“It is inefficient to always fill the column of slow movers,” said Agrawal. This is especially true if the product doesn’t have a long shelf life. “The purpose of scheduling, prekitting and merchandising -- if coupled well -- should be to have one unit left in every column when the route driver services the machine. That’s the perfectly depleted machine,” said Agrawal.
Glenn Butler, CEO of CTO Services, LLC, a vending software consultancy, finds the best reports provide interactive drill-down analysis instead of paper or general reports that cram in too much data.
“As an example, a user might run a cash accountability report and see that route 101 was short $150 today. Instead of having to run another report or change the settings, a drill down system would allow the user to simply click on route 101 and then it would expand to all the services done by route 101 today,” he said.
Ease of use important
A top priority for Stu Reimann, marketing manager at D&R Canteen in Rochester, Minn., is how easy the report is to use. “No one wants to spend 45 minutes on a report to make a determination,” said Reimann. “The information should be right there for you.”
In the case of a performance report, Reimann wants to know at a glance what the customer is buying. That gives him the knowledge of how to increase sales with similar products or more facings, as well as servicing the machines less often.
Another report Reimann finds useful is the MEI Easitrax machine ranking report. It shows him the top performing machines as well as the worst performing machines. He uses this information to decide when to swap out new equipment at his best locations and when he can take a poor performing machine and put it in a new location, avoiding a new equipment purchase.
Cash accountability reports are also vital to Reimann when he’s monitoring revenue. “The best report really depends on the application,” he said.
A reporting feature Reimann finds essential to his business is the ability to customize or write some of his own reports.
“MEI has a lot of pre-existing reports, but they’ll orient it to your specific needs,” he said.
daily Overview shows problems
Giving operators a snapshot view of the day’s activity is important in a report, according to Lee Brooks, director of customer relations at Crane Streamware. The snapshot should include the locations scheduled for service that day, the machines actually serviced, time of service, how full the machine was upon arrival and after servicing, the number of sellouts, sales accountability, and actual cash collected.
Having all this information in one place allows an owner to spot inconsistencies. He or she can then drill down further into the money or inventory accountability reports, which Brooks said are also popular among operators, to determine what is happening. A machine showing a shortage of cash might look like an employee theft, but could be a coin mech not being filled one day or the result of an overage for that exact amount the last time the machine was serviced. “You always have to look at the history before you can determine if you have a problem,” said Brooks.
The Streamware “snapshot” report, called the “end of day” report, can be especially useful when an operator is using a static service schedule. According to Brooks, operators can go in at their discretion, review the end-of-day report and make necessary adjustments. Using a dynamic schedule can save resources, but it requires a scheduling manager to review it.
Bradlee Whitson, operations manager at K&R Vending Services in Bridgeton, N.J., also appreciates getting an instant overview of his business. “With so many things pulling at our time, we have found it invaluable to be able to quickly bring up a screen to see how a driver is doing.,” said Whitson, who uses Validata’s “RouteSupervisor” report. It is an overview of what occurred at each stop, including the time each machine was serviced, route exceptions and compliance as well as access to truck inventories.
Using any vending management software effectively means understanding the reports, making the necessary changes and verifying the success of those changes. It increases management’s control.
For more information