Five Star Food Service Inc., based in Chattanooga, Tenn., recently hired a vice president of micro markets, with a convenience store chain operations management background, for its self checkout micro markets line of business. Alan Recher, company president and a 28-year vending industry veteran, believes the markets require a type of merchandising more similar to convenience stores and retail than the merchandising of traditional vending.
Recher said the products sold in the markets are of various sizes and higher quality while offering a better value to customers, and must be merchandised differently. He did not wish to be specific. Recher added that his company has hired a dedicated marketing manager for self checkout markets for each of its major market regions, all of which brought with them retail merchandising experience.
Glenn Butler, who operates CTO Services LLC, a Boston, Mass.-based consultant, agreed that the self checkout markets involve more data to manage than vending machines, and the data must be managed efficiently. He said operators will not need additional skills for managing these systems provided they are able to integrate the self checkout markets’ reporting with their vending management software.
Allen Weintraub, who operates Vending Consultants Co. based in White Plains, N.Y., said a lot more attention to detail is needed with self checkout markets. He said it’s easier for products to be displayed sloppily on shelves and in coolers than in vending machines. “It’s more complex,” he said. “You have to have someone who analyzes the data to maximize sales and change the products.”
Not everyone agrees with this. John Mitchell, president of Treat America Food Service, which provides self checkout markets to its customers, has used vending employees to both sell and service the markets.
Operators agree that as technology is adopted, many existing job roles will change. These changes affect nearly every standard position.
“We would be well served to dedicate more resources to data analysis than we have in the past as an industry,” said Mitchell.
Dave Griesedeck, a longtime St. Louis, Mo.-based operator, welcomes the new technology and has DEXed his machines and is using cashless card readers. He thinks the most important skills will not change. The employees must be trained on the job and drivers must be able to work unsupervised and represent the company professionally.
Griesedeck agrees that financial and business skills will always be important. Hence, a business and financial education will give someone a good foundation for vending.
Leaders must be more versatile
The role of the leader will be to understand all the roles as they change, in addition to understanding the capabilities of new technology, staffing in a way that allows the company to use the tools effectively, and rewarding employees according to new areas of responsibility.
The vending operators of the future will need a solid foundation in finance, marketing and communication skills in addition to a good overview of evolving technology.