Top 10, Most Important, Questions to Ask Your New Houston Texas Area Vending Machine Company!
Your time is valuable; therefore, it is so important to ask important questions, when interviewing new Conroe or The Woodlands area vending machine companies for your office, school, work, etc. There are, too many to count, start-up or new vending machine companies that simply can’t afford a general liability insurance policy, have good references, etc. We all have to start somewhere… but many vending startups just “wing-it” and place a few machines hoping that you won’t ask for important documents and/or questions. Speaking of references… always check two or three current locations of the new operator.
1. Is the vending company fully insured?
Fact – Most new vending companies are NOT insured… from cut fingers to fires could be devastating to you and your work if something bad happens. Ask for a million dollars in coverage or greater.
2. Does the vending company pay sales tax?
Fact – Most new vending companies do NOT pay sales tax on the items purchased thru your machines. Why care? If the state discovers the operator is not paying sales tax on items purchased…. they can shut them down. Ask for a sales and use tax permit.
3. What is the condition of the vending equipment?
Fact – We all have to start somewhere… and most of the time… new operators start with old junky equipment. Ask the new operator for pictures of the machines beforehand.
4. How are products selected for the vending machines? How do they know what the customers want?
Fact – Many new vending companies are what we call “Sams Club Vendors”. They only shop at Sams and are missing out on many new items that larger vendors purchase from brokers.
5. Have criminal background checks been cleared on the route drivers and technicians entering your facility?
Fact – The vending business is easy to get into. We background check all route merchandisers.
6. How often does management check machines to ensure they meet operation and cleanliness standards?
Fact – Most new operators have day jobs (to pay the bills) and often service your machines late afternoons and are usually in a hurry. Make sure they are staying on top of cleanliness.
7. How long will a machine be out of service, if there is a problem (hours, days, weeks)?
Fact – Again… many new operators have “day jobs” that prevents timely service. Make sure you set expectations with the new vending company.
8. Do I have to sign a contract or service agreement?
Fact – Most new vending machine providers ask for a signed contract or agreement. Sometimes this is necessary and may be required. However, if you are a smaller location (say 300 staff members or less)… we would suggest not signing a contract right away. Maybe ask the operator to wait 90 days before signing. The last thing you need is to be spending your valuable time trying to get out of a new contract.
9. Are the prices your new vending company quoted guaranteed for a period of time or just teaser rates just to get in the door?
Fact – Most new startups offer unusually low prices to earn your business. Unfortunately, they usually don’t have buying power and it will only be a matter of time before they attempt to “sneak” up your prices. Don’t let your new operator nickel and dime you to death. Ask for all pricing in writing, prior to installation.
10. How often do the route drivers check for and remove expired products? What is the company’s tolerance level for out-dated products?
Fact – No operator is perfect… even the largest vendors have machines that have out-dated items stocked. However, established operators have systems in place that can prevent expired items in your vending machines.
Coke Zero Sugar replacing Coke Zero???
The Coca Cola bottling company recently introduced a new product called Coke Zero Sugar. Some have fallen in love with Coke Zero and are concerned that the taste will change with the new name. Looks like they may be the exact same ingredients in both and most likely just a play on marketing? Hometown Vending has offered Coke Zero, in both cans and bottles, for several years now and will certainly carry the new Coke Zero Sugar. However, we are wondering what the differences really are? Both are similar regarding ingredients and hope that our customers will transition to the new drink. We have some really “hard-core” Zero drinkers at some of vending machines and Hometown Fresh Micro Markets.
The Huffington Post has a great article on the differences or similarities of all three diet Coke offerings. In fact, Huffington Post states the following….. “This upset got us thinking: what is the actual difference between Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke Zero Sugar? If you look at the ingredients between the three, they aren’t actually all that different. And, in fact, Coke Zero and Coke Zero Sugar have exactly the same ingredient list.”
Here’s the list of ingredients in Diet Coke:
Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid, caffeine.
Here’s the list of ingredients in Coke Zero:
Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, caffeine.
And here’s the list of ingredients in Coke Zero Sugar:
Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, caffeine.
The Coca Cola company occasionally makes changes to ingredients, tastes, etc. Regular Coke Zero is a “niche” product and therefore the faithful are concerned that Coke will change the taste. The verdict is still out and I am certain our customers at Hometown Vending are concerned about the coming changes.
Tips for Better Health Houston 2017! Houston… we have a problem; Houstonians love to eat. In fact, Houston offers some of the best restaurants in the USA. It is hard to pick the best bbq, seafood, tex-mex, etc. restaurant because they are all good. Furthermore, the portion sizes are large here as well. Therefore, all the good food is adding to our waist lines. Your not alone… many are packing on pounds year over year. Also, we are working harder than ever with longer hours thus making it important to enjoy a mid-afternoon snack.
What you can do to improve your health in Houston?
- Knowing what healthy product choices offered in your workplace vending machine can help.
- Many of the main stream manufactures, smaller ones too, are already improving calorie count, fat and sugar content per serving, and more.
- When considering buying from vending machines, take the time to look over the nutrition fact sheet located on the back of the package or online.
- Product companies now are adding the important nutrition facts on the front of the packages. That way you can read the facts before purchasing.
Product companies have started adding some or more whole grain into baked goods. For example, Cheez-Its now have the regular baked version and another made with whole grain. Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
Sticking to lower fat, nutrition rich choices from vending machines can make a difference. Furthermore, water choices have increased tremendously over the last few years. Life Water (by Pepsi) is a purified water that is pH balanced with added electrolytes. The electrolytes are for added flavor, making it easier to make the switch from unhealthy soda to water with your snack.
Hometown Vending decided to upgrade operations by implementing a VMS vending route software system in early 2014. Using a vending management software system helps vending companies run day-to-day operations both in the office and at customer locations. Hometown Vending decided to take the leap and invest in a system that helps with scheduling, customer commissions, cash management, schedules and more. In our opinion, it would be really difficult to compete in 2017 without such a system to help keep things organized and running efficiently. We invested in Stream VMS and feel that the system is both easy and robust.
In the past, all customer commissions were dependent on drivers pulling the internal cash meters from each machine during service and then bringing back to the office so that we could manually enter into an Excel spreadsheet. This was incredibly tedious and time consuming… not to mention difficult to insure accuracy. Balancing the books and customer commissions took hours and hours each month. With Stream VMS software, all cash meters are automatically entered into the cloud during each service. Furthermore, all commissions are automatically calculated and our customers have their own login credentials so that they can view sales, current and past commission reports, etc. We feel that this creates a valuable level of trust with our customers.
Scheduling was another challenge for vending operators in the old days. Managers would have to layout schedules on paper and make sure drivers had a copy. Stops and machines would often get skipped due to communication errors, etc. Our vending management software automatically schedules and organizes routes. Our customers all seem really happy with the fact that we never overlook restocking their machines. Stream vending route software makes it really easy to schedule the really slow accounts that may require service once every two or three weeks. The system remembers the date of the last service and makes sure to show up in the drivers Stream iPhone app every two or three weeks, etc. No more overlooked slow stops!!
Stream vending route software also keeps track of all our cash management and tells us exactly how much we should expect back from the drivers each day by machine, location, etc. I am almost certain that most vending operators have experienced a driver stealing some cash at some point and this is precisely why we are really happy to have implemented a software system to run our business.
In conclusion, we couldn’t imagine running our business the old fashion way… spreadsheets, driver theft, inconsistent commission reports, etc. We made the jump in early 2014 and have been really satisfied with the results of using vending machine route software. We are the leading vending machine company in Montgomery County Texas and feel that having Stream VMS run our backend management has been crucial to our success.
Hometown Vending now offering the next generation of cashless vending machine technology… eport Interactive. The ePort® Interactive offers our customers vending machines that are the most advanced cloud-based interactive and cashless capable machines available. It enables the delivery of nutritional information, remote (by text) refunds, loyalty programs, and robust, potential multimedia-marketing campaigns for select vending machines from Hometown Vending. The eport devices supports traditional credit and debit cards, as well as NFC (Mobile Wallet) payments including Apple Pay and Android Pay.
The simple, clean touchscreen device is a vibrant, full color touch screen allowing the display of national or custom marketing and promotional campaigns. Basically, it combines cashless payment with nutrition info into one device. Furthermore, if an employee or staff member loses money… we can text back a code that will allow them to make another purchase on us.
The simple design of the device and superior security features of both the device and the ePort Interactive platform make it the coolest and best-in-class solution for our vending customers in Conroe, Houston, Magnolia, or the Woodlands looking for a payment solution offering a high tech consumer engagement and content delivery options.
On-screen nutritional Facts, colorfully displayed, detailed product information is available prior to purchase, informing the consumer about their selection.
On-screen advertising with interactive user interface: Brilliant touchscreens attract more customers and influence consumer purchasing patterns. The Interactive touch screen offers positive consumer patterns and encourages interaction of your staff with the vending machines.
On-screen assistance: Save time and money by quickly returning lost money with unique credit codes that can be sent to customers via SMS text messages. Also, we can manage subsidized ‘free vend’ location occasions without ever needing to visit a machine.
The eport Interactive system is a high-speed wireless connection and state-of-the-art cashless option that offers Hometown Vending customers the best possible experience. Contact Hometown Vending today and we can help you decide if an eport device is an option for your location.
Hometown Fresh Micro-Market! the Best Houston Texas Decision You Ever Made… and it didn’t cost you a dime!!
For years vending machines have been loved by break rooms everywhere. They offer convenience, provide delicious/healthy snacks for your staff employees. However, in these same years, vending machines have been loved to be hated. Products getting stuck, coin jams, dollar bills (no matter how many times you flatten them) won’t read and in some scenarios products (when they do vend) deliver only to be expired. In short, vending machines are just that: machines. And machines are not perfect sometimes causing frustration. But what if there was a system that was closer to perfect? One that prevents lost money and stuck products? One that offered even fresher food and guaranteed that customers never had to purchase an outdated product again? A micro-market from Hometown Fresh Markets is the answer.
A Hometown Fresh Micro-Market operates as a mini convenience store in break rooms or lounges in place of typical vending machines. With open shelving for shelf stable products, reach in coolers and freezers customers (your staff members) can touch their products before making a purchase. Imagine the possibility of touching and feeling your product choices prior to purchasing! Checking expiration dates and examining nutrition content is easy.
And for freshness?
Those reach in coolers, in addition to beverages; hold FRESH food like delicious sandwiches, salads, burritos, yogurts, parfaits, wraps, fruit, etc. are now readily accessible to your staff without ever having to leave their Houston, Conroe, Woodlands offices.
So what does all of this mean for your business? How does happier and healthier employees, less off-site staff lunches, and improved employee efficiency sound? Which in turn increases your company’s bottom line as happy employees produce better results.
Want to revolutionize your Houston area break room with a Hometown Fresh Micro-Market service of your own? Call your local Conroe Woodlands vendor, Hometown Vending today at (281) 305-VEND and ask what requirements need to be met to qualify for a Hometown Fresh Micro-Market at your place of business.