If you’ve ever been online to gather information on how to buy a vending machine, you will likely have been stunned by the amount of information you were presented with. These days, vending machines can hold so many different products, from fresh produce, to flowers, luxury goods and even PPE.
Knowing where to start, what to focus on and how to make the best decision for your business regarding food and drink can be extremely difficult. We’re experts in vending at Connect, and wanted to give you a quick rundown of some of the key considerations when buying a vending machine, before you get lost down the Google rabbit hole.
Knowing the value of vending to your business
When it comes to food and drink in the workplace, there are many ways to skin a cat. From your humble work tuck shop, to a full blown three-meal-a-day catered setup, there are plenty of different ways to bring quality food and drink into your workplace.
One of the most popular options for businesses is vending, and it’s important that you understand at what point investment in vending is sensible, and how it will improve staff welfare. Knowing when this commercial tipping point is reached is crucial to finding the right vending machine and the right service.
Buying a vending machine can be a substantial investment, but considering the volume of food, drinks and snacks that these solutions can hold, they can provide excellent value for money in environments with growing staff numbers and an increasing focus on variety and quality. It’s also a great way of keeping staff on-site throughout the day so they remain focused and engaged.
If you’re looking to buy a vending machine and aren’t completely sure that the number of staff on site justifies the capital outlay just yet, you also have the option of buying refurbished vending machines, though there are some downsides to spending less on older equipment. With age comes a decrease in machine reliability, and if the specific machines you’ve purchased second hand are no longer produced, it may be harder and more expensive to purchase replacement parts or spares.
Whatever growth phase your business is in, we’d highly recommend going through a thorough cost benefit analysis to see if buying vending machines is right for your business. If the figures stack up and you know that your staff would benefit from (and utilise) vending, then you’re in a strong position to move forward. Not sure how to tell if you’re ready for vending? Just get in touch and our sales team will be able to help you through this process, step by step.
Understanding the local food and drink market
It sounds cliché, but location is critical when buying a vending machine. This isn’t just about making sure that the physical location for the machines on your site are suitable, it’s also about understanding the location of your premises and the distance to the nearest convenience stores or cafes.
One of the most overlooked considerations for purchasing a vending solution is the accessibility of shops and cafes in the local area – this can often mean that even though there’s a suitable number of staff on site and a drive for better quality on-site food and drink, staff will still look to see if there’s an option in the local area that works better for them on any given day.
If your business is situated in a remote countryside setting and there’s no local access to shops, this won’t be a problem as staff are much more likely to stay on-site and utilise the snack vending machines or hot and cold drink vending machines you’ve installed on site. Knowing which local business, if any, your staff already use, will help you understand the impact of bringing vending to the workplace.
After all, you wouldn’t want to invest thousands in a vending machine setup, just to find that your staff prefer to walk to the local Greggs every lunch.
Selecting the right vending machines for your environment
Offices and manufacturing facility settings are very different. The calm, desk based office environment and the bustling, machinery heavy manufacturing floors will clearly have very different vending machine requirements.
In offices you’re far more likely to see high end boiling water taps, table top coffee machines and sleek vending machines that are aesthetically pleasing and are designed to deliver great quality food and drink and see light wear and tear. Typically, these environments lean towards the higher quality products of smart fridges, bean to cup coffee machines and fresh milk coffee machines.
For the shop floor, you’d find solutions better suited to the constant use, bumps and knocks from trolleys or machinery, and dirty gloves of manufacturing. You’d be less likely to see a sleek touchscreen machine with glass façade, and more likely to see a hard wearing floor standing coffee machine with a physical keypad, that can dispense great quality instant coffee and doesn’t need to be replenished with milk or coffee beans in the middle of a busy workspace.
Taking time to understand the demographics in each area and the way that staff interact with food and drink, will stand you in good stead when selecting the right machines.
Managing and maintaining your vending machines
It may not sound like a direct consideration when it comes to choosing the right vending machine for your business, but each machine has its own operating procedures and guidelines, and will impact your business if you’ve not considered the human resources needed to keep everything running smoothly.
Most vending operators will give you the option to purchase or lease a machine and leave you to take care of the replenishment, cleaning and general machine management internally. This does mean, however, that you’ll need a member of staff to take these responsibilities on as part of their role, as well as you needing to supply the stock for the machines and cleaning products. For smaller businesses, this is a more common solution as the vending machines are seeing less throughput and require less regular attention.
For larger businesses though, we would highly recommend outsourcing the management of your vending solutions to an operator like Connect Vending. Vending machine companies will have a team of merchandisers and engineers that are well versed in replenishing and maintaining machines for a range of vending machine manufacturers and can take these extra responsibilities away from your already busy staff.
Keeping staff engaged with your new vending machines is also critically important – letting a vending operator manage the rotation of product lines, and the seasonal ranges from leading brands, means that you don’t have to worry about managing these demands internally.
Taking the next steps
In summary, there are many options available to businesses looking to purchase a vending machine, or upgrade their existing solutions. It can be easy to see vending machines as a natural step up for sites where there is limited food and drink provision on site, but taking time to think through the various considerations will help you select the right vending machine for the right phase of your business growth.
If you’re looking to buy a vending machine or upgrade your existing vending setup, our expert sales team are available to discuss your requirements. With more than 25 years of industry experience, we can help you navigate the world of vending and choose the right machines for your workplace.
Speak to our team on 01865 341011 or contact us to start the ball rolling!