Why it's not your daddy's industry

March 10, 2014
An open attitude about technology is imperative for a vending operator to be successful in today’s environment.

It’s no secret that the vending, micro market and coffee service industry is a tough business these days. Operators have to be leaner, tougher and more analytical. This last skill has been honed to the point where technology is not only a nice idea, but necessary to grow in today’s saturated foodservice environment. It’s not always easy, and technology doesn’t always make things easier in the short term. I certainly get frustrated when some thing as simple as streaming a video on my television stops working for no apparent reason, but the benefits outweigh the frustrations, especially when it’s related to profits.

Doing things better

This month we are highlighting an operator with 30 years in the vending industry. Dennis Thornton, founder of Vendedge in Roswell, Ga., has owned his vending business since 1995, and has experienced first-hand the challenges the industry is facing right now – the loss of manufacturing, increase in service centers, more convenience stores and an increase in quick serve restaurants. “We’ve got to do things better,” said Thornton and he is willing to learn and embrace the new in order to get there. His machines all use remote machine monitoring, he prekits and is adding cashless payment acceptance to vending machines, including systems that are EMV ready. See how Thornton has been able to increase efficiencies and save money using technology on page 28.

Technology isn’t an out-of-box solution

Probably the most frustrating challenge to technology is when it doesn’t work the way we thought, the way we believe we were promised. This is where the old idiom “no pain, no gain” comes in. A return on investment cannot be obtained by doing minimal research or using an out-of-the-box software to perfection the first time. Those are the promises of blue sky scams. What makes true entrepreneurs is the tenacity to keep moving forward. Successful business owners investigate, make mistakes, alter the course and make the decision to ultimately drive the business forward. I’ve seen it in the vending industry and within my own family’s small business.

Vending is not the same business that it was in the mid-90s. This industry is leaner, and that means a new breed of owner that isn’t afraid to cut away the manual processes of the old business. That owner lives in data, altering course based on the information he receives. That owner needs fast, unbiased data. And technology makes this happen.