At a barracks, the sales in a 3-month period went from $1,477 to $2,128.
At an indoctrination center, sales in a 2-month period rose from $514 to $1,521. At yet another site, sales for a month went from $340 to $745.
An analysis found that the Seattle’s Best machines delivered a 50 percent sales increase over the previous coffee machines.
Fantano said his team wanted to revitalize the vend coffee category.
“Combining a national brand like Seattle’s Best with today’s bean grinder coffee machine technology was the right thing to do,” he said.
Newcomer finds success
One relative newcomer to vending has also learned the benefits of the Seattle’s Best machine.
Andrew Davis, 22, got into vending two years ago in Dallas, Texas with some soda and snack machines. One of his first accounts was a 15-floor office building with a snack machine, soda machine and a countertop coffee brewer in the lobby. The building manager paid for the coffee.
When the building was sold, the new owner didn’t want to pay for the coffee, but he still wanted coffee. Davis reasoned he needed a coffee vending machine.
Davis bought a fresh brew, dual cup machine with generic graphics. He charged 70 cents and 80 cents for 12- and 16-ounce cups. He was not pleased with the sales.
When Davis saw the Seattle’s Best machine on the Crane Website, he was intrigued. “It just made sense,” he said. “They (the customers) see a name brand coffee they can trust. It’s more of an experience.” He ordered a retrofit kit and paid a technician to install the bean grinders, programmed control boards and graphics. He sourced the product at Vistar.
Since he decided he would have to raise the price points beyond a dollar, Davis also installed a USA Technologies credit card reader.
The first day the Seattle’s Best machine was up and running, Davis put the machine on free vend and passed out a survey to employees to make them aware of the machine. The employees loved the coffee.
Davis then raised the prices to $1.00 and $1.25 for the 12- and 16-ounce cups, respectively, and added flavored coffee for $1.50 and hot chocolate for $1.75. The customers didn’t seem to mind paying the higher prices.
“It was an instant difference,” Davis said. “The sales on it have more than tripled.”
The location’s sales doubled as a result of the new machine, said Davis, who expects the location to bring in $40,000 in annual sales.
About 15 percent of the sales are credit purchases, he said.
Veteran operator finds success
One veteran operator, Steve Hall, Sr., who owns Firelands Food Systems Inc. in Sandusky, Ohio, has been pleased with the performance of the Seattle’s Best machines in hospitals. Overall, the machines have delivered an 18 percent sales increase.
Hall credited the increase to both higher unit turns and higher prices. He raised his prices from 75 cents and $1.25 to $1.25 and $1.75 for his 12- and 20-ounce cups.
The Seattle’s Best machine is not the first branded coffee machine to be introduced to the vending trade. But for more operators to embrace the concept, they will need to overcome their historic objections to branded coffee machines. They will also have to overcome their current hesitation to reinvest in an industry segment that has suffered disproportionately in recent years.
Vending operators have objected to branded machines since they are required to use one brand of coffee that is often more expensive than other coffee. The freedom to use whatever coffee they want has traditionally trumped the benefits of having a national brand.
In recent years, with the decline in high population accounts, operators have removed hot beverage machines. In many instances, they have replaced them with OCS.
Operators who have worked with the Seattle’s Best machine say it gives them a way to distinguish themselves in the market and also meet the needs of consumers who want premium coffee at work.