Considering the difficult economic climate our industry is facing, it is more important to sharpen our plan of attack. Many vending operators have responded to the current economic climate by seeking ways to reduce overhead. But unlike “doing more with less,” I’d like to look at a way to “do more with more.”
We must literally make the vending machines shout out to the potential customer to get him or her to shop the machine. One tool to do this that we as an industry have failed to use is point of sale (POS) marketing material.
POS material is almost not used at all in vending. Research has proven this. However, research also has proven that a simple marketing plan that is put into place and is followed through on will produce positive results.
“Doing more with more” doesn’t mean adding staff or equipment. It simply means using what you already have: knowledge of sales, a computer, and a local office supply house that has all the equipment needed to laminate POS material and make it any size or shape. It is a proven fact that using POS material will win more sales.
PLAN YOUR MARKETING ATTACK
Begin by determining which product category you think needs attacking. One area I am confident we all can improve upon is the food program.
7-Eleven, Sheetz and Wawa are just a few convenience store chains that have greatly improved their food programs. As a result, they are not losing as many customers to fast food restaurants.
But improving the food offerings is only part of what they have done. They have also marketed these products aggressively at the point of sale.
Every time a customer pulls up to the gas pumps at a convenience store, the front window of the store is full of signs that are easily read from the pumping area. That is POS material to lure the customer into the store.
We can learn from them.
A VENDING BANK IS A MINI C-STORE
A vending bank in a break room is the equivalent of a mini convenience store.
You, the vending operator, have a captive group of customers walking within a few feet of your bank of equipment. But what are you doing to get the attention of the customer?
There are several things you can do. You can use laminated signage with bright colors and a large font announcing your values. You can also place notices on the company bulletin board and announce promotions.
A key factor is pricing. Vend prices in general are well below that of a convenience store. Marketing and promoting these values at the point of sale will certainly win sales.
You must change your POS material regularly. You must also keep it colorful and it must always offer value to the customer.
Consider “bundling” or putting certain items on promotion. Offering “two-for-one” offers will create value to your customers.
Product suppliers are always willing to work with you on putting items on promotion. It means more sales for them as well as you.
Getting your sales team involved with how and what to promote is a good idea and it creates interest in doing something different. The goal here is to get the customer to become a better customer and make more purchases.
Some of the more progressive vending operators I’ve spoken with recently agree there is something to all of these ideas.
PROGRESSIVE OPERATORS RESPOND
Michael Robbins, general manager at Coastal Canteen in North Charleston, S.C., notes that his prior experience in the bottling industry taught him POS is a great tool to enhance existing business. Rick Parker, CEO of Northwest Food Service Inc., North Wilkesboro, N.C.. agreed that the vending industry has much to gain by using point of sale materials.
Both of these operators say they plan to do more POS marketing.
Considering all of the challenges we are faced with in today’s economy is why this approach of truly marketing and promoting your products is vital to growth.