In 2008, Americans bought more than $60 billion worth of vending products. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of snacks and drinks.
So where is the best place to purchase the products for your vending business? Before we examine that issue, make sure the products in the machine are what your customer wants. A simple survey letter on the front of each machine asking your customers what items they would like to see in the machine really helps a lot. Leave the surveys on the machine a few days and see what happens. When I’ve done this in the past, I’d usually get requests for beer and wine, but also helpful suggestions. There are a lot of regional brands that people like and the larger vending companies don’t have time to stock. Be different! Be unique! Learn from your customers!
Keep in mind that your existing accounts are the best source of new customers. This survey will generate goodwill for your business and lets your customers know that you care – it’s one personalized service you provide that the larger companies don’t.
Time to Go Shopping: The wholesale clubs – Sam’s, BJ’s and Costco – are generally the best places to buy snacks. They offer as few or as many snacks as you need, at reasonable prices. Check with some of your candy companies to see if they offer product rebates. And always make sure you buy the right size snacks to vend out of your machines. An easy way to find out is to pull an item out of the tray on a spiral snack machine; if the spiral comes out with the snack, the snack is too large.
The major drink manufacturers usually run sales on sodas from Memorial Day until Christmas. Scan newspapers for best prices and even clip coupons. Some of the smaller or independent grocery stores will let you buy large amounts of drinks at a great price at certain times of the year. The 1-to-2 cents you save per can is pure profit and adds to the bottom line.
For coin-operated coffee vending machines, you must buy product through a vending machine product distributor. These items are specially formulated for vending without binding up the machine with humidity. Vending-specific cups are important because they are made to dispense without jamming. Be very careful when buying a case of cups. Always keep the case standing upright so that you don’t flatten out the lip of the cup. If the lip flattens, the cup will jam and the customer will watch his coffee run down the drain.
Don’t be afraid to be different in what you stock, and make sure you charge a fair price for a quality product. These simple steps will help you keep your customers happy – which keeps ’em coming back for more business.