While we are a magazine and industry news website, we do occasionally get requests for vending and micro market service. If I have time, I do a quick Google search for local operators or pass the lead onto a company I am familiar with in the area. One such incident happened this week. I recognized the city name and forwarded it to an operator I had just exchanged emails with, thinking it was serendipity. However, instead of a helpful lead, it turns out I was forwarding on a request from one of those pestering customers who he has heard from numerous times.
Tenacious and persistent
The operator confided to me that this customer had contacted every vending company within 100 miles of her office. She had even contacted his company three times, using different names, if you can believe it. The problem was she wanted the type of vending services given to locations of 200 employees, when she had an office of 30. Frustrating to say the least.
As I thought about this incident, I remembered my own views of vending before I came to Automatic Merchandiser. I did not understand about the price of convenience. I was wholly unaware of the costs involved in delivering this instant, on-site food and beverage option. I naively wondered why there weren't more products, at prices similar to the grocery store and credit card acceptance. Please forgive me. I was young(er). My point in telling this story is that we all don't know, what we don't know. Now that I've been in the industry 10 plus years, I am aware of the many aspects of a vending operation that ultimately drive up the price of products over what you would see in a grocery store, from service technicians to tossing expired products. And this brings me back to that pesky customer looking far and wide for a vending company that will meet her unreasonable expectation.
Explaining the bigger picture
I wonder if this potential customer truly understands what goes into vending service, and why it wouldn't be feasible for a company to offer the services she wants at her small office. If she is getting the same answer from each area vending operator, it could be time to take Bob Tullio's advice and offer her the vending services she wants for a monthly fee. (if you missed the article, you can read it here.) She might want the service so badly, she can find the budget to support it. Certainly, her tenacity would suggest she really, really wants vending service.
I'm sure we have all heard the tales from small workplaces who want vending, or something more, and just can't get it. After all, vending operators are in business, and businesses have to maintain profitability. Vending operations have employees too, and have bills and services that employ still more workers. The vending community has been quiet too long. I think everyone, from facility managers to users, could benefit from some insider knowledge of the vending operation and all that goes into bringing them that wonderfully cold soda or satisfying snack available just when they want it. And some creative solutions (such as pantry service or a small micro market) from our end that maintain profitability wouldn't hurt either.