State by state, the gradual reopening of businesses has started. Many companies are beginning to take measured steps towards returning to work at the office. They are developing new procedures and accommodations to ensure employee safety amidst ongoing concerns about COVID-19. The decisions they make about the company breakroom will be an important part of their go-forward plan.
Last week, members of the refreshment services industry banded together to send a heartfelt and reassuring message to their customers throughout the nation. The message (shot in isolation from each person’s home or business) is an inspiring 2-minute video led by VendCentral, a marketing company dedicated to the industry. The takeaway from this video is clear: breakroom service providers are here to support companies as they transition toward a safer working environment.
Breakroom service providers are each responding to their own state’s COVID-19 re-opening schedules and guidelines. Moving forward, they are adopting even stricter health and safety measures than before. Delivery drivers are maintaining social distancing practices and are washing their hands or putting on a fresh pair of gloves before each visit. They are also sanitizing all contact surfaces and high touch areas at the end of every service call. The intent is to leave their clients’ breakrooms cleaner than they find them. Additionally, providers have developed social distancing policies in their own offices and distribution centers and are closely monitoring their employees’ health.
The company breakroom will be a valuable resource for employees in their new working environment. In fact, micro-markets and vending machines inherently provide a safer way for employees to access fresh foods, snacks, and beverages. Items offered in micro-markets and vending machines are individually wrapped in secure packaging for quick and easy “grab and go”. Vending machines and micro-markets also provide cashless payment options, limiting contact even further. By providing employees with plenty of fresh foods, snacks, and beverages in the breakroom, companies are able to satisfy their employees on-site during the workday, limiting their potential exposure to viruses by reducing trips outside the office for food.
Companies are increasing the frequency of their breakroom cleaning and sanitation and many are reducing or eliminating their seating options for now. However, they are continuing to provide food and beverage services. They are recognizing it as both a convenience to their employees and an opportunity to limit outside influences on their controlled office environment.
For companies looking to increase breakroom services for their employees, there’s help. Coolbreakrooms, a company dedicated to improving breakrooms across the nation, specializes in helping companies find trusted breakroom service providers in their hometown. For advice or assistance in modifying or upgrading your breakroom services, contact them at 866-699-8363 or email@example.com.
VendCentral’s Mobile Request Platform improves communication between operators and customers.
VendCentral’s Award-Winning Mobile Request Platform, specifically designed for the vending channel, has played an increased role in helping refreshment providers better serve their customers post COVID-19. The technology provides automated communication between customers and providers using a QR code and smartphone.
With the app, customers can directly access important COVID-19 information, report machine issues, request items, and more, all from the convenience of their own smartphone. QR codes are placed on vending equipment and include easy to follow instructions.
VendCentral’s app eases the workload of facility and office managers, allowing them to focus on other tasks. In the new workplace environment, they are appreciating this streamlined, contactless form of communication more than ever. Providers are also seeing improvements. The app helps them process requests in a more organized and efficient way, resulting in better customer service.
VendCentral’s Mobile Request Platform was previously awarded Product of the Year by Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com. The company plans to continue to improve upon its exclusive technology and introduce a new version of the app in Fall 2020.
Americans spend 9+ hours per day on electronic devices. To capture potential facility managers’ attention, it is important to meet them where they are — online. One of the tools available in your digital marketing tool box is online reviews and testimonials.
Online reviews and testimonials impact everything from consumer buying habits to your brand perception. Since potential customers progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before engaging a sales representative, your potential vending customers may not be finding information about your vending services. The key to engaging them is to deliver easy-to-find, high-value, relevant, and timely content especially reviews and testimonials.
Online Reputations Seal the Deal
In 2018, performing in-depth research such as reading reviews and testimonials via social media and other platforms is easy to do. Potential customers look to reviews and testimonials to understand what kind of vending experience they might have. Positive reviews can entice facility managers to visit your website for the first time. The overall picture created by reading your reviews helps facility managers come to a conclusion when they don’t know much about your company.
67% of facility managers believe online reviews are important when choosing a break room provider
57% of customers will eventually buy from a vending service provider they researched online
85% of facility managers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
97% of customers read online reviews for local vending services
74% of facility managers say positive reviews make them trust a local vending provider more
The more reviews that exist about your business, the more credible those reviews are perceived to be, and the more likely a potential customer is to visit your website. In addition to the number of reviews and their content, potential vending service customers want to see how many stars your business has. Stars play an important role as they encourage other potential customers to visit your website. For example, if your website is the second one in the results of a micro-market provider search AND it has a star rating, that potential customer is 154% more likely to visit your website.
Why Google and Facebook
Google and Facebook are number one and number two, respectively, for online reviews. While Facebook is the leading source for customer reviews, Google is the most used search engine, and 63.6% of consumers check reviews on Google before visiting a business’s website. Mobile searches almost always contain one of the following four words or phrases: “best,” “to avoid,” “worst,” and “is ___ worth it.”
Google reviews and ratings also impact local search results, which are based on relevance, distance, and prominence. As Google explains it, “Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”
All Reviews and Testimonials Matter
Your customer reviews are integral to building trust. Bad reviews mixed with good reviews create an authentic online presence. For reviews to be perceived as authentic, they should vary by tone, and language, and grammatical and spelling errors. Reviews perform a specific function by answering questions for facility managers and creating personal connections to local vending services.
treat reviews and testimonials like precious assets
Star ratings and total number of reviews are important for attracting online searchers, BUT the content of your reviews has the power to influence purchase decisions. 82% of customers look for negative reviews to see if the flaws in your services are a one-time issue. Taking the time to respond to bad reviews is an opportunity to show responsiveness and empathy to current and future facility managers and their coworkers. When the reviews and comments are shorter, a higher quantity of reviews are necessary, while longer reviews mean fewer reviews are needed to build trust.
Plan of Action
Step 1: Build your Google and Facebook profiles (ex. pictures, contact information, and company overview).
Step 2: ASK — 68% of consumers left a local business review when they were asked. Let the facility managers and employees of your existing customers know why and how their reviews will help.
integrate asking for reviews into the sales/customer retention process or marketing strategy
ask for feedback about specific aspects of your business
keep review and testimonial requests short and sweet
make sure review and testimonial requests come from the same place you want your reviewer to leave a review
include icons on your website to direct visitors to your Google business listing and Facebook page where they can leave reviews and testimonials
Example: Send the following message on a postcard with your business logo to a facilities manager. “Thanks for your business. If you have a few minutes, please visit any of the sites below and leave a comment or review about us”. Include a list of shortened URLs that led directly to your business’s profile on Google and Facebook.
Step 3: What to do with Reviews and Testimonials
respond regularly and publicly using polite and helpful responses to all reviews
develop a management response strategy to respond to negative reviews
respond quickly with empathy and compassion
set up Google Alerts to notify you when your company is mentioned
track reviews especially poor ones; it allows you to see a pattern (if there is one)
work with customers to find a reasonable resolution to a bad experience
Share positive reviews and testimonials on your website and social media channels, and include them in email communications, etc.
You have a great vending company, with a great reputation. You get good quality vending, office coffee service and even micro market customers through word of mouth and references. So why do you need online or digital marketing? Because that is where these interactions are happening more and more for facility and human resource managers, online and in social media channels.
Check out these stats! In a 2014 business to business (B2B) study, nearly all the participants reported doing online research when considering partnering with a new business.
77% do a Google search
3% check the business’ website
41% read user reviews
Only 12% want to meet in person
The take-away? You need to be marketing your vending company where facility managers and human resource professionals are looking.
Digital marketing is powerful
The high rate of online research, use of reviews, and attitude about in-person meetings versus online purchasing mean that to be considered by the refreshment service decision makers of today, a strong digital marketing effort is needed. Even if your customers are referring you to other people offline, those prospects are researching your vending company on Google and LinkedIn and Facebook and your website. They need to be impressed with what they see, including how you will make their job creating a rewarding employee experience and providing on-site refreshment easier.
Digital marketing has benefits for your sales department as well. With the right search engine marketing and content, your online presence will get qualified leads, not just traffic. These are the facility managers, culture teams, and human resource professionals in your service area that match your ideal customer criteria. You can actively search for them and engage them on social media platforms. Bring them into your sales funnel to start converting them to your customers.
Finally, digital marketing builds long-term bonds with customers. Being seen and well-represented online ensures existing vending, office coffee service, and micro market customers continue to see you as a professional service provider. They can quickly discover your new product and service offerings or contact you in the way most convenient for them. Fostering these relationships turns your customers into brand advocates, who will not mind telling others about your company. They know that when those people go to find you online, they will like the refreshment service offerings and professionalism they see, thanks to digital marketing.
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Technology has advanced quickly. In less than a century we’ve gone from rooms dedicated to giant computing devices to the mini mobile computers that fit into a single pocket. This swift transformation of where and how people get information has brought marketing changes as well. Gone are the days where a memorable logo and glossy brochure would garner new business. Now, companies need to be everywhere, in print, but also online with a presence that impresses customers and brings in new business. Companies must constantly update their look and platform to maintain a professional image that matches what human resource and facility managers expect from modern service providers.
This change isn’t because the vending machines, office coffee service, or micro-market services you are offering are no longer valuable, but because where and how your customer is searching for the services has changed. They are looking online. You need to be where they want to find you and exceed their expectations.
It’s not just about a website
A quality website is a must. It used to be that a website had a shelf-life of 3-4 years before it looked dated and old fashioned to the customer. Now, that shelf-life can be closer to 12-18 months. This means by the time you’ve selected the look of your site, created content, approved and loaded it — it might already be too old. Not to mention the challenge of using social media and the right keywords to draw attention to your operation online. Customers are using search engines to find exactly the services they want with specific keywords, social media to determine your reliability as a service provider, and your website as a measure of your professionalism. It’s more essential than ever to work with a marketing team that can keep you relevant, that adapts to the latest search engine parameters, updates design with photo rich layouts, and keeps the content new and fresh across multiple platforms in a timely manner that will benefit your business.
There is more to marketing than just content and design, however. There is also knowing how to use that marketing to monitor who is coming to your site and turning that person into a lead. It’s about not just being relevant to new businesses, but knowing how to reach that new business and build a relationship that will quickly turn into a refreshment services contract. The right online marketing partner will deliver actionable customer interactions to you, that will ultimately grow your business. That’s the power of tech-savvy online marketing.
Contact us for your digital marketing needs!
One of the best ways to gain exposure online for your vending & micro-market business is being listed on Google’s business directory – Google My Business. It is a free and effective platform to connect with your customers, improve your search engine rankings and eventually get more clients for your business online. From digital agencies to vending companies and wedding planning businesses, all have benefited from being listed on Google My Business, and so can you!
Watch our video below to learn more about what Google My Business listing is and why it is important for business owners to claim it.
At VendCentral, we believe in Karmic Management. If you’ve never heard of it, Karmic Management is the title of a book, but also a business philosophy based on the idea that good service leads to good karma. While it may sound more spiritual than business-like, it really is a universal concept that extends through our everyday life, from personal interactions to work ethics.
What goes around, comes around
M&M Sales Company, Lafayette LA
At the core of our business philosophy is the idea that everyone prefers to deal with honest and ethical people. We recognize their humility and the good things they do for others. In business too, customers and stakeholders prefer to work with companies who are open and stand for something more than just making money. You can see this in your own business. When you provide excellent service and sell high quality products, you are doing good to others and receive good karma in return. This manifests in repeat customers and growing revenues. If you exceed expectations, you will receive good karma multiplied and attract more positive business associations.
Focused on purpose and people
Another part of our philosophy is having purpose. Live with purpose. Do business with purpose. This will help you be happier in life. Translated to business, this means having a company mission. Ours is to use computer and online marketing skills to help vending operators grow. We look at what we do as more than building websites or creating content. All our vending operator customers have employees. The better the vending operation does, the more secure those employees’ jobs become. If that success can be partially attributed to our services of creating successful online webpages and marketing dedicated to driving up sales for each company, it means we are helping people in communities across the United States. Our service means good Karma.
Charley Nelms, President of Texas vending association & Neil Swindale, at their annual meeting
While you can have both good service and strong purpose, it may not matter without a positive attitude. Outwardly, an optimistic attitude conveys your good intentions and shows the performance of good deeds. Internally, the attitude creates a culture of productivity and creativity, not to mention a great place to work with loyal employees who love their job.
Karmic Management is our goal at VendCentral. We build relationships with vending operators that focus on open and honest communication. We strive for great service, a strong purpose, and positive attitude that will attract good fortune and grow our customers’ businesses. We believe it’s the best way to live, and work.
LinkedIn is by far the most powerful and arguably the most overlooked platform in the vending and office coffee industry. It is an important network that allows you to build relationships, establish thought leadership, generate leads and gain insights, thus making it one of the most influential platforms in business to business networking.
Watch our video below for a quick tip on how you can use LinkedIn to grow your vending and office coffee business.
Remember the proverb “keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” This is even more true online. Search vending or office coffee service with your city and who comes up? These are your competitors. Analyze their websites and social media feeds. Create Google Alerts that notify you when they are mentioned online. Armed with this information, you are better able to create a digital marketing strategy that will keep your SEO ranking above theirs and become the name customers know and trust for workplace refreshment solutions.
Widen your search
While vending and office coffee operators are your main competitors, they aren’t the only ones. Convenience stores, fast or quick serve restaurants, even grocery stores are all vying for the daytime quick-meal business. Check out what contests, promotions, and give-aways they are offering. How active is their social media channel? Can you imitate any of their marketing ideas and benefit from being even more conveniently located in the workplace?
Design a digital marketing plan to rival their efforts and then go beyond. Add more content to your site. Get longtime customers to write you positive reviews on Yelp or that can be displayed on your website. Create YouTube videos and articles that feature you as the knowledge expert on vending, micro markets, and office coffee service in your area. Respond on social media to comments, post news, snap pictures of charitable events, recognize employees, and offer customer incentives.
Keep an eye on your competitors and then beat them at their own game to stay front and center to potential customers.
Contact us for your digital marketing needs!