This fall, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Texas Merchandise Vending Association (TMVA) annual meeting. It was a great time, full of education and inspiration, but one thing that stood out to me was a concept Jon Floyd of 365 Retail Markets brought up about stickiness. Specifically, he talked about how micro markets present an opportunity for operators to become more relevant, and even irreplaceable, as a means of disseminating information to employees.
A real-world example
Our larger publishing company, like many others, hosts events and provides recognition. There is a quarterly blood drive, the employee newsletter with work anniversaries and new hire notices as well as reminders for wellness program participation. All of these come by email, along with the dozens of job-specific emails we get every day. It’s not surprising that those notifications from human resources (HR) get pushed down until your mailbox (if it’s like mine) has 29 unread emails that you actually can’t find by scrolling (likely because you gave up after about a hundred). However, this common experience among employees is also an opportunity.
Floyd argued that a clever micro market operator could offer their customers a chance to make these events and corporate news items more prominent, highlighting all the company does for its employees. He didn’t have a specific example, but using mine, ask the HR person to gather a photo and short sentence about an employee being recognized — chances are they did it anyway for that email I mentioned. The image and sentence could be put in as a rotating announcement on the kiosk. For larger events, a full promotional piece with logos and photos could become a kiosk commercial.
Have your customer service team ask for these “events” regularly, or even check the website or event calendars of your best customers. Yes, it’s extra effort, but the reward is becoming that much more beneficial to your customer. If they see that you are helping them promote a positive culture, it’s much harder to send out a request for a new proposal and consider replacing you. Also, it elevates the service level and makes your organization stand out. Both are increasingly important in today’s highly competitive industry. This month’s success story centers on an operator who became successful by doing what others would not. Read about how Ryan Harrington with Royal Vending on page 30 challenges ‘business as usual’ with micro markets, cashless vending and service.
No matter your size
Even without micro markets or hundreds of routes, it is important to have relevancy to the customer through unique offerings. Our small operations columnist, Gary Joyner, talks about his personal experience winning accounts with the top ten ways his company was different than others. Take a look at how he compiled the list and what it got him on page 18 of the October/November issue of Automatic Merchandiser.
Even our management strategies expert Bob Tullio has elevating your business on his mind. A recent column, How To Deliver 'Business Class' talks all about setting your company apart.
It is important to offer competitive prices, popular products and similar services, but it’s not enough. There has to be more to really cement the relationship between you and the customer. Micro markets are allowing operators to do that through the kiosk. Vending machines with mobile apps allow for loyalty and communication with the end user. But there are always more options. Any way to reach past the norm will be beneficial. Think creatively and read what others are doing for inspiration.