Tim Ray and Michael Ray of Healthy Generation Vending have been around since 2007. Over the last fifteen years, a fanatical approach to customer service and a reliance on cutting-edge technology has transformed the business into a Houston powerhouse that operates hundreds of machines and dozens of micro markets in some of the city’s most desirable accounts.
Over the years, they’ve learned a lot through their experience with micro markets. Here are 5 micro market tips from Tim and Michael:
The Overall Benefits of Micro Markets
While Healthy Generation Vending started with purely healthy vending machines in mind, they’ve since evolved into a more diverse approach, and micro markets are a big part of their success.
“All we heard constantly was markets. It didn’t matter if we didn’t think it was gonna work…they wanted it so we had to give it,” said Tim Ray, CEO of HGV. “Before markets, we would find stuff and figure out how to vend it. I sold disposable cameras in the labor and delivery floor in the hospital at the beginning.”
That desire to provide his customers with more diverse options led Tim to micro markets. “With a micro market…you can vend anything,” said Tim. “The ability to touch the items is huge.” By focusing on micro markets, HGV has become a premier company in the Houston area.
Location is Everything
When it comes to finding success with micro markets, location is a key part of their micro market tips. Locations need to be big enough while maintaining a non-transient customer base, which means it has the same visitors every day.
“Across the board…location location location,” said Michael Ray, COO of HGV. For HGV, finding a suitable location is the most important aspect of running a successful micro market. However, locations have changed since COVID.
“The world we live in has changed with COVID,” said Michael. “They could have 30 people a day in a 200 person office. I think the blue collar locations are gold now.”
The Importance of All In One
HGV runs a diversified operation; they have vending, micro markets, office coffee, and pantry services. With a variety of technologies, they need a partner that can keep up. Good technology is an important aspect of their micro market tips.
“When it comes to technology…use as much as you can under one house,” said Tim. This mentality led them to partner with Parlevel Systems. Parlevel provides HGV the hardware tools they need plus the VMS that manages the entire operation. Everything they do, from vending to markets to coffee, is managed through Parlevel technology.
If there is one downside to micro markets, it can be with potential theft. Most operators report less than 3% spoilage due to theft at micro markets, but that can add up. As a result, operators need tools to help them decrease theft.
“Where micro markets lack is theft.” Said Tim. “To be able to fix that, anything we can add that helps with theft…is a bonus.”
With Parlevel’s management tools, HGV has access to features that help minimize theft. From canceled transaction reports, to spoilage information, and more, HGV has tools at their disposal to reduce theft in their markets.
Use Your Competitive Advantages
The last part of their micro market tips? Competitive advantages. To run a successful micro market, it’s important to focus on what your company is good at. “We highlight what we do well,” said Michael.
For HGV, the answer is simple: food. “A lot of people are afraid of food,” said Michael. But by focusing on food, HGV can differentiate itself from competitors.
Technology is also a big part of HGV’s success. “We have an awesome VMS that helps us keep machines full,” said Michael.
But the three main things they provide their accounts? “We focus on service, our products…and our attention to detail,” said Michael.
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