Canadian Vending

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Editor’s blog

Avoiding a succession plan crisis

March 7, 2013
By Stefanie Wallace


March 7, 2013 – The vending and OCS industries
are aging, and in terms of succession planning, the only option for many
companies is selling. As web editor Stefanie Wallace writes, it's time to connect with a younger generation
and make them as excited about these industries are you are.

March 7, 2013 – I recently participated in a webinar given by Ken Whiting, creator of a web-based employee training program called WAVES University. The webinar offered tips to increase the quality of performance from younger employees, including offering recognition and incentives. One of the tips Whiting gave was to hire the best. Use different interviewing strategies to sort the good from the not-so-good, and initiate a rating system to ensure your needs will be met (you can read a summary of the webinar here).

This industry, like many others, is suffering from a generational problem. When owners of small (usually family owned) businesses are thinking of retiring, many are often faced with the problem of finding someone who wants take over the business. If there are no successors lined up, the owner is faced with the challenge of finding a buyer. This can be difficult and emotional, especially for owners who aren’t the first generation of the business. As such, it seems the problem the vending and OCS industry is facing is not necessarily engaging younger employees; it’s finding younger employees to engage.

The ins and outs of running a vending or OCS business isn’t offered in our universities and colleges, so it’s unlikely that a high-school graduate will enter the post-secondary world with a dream of pursuing a career in vending. Even the children who grow up immersed in the industry because their parents own a vending business have so many other career options to pursue, and with guidance councilors pushing toward post-secondary education, the odds aren’t great for mom and dad, who are hoping to pass their business down and retire to Florida. I recently spoke to a second-generation business owner who is in the process of selling because her children aren’t interested in taking over the business. It’s a common problem. So how do you attract younger employees and keep them engaged and passionate about an industry or business you are so passionate about?


It’s time to start thinking ahead. All of the vending machines of the future will be equipped with telemetry and touch screens and goodness knows what else. We’re already seeing tons of interactive machines, including Twitter-integrated machines that are powered by tweets. This is becoming more popular – two of these machines made headlines this week on our homepage. While this technology might be a long way down the road for many of you, there are still things you can do in the meantime to connect with the younger generation and get them excited about the future of vending.
As Ken Whiting stated in his webinar, today’s teens and millennials are connected 24-7. They have been raised in a world of technology and constant communication, and this kind of stuff is right up their alley. It’s time to embrace this – not run from it. They’re experts in social and digital media and technology. Use this to your advantage to reach out and connect with them. Are you hosting an event or demonstrating a new technology? Maybe you’ve received an award, or are celebrating a milestone. Put the word out on Twitter or Facebook. Shoot a video of it and put it on YouTube, and post photos to Instagram. Better yet – hire a student who’s keen to embrace these new forms of communication to show you what to do and help you out. You just might find your next employee.

We know that in terms of vending technology, we must adapt and progress or risk being left behind. This mentality is relevant to planning your future, too. It’s time to make businesses more relatable to younger generations so that when the time comes to think about retirement, you have options when it comes to the future of your business.

Want to continue this conversation? Leave me a comment below, shoot me an e-mail at, or better yet – sign up for Twitter and follow @CanadianVending. It’s free, and it’s not that hard – I promise.

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