There can be no doubt that the question I am most often asked by vending company owners and managers over the last twenty three years is how can we increase our sales and profits.
The basic answer to that question is really quite simple. You can add new locations to your customer base or devise a well thought out sales plan that will get your locations customers and employees to purchase additional items from the vending machines or micro markets you currently have at the location. Let’s start with the second option first.
Sell more items
In order to implement a plan that reaches the goal of customers and end users purchasing additional items, come with me on an imaginary trip to a vending location and let’s take a look at what we all see far too many times. Sometimes vendors lose sight of the fact that they are actually operating a small retail store in the location’s building.
I would like for you to walk with me into an imaginary small retail store and take a look at what the customers see. As we walk thru the door, one of the first things we see, or rather, do not see, is any type of signage that states the following items are on sale. Have you ever walked into a department, grocery, drug or convenience store and not viewed anything about what’s on sale?
The next thing we see is a snack machine that has no rhyme or reason as to how and why the products inside are displayed and merchandised. I 100 percent guarantee you that when you go into a Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, 7- 11 or any other store, they have a plan on how everything in that store is displayed in order to get you to spend your money.
As our eyes begin to scan the other vending machines, we are drawn to a cold drink machine that has a big bright logo of a major cola company extolling the virtues of their brand and not the vending company. When we approach the cold drink machine we notice that only one of the two major cola brands is available in the machine. We all know the reason for that, the bottling company is furnishing the machine for the vendor with the caveat that only their brand can be sold from their machine.
Coke and Pepsi literally spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year trying to get their customers to stay loyal to their brand and yet the vendor is not willing to offer their customers the option of having the two major brands available for purchase. Both of the two top brands usually have a market share of somewhere between 30 and 40 percent. The reason all of the major retailers in the U.S.A. offer both brands is that they are not willing to take a chance of missing a sale by only offering one choice of cola to their customers.
When we next take a look at the refrigerated or frozen food machine and see non refrigerated food items for sale ( i.e. Raimen Noodles, Mac & Cheese Kits, Fruit Cocktail, etc ) is it any wonder a large number of cold food machines are not making money for the vendor. Today’s vend customers are looking for more selections and choices than ever.
In 2016 surveys by foodmanagement.com, ezcater.com and Employee Benefits Adviser magazine all pointed out how important employees in all size companies regard having food available to them in the workplace is an important benefit and perk.
Accept more payment options
Now the fun begins in our imaginary store. As we go to pay for our products, we are told the store only accepts coins and one or five dollar bills. No tens or twenties allowed in this store. And then the final insult, if you are going to use a credit or debit card you have to pay an additional fee for the privilege of using your card.
Oh-Oh-Oh I almost forgot. If you are not happy with your purchase and want a refund, you may have to wait up to a week for your refund until someone from the store’s main office is at the location to take care of refunds.
Let’s be honest, if you were shopping in our imaginary store and they put these road blocks up that discourage you from making a purchase, would you be anxious to spend your money at that store? I think we all know the answer to that question.
In order to increase sales and profits at your locations, you need to have a written yearly marketing and sales plan for each location, depending on that locations demographics and employee base. Your plan does not have to be cast in stone and it can be adjusted when circumstances arise.
Isn’t it ironic that the major retailers all have a written plan on how they intend to increase sales and profits at each store. They have promotions, sales, free sample tastings, etc. not for the fun of it. They do it because it works. Virtually all of the leading vending product suppliers have information available that will assist you in developing a written plan to increase your sales and profits.
Promotions to use today
How can vendors offer promotions in their machines that will increase sales? Here are some promos that have worked for me and my clients. Give away $2 bills in the snack machines by taping them on products you may have bought on sale from your suppliers or on products that are a few days from the expiration date. We have had great success by taping free vend coupons or free vend tokens on items. You will be amazed how much your sales and profits can increase if you budget just ten dollars per month per location.
The one promo we have had the most success with has been giving away Florida lottery scratch off tickets with the purchase of various items. (Before you do this, ensure it is OK by the lottery commission in your home state to give them away.) We had an employee at one of our locations win $1,000 after buying a bag of chips and the next morning I got a call from our route driver telling me that when he got to the location that morning, the snack machine was virtually empty because when everyone heard about the lady winning $1,000, they went to the snack machine looking for more lottery tickets. We increased our snack sales by approximately $137 in one day by taping three one dollar lottery tickets in the machine.
Two-for-a-dollar promotions are another popular option. All you do is purchase private label sodas that normally cost about 21 cents and promo brand chips where the 1 ounce bag usually costs around 17 cents. Then show your location that their employees can still get a cold drink and a snack for a dollar. Your total cost for the two items is 38 cents, but you sell them for a dollar.
It’s also important to make it easy for customers to make purchases. If you install a cash recycler on one machine in a location that allows your customers to get change for a ten or twenty dollar bill, your sales will increase greatly.
New location lures
You can also increase your sales and profits by adding new locations. Try offering these new prospects benefits your company will furnish to their employees that your competitor will not. These have to stand out.
David Letterman made his top ten list a mainstay on his late night show five nights per week. I had a top ten list for my vending company that showed the ten things that made us different than anyone else in our market. Can you think of ten things that make your company stand head and shoulders above the competition?
You can increase your sales and profits just by being a little creative and copying what the major retailers do every day. You can make it happen, you really can. Think of this quote from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, which always seems to ring true: “When you change the way you look at things — the things you look at change. ”