Smith said he is seeking someone with a background in operations software. “It’s not the type of position that stumbles in off the street,” he said.
Smith noted that one location has five facings of one item, something he never would have thought possible. “We’re placing what the consumer wants,” he said.
Hart of Southern Refreshment Services said product use reports uncover some unusual preferences at certain locations. In one situation, an account manager demanded to see a report because he took issue with some of the facings, and was very impressed by the company’s reporting. “We never had that data before in our lives,” Hart said.
Some companies combine the merchandising function with the route scheduler role.
The buyer’s role also takes on new importance since better sales data gives the buyer more negotiating leverage with suppliers. The buyer will also have a better idea which supplier promotions do and don’t benefit the company.
Sales role changes
Operators agree the sales person’s role becomes more demanding. The sales person must understand the technology and what it means to the customer. This includes not only more efficient service, more customized product offerings, timely notification of machine malfunctions and more detailed sales reports, but a “greener” footprint since delivery trucks are not making unneeded trips.
“You need to ‘hypercommunicate’ to customers,” Whennen said.
As the sales function must be cognizant of new customer benefits, so too must the marketing function for companies with dedicated marketing staff.
Less frequent deliveries require companies to pay more attention to customer relations.
Next Generation Vending and Food Service Inc. in Canton, Mass., has metrics for tracking the performance of client retention specialists, noted John Ioannou, president. He noted that this position is not part of the sales position and has become more important as the company has introduced RMM.
Service tech remains important
The service tech’s role expands to include DEX, MDB, data transmitters and, depending on the company, cashless readers. If a driver encounters a machine that isn’t reporting DEX, someone needs to know if it’s a cable issue, a machine issue or a problem with the DEX stream.
Installing RMM hardware in machines is not hard for veteran service techs, noted Stewart Lester, support and implementation manager at MEI. “It’s a very similar task at the machine to setting up a credit card acceptor,” he said. He added that DEX related hardware is less complicated than most vending machine controller boards.
Royal Vending in Maple Grove, Minn. hired additional techs when they began doing DEX retrofits in order to pre-kit, noted Steve Marx, president.
Marx thinks that overall, the DEX reports will allow him to install the right amount of equipment and the right products. “I think it’s going to cut out tons of headaches,” he said.
The money room is most affected by the introduction of cashless; the more cashless sales, the less work for the money room.
The data is manageable
While there are more reports to review, the amount of time required by managers is not overwhelming, operators agree.
Stu Riemann, marketing manager at D&R Canteen in Rochester, Minn., which has introduced dynamic scheduling using MEI’s Easitrax software, said a manager can review transactions in 3,000 machines in a few minutes.
Riemann noted that customer service managers find many reports helpful in dealing with customers. A report on bill changer use, for example, can be used to justify redeploying a changer.
Operators agree the product use reports are especially helpful with customers who want more “healthy” selections in machines.
While the system generates a lot of data, Riemann said it is not hard to decide what to share with customers. “I do kind of a snapshot of their account,” he said.
“I think you invest the same amount of time (as a manager),” said Don Blotner, a former operator who is now a customer success specialist for Cantaloupe Systems Inc. “You’re far faster at being able to react in ‘real time’ than before.”