, so that would be what we’d consider a win on technology. Now the consumer never sees it, but they enjoy the benefit of it because every time they go to the machine, they can buy a drink.
Mike Bunt: The interactive display boards, to me that’s more of a marketing ploy to the youth. It does draw excitement to your machines, but then you look at the cost of the doors versus the increased sales, and the placement potentials on those are very limited because you can’t just take an interactive vending machine and place it anywhere you have a vendor, so down the road, if we invest capital in equipment like that, we have to be very smart because you’re only going to be able to put in specific locations.
Tom Shivers: Are there any other examples that you have for evaluating vending technology?
Mike Bunt: We tested the [dex 00:04:52] project, where [dexing 00:04:56] was a huge technological win for Buffalo Rock is that you’re able to minimize routes on the streets, you increase sales, you reduce spoilage or outages of the machines, and that’s a huge cost to the company to get into [dexing 00:05:15] on 20,000 machines, but we know the payoff’s gonna be there through the efficiencies that the program’s gonna bring.
Mike Bunt: The MEI recycler, for instance. The big question is credit cards versus recyclers, and every machine that goes out into trade gets a changer and validator on it, so the upcost of the recycler, we have done tests on equipment where we put recyclers, and we’ve seen 30, 40, 50%. On a military base, we’ve seen 200% increases on machines for adding a component onto a machine that was already there operating, so that was a huge impact for us on sales, the return on investment was minimal, and it’s not like every machine doesn’t get a validator anyway.
Tom Shivers: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, it sounds like you’ve tested a number of products, perhaps several of the MEI products, and it sounds like the LED lights tend to pass the ROI test as well. Are there other features or ideas that are being touted today that make you wonder what the ROI might be for some of these?
Mike Bunt: Yeah. Right now, telemetry is a hot spot along with the interactive equipment, and the one challenge you have with telemetry is sales signal, and I don’t believe there’s anybody in this country that’s ever been on a cell phone that didn’t drop a call or it lock up. Well, that’s the same type of opportunities that you have when you put telemetry on your vendors. However, there’s a value to telemetry because it does allow you to preload your trucks, it can alert you for service calls, and I think once the technology is perfected and the calls droppage reduced, I think that you’ll see a lot more telemetry in the trade. You just have to weigh out the cost, the monthly fees versus the value of what you’re getting out of the system.
Tom Shivers: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, do the telemetry manufacturers allow for a testing period before making a decision?
Mike Bunt: Yeah, I would imagine they would. Again, that would be up to each company that’s selling the system, but like with most equipment, they’ll let you evaluate it and analyze it.
Tom Shivers: Well, thanks, Mike. Tell us about Buffalo Rock.
Mike Bunt: Well, we’re one of the largest privately owned Pepsi bottlers in the country. We have over 2000 employees and around 90,000 assets in the trade in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
Vending Technology From Vending Operators This technology panel Q&A discussion was recorded at NAMA OneShow 2012 and includes:
Doug Haddon, MEI
Stu Riemann, D & R Star Vending
Scott Meskin, Black Tie Services
David Sours, Coca-Cola United
Cliff Fisher, MEI (moderator)
Vending Technology from Vending operators This is a gathering of large and small vendors gathered at the NAMA show trying to find answers on Vending technology. This includes Vending credit card readers and vending telemetry Vending is starting to move towards prekitting all your products and then just having the route person bring them in and install them in the vending machine. Telemetry keeps track of sales – money in the machines and items that are sold. With this the owner has a clear knowledge what the machines and account is doing. This is your chance to hear from operators who are actually implementing many effective processes and technologies that include – but are not limited to – telemetry. They’re doing it on a large scale and to great success. Different operators discuss different credit card readers their effectiveness and cost as well as security and reliability. They also discuss telemetry whick systems are good and which systems are very reliable.
Vending technology From Vending Operators There are excellent questions from the audience for each panelist, in fact, that is the point. If you’ve ever had questions about telemetry or other vending technology implementation questions, you may find your answer in this video. You may want to see additional blogs of the Vending Business Show Vending Machines: How to Strike a Deal with an Establishment
Cashless Vending From an Operator Speaker 1: Welcome to the Vending Technology Watch podcast. We’re here today with Lisa Leuchter, the Vice President of Snackworks in Bradenton, Florida. We’re here today to talk about cashless vending. Snackworks has more than 1,000 machines, and the company was founded in 1990. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to Lisa about this is her company has had a fairly recent entry into the cashless world.
Speaker 1: Lisa, my question is as a newcomer to Cashless Vending From an Operator your company must have decided to wait before making this investment. I’m curious to know why you chose to invest in cashless this year.
Lisa Leuchter: Well, as a smaller local vendor, we’re very aware of cashless, and we’re very attuned to it, and, of course, it has a cost to it for the operator. So, we kept our ear to the ground and really listened to our customers on a regular basis and talked to many of them about cashless, and as we felt it became a more prominent potential issue for customers, we seriously started to look into implementing it. But we were still on the fence. This past fall, I believe it was in the fall, when USA Technologies implemented their jump-start program, it made it easy to make that commitment to implement cashless in our equipment.
Speaker 1: Okay. Now, were you getting requests from customers to have cashless?
Lisa Leuchter: Very few, but we did proactively talk to our customers about cashless. It didn’t seem to be a hot button but, like all things, information grows and customers become more and more aware of options that are available out there, and we always strive to be on the forefront of what we do with our customers, and at the right time we implement new strategies.
Speaker 1: Okay. Now, did you develop a plan before making this investment?
Lisa Leuchter: We did. We developed a plan ourselves initially talking about it, and the customers that we felt would be best to start with, and we found that even with our plan there was still more to learn. So, once we committed to USA Technologies, we spent some time with Jim Turner from USA Technologies and did a full business analysis of our customer type by industry, and then looking at each individual machine, and then the bank of machines those individual machines resided in, in order to fine-tune the locations that we would initially install the cashless with.
Speaker 1: Okay. How did you decide which machines to equip with cashless capability?
Lisa Leuchter: Initially we looked at the industries that historically are known to have the highest usage, the highest acceptance of cashless. Armed with that, we then looked at our highest velocity equipment. Depending on your own personal strategy, you could look at turns, you could look at revenue. And then we had to ourselves make the decision that when we decided on equipment we wanted to put cashless in, to also include, or not, every piece of equipment in that entire bank. We chose to include it in all equipment, even if an individual machine wouldn’t meet our overall criteria.
Speaker 1: Oh. Did that include hot beverage machines too?
Lisa Leuchter: If in the bank, yes, and food, if in the bank, yes.
Speaker 1: All right. Well, I think that’s enough for the first segment of this series Cashless Vending From an Operator . Next time we meet we will talk about what some of the results have been to the cashless program to date. Thank you, Lisa. More Vending Business Blogs Vending Machine License: Is It Something You Need?
Push Beverages Higher Vending Margins An interview with Dave Mandella of Push Beverages
What type of beverage products do you produce for the vending industry?
What features does your product have over the others?
How do you position Push Beverages to sell in locations?
What do I do if I have bottler equipment?
Why has Push Beverages been successful with vending operators?
What areas of the country is Push Beverages currently being distributed?
Listen to the interview:
Push Beverages Higher Vending Margins Tom Shivers: I’m Tom Shivers, with the Vending Business Show, here with Dave [Mandela 00:00:15] of Push Beverages. Dave, thanks for being here.
Dave Mandela: Thank you. Thank you for having me and spreading the word to many operators in the country.
Tom Shivers: What type of beverage products do you produce for the vending industry?
Dave Mandela: Well, Push Beverages, actually, four years ago we created this product, actually, as a vending company, to help us with our profit margins. And we produce a line of 20 ounce soda. We have nine flavors now. We have two bottles of water. One is a purified water, and the other is a raspberry flavored water. And we also have a line of 20 ounce teas called Tribe, which are a higher price point. But they’re excellent product. It’s a real brewed product. There are five flavors of those. Those are specifically made to be used in vending machines. And it’s done well so far.
Tom Shivers: What features does your product have over the others? Push Beverages Higher Vending Margins
Dave Mandela: Well, first of all, we made sure when we created the product, we didn’t create a no frills brand. What I mean by no frills is that you go into a supermarket, and you see value brand X or value brand. We made sure we put the best flavoring in these products. Over one year, we used focus groups and mass sampling to ensure that we had a national brand look and taste. And we didn’t make it a value price product. And we also had these other little features. First of all, all of our products have less sodium, about 50% less sodium than an Orange Crush or a Fanta Orange. And that’s really important. All of our products are gluten free. Our bottle itself, it’s a thicker bottle than Coke and Pepsi would have. Whether it’s Coke, Pepsi, Canada Dry, whatever flavors they use in the marketplace … We also have very high pressure cap, which keeps the carbonation in that bottle. Therefore, instead of having your typical three month shelf life on a product, we have an eight month shelf code where we guarantee that product. Talk about savings and in your vending world, flavors don’t sell as much as the core stuff, like Coke and Pepsi and Mountain Dews and Dr. Pepper, but people should have flavors for variety. And nowadays, instead of having a three month shelf life, you’ll have an eight month shelf life. So you save a lot of money right there.
Tom Shivers: Well, how do you position Push Beverages to sell in locations?
Dave Mandela: Over time, we’ve seen some operators, especially in the southeast, they go and use what they would call a value brand and slot it cheaper than your current price. In this day in the vending industry, where you need to get that $1.25 or $1.50 for a 20 ounce soda, you just re-slot this product, and it’s going to sell as good as the product you pulled out of it, because of how the product tastes and how it looks. Don’t lose those margins, because margins is a thing that’s killing the rest of us these days. And in the vending industry, I’ve seen pricing as low as a dollar, still, and as high as $1.50, $1.75, depending on where you are. But to compete and to keep that margin out there that you need, keep that price. If your Coke’s $1.25, put this in at $1.25. Why lose that margin?
Tom Shivers: What do I do if I have bottler equipment?
Dave Mandela: Well, that’s the key question. Fortunately, some operators have their own equipment or own their own equipment over time. And you want to talk about building equity in your company? There’s actually a program through A&M Equipment in Lithonia, Georgia. Everybody knows Joe Nichols, I’m sure. Where you can get equipment from him, a push-fronted machine that costs $1495. Now, that’s not very expensive. And that equipment is fully ready, it works. He gives you his warrantee on it. In addition to that, it comes with mech invalidator. And with that you get 23 free cases of Push beverages with that. You net down to $895. Now, for $895 to get a piece of equipment that you don’t have to be loyal to Pepsi or Coke, and bring your margins back into your business is a very good price. And some areas of the country, you can also get some of your bottler equipment, they allow you for two, three slots to put other product in there, too. Over time, if you build your equity up, you have leverage power with Coke and Pepsi, too. Because we all know, at the end of the day, we do need to use some Coke and we do need to use some Pepsi to stay competitive and to keep variety in those machines.
Tom Shivers: Why has Push Beverages been successful with vending operators?
Dave Mandela: Well, I’ll give you two scenarios. First thing, there’s a company in northern New Jersey that went ahead and re-slotted their machines. They basically kept … They were a big Pepsi buyer. So they kept Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Dr. Pepper. The rest they eliminated. They eliminated the Orange Crushes and they eliminated some of the other flavors. And they saved five or six dollars a case. Now, the sales after initial period, when they saw the product was good … And it takes a couple weeks to get people acclimated to it. My gosh, there’s a new product in the machine. You know what? They had no complaints from their customers whatsoever. What’s this orange soda? What’s this brand? So on and so forth. Again, if it looks good and tastes good, people will buy it. After the initial sales period, which was about two weeks, the sales rebounded. And it went 7% above the sales point, 7% more than they were making before with an Orange Crush or a Fanta Orange. And no customers complained at all. Actually, at that point, they were getting calls from people saying, “Where do I find this product?” Actually, in that year, in 2009, the company that I’m talking to, they have about 20 routes. And they saved $167 that year just by re-slotting Push. That’s a significant amount of money, if you ask me.
Tom Shivers: Great. What areas of the country is your product currently being distributed in?
Dave Mandela: Okay. Right now, currently, you can find the product in the Mid-Atlantic region. You can find it through Vistar in the southwest, out of Vistar, Georgia. That will cover the states of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and parts of Tennessee. And, also, we’re in Chicago. Concession Services carries the brand. And they cover four big states: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Right now, those are our three main distribution points. Now, we’re also going to be adding two distribution points: one in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’ll be within the next six weeks. And, also, Memphis, Tennessee. Basically, you’ll be able to find our product anywhere along the eastern seaboard coming west to the Mississippi River. And we’re excited.
Tom Shivers: Well, Dave, thanks for sharing. How can people reach you?
Dave Mandela: They can reach me. My email is [email protected] We also have a 1-800 number. It’s 1-855-PUSH-B-E-V. And they could call A&M Equipment, Joe Nichols. He’s down in Lithonia, Georgia, if they’d like equipment. But if they want to know more about the brand and anything that goes beyond it, just give me a holler. I’d be more than happy to talk to them.
Tom Shivers: You’ve been listening to Push Beverages Higher Vending Margins at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.
Vending Remote Monitoring An interview with Greg Hasslinger, VP of Sales at InOne Technology
Vending Remote Monitoring What are the technical requirements for a vending machine to be remotely monitored by an operator?
First of all the vending machine must be able to provide a DEX file. The majority of the OEM’s have been incorporating DEX into their machines for years. However there are many older machines that are still in use today that do not provide Dex. InOne provides 2 solutions for these machines without Dex- DEX audit kits or replacement controller boards for older AP, National and some Polyvend snack machines…
What are some of the benefits of vending remote monitoring?
Though a lot will depend on the operator, their current operation and what they define as a successful implementation. Some of the key benefits we hear from our customers after implementing vending remote monitoring : we carry less inventory in the trucks, we have been able to reduce unnecessary trips to machines that do not require product, we are informed ahead of time of problems with the machines, our customers feel they are being serviced promptly and can also see sales reports when provided with secured login capability…
Does the vending remote monitoring solution provide the operator with alerts?
Yes, InOne’s Arrow Connect Solution provides various types of alerts and alarms. The alerts are generated from the Dex file, over the MDB, as a result of rules set by the operator and by loss of power at the machine. These can be provided via text message, email or both to one or numerous individuals in the operation.
What costs are involved to add vending remote monitoring? What about adding cashless in the future?
Assuming the vending machines have Dex and MDB there is the cost of the hardware and the monthly monitoring fee. The cost will vary based on the purchase option the operator chooses. You can contact me at 410-666-3800 x1106 and I can provide you with the options so you can make the best decision for your current and long term needs. Yes, once you have the Arrow Connect you can easily migrate to providing cashless capabilities just by adding a card reader (which we provide a number of options).
I’ve heard operators say that they want to add vending remote monitoring to only a couple machines to start off, is that possible?
Yes, we have always believed to treat each customer the same, whether for 3 machines or for 3 routes of machines.
If an operator is using a route management software package, will you be able to send them a DEX file?
We have adopted the NAMA VDI standard and are currently sending Dex files to the route management systems where they have adopted this standard. Though there are some companies that have not adopted the standard and are working on it. More exciting videos Take Over A Vending Route Or Start Your Own?
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
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