Different vending companies have different sets of goals. Some operators want to optimize current machines, while others look to effectively manage an expansion. Regardless of their ambitions, one goal remains constant across numerous vending operations: landing profitable accounts.
Finding and securing accounts that turn a significant profit is key to keeping vending operations successful. Locating these accounts can prove difficult and winning them can be even harder. However, one easy tool has helped operators gain an advantage in securing profitable locations. Vending management systems (VMS), like the one offered by Parlevel Systems, enable vendors to better find, secure, and maintain profitable accounts.
Here are 5 ways vending technology can help vending operators secure accounts:
1. Know what commissions to offer
Some accounts require vending operators to pay a percentage of their total sales as a commission in order to set-up at their location. These commissions are negotiable; however, many of the figures can be arbitrary. A location likely does not know an operator’s profit margin and could demand an unrealistic commission, which would lead to an unprofitable account. “You have to know your profit margin when pitching commissions to accounts,” said Jason Sledge, a vending operator who used vending management systems (VMS) from Parlevel to successfully secure profitable accounts.
Sledge runs Snack & Pop Vending – a family owned vending operation providing state-of-the-art vending solutions to the Dallas area. Vending technology helps him negotiate a fair commission by giving him access to detailed financial statements about his business. The VMS generates reports on total costs, gross revenue, profit margins, and even tax groups. Sledge can bring these reports to a negotiation and use them to keep commissions reasonable and locations profitable.
“When we are bidding against another vending company, we consult our financial statements and offer a commission that is competitive while staying profitable,” said Sledge. “Our negotiations are backed up with hard data, which makes the final commission fairer for both sides.”
2. Promise minimal stock-outs and downtime
Stock-outs and machine downtime can drive accounts crazy. Locations often dread having a machine that is routinely empty or out-of-order. Not only do they have to deal with complaints from employees or customers, they often find themselves calling the vending company only to complain. “When you get called into an account, often it is because there is something not stocked in a machine or it is broken down,” said Sledge. An operator would have a high chance to win a potential account if they could promise minimal stockouts and rapid response to malfunctioning machines.
Traditionally, a vending business takes a reactive approach to stock-outs and downtime in which they wait for an account to call and complain, and then they’ll attempt to fix the issue. Effective vending technology enables vending operators to take a more proactive approach with their locations. A proper VMS utilizes remote monitoring which allows vending operators to virtually look inside their machines any time and from any device. The software informs operators about low inventory and alerts them to machine breakdowns as soon as they happen.
With Parlevel’s VMS, Snack & Pop’s phone calls from frustrated accounts have diminished. “The system is real time, and we immediately know if the machine is down. This lets us get out there the same day and take care of it before an account gets annoyed.” Sledge has an advantage over other operators when bidding on a location because he can promise a rapid response to machine issues.
3. Impress accounts with technology
Pitching vending services to an account can be a somewhat dull affair. Vending companies can give a background on their business, supply a list of products being offered, communicate what machines will be provided, or discuss commissions during a presentation. With vending technology, a company can provide a more interesting pitch when bidding on an account. “When I show potential accounts the VMS they are surprised,” said Sledge. “It definitely has that ‘cool factor.’”
Good vending software can impress potential locations almost immediately. A vendor can pull out an iPad and show an account how they’ll use the VMS to keep machines stocked, ensure timely service, and manage product requests – all with the touch of a finger. A pitch utilizing this technology can stand out among competitors who use more traditional methods.
Sledge has used this technological advantage to impress and win potential accounts. “Almost every account knows very little about vending technology,” said Sledge. “The technology is completely new to them, and it definitely makes a difference during negotiations.”
4. Ensure happy customers
Many accounts decide to employ vending machines due to the benefits it provides their customers or employees, and a location will want to keep an operator’s services as long as their customers are happy. It is imperative for a vending business to keep these customers happy; however, companies can struggle to keep satisfaction high. Customers can make product requests that are difficult to fulfill. If an operator stocks a requested item, they run the risk of pulling a popular item and upsetting someone else.
A VMS can keep an account happy by effectively dealing with customers’ product demands. Vending technology offers product merchandising tools that measure sales figures machine by machine and highlight high-sellers and low-sellers. If a customer wants a specific product, an operator can consult these sales figures via the VMS, swap out a low selling item, and replace it with the requested item. “Parlevel’s software helps me satisfy customer demands by informing me of what sells well and what doesn’t,” said Sledge. “I can go into the VMS, check product sales figures, and add new products without anybody getting upset at taking something out, said Sledge. “This is a great way to keep customers – and accounts – happy.”
5. Generate Recommendations
Vendors often invest a lot of time searching for accounts. Sometimes when an operator finds a potential location, they aren’t receptive to accepting vending services. Referral and recommendation accounts tend to be easier to land. “Referred accounts are a lot easier to maintain because they are excited and know that we are a good company,” said Sledge. Vending technology can increase the rate of referrals because they help vending operators provide an extremely high level of service.
“We’ve picked up quite a few accounts through word-of-mouth, and Parlevel’s VMS helped us do that,” said Sledge. As Snack & Pop expands, Sledge plans to continue using vending technology to secure, maintain, and find accounts. “Customer service and technology go hand-in hand. With all of the ways Parlevel’s VMS has helped my business, I firmly believe technology is the new way of vending.”