Healthy vending options are a win for everyone - we know that for certain. Over the last several years, we've helped hundreds of people start their own healthy vending businesses. During that time, we've listened and followed each operator's successes to learn the secret ingredients that now make up our best-in-class new business training program. Based on their feedback, here are three ways that healthy vending business owners keep great locations:
1 - Be Easy to Find and Hard to Forget
In all industries, it's the people with that particularly "unforgettable" quality who earn the best reputations. On a local scale, you can solidify your own golden reputation quite easily. When setting up your business, it's important to:
- Have consistent contact information (name, phone number, email, web address) on all of your marketing materials
- Make sure your contact information is easy to say and spell (email@example.com)
- Return emails and phone calls as soon as you possibly can! You're building a service business, and being fast on your feet with a response can make a great impression
2 - Be Seen (and Heard) By Your Customer
Much like a crew of roadies, many expect the person servicing their food and drink machines to be invisible, arriving before the staff arrive or dropping by as the last few people leave for the day. While that's certainly an option, remember that a lot of the decision to use a new vendor (such as you, when you first won the location) has to do with a bad relationship between the previous vendor and the location. When you take time to say hello, smile, and make small talk, you increase your likeabiltiy factor and solidify your relationship. I love the nicknames I have earned from my customers, because you only earn a nickname from someone who remembers something about you. (I know you're expecting to hear the nicknames, so I'll share my favorite: The Candy Man!)
If your key contact isn't on location when you visit, or if your paths don't cross, I recommend sending them a fast, friendly email after your service appointment to let them know that you were there. It serves as another reminder that you're a part of their team!
3 - Regularly Solicit Individual Feedback
This ties in nicely with being seen (and heard) by your customer. Your key contact at a location is the best person to talk to about logistics around your service appointments, but it's a great idea to chat with the folks you encounter during your appointments. Aside from small talk, I recommend asking them about their favorite products in your healthy vending machines, as well as what they'd like to see. Recently, I discovered that my key contact at a location had gotten the wrong feedback about some of the snacks that the staff had wanted. When I talked to a few of them, they were upset that the products they had requested didn't make the cut. This, coupled with some slow-moving items in the machine, made it easy for me to bring in the requested products and boost sales. In addition to better revenue, the team was excited that their feedback was not only heard, but also acted upon.
How do you keep your locations happy?
Everyone has their own best practices, and I encourage other vending operators to share some of their ideas for keeping the best vending locations happy and profitable. What should be added to the list? Use the comments below to let me know!