From the Editor: Rate Of Change
By Stacy Bradshaw
The past year ushered in a host of technological advancements designed
to help the independent vending operator improve efficiency, reduce
costs and increase profits. Which ones did you take advantage of in
The past year ushered in a host of technological advancements designed to help the independent vending operator improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase profits. Which ones did you take advantage of in 2006?
If you’re having trouble coming up with an answer, you’re not alone. Investing in new technology is a costly venture many small business owners approach with great reluctance.
And who can blame them?
Whether it’s a sophisticated cashless payment system for your machines, a remote machine monitoring platform, or a new computer for the business, the rate at which these technologies progress has shifted into high gear. The cell phone you bought last year might be considered archaic by today’s standards, and the computer you bought 10 years ago might as well be a paperweight.
With technologies advancing at such a rapid rate, deciding when to invest can be tricky. Not to mention, products tend to be expensive when first brought to the market, and can drop significantly in price from year to year.
So when is the right time to buy? Well, vending industry experts say 2007 just might be your year.
At the recent National Automatic Merchandising Association annual conference in Orlando, Fla., Dr. Michael L. Kasanava, professor of hospitality business at Michigan State University, said the time to invest is now. During the educational session “Understanding Remote Machine Monitoring,” Kasanava said prices of RMM platforms are leveling off. So if you’re holding off for two-to-three years for prices to drop, you might be doing so in vain.
There are a number of other factors to consider before making such a large financial and operational commitment.
Have you done a cost-analysis? Have you considered the rate of return, ease-of-use, ease-of-installation, maintenance requirements, and monthly fees?
A new technology can mean significant changes in the way you run your daily business. What operational processes do you want to change and which ones do you want keep?
Be sure to maintain an open dialogue with the system providers under consideration. As an operator, you should be telling the providers exactly what you hope to get out of their technology – not the other way around.
Also consider that many of the new platforms can be added to your operation in baby steps. There’s no need to put all of your eggs in one basket if you’re not completely confident in the system. Talk to the provider about testing it on a few machines. Grant yourself the courtesy of having peace of mind in knowing you’ve invested in the right technology, at the right time.o