SPECIAL INDUSTRY UPDATE: Operators And Suppliers Use Creativity To Navigate Current State Of Business

April 17, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts everyday business, professionals in convenience services are using creative strategies to run operations and provide food and beverages to essential workers in their communities. Each week, we’ll highlight the important work being done by leaders in our industry. Have something you’d like to share with us? Email us here.

Tahoe Vending/Sonoran Coffee & Food Services

Like most businesses in America — and the world — Tahoe Vending and Sonoran Coffee have been impacted by the rise of the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Jarrad Duxbury’s main concern is the safety and health of his employees and clients. He said that Tahoe Vending and Sonoran Coffee have taken extra precautions beyond their already strict hygiene and sanitization practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their accounts, particularly in micro markets that serve essential businesses like hospitals and food and beverage retailers. 

“Our industry services essential businesses and we go from one to the other, especially as we’re losing the non-essential customers,” Duxbury explained. “And that creates a pretty unique responsibility and problem, specifically for micro markets. If you have a micro market driver going from one essential business break room to another, the odds of that micro market driver coming into contact with COVID-19 is probably fairly substantial. I can see our industry spreading this into break room after break room if we don’t take a lot of responsibility for how we’re operating the markets.” 

Therefore, Duxbury and his partners have been extremely proactive, even approaching their local health department to discuss best practices and moving quickly to train their drivers properly and distribute masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and hospital-grade disinfectants for use in the warehouse and on delivery routes. Duxbury said that he wanted to create an “air gap” between his employees and his clients’ employees to ensure safety. 

“We’re prekitting the micro market, loading the prekits on the palettes, and then delivering the palettes to their docks,” he explained. “They’ve got a point of contact that’s taking the prekits inside. They’re stocking the markets and then bringing crates back out to us. So, our drivers aren’t coming in and out of their break rooms.” 

The company’s longtime affinity for technology is also providing helpful ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their clients’ micro markets. Duxbury said they’ve recently installed 365 Retail Markets’ 365Beacon devices in all their customers’ markets so users can have an entirely contactless payment option. 

“We can plug the device in and link to the kiosks and create a Bluetooth network,” he explained. “After the employees download the [365Pay] app, they’ll be able to make purchases on their phones instead of touching the kiosks. We’re trying to eliminate the central point of contact that everybody touches — the kiosks.” 

While the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry are yet to be known, Duxbury advises that all operators take necessary safety precautions. 

“I really want our industry to pay attention to how much responsibility we have to service [accounts] correctly in this time of COVID-19,” he said. “Because if we’re not careful, we may be the weak link that shuts these businesses down.”

Read continuously updated and expanded coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.