In this Q&A with Steve Orlando, co-founder of Fixturelite, the industry’s leading supplier of micro market retail displays, equipment and design tools, Steve reflects on whether some operators have forgotten how incredible the micro market business is and how much better it can be, especially when compared to traditional vending.
Bob – As an operator, I remember how stunning it was when we converted a vending location to a micro market and saw the revenue increase 5X. Is that still happening now that the micro market industry is more mature?
Steve – Not only is it happening in the vending to micro market conversion, but it is also happening when operators convert from a “vending on a shelf” style micro market to one that puts focus on design and fundamental retail strategies. Troy wrote about this exact topic in this micro market article. I want to make something clear, investing as little as possible in a micro market location does not equal maximized revenue.
Bob – So you are saying that a micro market upgrade can significantly boost sales?
Steve – Absolutely. We see it on a regular basis when we help our clients take over locations from operators who are asleep at the wheel – not paying attention to what their clients need. Our client takes over and provides a tremendous breakroom experience working with Fixturelite and suddenly, sales have jumped 40%, 50%, or more. In fact, this article talks about a market that Mike Purke of Arizona Fresh worked on with support from Fixturelite. It was a case of his competition just not keeping up with client needs, and Mike was the beneficiary.
Bob – Why would an operator, as mature as this micro market industry is, still put themselves in a position to be so vulnerable?
Steve – Well Bob, you and I were both operators. You know how easy it is to get focused on the wrong things – to get your priorities out of whack, but I think it goes beyond that. Recently, an operator reached out to me after losing a big location. Naturally, he wanted to work with us after that, so I asked him why he never updated his equipment, leaving him so vulnerable to competition. His response: “I never needed to upgrade. Why spend money you don’t need to spend?”
Bob – Apparently, he was wrong.
Steve – Exactly. He lost a great location that he easily could have retained if he had simply invested in the breakroom experience. His service was fine, but that’s not enough today.
Bob – It sounds like there are many operators out there who are playing a “game of chicken” with micro market clients, seeing who is going to blink first. They want to see how long they can operate without the client asking them to spend some money, to take the market to the next level. Pretty conservative approach.
Steve – A minimal investment strategy is beyond conservative, it does not make good business sense, considering the opportunity that is right in front of us.
At Fixturelite, we never claimed to be the cheapest provider of fixtures, nor are we the most expensive. Whatever an operator has to spend on a micro market, what's important is not the slight difference in price between one market and another, whether it's ours or someone else's. What is most important is delivering the right market, especially for a great location.
Based on the available revenues out there today, the last thing operators should be doing is making their decision on how to set up a market based solely on price – no matter who they select. What they should be thinking about is, “How do I not only quadruple the vending revenue, but also how do I capture even more dollars by taking a creative design approach and utilizing sound retail practices – turning the location into the consumers' first choice for their food and beverage needs versus a last resort.”
Bob – You think operators should be asking themselves, “How successful do I want to be?”
Steve – It is a question that I think many operators forget to ask themselves. Why spend any money at all to install a subpar micro market experience that people aren't going to love and utilize heavily? You have really dropped the ball as an operator if end users still go outside the workplace or have their food and beverage delivered, because you didn't provide them with an experience that they truly need. They will ultimately want that improved experience when one of our operator clients comes in the door and shows them the Fixturelite difference.
Bob – And that is when the lack of investment by an operator, even if the products are excellent and the service is good, results in some trouble.
Steve – Correct. That is why it makes sense to earn the business from day one and keep earning the business. Put the extra effort into hiring professionals – like Fixturelite and Translucent, people who understand what it takes to create a great workplace refreshment program, from the initial concept to grand opening.
The result – a tremendous return on investment driven by higher revenue, a solid long-term contract, premium client referrals and typically, more business within the location – like OCS, water, ice and cold brew. That is what happens when an operator chooses maximum revenue and success over senseless frugality.
Visit www.fixturelite.com to learn more on maximizing revenue potential.