Early each morning our amazing team of vending operators quietly set to work filling, cleaning and managing hundreds of vending machines across the UK. Wrapped up tightly and with a hot drink in hand, the team are at work before most have risen, preparing workplaces ahead of another bustling day of business.
In this article we pay tribute to the incredible men and women doing the miles to keep our vending machines replenished and ready to go, every day of the working week. This is a day in the life of a vending operator.
Early starts, come rain or shine
The clock hits 5.15am and my Monday has started. It’s December, so pretty nippy outside at this time, and after a quick shower, a bit of breakfast and a hot drink, I grab my woolly hat, my gloves and my fleece and get ready to hit the road for the day.
Before I do anything, though, it’s time to clock on and check today’s job list on my phone. I’ve already packed the van with everything needed for my visits this week, but it’s good practice to familiarise ourselves with the day’s jobs before we get into the van, especially if there’s anything unforeseen that requires us to go to site earlier than we expected.
It’s also important that my van is safe and that I’m comfortable for a day of driving. Each morning I check the safety basics, that all the van lights are working correctly, that the tyres are well inflated and that there’s no clear defects to the bodywork that might be dangerous to me or other road users. Once I’m in the vehicle, I do a quick check of the mirrors and my seating position, and I’m good to go – it’s 6am and the wheels are in motion.
Stock control, cleaning and replenishment – all with a smile and a positive attitude
I arrive at my first site of the day and open up the back of the van, where I start to prepare all of the different products and consumables that will be needed for this visit. For this client site, I know that I need to leave the van in a specific car park and want to be able to get everything done without coming back to the van multiple times, so I need to be well prepared. I also know that this is one of our Deli Café micro market clients, so fresh food will likely have already arrived on site, delivered by my colleague in a refrigerated van.
I’ve loaded my bag with the coffee beans, powdered milk and sugar, and a range of cold drinks, chocolate bars and crisps. We accurately know how many items are needed to fully replenish shelves and which consumables need topping up, from the coffee machine’s built-in data and also from our micro market’s self service till.
Once I’m at the location, I start to take out any of the heavy transit parts of the coffee machine that can easily get dirty and set them aside in some water to soak through. This is also where I inspect the individual pipes, bowls and other internals for any obvious damage, which is a great opportunity to detect anything that isn’t 100% right. Usually though, this is problem-free.
After the parts are cleaned up, dried off and put back into the machine, I can then take a reading of the machines data using one of our data keys, and get on to replenishing the consumables. I close the machine up and finish off by doing a full clean of exterior surfaces and once again, check for any damage.
I take this opportunity to do a couple of test vends, to make sure that the coffee machine calibration is spot on – If something isn’t quite right with the coffee quality, I’m in the best position to raise this with one of our engineers whilst I’m here.
Managing the rotation of stock and replenishing sold items is straightforward with our micro market solution, as there’s no physical barrier like with traditional vending machines. I have a look to verify the data we have on stock use by dates, and remove any stock which is soon out of date, and top up the ambient crisp and snack bays.
Like with the commercial coffee machines, I have an opportunity whilst I’m on site to triple check that everything is operating correctly, from the lighting through to the fridges and the till’s barcode scanner. I tend to randomly select a handful of products across the fresh food, crisps, snacks and drinks, and check that they’re scanning through with the right product description and at the correct price. I can also do a small test transaction to check that the Nayax contactless payments are working properly.
The eyes and ears for an interconnected team
I’m a few sites into my day by now, when I receive a call from my Team Leader who tells me that a service call has been raised for a nearby site, and has asked me to go and investigate the situation. When I turn up on site I can see that something has malfunctioned and a coffee machine is displaying a fault code. Whatever has happened is preventing it from vending drinks.
My first port of call is to speak with our local engineer, who informs me that this is an issue that can be temporarily bypassed to allow the machine to continue operating – in the meantime, the engineer finishes up at his current job and heads to site for a more in-depth assessment of the fault. I explain the situation to the customer and inform them that an engineer will be attending site within the next few hours to get to the bottom of the issue. In summary, the machine remains operational and I can move on to my next site, which means minimal impact to the customer.
It’s important that all operators communicate excellently to their Team Leaders. Whether we’re doing visual checks of the machines each time we clean and replenish them, or we’ve been speaking to staff on site who have asked about when a new product line is arriving, we need to feed this back to the business. The quicker the Team Leaders have this information, they can look into it further and escalate to managers if necessary, which means we’re keeping our customers informed and satisfied.
Rinse and repeat
It’s been a busy but very productive morning, and now it’s time to have a proper break. I’ll usually take half an hour for a sandwich, a drink and to catch up with the family. Once I’m finished, I’ll have another look at the job lists to make sure I’m clear on the next few visits, and depending on what day it is, I’ll make sure I’ve placed an order with the warehouse for next week’s stock collection. The team are super busy picking stock throughout the week, and giving them plenty of time to get my order prepared is always appreciated.
Once I’ve completed my site visits for the day, I’ll have a quick catch up over the phone with my Team Leader where I summarise the day’s jobs and any issues we’ve identified, before clocking off and heading home. One of the perks of starting so early is that I can usually get back home by 3pm and get to see the kids when they’re back from school – it’s always satisfying seeing a fully stocked site being used by lots of happy people, and I enjoy every minute of it. Bring on tomorrow.
Are you looking for a reliable vending supplier to install and manage your next vending solution? If so, speak to our expert vending machine sales team and we’ll talk you through the process of buying a vending solution. We’ve been in the business for more than 25 years and offer expert advice to all our clients.
Speak to us on 01865 341011 or contact us for more information.