You’ve been tasked with finding vending machine suppliers to provide a greater range of drinks and snacks in the workplace, and have been given a month to get all the information together to present back to your manager. On the surface, this is a very straightforward task, but there’s a few things to avoid as you navigate the world of vending machine purchasing or renting.
In this blog article, we look at the top five mistakes to avoid, and some of them may not seem so obvious.
Starting with products, not requirements
This is the most common mistake that we see with new vending machine purchases, and it’s an easy one to make, especially if you’re replacing an existing vending solution or have previously gone through the buying process. It’s important to always take a step back and look at what your requirements are, and work on nailing this down before you look at any products.
It may sound like over-analysis or a lot of work for a simple decision, but this exercise will help you fully understand your business, your employee preferences and demographics, and what you actually want to achieve with your vending solution. Going into a supplier discussion with your eyes wide open and with a comprehensive understanding of your needs, puts you in a strong position to find the perfect solution.
Focusing solely on the cost of the solution
From your work on identifying and clarifying your business’ requirements, you will have a clear view of the priorities, particularly if there’s a glaring gap in service delivery from your incumbent vending operator. This will give you clarity around the most important areas that pose challenges, and where your solution should excel to overcome those challenges.
Many decision makers who are looking for a replacement or new vending service will pick the cheapest option, for obvious reasons, and this can lead to the wrong solution being employed on site. As simplistic as it may sound, the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’, couldn’t be truer in vending.
If minimising cost is the main objective, you’ll likely have low priced options that come with compromises on machine operation or maintenance. For example, you may only see a merchandiser attend site to fill your machine up once a week or once a fortnight, regardless of how empty or in need of cleaning your machines might be.
Likewise, if you purchase a machine for an area with high footfall, such as a break room, you want this machine to be available and selling products at every minute of the day. When it inevitably encounters a fault, you need it back online within hours. Cutting costs will mean this response time could be days, if not weeks, leading to disgruntled and unfed staff growing tired of waiting.
Paying more to have a fully managed service with a top supplier gives you complete peace of mind that you won’t be left without your machines in working order for more than a day. At Connect, we have an engineer attending site for breakdown calls on almost 90% of occasions, within 8 hours. And thanks to the way our engineers work, they have the replacement parts to deliver a first-time fix rate of 98% on those calls. It’s well worth the investment, we’re sure you’d agree.
Opting to buy vending machines without a fully managed service
Let’s be clear about one thing, before we talk through this in more detail – there will always be scenarios where DIY, self-fill, self-managed vending solutions will be a better fit that a fully managed vending service, but there are significant downsides to this approach.
Take the example of IT in the workplace – if your business is in a position where you can afford a salary of someone to manage your IT systems and infrastructure internally, that’s great, but most businesses can’t justify the spend and would much rather focus their financial and human resources on their core activities. Fully managed vending services let the experts take on the management and maintenance, so you don’t have to.
With a DIY approach, you will still be taking on the capital hit of new equipment (unless you opt to lease a vending machine), and the management and maintenance will deliver immense value for a small increase in cost on a monthly or quarterly basis.
The machines need to be free, or profitable, to be worthwhile
We hear this idea often – if the vending solution isn’t cost neutral or making the business looking to implement the solution a profit, it’s not worth doing. It goes without saying that this is not the case, and the vast majority of businesses look at buying vending machines as an investment in staff productivity, satisfaction and overall happiness in the workplace.
There are occasions where a Free-on-Loan (FoL) model is appropriate, but they are the exception rather than the majority, as a business needs to be selling a very high volume of products for this to make commercial sense. In most cases, small business think that this model will apply regardless of scale, which is unfortunately not the case.
This also links back to our reference to not focusing solely on the cost of a solution. If a business wants to do something that will benefit staff, on 99% of occasions they will need to make an investment to implement it. If the focus is on cost neutrality or profitability, then you’re likely to be compromising on service quality and product quality, and losing sight of what you set out to achieve in the first place.
Taking a single suppliers recommended solution as the benchmark
Every vending machine operator works with a different makeup of machine manufacturers, based on a range of different factors. Within any specification of machine, recommended for vend volume, capacity, drinks range or more, there might be five different machines capable of doing the job. Some suppliers will push a specific machine manufacturer because that’s where the most profit lies, without it necessarily being the best option.
Working with an operator who has full-market reach and will recommend a solution based only on being the right solution to fulfil your requirements, will help you get a few different options. By working with these operators, there’s no assumptions about your requirements, no pre-arrangements with machine manufacturers to push certain models, and will be your best chance of getting the perfect solution.
To make sure this is the case, ask them about their suppliers and whether they take a collaborative approach to solution building. If they only have a single solution for some scenarios, it’s likely that you’re missing out on another machine that might be better for the job.
If you’re thinking about purchasing or hiring a vending machine, why not speak to our vending experts, here at Connect? We’ve got more than 25 years of experience providing vending solutions to workplaces across the UK, and work with the best manufacturers in the business.
Give us a call on 01865 341011 or send us an enquiry to receive a callback. We’d love to hear from you.