Factors affecting operations might be out of your control right now, but you can still shape how you adapt and prepare your business for when things start to pick up again, all while keeping employees and customers safe and healthy. This was the main theme of NAMA’S “Pivoting for Success” webinar we recently attended.
The event, hosted by industry experts, was held in response to the new environment that operators are facing due to the pandemic. The speakers included:
- Vivian Robillard – VP of Food Service Sales, Pepsico
- Lance Whorton – President/CEO, Imperial
- Niki Morton – Executive VP, Casco Bay Food & Beverage
- Jeff Smith – Chairman/CEO, All Star Services, Inc.
They covered everything from equipment to handling products to how you can gain back the trust of your customers. Here are the key points discussed for each topic.
COVID-19 has had a real psychological impact on consumers regarding how they interact with the world. This includes vending and OCS equipment. There’s a real fear of touching surfaces that dozens or even hundreds of other people are touching. Going forward, touchless payment options will play an important role in the industry.
Additionally, monitoring equipment remotely can be significantly helpful as it limits the amount of visits drivers and technicians make to locations. Operators who do not currently have software to do this should seriously consider using a platform to help avoid unnecessary visits to customer locations.
Properly sanitizing equipment will be an important procedure. Ensure all vending machines, coffee machines, and snack machines are thoroughly cleaned both at customer accounts and while sitting in your warehouse.
Facilities and Fleets
How you manage your facilities and fleets will also need to change. Repurposing assets to accommodate new opportunities will be a competitive advantage.
With so many people working from home now, some operators have begun pursuing home delivery. It’s hard to say how long that will continue, but there are a lot of companies (across all industries) talking about keeping it that way. Or at least creating a hybrid work environment.
As for the health and safety of your employees, procedures for managing your warehouse(s) and office space have to be different, too. Monitoring temperatures daily, wearing masks and gloves, rigorous and frequent cleaning… these will become regular occurrences for the foreseeable future.
Offering new items like PPE products such as gloves and masks will be an area to explore. Selling these items can be useful for your community while helping make up some loss in sales. NAMA is actively seeking where these products can easily be sourced.
You’ll also need to consider packaging. Items like plasticware and coffee stirrers can’t just be thrown into a big container, so individually packaged items will need to be sourced and sold.
Vending and OCS have always been associated with beverages and snacks. While those will still be core products, offering new items such as PPE products will potentially be an area to explore.
Office and Administration
Right now is a good time to tackle some of those “spring cleaning” projects that you keep pushing off. Nobody wants to just sit around. Take advantage of this time to get things in order and train your staff on proper procedures.
Despite the negative impact COVID-19 has had, there’s still a sliver of hope: a lot of people had to quickly adapt and work with one another in new ways. This adaptability and teamwork is a positive sign that operators, and the industry as a whole, will be able to bounce back from all of this.