This will be a summary of my progress entering week 3 following training:
Rise of THE Machines!
I just started to panic, because, yesterday, I learned that my machines arrived at the warehouse on Friday, but I thought I had arranged for them to arrive around April 20th or so, since that was just a bit more than the reported manufacturing lead time!
I just lost 18 days of prep work! Not cool! =(
But, yea, for their efficiency! =O
I was planning on having a machine sent to our house so that we can work with it, but, sadly, it will not fit through our door. Now, I will have them ship one to our yoga studio whose door may be just large enough to fit in. I may have to see if I can have them deliver a machine sooner than later, so I can start to get things figured out, especially the product sizes -> tray issue (see below).
Tanya has not attended training yet, so this will also give her a chance to play with it. Hopefully, she can attend in May, before the summer hits.
The Dark Side of Planogram Planning
‘What is a planogram?’ you ask. A planogam is just the list of products you will use for each selection on a vending machine.
Starting out, planograms are a crap load of work, because, well I do not know anything yet. LOL! =O
Product Sizes for a Tray
When searching for products online they do not generally list the physical dimensions of the product which we need to know in order to know if the product will fit in a specific tray due to length, height, and depths limitation for each coil. So, as a way around that, I am trying to find out the correlation between an individual product’s weight (in ounces) and tray placement, even though each product will be different. I have asked on the N2Go Facebook Support Group for people to help me figure that out using a spreadsheet for my specific product list, but no one was willing to assist. =( Perhaps, they were busy filling their machines… again! =) At this point I am just guessing and will be able to figure it out once we have a machine to work with.
Also, I am going to cut out a template in cardboard which has the 3 sizes for all 3 trays in one template so I can take it with me when I work on selecting with products on the go. This should take the speed up and take the guesswork out of the process when shopping IRL.
Lack of NEAT Support
What is NEAT (Air Vend)? It is the back-end management website which allows us to monitor and manage our vending machines.
NEAT contains a large database of products that have already been entered by previous operators over the years, so most everything we will want to add will already be in there. Unfortunately, because all of the products were all entered by hand, this has lead to an extreme lack of product entry standardization which is suuuuper annoying.
Some have ounces mentioned in the title which is really useful and some do not. Some have images of the individual product vertical, horizontal, or of the container case or multipack. Some do not have images at all and so on.
Data normalization is really needed. They really need to do some significant QA in there. Not doing so makes life more difficult, especially for us newbies.
I will put together some mock-ups for NEAT and send it to them so that the backend can be a lot more useful to everyone.
I think I will fill out my spreadsheet for product weight -> tray and share it to help save the people in my class some confusion when getting started. It will save a lot of work and guessing, which is what is really slowing me down right now. Grrrrrr!!!
Currently, I am in the process of finishing my first base planogram so my mentor can comment/approve it and then start the machine placement process.
Tanya and I worked on choosing products for our base planogram using a rather shotgun approach where there is a little bit of everything in it so we can quickly find out what the location likes in short time. We started with the sample planograms that N2Go sent us as a reference. I am hoping to finish it this week for my call with my mentor on Monday.
We also need to get the product voting list for this done too. The voting list is a small list of like 20 other products (about 5 per tray) that clients can choose from to customize the products in their machine. We use this smaller list to get them thinking instead of inciting analysis paralysis by dropping a ginormous catalog of products on them.
Fit Pick Planogram
Once the first base planogram is done, I will also need to start a second planogram for schools using the Fit Pick list so they can have a machine with much healthier options, which I think is required by law.
Finding prices as low as my mentor says they should be has not been easy. I have a spreadsheet put together to try to track it, Perhaps he may have some sources that I have not found yet.
Aldis: I need to go to Aldis and check their products and pricing. They should have some of the lowest prices and healthiest products around. Great for client to have healthier options and better for my profit margin.
I am planning on hitting 3 locations to start:
- high school
- university and dorm
- Seneca (manufacturing)
High School: I have heard that their food service manages their own vending machines, so I do not think I will get in there, but I can get my name in there and let them know I exist. Perhaps, even make a contact there too.
Local University and it’s Dorm: I am looking forward to this, but I still need to do my research.
For both of the above, however, will be pretty much down to nothing once summer hits, so that is an issue – 3 months with next to no income, but it may be a may make sense for the long term, since schools tend to be highly profitable. =)
Seneca Manufacturing: We have a friend who works there and it sounds like they could use some well serviced and healthier vending machines.
After I check these, we shall see what the N2Go placement service shall find.
Order Products: I need to start ordering a bunch products to put in the machines and to use for gift baskets for my sales calls. I have gone to Walmart and did some price checking and bought some basket products and so I can have the UPC for the products I will be using, but that was no where near enough. Enough for some gift baskets only.
Warehouse Supplies: We took the first batch of supplies to our warehouse yesterday. All we have left to take over are the metal racks and to assemble them so we can start to get our warehouse process started.
Logo: We are also almost close on finishing a logo.
Tax Exemption: I have the WI tax exemption form filled out and have status with Amazon, Walmart, and Aldis. I have found a local wholesaler, but I do not think that their prices will be low enough.
WAMS: I am also on our state’s vendor/bidding list even though I do not think that will work for much. Our business did not really have a related code in it. We shall see if anything ever comes of it.