4 Marketing Techniques For The Family Owned Vending Business

Oct. 23, 2015

Vending can be a rough business. Although there are some big players across the U.S., the majority of us are family-owned and operate with limited time and resources. This can be frustrating when it comes to areas like marketing, which we know is so very important, but oftentimes doesn’t come first.

The smaller operator has fewer resources than the big players, yet we still must find ways to keep up with them. This fact used to frustrate me until a yoga studio showed me how to invest smart in marketing.

Learn from others

Last January I decided to get a pass to a yoga studio around my home. I typed in “yoga" into Google and found what I thought to be a perfect fit. The studio’s Website was beautiful, modern and easy to navigate. It made the studio look like an oasis. I was happy to discover not only that there were a large variety of classes that fit into my hectic schedule but also a free app which would allow me to easily access class schedules, pay for a variety of plans and sign in to class. 

The day of my first class I plugged the address into my smart phone and took off from work. When Siri told me I had arrived, I was confused. I was in the middle of a rundown half vacant strip mall, not a peaceful oasis. I drove past the business multiple times before realizing it was right in front of me. When I went inside I quickly realized that the pictures on the Website of natural lit rooms were not of this particular dimly lit studio.

I didn't feel misled; instead, I was impressed because all I could think was That’s fantastic marketing.

The studio was a low budget facility, but they delivered everything they promised: a clean facility, great instructors and effective workouts. The company had invested what I assume were limited resources into getting me to their business, and that was the lesson I took back to J&J's business.

Invest wisely with limited resources

Every small vending operation has the ability to market affordably and effectively, to draw consumers in and get them to stay because of great services.

At J&J Vending, we’ve done four things that have worked for us and fit our budget and available resources:

Tip 1: Create a modern Website with a mobile site. It’s important for your SEO (search engine optimization) to have a mobile site that links to a full Website.

Tip 2: Pay an outside company to manage our SEO. It’s a lot of work to manage this yourself but very affordable to have professionals handle it for you. When I started with the company six years ago we were still doing cold calls. Today, because we rank high on that search engine all of our new business is generated either from customer referrals or directly from the Website.

Tip 3: Purchase a mobile app. Customers can use it to report service issues, request products and connect with any of our social media accounts.

Tip 4: Investigate online design services. We don’t have a design team and that can make it hard to compete with larger companies or look more professional. I recently discovered Canva.com. It’s almost free online design and has completely revolutionized our signage and presentations.

In the future, J&J has plans to create an online store—in a world of Amazon and Instacart customers are used to online shopping and quick delivery—as well as wrap our trucks with signage.

Planning for the future

There are plenty of things that small operators can do to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The tips above are the biggest blocks to a successful marketing strategy to make your company look good. That said, although you may invest your money into marketing, don’t forget to invest your heart into the actual service. Your Website, truck or mobile app is the initial attraction but they’re worthless if you don’t follow through on the promises you make.

I went to a yoga studio once because of a great Website; I stayed because the classes were great. 

Jennifer Skidmore is a Sales Manager and 3rd generation vendor at J&J Vending Inc., a family owned and operated vending and office coffee service in the SF Bay Area. In addition to her work at J&J she also serves as a board member on CAVC and is an active participant in NAMA’s ELN (Emerging Leader’s Network). Jennifer's blog can be found here http://vendorsdaughter.wordpress.com. For more information visit www.jandjvendinginc.com.