In the vending world, control over one’s business can be difficult to attain. Vending machines are unattended, so operators often don’t know what’s going on with their equipment until they physically visit the site, which leads to some issues. What if machine goes down without an operator knowing? What if a route driver is sneaking a few dollar bills from the machine every time they service it? What if the products in a machine aren’t the best selling items for that location? Without the proper vending machine technology, it can be impossible to know for sure. And as an operator grows an operation and places more machines, this sense of helplessness can compound.
However, if an operator had the ability to know what was going on with a machine without being there, they would have more control over their operation. A vending management system (VMS) uses remote monitoring to let an operator know what is going on with their machines at all times – giving them a firm grasp on managing their operation. Here are 5 ways a VMS can help you gain control of your operation.
1. Better Employee Accountability
Having trustworthy route drivers is an absolute must for any vending operation. These drivers are handling your cash; without some sort of deterrent, what is to stop a dishonest route driver from lifting a few dollars from every service? It might not seem like a ton of money at the time, but theft can add up. After all, 30% of all small businesses fail due to employee theft. How can you make sure their route drivers aren’t stealing?
With a VMS, you can take extremely effective measures to stop employee theft. This vending machine technolgy remotely monitors everything that goes on with a machine, so it measures exactly how much cash is supposed to be collected per service. When a driver finishes his route for the day, a VMS will inform you exactly how much money they should come back with. If a driver comes back with a different amount, you know something fishy is going on. Plus, since drivers know a VMS is tracking sales down to the nickel, they are less inclined to steal from the machine because they know they will be caught. With this vending machine technology, you can rest easy knowing employees are honest, and your bottom line will benefit from decreased theft.
2. Intelligent Routing Decisions
Many operators run their routes on a static schedule. Certain machines get serviced on Tuesdays, others on Thursdays, etc. Or, drivers are responsible for a set of machines and set their own routes. With both of these methods, operators don’t plan their routes based on concrete data, which leads to a lack of control servicing the machines that actually need it.
With the right vending machine technology, you can gain control of planning routes with dynamic routing. With dynamic routing, machines are serviced exactly when they need it. A VMS will prioritize machines if they are low on inventory, have high on cash to collect, or are grouped together geographically rather than just randomly by the day of the week. With a powerful VMS, you can choose precisely which machines to service based on actionable data. Instead of putting the control in your driver’s hands or making decisions on gut feelings, you can take control and plan your routes based on hard data. Operators who use effective dynamic routing can increase their route service efficiency up to 100%. You’ll send your drivers to machines that need to be serviced, and your service efficiency will increase as a result.
3. Proactive Machine Repairs
Vending machines break down – it’s just a fact of the business. Often, you won’t know even know about a broken down machine until a location contacts them. This puts the control of repairing machine out of your hands and into the hands of your locations. If a location doesn’t contact you, a machine can be down for days or even weeks. The longer a machine is down, the more you’ll miss out on sales.
With a VMS, tackling machine breakdowns is much easier. The vending machine technology sends machine breakdown alerts straight to you, so you will know right when a machine issue occurs. Bill jams, coin jams, compressor failures, open door alerts, and even temperature readings are sent to you when they happen. Instead of waiting for a location to call, you can be proactive about repairing your machine. You can easily dispatch a technician straight from your phone, and the machine will be up and running quickly – avoiding missed sales and putting you back in control of your machines.
4. Optimized Product Merchandising
What products do you have in your machines right now? In each machine, do you know what your stocking in every row and column? Do you know how much inventory is left in each spiral? Do you know what your best selling product is for each of your machines? If you have one or two machines, you might be able to guess at what is inside your machines. But if you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of machines, it is impossible to know. With this uncertainty, it’s difficult to have sufficient control over your product inventory. Product spoilage, optimized order quantities, and what product to stock in machines cannot be achieved without knowing what is happening inside your machines.
With a VMS, every spiral in all of your machines is monitored at all times. Precise inventory levels, product sales charts, and spoilage tracking is all automatically generated by the vending machine technology. With this type of information at your disposal, you can make meaningful decisions about what type of products go into your machines. Operators who use effective product merchandising can increase machine sales 10 – 15%. Finally, you can control your inventory and benefit your bottom line as a result.
5. Streamlined Financial Management
Managing financials in vending can be a nightmare. Calculating gross sales, commissions and subsidies for different accounts, setting up different tax rates for different counties, and running profit / loss analyses can be difficult. In a primarily cash business, it can be easy to lose track. Many operators use spreadsheets, QuickBooks, or hire an account to help manage their money, but an accurate, operational-wide view on financials can be difficult to attain.
A good VMS will help you run your financials without having to turn to another software application. You can view reports on commissions, subsides, taxes, cashless sales, and countless other reports right inside the system you use to manage your operation. A VMS already tracks all of your sales data, so calculating these financials is as easy as clicking a button. Instead of exporting and importing spreadsheets across different programs, you will have access to all of your data all in one place. With easy access to these reports, you can view and act on your financials to help improve the bottom line of the company.
In vending, it is easy for an operator to feel out of control. Without knowing what is going on with each machine, an operator can feel helpless. However, with remote monitoring from a VMS, you can start putting yourself back in control of your business. Knowing for fact whether employees are stealing, using data to make significant operational decisions, and keeping a good tab on financials will not only improve your bottom line, but help you get a firm grasp on your business – keeping you sleeping soundly at night.