Easitrax also allows the drivers to call up planograms on their handhelds, saving them the trouble of having to read paper planograms and product lists to know what to put in the machines and having to fill out order tickets. Upon opening the door of the machine and plugging in the DEX cable, within seconds the driver knows what product is needed for the account.
Moore decides on machine menus based on historical sales, along with market reports from product suppliers.
“There’s no way you can manage the business properly without the electronic data,” Moore said. “When you get into that middle and lower tier (product facing), it’s a guessing game. You’ve got too much or not enough.”
The Easitrax route forecasting saves the drivers the trouble of pulling their next day loads, giving them more time to sell, while also allowing the company to maintain control of the product inventory and distribution to the route trucks. “We let the computer determine the next day’s orders, based upon historical sales for each route on a given day,” Moore said. The warehouse clerk reviews the order list for the next day’s deliveries and then pulls the product for each route. The drivers then load their own trucks for deliveries.
The drivers inventory the trucks weekly and monthly.
The Easitrax software also allows Snow and Moore to review account profitability on a regular basis. In the last four months, 30 machines were redeployed based on account profitability reports.
The company is not yet doing machine pre-kitting, but Moore said he hopes to do this in the future. He also hopes to introduce curbside polling when the technology is completely ready and the company has enough accounts that will warrant this venture.
The sales data that Easitrax provides allows the company to negotiate better deals with product suppliers, Moore noted. He has found that some suppliers are willing to offer better terms in exchange for guaranteed machine facings. “We establish partnerships with various product suppliers that help us,” he said.
New Revenue Stream: Wholesale Accounts
Moore has been able to tap into an additional revenue base in wholesale accounts. These are non-vending locations that need many of the products he inventories for resale. Because the company has such a big warehouse, there is room for retail products, such as 2-liter bottles, in addition to vend products.
Moore said he has found a large audience of locations that have a hard time getting traditional bottlers and foodservice suppliers to deliver product to them because they aren’t large enough.
These “wholesale” accounts include schools, restaurants, caterers, concessionaires, and even small convenience stores.
“We just want to drive volume and exposure on the products we produce and bring along the other products as ‘riders,’” he said.
As a result, more than 20 percent of the company’s sales are in “wholesale” accounts.
“We do a lot of little leagues and swimming pool concessions,” Moore said. “That’s how you offset the seasonality (of the schools).”
Sure Bet Services’ trucks are bigger than most vending companies’. The company has had Specialty Trux design 20-foot long trucks that can hold more than 100 cases of drinks. The trucks are also equipped with coolers.
In 2005, Sure Bet Services made its second acquisition, a 1-route operation in Front Royal, Va.
Vending Supports Bottling
Sure Bet Services’ success has strengthened Royal Crown Bottling Co.’s market position against its big name beverage competitors.
The success of Sure Bet Services has made the parent company more competitive in winning some major beverage contracts. Scott Bridgeforth noted that many customers today have more time-consuming security procedures and prefer to do business with fewer service providers.
Management has been challenged to focus on account profitability due to the rapid growth.
Moore said he plans to update the company’s sales brochure to highlight additional products and company features. There are also plans to focus more on developing OCS as the business continues to evolve in this category.
Sure Bet Services has emerged as a key player in the West Virginia/Virginia market in a fairly short period time, thanks largely due to the owners’ commitment to investing in state-of-the-art equipment and technology. The company demonstrates the critical role that technology plays in meeting the needs of a changing vending customer.