Working towards wellness

July 24, 2014

Let’s be honest. Many vending operators consider requests for healthy products a thorn in their side. Why? Because with the limited spots available in a vending machine, adding healthy, often unpopular sellers, could mean a drop in revenue for them and the location counting on their commissions. Not to mention this complication: whose standards should the operators use to choose products? Are organic chips healthy? Or does the selection need to be fresh food?

But if we are being honest, this move towards wellness in the workplace isn’t fading, as other diet fads have. It is accelerating. There is legislation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about snacks in schools. There are turnkey healthy vending franchisees selling, and growing, on the idea of healthy vending snacks. There are municipalities expecting service providers to carry x percent of healthy products in their machine or else their contracts won’t be renewed. It’s happening in multiple location segments across the country.

Know thy customer

Business and industry, manufacturing, and many other types of locations served by vending operators are focusing on wellness in more ways than just food. According to Society for Human Resource Management, more than 60 percent of companies currently have wellness programs and nearly 80 percent offer wellness resources and information. Vending operators can offer services, plans and information to HR professionals about wellness, and become a partner.

Nation’s Restaurant News just ran an article about wellness in the workplace highlighting the closing gap between food offered from onsite foodservice facilities versus the commercial sector. It reported that workplace feeding has focused on closing the gap in healthy or light meals offered in the commercial sector that weren’t offered in the workplace. Now more than ever, consumers can tailor meals to their specific dietary needs, the article continues. And this is something companies want to offer their employees at an increasing rate.

Spin it to your advantage

Wellness programs also present operators another opportunity to eliminate commissions and raise prices. Come in with a winning presentation that wows the location and then talk about how you can give it to them, if you can do away with commissions. Perhaps it’s offering free fruit in the breakroom on the days your driver fills machines. Maybe it’s lowering the price on products with fewer calories and fat and/or raising the prices of other snacks in the vending machine. In the case of locations that rely on commissions, such as schools, its time to educate them about the wellness program, pros and cons, and see if there is another way to partner with them. It will depend on the operation and the market how an operator can best incorporate a wellness program for locations. However, it’s important to think of new and creative solutions.

In the end, wellness isn’t going away. It’s coming at operators from all sides. Whether or not you believe vending, as a mostly snacking venue, should be subject to the same rules. It’s up to operators to figure out how to offer the best value for a wellness program so price and commission become less of an issue.