Determining proper service can be difficult. While all vending operators would like to service a machine with one or two products left in each spiral and no empties, without technology, this is likely never to happen. However, an operator can get close if he or she uses a vending service card and changes the inventory levels to fit the sales at the location.
Look at machines individually
If an operator goes to an account and all the pastries are sold but they still have a large amount of snacks and chips, then they should reduce the inventories of those two items and create a larger inventory level for the pastries. By looking at each machine this way, on a monthly basis, operators can come closer to maximizing sales without showing too many empty spirals. Once they get a handle on what actually sells and the inventory price points are working, then it will become easier to schedule the service for the accounts, be it weekly, twice per week or once every two weeks to get the most cash per trip.
Customer satisfaction is most important
But whatever the number of services an operator decides are needed for each account, they should make sure that their customer is happy with the product levels at the time of that service. Operators shouldn’t be afraid to double up on an item if that item is sold out every time they go to re-stock. They should just make sure the customer knows what and why they’re doing it. A quick example, we had an account that loved sourdough pretzels, so our driver, as he was trained to do, added another column, and then another, etc. until we had six columns of one item. The mistake we made was in not being pro-active and letting the contact at the account know what we were doing. Sure enough, a call came to complain that we didn’t have enough variety of chip products. After we explained that we were providing their employees with what they wanted, the location understood, but the call could have been avoided. This stood out to me as an easy reminder that an informed customer is a lasting customer.
Using a well designed service card and looking at machines individually are the keys the small vending operator needs to determin a successfuly service schedule. And don't forget to stay in contact with the location so the business contiues.