Blog: Food – do you love it, hate it or simply have to offer it?

Nov. 3, 2014

For many vending and micro market operators food is not a profit-making category. The big problems are tied together – variety, stales and out-of-stocks.

It’s time for you to realize that out-of-stocks are much better than left-overs – and eventually stales.

As for variety, it’s time for you to cut your food menu down. Have a rotating daily menu with regular items by day. Add a wildcard feature item now and then to mix it up. The number of food menu items to offer will vary based on site population and other factors – including weather.

You keep thinking that you need to expand your food menu to appeal to everyone. Wrong! The Washington Post ran an article Americans are tired of long restaurant menus about restaurants cutting back menu offerings to simplify the selection process and kitchen operations.

More than ten years ago, a very smart operator told me about his company’s unique food strategy. They served white collar office locations, law firms and consulting companies, and were required to provide food for those folks who worked late – well past the dinner hour. Since the kitchens were closed, sandwiches were the primary menu item.

They offered very high quality sandwiches – freshly baked breads, freshly sliced meats and cheeses from premium brands and fresh lettuce and tomatoes. The shelf-life was one-day. If it did not sell on Monday night, it was not put out on Tuesday for lunch. They educated their locations that:

  1. These were fresh made sandwiches – which was reflected in the price (I think it was $7.00, at that time a meaningful premium versus typical sandwich pricing),
  2. They were using premium branded ingredients,
  3. The shelf-life was one-day and strictly enforced,
  4. Only a limited number of sandwiches would be offered each day – thus guaranteeing that out-of-stocks would occur. 

RESULTS: It was a successful menu program. Their clients approved and there were very few complaints from the target population – those working late hours.

Back in April 2013, I had a blog posting on titled Food Is Our Future. It is still true. The path to a successful food menu is learning how to balance variety, stales and out-of-stocks. 


Paul Schlossberg

Food Is Our Future

April 11, 2013
Our industry is changing as micro markets take a bigger share of the deployments at locations we serve. Food has become even more important to those companies operating micro-...