Service More Than Vending Machines – Be A Warrior For Health

Feb. 5, 2015

With the unending talk of health and wellness, vending operators have been encouraged to get out in front, be proactive. But what does that mean?

To me, one meaning is to become educated about trends and healthy products and then use this knowledge to enhance the service you provide.

Knowledge is power

Consumers are fickle – no news there. So watching overall food trends can give vending, micro market and even office coffee service providers an insight into what foods will sell well in the coming year. We recently covered the 6 Food Trends for 2015 from Time Magazine, which had a number of interesting possibilities that align with current eating habits. Current popular diets such as Paleo and a balanced, but low carbohydrate trend have brought “natural fat” back into people’s good graces. Opting for meat from local sources is a solution to a number of current trends such as the popularity of local foods, sustainability and protein.

Healthier options can mean more than just food. Operators should be mindful of the different health benefits of coffee and dark chocolate. Certainly don’t make claims, but it is possible to discuss the studies that show these foods provide some additional positive benefits, especially in regards to aligning with a location’s wellness program.

Wellness programs can set you apart

Speaking of wellness programs – perhaps it’s time to create one tailored for locations. I’ve talked to operators who use a wellness program they’ve crafted, not for themselves, but for customers, as a way to get in the door and talk to a decision maker. Operators have access to many of the same products advertised in the popular turnkey healthy vending programs – these products, along with the healthier options from traditional vending and those from NAMA’s FitPick list are a great start to a wellness program product menu. Have a conversation with the human resources director. Show him or her a list of a better-for-you products, a line-up of events, promotions, and possibly even changes to the breakroom the location can make to promote their wellness program. This might include the addition of water filters and coolers for better tasting water, live plants for air purification and a more pleasing environment or the addition of comfortable seating. 

Consider candy alternatives

Candy is still a big seller in vending. I won’t try to claim otherwise, but there is a trend in certain areas that is moving towards dried fruit, nuts and dark chocolate. Keep this in mind when discussing wellness programs or alternative products. Google's New York office was recently in the news because a glass jar of candy was replaced by dried fruit and the company’s 2,000 employees collectively consumed 3.1 million fewer calories over a seven-week period. In some areas, OCS pantry business includes bulk dispensers of these snacks.

Regardless of the research, in any business, innovation often drives profits. Time is valuable, especially when used to create a new line of service that requires minimal capital expense. Consider being proactive on healthier products as a great way to set yourself apart in 2015.