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About FlyGuy

  • Rank
    Übermensch

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  • State
    Midwest
  • Vending Type
    Other
  • Vending Since
    2049

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  1. I just pull the boxes. Tell the location whatever you want when you pull the box... leaving the area (aka leaving their store!), closing up or downsizing your box business (at their location!), shortage was too high, etc. Doesn't matter. I sometimes give them a competitor snack service's card if they whine The trust was obviously broken if there is a pattern of shortage (mine is "three strikes" of 3x being over 30% short within 3 months), and that's the way it goes. I agree the makeup of employees or management at a location could potentially change over time and that you always want to be friendly, but it's highly unlikely that stuff happens anytime soon. Besides, with new manager, that would be a fresh start anyways. My only chance to salvage the relationship might be if I notice that the location has the box in a customer area. If that's the case, you could tell them the shortage rate has been unacceptably high... but you think that moving the box to the break room where only employees will use it might help that. Have a short hook if you do that, though. I treat a place that has consistently high theft just like one that tells me verbally they don't want the box/system when I'm locating. You want to be polite, but you don't want to waste your time or theirs. Link below has more on this around the middle... learn the lesson and move on from the stumbles. Don't fixate on them. De-attachment... like the Buddhists, lol. GL
  2. TCF Bank has a free change counter (CoinStar type) for account holders. Probably not at all locations, but worth checking into... https://www.tcfbank.com/personal/prepaid-and-cash-services/coin-counting
  3. We talk about these all the time, so I figured that a list would be good. Might help some people and might generate discussion of more good ideas... Clear price labels. This can be price sticker(s) near the cash slot, and you can also add dot or price gun labels on each snack ("garage sale labels") if it fits your business model. Exchanging the boxes frequently. A box that is well stocked and looks full and "happy" will get more business and less theft. A box that looks "sad" can expect more theft and less sales and respect. The same goes for bulk and vending machines... the rusty, low stock, etc ones are sitting ducks. The same would be true for a car that sat parked in the same place for weeks with a flat or a house with lights off and mail overflowing its mailbox... they become "scary" and an easy target for problems. The aim should be to time the routes so boxes are exchanged when they're roughly half empty (probably 1-4weeks for most places, vast majority exchanged every 2 weeks). Changing the box more frequently instead of letting them go nearly empty also minimizes expired snacks and lowers the hurt if you ever do have an entire box stolen. Clean looking box. This is common sense and ties into frequent box exchange, but cardboard boxes are very cheap and fairly easy to clean (pencil eraser helps, magic eraser with a drop of water works decent, whole new box fairly cheap too). The acrylic boxes are very easy to clean. There is no reason they should have substantial smudge marks, big creases, potato chip grease spots, etc. There should be no expired snacks in the boxes... keep track of those, donate them or toss them, and write them off when you do taxes. New locating should be done with brand new boxes whenever possible. Customers are always right. Your box arrangement should go with what people are buying. I'm all for keeping every box 90% or more identical for reasons of efficiency with stocking and counting, but if many boxes are selling out of fruit snacks yet your granola bars hardly ever sell any, probably adjust to have 1 or 2 more fruit snacks and 1 or 2 less granola bars in each and every box. Variety just for the sake of variety is also useful to mix it up, so it is good to keep a few spaces rotating at least one or two new items from time to time (more true for snack boxes with same employees buying week after week than mint/lollipop boxes with random customers buying). Doing your own locating. This builds valuable rapport with the owner/manager and other employees at the location. It creates a win-win where they value the box. People generally are nicer and more respectful to folks they know and like. A return visit after 1 week is good for new accounts to exchange the box (emphasize "just bringing you a fresh one") and to build more trust and familiarity. If you simply use a telemarketing locator who just pushes the charity guilt trip on the business and then you drop off the box without hardly saying hi or getting anyone's name, you are probably digging your own grave for a poor performer or even a box removal request upcoming. You want them to like and care more about the box than they care about the average crusty magazine in the lobby or Lysol can in the break room. Being friendly with location staff. This is a no-brainer, but you should be well groomed, dressed fairly well, smiling, and have a list of at least a couple people's names for each location. Greeting them by name, telling them "just bringing you guys a fresh box," exchanging small talk about weather/sports/etc, and maybe a high five or handshake on some box exchange visits is ideal. Again, people generally don't steal from people they like... and they might even go out of their way to tell co-workers about the box, help promote your box, keep an eye on the box, and aid your success. Securing the cash box. This can be hole punches with zip ties, packing tape, or whatever you devise to make the cash box flap on your style of box secured and tamper-evident. It won't prevent someone who really wants to break in there or who steals the whole box, but that stuff is rare. A basic security measure on the cash box will keep the honest people honest. Let them position the box. Yes, you usually want your mint/sucker boxes by the cash register or your snack box in the break room, but keep in mind that it's not your business. The owner probably knows it better than you do, and you want them to feel in control. These are generally control people; it's their business and their decision. They may have limited space, knowledge of where is best foot traffic, they might pick a location by a security camera you are unaware of, or some other reasoning. Besides, any box position is better than in your garage and making $0 per week. You'd ideally have the box in a clean, well lit location like a top shelf, but all you can really do is softly suggest that ("do you think the box would do well ___ ___ ___?"). The only time I'd ever strongly steer them on where to position it is if a snack box is getting continued high theft in a lobby or customer area or if a mint/sucker box is getting very low sales in a back room; in that case, you can explain the situation and ask them if they want to move it into the break/lobby room instead (if not, just remove the box... see below). Don't hesitate to dump bad locations. If locations are not performing (theft % is too high or volume is way too low), don't hesitate to replace them. A customer who doesn't pay is not a customer... those are theives. Especially with snack boxes, if a pattern of increased and consistent theft is becoming clear, it is best to learn the lesson and move on. Don't let it cost you money and occupy your mental space. It is a waste of time to putz with discussions or sticky notes for reasons below. More often than not, the owner/manager will just take offense if you accuse the location of shortage, and the employees will just realize they can steal more if you leave notes. If your logs show that trust and respect relationship between that location and your box is compromised, then it needs to end. Just like a romantic couple or any relationship with broken trust, it's best to cut your losses and begin anew. Tell them whatever you like ("Sorry, I'm no longer servicing this location" is fine)... just end it. Avoid talking about theft or shortage at all costs. Keep it positive. This goes for locating scripts and especially for established locations. The negative signs like "Not Free!" or " Please Pay!" on boxes are just dumb. If you were looking at grocery store or gas station snacks and someone said those things to you, you'd feel like you were being accused of stealing. The "Box Was Short" or "Box Will Be Removed" sticky notes on snack boxes are even dumber. Those signs and notes broadcast that people are stealing from the box, and people will just begin to steal more if they realize others have been stealing and/or they have been noticed... since the notes imply the box will probably be gone soon anyways. Even the honest people who were paying for snacks will quickly decide they don't want to pay for what other people are taking for free once they see those notes. Nobody wants to be the only fool paying; people hate double standards. If the owner/manager or anyone ever asks how the box is doing, asks if people are good about paying, or asks if box sales are good, simply reply "doing well" or "oh, it's right in line with most of my locations" and change the subject to light and fluffy small talk. Then finish up and get out of there asap. Treat it how your accountant would treat you asking him how much his shoes and his lobby art cost... or how a woman would treat you asking if that was her hair was the real natural color. Easy pricing. Increments of $1 or multiples like 2/$1 or 3/$1 or 2/$3 etc is easy. Basic structure keeps people from having to bother the cashier for change or even worse: people having the urge to get into the cash box to make change. Difficult pricing will cause shortage and probably start to annoy the cashier (if there is one). You want your box to be liked and enjoyed... not viewed as a nuisance. Give freebie bonuses to the locations. The best way to get people to do what you want comes down to two words: pay them. This gift can be a bit of candy (use something not sold in your box) or whatever you can get for a few dollars per location. I would suggest this be done at time of locating and then a few times per year (not at Christmas when gifts are simply lost in the shuffle). Again, this simply banks on the human norm of reciprocity and gets people to like you... and people generally treat people they like much better than strangers or people they know yet feel neutral or negative about. Have good quality snacks. Everyone likes to save money, but you'd rather have 50% gross profit on a huge number than 70% on a much lower number. You need some favorite snacks that are attention getters and easily recognized. Those companies spend a lot on branding, and you need to take advantage of that. Which exact snacks those are depends on your price and your area. Examples would be that every vending machine or snack box should probably have regular Snickers and peanut M&M, Cheez It bag 1.5oz. Every 4/$1 or 3/$1 charity box could consider York patties, mini or fun size Snickers, and Blow Pops. Snacks appropriate to the price. If you have 3/$1 as your price, you shouldn't have small Tootsie rolls and small Jolly Ranchers and candy that buyers feel should be 5/$1 or even 10/$1 in terms of value. People will reject that price (rightly so), and many will not buy, might take extra, or might have some and just not pay at all. If the snacks are more appropriate for the price (eg, Blow Pops or fun size big name candy bars for that same 3/$1 price), people are more likely to pay. For any price, you want the value to be there for the buyers. That's just a start... what do you guys have to add? How do you minimize shortage/theft on your boxes?
  4. Yep, I agree fully. You are simply paying for leads with locating services, nothing more. You will still need to close the sale with the DM and build the trust anyways... might as well do that while walking the block and asking other businesses. You will also have much better loyalty and much lower amount of call backs stating that the box needs to go when you place them yourself. Even with doing my own locating, I still get bounce-backs... and they're almost always ones where an employee just asked the owner/manager and I was unable to ever speak to the DM directly - and preferrably face-to-face. It just builds good trust to do your own placements, and you need at least a few people at each location who like you, greet you with a smile, and will look out for the box. Any vending is a numbers game, but I've found that it is mainly a business of personal relationships.
  5. I agree on no commissions for snack or charity boxes... profit margin is too thin. It is a numbers game. If they want a cut, simply move along. Never be tempted to cave on this, because it makes for annoying extra accounting and could be detrimental to your business if some but not others got locating gift, commission, etc. You never want to create double standards. I've only been asked "what's in it for the store" a couple times (seems to always be salons asking), but I just tell them that the profit margins are already very slim in snack boxes... so my product and service is the benefit they'd get. If they press, I simply explain to them that any commission paid would just be a tax on their employees, and I'd need to raise my pricing... and that's not how I run it. I've never been asked about charity, but the reply would be the same to that. I do give a small gift bag of individually wrapped candy to my locations a few times per year (usually Hershey kisses around New Years, mints round StPat, Starburst for 4th, suckers near Halloween, etc) to say thanks for the business. That only cost about a buck per stop, and it builds goodwill.
  6. A price label "50c or 3/$1.00" to the left and/or right of coin slot (or on the lid if acrylic box) and a "Pay Here" or "Deposit Here" above and/or below the coin slot are all you need. You also want your company name/logo with email or phone number somewhere (biz card works fine)... for the location to be able to reach you about problems, box empty, they want it gone, etc. It is a very basic concept. Nearly everyone has seen them and knows how they work (or can figure it out in 3 seconds). Charity boxes should be in customer driven locations and will always have slight to significant theft. It is part of the game. A lot of the "customers" are young kids and teens who steal and little kids who can't read but see a sucker. A lot of parents won't have change or singles since many people don't carry cash. You just have to hope most of the adults will pay for what they and their kids take. Avoid the negatively toned and exclamatory stuff like "Not free!" or "Please pay!" or "On Your Honor." Those are basically accusing the reader of stealing; having a price already said they're not free... without doing that implication. I also avoid the sticky notes "box was short last week" and "please remember to pay" and "box will be removed if shortage continues," etc that a lot of vendors try. You don't want your box to trying to be a hardass and lay down commands... the box won't win many fights. Using those harsher wordings, basically calling the location thieves, or giving light threats just breaks rapport, causes people to laugh at and/or dislike the box, and they broadcast that theft has probably been occurring. That is not a good place to be, and it tends to increase theft or even raise chances of vandalism or theft of the entire box. Simply set your acceptable limits for theft/shortage % and frequency, and stick with them. Tell the location whatever you want when you pull the box... leaving the area (aka leaving their store!), closing up or downsizing your box business (at their location!), shortage was too high, etc. Doesn't matter. ...You really just need price listed visibly in one or two places, "Deposit Here" by coin slot, and then your contact info one or two places on the box. KISS
  7. Research shows 9 out of 10 vendors exaggerate about their rates of locating success for their machines/boxes Guys, aiming for 50% or better is nearly impossible unless it's some everyone-knows-everyone tiny hick town or something. Even 1 in 5 of all stores you go into is aiming quite high in many places. I agree with hoping for success each and every time, but don't get discouraged by unrealistic expectations. Every market is different. ...I would honestly say I'm between about 1 out of 5 or 1 out of 7 all time for ones where I even have a chance. That "have a chance" is not including the ones where I ask about snacks and find out they have a vending machine, they have another snack box company already, owners buy free snacks for the break room and/or lobby (common with financial offices), or their store/corporate policy doesn't allow it. I suppose nail shops that can't speak English don't really offer any hope either... and there are many of those, lol. If you include all places, those places where I had zero chance or a legit chance, then it is probably closer to 1 in 10 of all businesses I walk into that I manage to place a box. Before you simply say "what a loser," realize that I am not bad at sales... I'm far above average with people skills and I'm a relatively good looking and young guy (like it or not, that helps). My boxes are clean looking, marketing materials are sharp, and service is good. My full time job is customer service... selling a service, actually. It's just that snack boxes, or any business, is usually VERY saturated in any major metro area (and I'm providing honest stats). I imagine I would be doing much better in rural areas (but I'd be driving much more and probably selling fewer snacks per box). I suppose it is a big fish in a small pond... versus being a variable size fish in a lake or ocean situation. There are pros and cons to each. As was said, it is highly variable, though... some days, I might be 3/11 and other days 1/19 or even 0/22. No joke. Those are all real days this year. I just checked my locating log stats so far this year for the heck of it, and I'm 7/86 in 2019... 8.1% success. I don't feel like checking my notes and counting them up, but I figure that a quarter of those cold calls I had no chance for reasons mentioned, but that is still only 10.8% success (7/65) if you drop those off. Remember, I'm just part time (one day per week with roughly 1hr swapping boxes and 2hrs locating new)… those %s would change a lot if I do good next time out or re-visit prior ones and they decide to accept a box. From those trips this year, I still have a dozen or more leads to follow up on when I have time or go back to that street (employee liked it but I'd need to email or call decision maker, need to stop back since store was too busy at the time, manager was on vaca or not working that day, manager supposedly asking corporate, etc etc). Most of those kernels never pop into popcorn, but a few occasionally do... worth emailing or stopping back in when you're nearby. Where I am, there are at least three competing snack box companies I've run into that also do snack boxes very similar to mine. I think one is full line vending that also does snack boxes, but I don't care... just minding my own business. Some shops actually have multiple boxes (I won't play that game). A lot of places say to me "snack box is back there, but your co-worker just brought a new one yesterday" when they see me walk in... saves me time, I guess. Other places reject me since they tried it in the past with other snack services and got burned for whatever reason... I try to ask them what their dissatisfaction was and offer to do better, but the bridge is typically burnt long ago. I've even found banks or shops that literally opened a month before I visited and they already have a box company that beat me to it. It is pretty competitive. I guess the good side is that the majority of the area businesses are familiar with how snack boxes work... saves me some time explaining. Corporate places (cell phone shops, urgent care centers, banks, oil change shops, etc) are the toughest because the decision maker is often someone in a HR office halfway across the city, state, or even the country. Even if the first front desk person you see and that store's manager is interested, they typically cop out since they don't want to go through the trouble of asking corporate for approval... or corporate says no. Medical or dental or vet places are also very tough since the doc is usually the owner, and even if they're not busy, they often just say no when the front desk girl goes back to ask them since they want to avoid coming up front and talking for a minute. It is still worth trying everywhere, though. I find that I do the best with local businesses or franchised shops (where the manager/owner is decision maker and might even be sitting up front), but they are not always high volume places. These are your salons, credit unions, shops, shared tax/insurance/law/etc offices, auto and manufacturing, etc etc. You never know until you try. I will give any place a chance and treat them well unless they violate my theft rate % policy. My point is simply that you can get this to work well anywhere if you work at it and have a good product + service. I could have easily given up once I kept running into competition, but I have built up to around 50 boxes, and it is a good, fun side job. I just wanted to put this out there so any new reader on the forum starting snack or mint/lollipop boxes doesn't get discouraged if their area is in a busy city with a lot of competition and dead-end corporate businesses also. If I ever retire or move to somewhere more rural, I'd imagine I might get success placing 1 in 5 and having far fewer locations where placing would be impossible. If any of you are in that type of location, count your blessings. Either way, it's a fun side hustle. GL
  8. He had some a month or two ago when I inquired... maybe half that many boxes. I was gonna buy them, but he wanted a pre-paid mail label or something I didn't understand how to do... maybe you do? Try PM'ing him
  9. Update with prototype plastic snack box is pictured below. The plastic one fits 60 snacks: 38 dollar items (2 cheez it, 4 cookies, 15 candy, 5 crackers, 5 trail mix, 3 fruit snack, 2 oat bars, 1 trail mix bar, 2 nutri grain) and 22 half dollar ones (4 reeses single, 4 fun size candy, 6 slim jim, 6 peanuts, 2 gum). I tried to keep it as close as possible to my standard cardboard box that you can see in the left side of last attached pic (73 items: 50 dollar 23 half dollar). I can post more pics of the plastic ones when I put logos and cash area cover onto it (cash area will be two squares in middle, covered with a cardboard logo piece approx. 4x6in), but for now, you get the jist of things. I hope not to change over any locations since the plastic boxes are more expensive. They will just be an alternative for any new locations that have that dust/mice objection. No charity affiliation for me; I find it phony and unnecessary... good product and service sells itself in my experience. Box logo cards would go on the outside (clear lid) of the plastic box and on the cardboard piece that will be cash slot/cover, which would be the two square middle sections.
  10. There is a wealth of info on here if you search around and read threads. You can read here, Google around, maybe read a book or two (Thomason's Truth About Vending is my fav), and then decide what makes sense to you. Like anything, you will do some learning by experience... trial and error. Snack boxes and charity lollipop/mint boxes are two different animals. You want to be specific when asking questions. Vending is a numbers game, though... no doubt about that. I would start with as many boxes as you can get into decent locations. Put the boxes anywhere reasonably busy that wants them. You never know until you try. My basic business model that I've developed in the past couple years is posted here, but that's just me... you will want to gather ideas and develop your own game plan: GL and welcome!
  11. For sure. It's very possible that this ends up being more trouble than it is worth. That is why I was asking, though. The only snack place trying this which I'd run across is the one in the FB link in orig post. I actually don't do chips. I do a few Veg Straws and Cheez-It and Cracker Jack sometimes, but no chips. Veggie straws sell well and don't cost much, but they take up massive space in the box. Avoiding chips lets me have less expired snacks since they have poor shelf life relative to most snacks (I'm part time with just one route day weekly and relatively few locations), avoids grease marks on my boxes, and keeps the box healthier overall from a locating standpoint. The main reason for no chips is much less space in my house and car and the snack boxes... no chips lets me pack 70-75 snacks in a Cameron box fairly easily. The Menards link was awesome, thanks! I forgot about them since relatively few in my area. They have the same boxes as Lowes but with different branding (Stanley instead of TuffBox, pic attached), and I was able to get a few for $8.50 each out the door after rebate. Still over double what a Cameron white box costs, but maybe it will get my snacks to a few accounts I couldn't get otherwise. That might be worth it, especially if those accounts are right near my house and/or other locations. They are 17x13x3.5in plastic trays, so we will see how it works. I will post a pic of a loaded up plastic box with logos and cash box and snacks when I get a chance. Definitely a good point about asking accounts to put the snack box in a cabinet or fridge. If any of mine ever have a mouse problem or mention a past problem, I will probably spin that idea... even if I give them a plastic one. The candy bars and other snacks will be laid down and stacked, so I will see how many I can fit. I'm sure it won't be 70+ snacks like my regular boxes, but I will report back once I find out. I'm all about the cardboard boxes and keeping it simple and effective, but I just am trying to solve one of the few shortcomings I've ever found with cardboard boxes. Between the increased box cost and decreased size, it may or may not pan out. Don't know until ya try, I guess
  12. Maybe I missed it in all the pages here, but what is a typical day/week schedule for you... Box swaps, locating, accounting, restocking, buying, etc? I'm sure you've dialed in what works for you.
  13. No, I'm not talking about the acrylic lollipop ones... I'm looking for real plastic snack boxes with a snap lid. I didn't find it in a search at all. This would be only for semi-outdoor locations, such as open-air mechanic shops, workshops, warehouses, or other industrial places... and any places where mouse issues might be a problem in warm weather. Sorta like this idea: https://www.facebook.com/pg/honorsnack/services/ I never really considered this concept before since the box cost would be more and I do fine with my simple cardboard boxes, but one biz owner I marketed to recently mentioned mice as an issue with a past vending service they'd tried and cancelled. I had never run into this issue in hundreds and hundreds of location calls (I do all my own box placements). ...The plastic snack box would need a cash box (and I hate the idea of a separate cash box beside it), so I was thinking to use one of its inner compartments, probably center, for the cash slot and my logo (which means even less space for snacks, though). These two links below (and pic attached) would be the best potential I've found with limited scanning, and they're still 3-4x as costly as a regular cardboard small snack box. My thinking is that the less frills (clasp parts, hinges, etc) the better... less stuff to break. I might check ebay or alibaba or amazon, but I don't like to buy these kind of things sight unseen... and I think shipping might negate any savings buying online could give. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Tough-Box-Large-Sorter-16-Compartment-Plastic-Small-Parts-Organizer/1000365905 https://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-15-Compartment-Interlocking-Small-Parts-Organizer-in-Black-2-Pack-320034/204515485 If anyone does this sort of plastic dust/mouse-proof snack box with success, I'd be interested to hear. Can you fit much for snacks into it? Does it allow you to get some new accounts you otherwise couldn't? My initial thinking was that those locations are probably not ideal anyways, but you never know until you try. Some locations I though would be slow or high theft have been amazing for me, and vice versa, over my time doing this. I have plenty of room to expand, and I currently have about 2-4 locations on every commercial mile stretch nearby. I was hoping these tougher boxes for select locations might help me maybe get to 3-5 per mile strip by re-trying some locations I'd passed over in the past. I am only part-time, so I like to keep my locations tight for a real fast route. Thanks
  14. Yep, no need to re-invent the wheel from they way I see it. Cardboard boxes are very cheap, and they work well. Cardboard boxes are also real light and won't gouge your car seats, scuff things, break if you drop them, or give ppl splinters. I've made some minor tweaks to my Cameron boxes that I really iike over my time doing snack boxes, but the main reason I use them is that they are under $4 each (even with the slight mods and name badging I put on them), and they work well and look good. I can replace them cheap and easily when auto places get grease on them or if they begin to look ragged. Heck, I even balked at the idea of spending roughly $10 each (plus cash box) on plastic snap boxes from hardware stores for the semi-outdoor locations where dust or mice might be a problem. I like the simplicity and speed and low cost of cardboard ones that much. Obvious pros of snack boxes is low start up cost, simplicity of locating and re-locating, fast change-outs, no equipment (dolly, truck or van, machines, etc). Obvious cons are theft %, lower volume per location, serious pricing limitations (no change or cards). ...it seems to me that due to low volume and theft % of snack boxes, you have to really keep costs minimal on your supplies (boxes, marketing materials and website, etc). Your price and the quality of candy and snack that you deliver for that price are your selling points, so you sure don't want to compromise there. You will get more return if you put more money into your snacks or your marketing; the boxes just need to be passable and functional. Also, remember, you are probably going to need at least 50% more boxes than you have locations. That is in order to always have some ready for new locations and assuming you want to go in to existing locations and do a quick and smooth switch (greet the biz staff, drop off a full box, and take away the prior box... which lets you do exchanges in two minutes, tops), so keep it cheap and consistent with your boxes. JMO
  15. As I mentioned above, I was bumping to get ideas. I do snack boxes, so I can use snacks with basically any size. I can see how Slim Jim would be bad in coil vending machines for sure. Thanks for the replies... I figured Dollar Tree might just be able to do it with thinner margin than we can due to massive volume. I was hoping maybe there was a supplier with roughly 50c for 1oz beef sticks they have, though.
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