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Is Parlevel for me?


matthew0582
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Hi Matthew, do all of your machines have card readers? Or just the recent ones? 

When I worked in grocery at a major grocery chain, we had switched to automatic ordering which needs a par level in order to know how much (or how little) of a product needs to be on hand before it is ordered. 

This all goes with totals entered of sales, ordered inventory, damages, and on hand numbers so the computer would know how much is on hand at all times for the best (least expensive, but not out of business) ordering.

A par level is, most items need to be reordered when they got down to the last 2 items, this varies depending on the items popularity and how often the item could be ordered and delivered before it ran out. So if most items usually last a week and you have 2 facings (rows) a typical par would be 4. If an item sometimes sales out in a day or two and the order only goes out once a week you’ll probably set the par for an amount that would cover the rest of the week. Like a row might hold 12, but will be empty in 3 days, you might set par at 24 for a weekly order. 

The only reason you may need it is if you are printing out sales totals as your shopping list, if the par is set, you could print out actual need totals for purchase to keep inventory down. 

Or if you do end up having another person jumping into help, it’ll be easier for them because they don’t have your vast experience to know how much to work with. 

Pre kitting is great if you have drivers doing your deliveries. I don’t pre kit because I usually end up changing something to something else, etc. and I’m a one gal show myself.

With 150 machines I really hope you have all of them with WiFi communication. So you know what their doing and what they need. I have 20 stretched out within 50 miles. I have often said that I wouldn’t be able to do this job and not hate it without those card readers. Makes it sooooo much easier.

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Every operation is different, but I always think technology can help any business, especially in vending. If I were you, I would give them a call and describe your situation to them. You might find that they have tools besides prekitting that can help you, or you might not think it is worth the investment. The best why to find out is to talk to them directly.

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I am a little smaller than you, and I use ParLevel to run my operation after starting on paper records.  You don't have to prekit to use the rest of the software.  I understand why you would like having a rolling warehouse type operation; I did for the first few years.  The software can help you with dynamic scheduling, track sales and product performance, consolidate your cashless info, and predict your truck loadout and inventory needs among other things.  You might be in a good position to try it out just keeping it going on your new route for a while to see if you want to expand to everything or switch away from it.  I did finally switch to full prekitting after getting into it, and I can't see going back now; but that's the nice thing about vending, we can all run our businesses our own way.  

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I haven't done prekitting, but I can tell you that... if you compare apples to apples (which prekitting and doing on-site aren't exactly apples to apples), then they take the same amount of time.  Imagine this: you have a small warehouse with every variety of product that you carry.  From this inventory, much like your vehicle, you pull from your inventory what you need to fill the machine.  In that sense, they are the same.  However, there are some differences.  Firstly, it is much easier to prevent yourself from ever running out of product.  So, if you just ran out of lays potato chips and you need 10 bags for an account that sells a lot, you shouldn't have an issue when pre kitting because you can hold so much more inventory in a large building as compared to a van or truck.  Also, with having everything neatly organized for prekitting, and having ample space to move around, you can really stock your totes/boxes much faster because everything is where you need it and in easy reach.  Another huge benefit is that you don't have to worry about the weather conditions as you should be able to keep your prekitting location much more comfortable relative to trying to work out of a van or boxtruck while it's really hot, freezing cold, or raining.  Still, the time savings might not be gigantic but they are there.

The real benefits of prekitting are that you save time out on the route, you bring exactly what you need and no more/less, everything is neatly organized and can fit in a much smaller and more efficient vehicle which can save you a lot of money OR you can do WAY more accounts out of the same vehicle you already have, and you theoretically eliminate all stale products and busted bags on-site where things get crushed by other items in your vehicle or in your tote/boxes.  Basically, you only have to ever make one trip to the machines for most situations, so you only have to spend time actually stocking machines out of a neatly organized tote (or whatever you use) and only empty totes/cases go back into the vehicle when you are done.   So yes, much of the time is sent back to a warehouse but you can do that literally whenever you want.  If you normally did 16 machines in a day, you could probably spend one evening stocking your vehicle for almost 30 machines for the following morning and take the next day off.  Imagine using something like a ford transit-connect getting 24 MPG and having very little insurance costs compared to larger trucks.  You could easily fit the vehicle into a standard garage and park it anywhere a passenger car can park and a new one costs about $25k.  You save a lot in the long run but the upfront costs are pretty substantial if you don't already have a place to prekit and if you don't have telemetry in all of your machines.  You really need to switch entirely to prekitting for all machines to get the maximum benefit.  I'm not even sure the big companies have switched completely to be honest.

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I switched to Parlevel a few months ago. it takes some getting use to but I am happy so far. It does a lot of things so you can use the ones you want at first and gradually learn the rest of it. I do like being able to see whats in machines and what is selling before I get to locations. Just started to use the Prekitting and I do like that feature. I would rather pull product here at home than at location. In and out of location fast.

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Ya Florida summers make it lots of fun! 🤯 Another reason I prefer locations with 24/7 or close to it availability. For now I make my runs out of my Tahoe, so my hotels, Ballet, Ice rink, and ambulance locations I’ll run to at night. The other locations that close at 5pm, I’ll run to early or afternoon.

I hate leaving my suv running in the parking lot to keep chocolate from melting. It’s another reason I transfer all product to snap lid containers, it adds a layer of protection from the heat. I have put ice packs in plastic baggies in the containers with the more sensitive items like candy bars etc.

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When I ran out of the van I had a huge candy cooler, coleman's largest unit, with 2 layers of plastic bins and ice packs underneath.  It would probably take half the room in your Tahoe all by itself :).  Still use coolers in the prekit op, candy goes into a gallon size ziploc bag for each location and stack into a normal size cooler. 

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I absolutely love parlevels ocs portion. It does everything I want it to do, saves me time by creating invoices even for monthly rental equipment. Customers use the portal and order directly from me online.

I am struggling to brave it out and figure out the vending portion of it. I am stuck doing really nothing but paying for that side right now. 

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If you use USA technology for your cc readers then cantaloupe might be a better choice since USA acquired them.

 

As far as "never prekitting" I think that is very short sighted.  Right now you have a job. If you want to be a business owner you need to create a system that your future employees will follow. As you scale up you will need to keep track of every aspect of your business. That which is accounted for can grow. My 2 cents. Best of luck. 

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48 minutes ago, Anacapa Vending said:

If you use USA technology for your cc readers then cantaloupe might be a better choice since USA acquired them.

 

As far as "never prekitting" I think that is very short sighted.  Right now you have a job. If you want to be a business owner you need to create a system that your future employees will follow. As you scale up you will need to keep track of every aspect of your business. That which is accounted for can grow. My 2 cents. Best of luck. 

Nothing wrong with pre kitting, but it is expensive if you want to use telemetry.  Say you have 100 machines and ALL are MDB.  You pay $30,000 for card readers and $800/month for wireless fees.  That's a very big investment.

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Slower accounts don't require credit card readers. These VMS companies consider those offline machines. They predict your pick list for prekitting based off your prior services at those location.  Not as accurate but still better then just winging it.

 

 

P.s. we don't pay anywhere near $300 / ea. For our cc readers. 

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On 11/17/2017 at 10:04 AM, AngryChris said:

You should use a cooler for your chocolate

I have tried a couple different coolers, but they didn’t work out so great. Either to big/bulky and/or bars didn’t fit right inside it. I’m still looking for the “right one”.  But until then, so far, the snap lid containers with an ice pack has been working pretty well. 

I seen a styrofoam box once at a medical facility that I thought would work great, but I haven’t found out where they got them yet. 

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On 11/17/2017 at 10:20 PM, Southeast Treats said:

When I ran out of the van I had a huge candy cooler, coleman's largest unit, with 2 layers of plastic bins and ice packs underneath.  It would probably take half the room in your Tahoe all by itself :).  Still use coolers in the prekit op, candy goes into a gallon size ziploc bag for each location and stack into a normal size cooler. 

I have several huge coolers, 3 of them, yes, would take up the whole section of my 3rd row seating area. 2 of them, 1 huge cube with wheels, and the other a medium rectangle with wheels, but they don’t pack well because of the wheel indentions on the inside.

I try to keep light on the chocolate bars and only carry what I know will be stocked in the machines. Now that the weather is cooling down, I’ll have more freedom, but I’m still looking for that “perfect” cooler lol.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, QuikVend said:

There is someone here on the forum that sells a cooler designed just for vendors. He sells it on ebay, but gives a discount to Vendiscuss members. 

I would love to check those out!

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