In Automatic Merchandiser’s April 18th webinar, Turning Water and Ice into Gold, three fast-growing companies presented some unique avenues for opportunity – ideas for revenue growth that operators would be wise to consider. To hear more from the presenters and learn more about these solutions, you can register and access the on-demand viewing here.
As the webinar moderator/contributing editor, I began the live session by pointing out that the upcoming discussion and presentations were solid proof that the water and ice channel had evolved. While simple equipment rentals still exist, we have come a long way from the classic $30 a month point-of-use (POU) water system that operators once knew as the norm.
The three webinar sponsors, Easy Ice, Borg & Overström and Everest Ice and Water Systems, provided evidence of change, presenting completely unique approaches to serving the water and ice needs of end users.
Easy Ice, who will be exhibiting at the 2023 NAMA Show (Booth 2119), offers a subscription plan that allows operators to eliminate the high costs associated with ice machine purchases, allowing operators to rent the equipment and enjoy immediate positive cash flow. Additionally, Easy Ice absorbs all service costs, including site surveys, installation and what can be expensive repairs.
A subscription model
Ryan Kelly, chief marketing officer at Easy Ice, outlined the specifics of what the subscription includes:
- Top-of-the-line ice machines, bins and dispensers are available.
- All repairs, including parts and labor are covered.
- Professional deep cleaning, sanitizing, and preventive maintenance, including water filter changes, occur twice a year.
- The most experienced and well-trained technicians in the industry.
- Customer service available, 7 days a week.
“We understand the space and this is all we do,” said Kelly, who added that the model is simple - eliminating outflow of capital, providing instant positive cash flow, leveling the playing field for smaller operators and eliminating service costs associated with ice machines. Kelly noted in his presentation that Easy Ice works with a number of operators big and small, including Superior Vend-All, Global Connect, AVI Food Systems and Canteen.
Borg & Overström
Borg & Overström, with 20 years of experience as a leading provider of premium drinking water dispensing solutions, also sponsored the April 18 webinar. The company is in the process of a North American product launch. Richard Gibbon, vice president of business development, noted that the opportunity for high-end POU water systems is exploding in North America, especially for stylish and affordable equipment.
Meeting rising expectations
Gibbon noted that while POU water systems continue to experience growth, specifically replacing bottled water, a major opportunity now exists to meet the demand for premium water systems. “When we look at the partners that we have globally, they are providing us with a very rich data feed of what they're expecting,” said Gibbon. “Consumers are looking for what's new, what's innovative, and they are asking how can we be more sustainable? How can we have greater choice? The level in terms of expectations has risen significantly. Our road map of products is completely aligned with meeting those expectations,” Gibbon added.
“The POU water business is reaching for the stars as a revenue generator,” Matthew Harvey, senior vice president of sales at Borg & Overström, told the webinar audience. Harvey said Borg & Overström’s tap systems, featuring a Scandinavian inspired design, are growing quickly in popularity. He expects these stylish POU units to be successful in North America. “We have connectivity available, a hint of flavors coming, vitamin infusions and more. We’ve come a long way from the old white box water dispenser,” he added. “We are looking forward to cultivating and exploring valuable relationships with operators at the 2023 NAMA Show, so be sure to visit us at Booth 757.”
Everest Ice and Water Systems
Ben Gaskill, co-owner and vice president of sales for Everest Ice and Water Systems, has helped propel his company to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Everest Ice and Water Systems was also a sponsor of the “Turning Water and Ice into Gold” webinar, and Gaskill made one thing clear: Everest Ice and Water Systems is a perfect fit for vending operators.
Opportunity beyond typical vending
“Ice and water vending is a natural addition for vending operators,” said Gaskill. “It offers a lot of opportunities and benefits above typical vending. The machine generates its own inventory. Profit margins on selling ice can be extremely high. Additionally, people tend to gravitate to vending machines to get their ice, because they are simply getting more ice for less money – a 10lb bag instead of a 7 or 8lb bag.”
A key feature
Another key feature of ice vending is the ability for the end user to vend ice directly into a cooler, something that cannot be done in a traditional ice retailing situation. While the plastic bag of ice is still available, this is an important feature because ice machines flourish at outdoor, active, high traffic locations, such as campgrounds and marinas. “Eliminating that plastic bag is convenient, eco-friendly and more profitable for the machine operator,” Gaskill said.
Minimal service required
One key to the success of Everest Ice and Water’s machine is their patented rotating barrel dispensing system, which uses only one moving part, minimizing service issues and making the machine easy to operate. Gaskill said an operator typically will not spend more than an hour per week on the machine, just collecting money and possibly refilling bags. He added that many of their machines only accept credit or debit cards.
“Put these machines where the people are – make sure they are visible and accessible and they tend to do quite well,” Gaskill said. “It’s a consistent stream of revenue, and the machines tend to pay for themselves in one to two years. There are nearly 6,000 ice machines being operated right now, and it keeps on growing.”
Register to view the free on-demand webinar “Turning Water and Ice into Gold.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically.
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