Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Glass Front Vending Machines Offer Variety

Glass front Antares vending machines, merchandise products better and offer more variety. These vending machines allow the customers to see what exactly is in the vending machine. When the customers can see what choices they have in selecting an item, they will be more inclined to purchase an item. The look of an item can entice a vending operator to buy the product. This can really boost the sales of your vending business by Natural Choice USA.

Glass front vending machines are mainly used in high population sites where the demand for greater product variety was viable. In sites with smaller populations, the sales of alternative products would not be that high to justify the extra time needed to load and place additional stock keeping units. Glass fronts Antares vending machines, proved to be more service intensive than the traditional closed-front machines. The addition of more stock keeping units means more work.

In the vending industry, you always have to come up with ways of staying on top of your competition. There are locations that can have a number of vending machines from different companies. This is the reason why you will need to compete with the other vending operators on the same level or on a higher level.

When it comes to glass front vending machines, you will find that there are snack glass front vending machines and beverage glass front vending machines. Antares Corporation offers a combo glass front vending machine that will have both snacks and beverages. This makes the vending machines ideal for all types of locations. The one thing that is will be important to have in your vending business will be variety in the items that are being sold. A glass front vending machine will allow you to offer this. This will increase your sales because not only can the customer see what they want, but they also have a wide variety to choose from.

The vending industry is a $40 billion industry that serves an estimated 82 million Americans at least once every month. The industry is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 4.9 percent over the next few years.

By leveraging technology, the machines are making huge strides in improving the efficiency and impact of products and packaging beyond the vending mainstays of food and beverages.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Determining a Company’s Market Value

The need to assign a market value to a vending business has become increasingly important to many Antares operators during the recent economic period. The purpose here is to present a practical and theoretically sound method of helping potential buyers realistically value a vending business.

Earning versus asset valuation

The earnings method utilizes the value of a vending company by looking at the potential cash flows. Risks are associated with those cash flows. This method is one that can be best used to analyze a profitable Antares vending company. Such a business is one in which sufficient profits and positive cash flows will be generated into the future.

Both the earnings method and the asset method require gathering pertinent financial information and making necessary assumptions in order to arrive as a reasonable value for the business.

Consider all types of assets

The asset method consist of there separate categories to determine value. The first category is operating assets. Operating assets are those items that are required and necessary for your Antares vending company to conduct its normal business activities. They would include machinery, equipment, inventory, trucks, building and land.

The second category involves the non operating assets. These are vital for the Antares business to continue. Items may include excess cash, excess working capital, luxury automobiles, artwork, stocks and bonds.

The final category would be the intangible assets. Intangible assets would include reputation, quality of products, services and other components that are commonly referred to as “goodwill.”

Condition of the assets

The more modern and well maintained the assets are, the more a prospective buyer is willing to pay for the assets. In most selling transactions, both accounts receivable and accounts payable remain the responsibility of the selling organization.

Certain assumptions can be made when valuing operating assets. Primarily, a company’s value depends heavily on the worth of its operating assets. Secondly, the company has developed unpredictable cash flows and earnings history. Thirdly, the prospects that the company continues to operate are poor.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Buying New Vending Machines

The message that the U.S. automatic merchandising industry is sending to its customers is that there should be an end to recession. This message comes in the form of equipment purchasing plans. A survey that was conducted revealed aggressive buying intentions despite the state of the economy. There are a large percentage of operators who are planning to buy candy/snack equipment as well as other product category machines. Of course when buying a new vending machine it would be advisable to go for a quality vending machine like those provided by Antares Corporation.

The results of the survey that was conducted are very encouraging. It indicates that most operators recognize that they cannot build their companies without investing in new equipment such as those by Antares Corporation. A significant number of operators recognize that the employee downsizing that has plagued customer locations in the past years will not continue indefinitely. These operators know from experience that high quality machines are needed to meet customer needs over the long term.

Need to upgrade machines continues

In the past few years, Antares operators as well as other operators were inclined to hold off on new equipment purchases. Less activity in accounts reduced machine use, increasing machine life expectancy. Many of these operators postponed the purchasing of new equipment. Equipment distributors, on their part, reported exceptionally slow sales of new equipment.

Antares vending machines are quality machines. This is what has made them quite popular with many vending operators. When you are ready to purchase a new vending machine, you would want to buy one that is reasonably priced and can provide your customers with the right kind of service because of its proper functioning. This is especially important when you are just starting out in your vending business.

When you want a snack and beverage vending machine, then these are the best machines that you can go for, because they are durable and easy to maintain.

The economy may not be very encouraging at this time, but this is not something that has stopped a large number of vending operators from purchasing new equipment.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Effective Business Plan

A good place to start is with the company’s mission statement. Having a mission statement is not an exercise in rhetoric. It provides ongoing guidance, and the basis for individual employee responsibilities. You can use the mission statement for your Antares business to improve the company’s goals to succeed in the face of any new challenges that may come about.

Priorities, barriers and strategies

The priorities in your Antares vending business can be improved employee training, identifying new growth opportunities, improving vehicle maintenance, upgrading field equipment, etc. On the other hand barriers to growth might be poor customer service due to insufficient employee training, old equipment, or weak client relations.

Strategies for growth can be creating a director of marketing position; enhancing customer relations skills of service personnel; or increasing the number of stops on existing routes. Each of these strategies can be developed in greater detail.

Establishing goals

An effective business plan should establish company goals for your Antares business, preferably both short term and long term. Goals give an employee something concrete to aspire to. They also give management a concrete basis for rewarding employee performance. Goals setting can be one of the key tools in the success of your vending business.

Goals: qualitative, quantitative

In a busy schedule, goals will provide any employee focus. The two types of goals a company should identify in a plan are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative goals are measured in numbers, such as sales and profits. Qualitative goals are people-oriented.

Once goals for your Antares business by Natural Choice USA have been identified, the tasks must be created to achieve the goals. All goals, quantitative and qualitative, should be divided into annual, quarterly, and maybe even monthly, weekly or daily tasks. When doing this, you need to consider the state of the industry and local market conditions.

Plan describes marketing strategies

Many operators want to improve their marketing strategies. If the company performance has resulted in the non achievement of the company’s goals, then two things need to be evaluated: 1) the market, and 2) how the company is serving the market. This helps to group it into segments, such as type of locations.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Electronic Security Systems

Electronic locks will offer a great tool in the fight to prevent loss, especially in the area of keyed entry. The first advantage is the ability to limit access to each and every Antares vending machine. The state-of-the-art electronic system allows the administrator to hand out the keys that are programmed according to a daily activation schedule. A key can be programmed to work during specific hours and only on certain machines. You can also program the key to expire completely after a certain period of time.

The only problem is that, the machine can be burglarized by the individual who has been authorized to service it. But management will have a much better idea about who has been in what Antares machine during what period of time. Electronic locks provide an audit trail of all lock activity. In state-of-the-art systems, key audits are done automatically at the time of reprogramming and are available for future reference.

Keyed entry can be defined a in a couple of different ways. It doesn’t necessarily require a key. It can be defined as entering a lock with a key, a copy of a key, or by picking the lock. Keyed entry is much harder to control than physical attack because it is harder to identify.

Reports can be customized

A report on all of a key’s activities for your Antares vending business will be automatically created when the key is reprogrammed. The reports can be customized so that they can provide information on what machines have been serviced, which locks have been opened and what attempts have been made to open the system. A report can be run for any time period.

Electronic audit trail

Electronic security systems audit not only the keys, but the locks as well. The locks can be audited separately. A lock audit will include a complete history of the keys being used to access a machine. This will give the Antares vending operator a complete review of who was in the machine and when. The encryption inside the key of an electronic lock cannot be duplicated or picked.

The greatest advantage of all is the audit trail created by the electronic lock. This audit trail will provide some of the same accountability features that are presently provided by route handheld computers. This means that the vendors, who have not implemented handheld, will find this particularly beneficial.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Category Management Will Pay Off

Advances in equipment technology and computer software are giving Antares vending operators more control of their business. These technologies are providing benefits on several fronts: routing, service scheduling, accountability and product selection. For most Antares operators, accountability at the route and/or machine level is a top priority in choosing state of the art management software.

The ability to choose a more profitable product mix is usually further down on the list of most operators’ priorities. There is a lot of education and management time needed to do this, and that is why it is not a priority on the vendors list. The long term impact on an operator’s profitability, however, can be significant.

Only a small percentage of Antares vending operators have began to fully utilize the latest management tools. Despite this, the pioneers, which include companies of all sizes, are revolutionizing the business. Change is occurring on two parallel fronts: product accountability and product merchandising.

Technology enhances dual functions

Advances in both hardware and software have given Antares vendors the ability to track individual product movement, which enables them to do two things: 1) account for the route drivers’ actions in the field, and 2) plan their offerings based on more timely and accurate sales history.

Software companies sought to develop product accountability programs in response to widespread concern among operators in regard to this issue. As these systems evolved, Antares operators began to recognize the benefits of line –item sales reports, namely, the ability to use sales history to menu their machines.

Vendors, for the most part, recognized the benefits of category management but were not set up to implement it. In the beginning vendors allowed drivers to select most of the products for their route, and because of this they hesitated asking their drivers to change their work habits.

Category management represented a new management philosophy that affected the drivers, the warehouse and the purchasing department. Most operators found that the concept made sense in theory, but were reluctant to change established operating procedures. Product suppliers nonetheless persisted with educational initiatives.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mid Market Accounts

With the rising costs, many Antares vending operators have been forced to ignore locations with fewer than 100 people. One segment of this market, the honor box customer, continues to hold on. But as product and labor cots have increased in recent years, even honor snack operators have begun exploring new business opportunities.

One of the most obvious has been what some term the “mid market” accounts-locations too small for traditional vending machines but larger than 10 to 50 person accounts that honor box operators traditionally serve. As an Antares vending operator, you can take an interest in this underserved market.

For the time being, the honor snack market remains the exclusive domain of a small group of operators who have learned to survive the demands of 30 percent product shrinkage, 30 percent annual account turnover, high employee turnover and almost no means of product accountability.

High account volume essential

Some don’t see vending as a threat to any of honor box accounts. No vending company is interested in an account with only 18 employees. Most of the honor box accounts have fewer than 50 employees. High account volume is one of the keys to the honor snack business.

If an account’s needs are not being fully met by an honor snack box, then you can place multiple boxes at a location. In addition to this you can call up an Antares vending company to take over an account with about 80 people that want a snack machines and a soda machine. The owner of the honor box can be looking to diversify his business to meet the growing demands of midsize accounts.

Making the leap to vending

A person who operates an honor snack business can also operate a vending route. Usually there is a need of vending when an account gets too big for an honor snack box, or maybe the shortages are too great to economically continue with the boxes.

It is difficult to make a leap from an honor box to an Antares glass front vending machine. There is a need to address the midsize accounts. Something is needed that can be a small location machine that can be serviced quickly. A driver needs to service 50 or more a day. All this goes to show that there is an un-served midsized market out there.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Smart Card Vending

A smart card is a credit card-sized plastic card with an embedded computer chip. The chip can either be a microprocessor with internal memory or a memory chip with non-programmable logic.

How they work

There are two general categories of smart cards, contact and contactless. A contact card requires insertion into a smart card reader. It is via this physical contact point that transmission of commands, data and card status takes place.

A contactless card requires only close proximity to a reader.

When it comes to vending machine applications, the vending industry definitely is the “tail,” and not the “dog.” Smart card vending has so far been widely practiced in college campuses.

U.S Vending: limited applications

Some Antares vendors have reported that systems on college campuses work very well. But the conversion is limited to the machines in the campus system and operators have not extended it to other types of locations. A card only operation would bring about increased security and shrinkage benefits for your Antares vending business. This system would no doubt bring about efficiency in your operations.

Benefits noted in vending

This system comes with a number of advantages. Route people will no longer have to carry cash. In addition to this there will be no more jams, sales can be tracked by site, there would be no coin counting room and no more shortages. The cost of the card equipment for your Antares vending machines is about the same as for coin and bill changers.

Widespread acceptance of smart cards requires multiple use applications, not just in vending only. Yet everyone in vending wants to be an automatic supermarket and this will require smart cards to achieve it. If you want to achieve efficiency in your Antares vending business then you would need to convert to cashless vending.

A smart card reader on this country’s vending machines functioning like a coin mechanism will eventually happen in the future. For widespread application of smart cards here, the infrastructure must first be created.

Costs are still too high for widespread vending application. This of course will change in the time to come.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Outdoor Locations for Vending Machines

Vendors have witnessed a new concept in outdoor machine security in the form of an enclosed kiosk with a motorized door. The outdoor snack machine and enclosed kiosk are among several innovations designed to help Antares vendors tap the largely untapped outdoor market. While the number of potential outdoor sites has not been quantified, observers agree that the vending industry has historically shied away from these locations.

As traditional indoor locations have become saturated, one can only wonder if vending companies can ignore nontraditional sites. This cannot be done since technology is addressing the problems of vandalism and poor visibility which is frequently caused by brick and mortar solutions.

Traditional vendor view: No thanks

Antares vending operators have historically installed machines in outdoor locations on a request-only basis due to concerns about vandalism and exposure to the elements. Machines that are placed outside are exposed to more vandalism and the elements. While these concerns remain valid, technological improvements give operators reasons to reconsider this view. Some operators’ attitudes after all, are based on 10-year-old experiences with outdoor machines. There are some vending operators who have been discouraged from placing machines outdoors because of vandalism.

There have been improvements in cold beverage machines, which comprise the majority of outdoor placements. Components are now coated with ultraviolet-light resistant powder, which will prevent damage to the Antares vending machines that is caused by exposure to outdoor light. In addition, coin mechanisms are now made with electronic components which automatically disconnect as soon as they come into contact with any liquid substance.

Big market: Recreational sites

Outdoor recreational sites, such as theme parks, water parks and campgrounds, have become more accepting of vending as a way to capture sales that concessions stands might miss. This is great for Antares vendors as snacks and cold drinks do quite well in these locations.

Vending machines have proven to be an effective remedy for long lines at concession stands