Operator Confidence Index Reaches 130.60 For September 2013

U.S. operator confidence is middle of the road with a more positive feeling over last year. Vending, micro market and OCS operators report being cautiously optimistic about the future.

The cautious optimism is reflected in this month's Operator Confidence Index (OCI) number -- 130.60. The first of its kind, the index measures the short- and long-term confidence members have for the industry as a whole. Each segment - vending, micro markets and OCS - will also be measured and reported in later editions of the OCI. The OCI number is only available from VendingMarketWatch and Automatic Merchandiser and is being sponsored by Mondelez International. 

With an average/medium being 100, the index of 130.60 represents a fairly positive industry outlook, which is consistent with projections based on the annual State of the Vending Industry report. Operators were certainly seeing growth at their locations. In many areas, locations were hiring again and willing to spend more money, especially on office coffee service (OCS).

“We see our outlook for the next 12 months looking somewhat strong due to adding three to four micro markets to our area. We also have seen the OCS business picking up. It seems corporations have more money to spend,” said a Missouri-based operator.

Specialty OCS is a growing request due to the availability of the systems, and to that end, users are more aware of what's out there, so they are requesting it more often.

Micro markets were also noted as positively attributing to the strength of the industry; many operators reported adding them or seriously considering the addition. What held micro markets back from raising the OCI number was the long sales process operators must go through with a new location. Since the markets are relatively unknown to end users, there are lengthy approval processes and questions when selling a market, especially about the theft issue.

Other factors that held back the OCI number were concerns about costs, economy and government.

“Price increases, government issues, fuel and taxes are of concern and weigh heavily on many of our clients' decisions on moving forward," reported the general manager of a vending operation in the Midwest. "Technology enhancements seem to be of the utmost importance to embrace into every vending operation of which we are participating in quite aggressively," he continued.

Overall, technology got mixed reviews, with many operators saying the enhancements have helped them move forward in the economy, while others didn't see the positive growth they had expected.

"Overall sales have not come back to 2009 levels for us," stated an operator based in Utah. We operate in 11 western states and our sales presently are at 65 percent today compared to what we had in 2009. We have introduced the micro market in some locations, however no change in sales. We have added credit card as an option to some locations with no increase in sales."

Methodology

The OCI is based on a monthly survey sent to the VendingMarketWatch Board of Operators. It is sponsored by Mondelez International. The October 2013 index is the first of its kind, a number only available from VendingMarketWatch and Automatic Merchandiser that tracks the level of confidence in the vending, micro market and office coffee service (OCS) industry.

VendingMarketWatch would like to take this opportunity to recognize its Board of Operators. If you are interested in joining the Board of Operators, please contact the publication editor at Emily.Refermat@VendingMarketWatch.com.

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