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From the Editor: Gone fishing

Gone fishing


May 7, 2008
By Cam Wood


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While I suspect that Mother Nature has one more devilish
swipe of winter in store for us, it’s difficult not to allow my
thoughts to drift towards a moment in time when we can actually venture
out from hibernation and enjoy the outdoors.

While I suspect that Mother Nature has one more devilish swipe of winter in store for us, it’s difficult not to allow my thoughts to drift towards a moment in time when we can actually venture out from hibernation and enjoy the outdoors.

Activity is beginning to pick up, and in no time, our typical target customer base will once again begin to seek out sunshine … and that dreadful neighbourhood concept known as the drive-through.

But also, it means our customers will be venturing farther away from the snack and beverage machines tucked away, deep in the bowels of the building, in the staff breakroom. Likely a place with no natural lighting, this room has represented both a seasonal respite and prison for the average worker.

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Faced with a choice of subzero chills and unfashionable mukluks, or a tired art-deco kitchen table cast-off, these workers have “tolerated” an indoor mentality this winter for longer than many care to remember. And they don’t feel bad about leaving the breakroom behind.

Today, especially in these here parts, the first glimmer of sunshine on a paved parking lot means a continual flow of workers heading out. To me, they are like salmon swimming upstream – searching for that new pool of water to gather.

Now that leaving a workplace no longer requires bundling up like a kindergartener in a snowsuit and scraping a mound of snow off the car just to get a cuppa joe from the local doughnut shop, chances are employee momentary absenteeism is going to increase.

What does that mean for your customer in today’s panicky economics?

Are there opportunities for strategic location shifts within your accounts, taking
advantage of higher traffic flows? Rightly so, some operators face pretty strict
conditions as to where a machine can be located within a facility, but have you had that conversation lately?

Much like the salmon analogy, this is a good time to go fishing with your clients. Not necessarily in a literal sense, but here’s the picture: fuel costs can’t be ignored any longer, food prices are beginning to spike, and even the almighty brown-cup Buddha has raised coffee prices.

According to economic analysts, energy prices jumped 2.9 per cent in March, the biggest increase since November. The price of gasoline was up 1.3 per cent, while natural gas rose by 4.2 per cent. Home heating oil shot up by 13.1 per cent and diesel fuel increased by 15.3 per cent.

Food costs rose by 1.2 per cent in the same month.

And it’s not going to stop there. The mainstream media has already hyped-up the gas prices to $1.40 per litre, even $1.50, by summer. Think that won’t happen now?

In your pond, there are some pretty big predators (drive-throughs, new foodservice establishments getting into the coffee and snack business) … and a not-so-healthy bit of pollution (uncertain economics and fears over productivity). To land something worth keeping, it’s going to take some intuition and testing.

Fishing with that client will be exactly like fishing with Bob Izumi. You’re going to need the right bait, and you’re going to have to cast your line into the waters many times over before you catch anything worthy of a taxidermed trophy.

But before you decide whether or not it’s a keeper, you’ll need to know, is that catch the kind found in abundance, or close to extinction; because sometimes, you need to know when to catch and release.
   


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