The phone in my office began ringing just as I was locking the door at the end of a busy day. I walked back to my desk and answered the call. It was the manager of a manufacturing plant in southwest Florida that I had signed up for a vending company.
The plant manager was calling to tell me that his employees were not happy with the service they were receiving from the vendor. He informed me that his employees kept asking for different products and the vendor always had an excuse as to why he could not give them what they wanted.
I told him that I would contact the vendor and ask him to take care of this issue. The next morning, I placed a call to the vendor and told him what the plant manager had shared with me.
I was astonished at his response. He said that if they did not like what he was putting in the machines, they could go somewhere else.
It’s not rocket science
I told the vendor that we have product survey forms we’ve developed to pass out to the employees at the location, and he responded he did not have time to do that. Needless to say, he soon received a letter giving him a 30-day notice to terminate his services. (An interesting side note is that the location was doing over $1,200 per week in sales).
In my opinion, far too many operators — ranging from large multinational vending operators to small one-route operators — think they know what their customers want in the vending machines better than the actual consumer. My 25-plus years in vending taught me that you’ll sell more products if you give your customers what they want and not what you want them to have.
Folks, this is not rocket science. I have heard many comments from vendors saying that the products customers are asking for are not healthy for them, or that they prioritize placing products they find on sale through their supplier.
Using a vending product survey form is like having a road map to financial success — if you just follow the directions on the map. Why should it matter to you what products your customers want? Keep in mind that you are not their nutritionist or their doctor.
I can absolutely 100% guarantee this: All of the major retail giants including convenience stores (vending companies’ biggest competitor) are constantly surveying their customers and having focus groups to determine what their customers want to see in their stores. As a vending operator, you should be doing the same if you want to increase sales and profits for your company.
Signs are simple yet effective
Signs are everywhere you look, except in break rooms, employee lounges and cafeterias, that is. Another easy step you can implement to increase sales is placing small tabletop signs on tables or countertops around the break room that inform your customers about new items in your vending machines, products that are on sale, or other promotions on specific items.
The overwhelming majority of snack machines manufactured in this country have digital message centers that can be easily programmed to inform your customers about products you want them to buy from your vending machines. When I call on prospective new vending locations for my customers, it is only on very rare occasions that I see any type of customer messages on the message center. What a waste of a valuable sales tool.
Floor signs can also be very effective in promoting your vending service to your customers. It could be as simple as stating, “We appreciate and thank you for your business.” A little bit of goodwill goes a long way.
There seems to be a thought process — whether it is in the conscious or sub-conscious mind — from many vending operators that your customer has to buy what you put in your machines because you have a monopoly on the products in their break room. However, they do not have to buy anything from your vending machines.
I suggest you do business the old fashioned way — you need to earn it every day.