Micro market operators play critical role in bringing employees back to the office

July 28, 2021

Last month, Vending Market Watch published my article about creative ways of getting employees back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic. The article, titled "A prescription for getting employees back to the office," encapsulated recent conversations I had with operators and facility managers to get a handle on the direction of workplace attendance.

Opinions on that direction vary, and what we continue to hear when referring to the percentage of employees who will at some point make a return to the office is: 70% is the new 100%.

The original office coffee service version of this article was so well received when it ran last month in Vending Market Watch's OCS Operator newsletter, we decided to include it in the July edition of Micro Market Design, a newsletter by Fixturelite.

The article includes a video interview with GoodRX’s Andrew Barrett-Weiss who shares how he's building a creative work environment to lure employees back to the office. Barrett-Weiss, who holds the distinguished title “director of workplace experience and build out the new HQ guy,” takes us on a tour of GoodRx’s amenity-laden facility in Santa Monica, CA, in this video interview.

Micro market operators: time to step up

What can micro market operators do when clients like Andrew Barrett-Weiss ask the question, “How can you help me bring employees back?” According to some operators, that question is being asked on a regular basis.

Offer to do a total breakroom revamp (and have your client pay for it)

“Most of the co-financed break rooms do not happen because the salesperson doesn't ask,” said Steve Orlando, cofounder of Fixturelite, the industry’s leading supplier of micro market retail displays, equipment and design tools. “When they do ask, chances are there's money for it.

“Right now, the tables have turned. Now employers need to entice and attract," Orlando continued. "This is the opportunity for micro market operators to really hammer on a heavy hot button. As an employee tours the building, what do they see? Do they see outdated vending or perhaps the most basic of micro markets, which might as well be vending?  Or do they walk in and see a breakroom space that is welcoming, that they know they could work in, if they choose to, or a space where they can have collaborative meetings and productive sessions over lunch, or a meal or a snack with their coworkers. The right kind of breakroom – one that is a destination – can bring employees back to the office and can send a strong message to potential new hires.

“Fixturelite can help you design the perfect breakroom, will all of key elements that turn a common space into a place where people want to be,” Orlando added. “We are passionate about design and your client will be impressed by our approach.”

Present a subsidy program – this could be the best time ever to ask

“Employees have a checklist now of, ‘What is the employer providing for me?’ Is it healthcare? Is it days off? The list goes on and on, including what amenities are onsite. An awesome micro-market retail space is definitely one of the boxes that employees are checking off, especially if it is a subsidized market,” said Orlando.

“Subsidies are a key benefit in a well-designed space for food and beverages that employees are evaluating as they consider their next employer, or as they consider whether they should return to the office from their home office space.”

Get creative and expand food offerings

“There are many companies out there that are looking for guidance. They are more creative than might realize and are going to have greater success getting their employees back and attracting the right employees, but only if they are given options. If that means bringing in outside food vendors, ice cream or even hot food with the help of a third party, these are the solutions that many HR and facility managers are looking for and will pay for,” said Fixturelite cofounder and chief executive Troy Geis-Hernandez. “Fixturelite is all about helping those creative companies succeed in that goal.”

Talk to Fixturelite about taking your market to another level: www.fixturelite.com.

Or contact a Fixturelite Customer Success Enthusiast: sales@fixturelite.com.


Industry consultant and contributing editor Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises suppliers on how to successfully connect with operators. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes.” Tullio is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA retained him to write and narrate their online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q&A webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, at The NAMA Show in New Orleans, Tullio will be presenting a 3-hour Pre-Conference Session, "Selling Convenience Services: A Playbook for Sales Professionals."


[Credit: Crave Fresh Markets]
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