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City of Melbourne and Savvy team up for GLER

The City of Melbourne have developed Green Light Eat Right (GLER), a program aimed at improving the accessibility and range of nutritious food available in Melbourne.

In addition, the program enables consumers to make better food choices. Food and drink is classified according to a traffic light system with green being the most healthy choice and red the least healthy choice.

The GLER program has been rolled out across many food outlets and now this includes vending with the release of the GLER vending machine. In order to provide GLER vending, the City of Melbourne has engaged Nutrition Australia, for technical expertise, and Snack Savvy Vending for vending services.

Keep an eye out for Green Light Eat Right vending machines at City of Melbourne Recreation Centres.

Click for more Green Light Eat Right information.

How to get a Vending Machine

So you could do with some convenient access to snacks and drinks throughout the day. Maybe your nearest shop or cafe is a fair walk away or maybe it’s just never open when you need it. Perhaps you run an office and have noticed that your staff are disappearing in the afternoon for half an hour to find something to satisfy that 3pm hunger urge. Well vending machines definitely offer a solution and have been bringing convenience across the word for many many years, read our blog post titled How Does a Vending Machine Work.

Vending machines are open 24/7, can carry snacks, drinks and even mini meals. They keep your food nice and cool and sit there waiting to serve you. Why wouldn’t you want one! So how to you get one located at your venue? Well there are a number of arrangements that are available to you. A few are described here for you.

1. You could buy a vending machine from a vending machine manufacturer. These will typically cost between $7000 and $15000. You would then need to set up food and drink supplier arrangements, create some food storage location in your site, set up insurances and food permits. You would be responsible for maintaining the machine and would restock it from week to week. This approach may be suitable for some locations, for example in a school with a dedicated catering group that manage on-site food services. In this case, incorporating a vending machine will improve the availability of food and drink for the location and generate an extra income for the school. However, in many cases this is all just too much hassle and contrary to the whole philosophy of vending – convenience! If you are interested in buying a vending machine contact vending machine manufactures or distributers (google works) and pop over to them so you can see their vending machines and compare costs and benefits.

2. Engage the services of a local vending machine business. This is a common approach for offices and workplaces, recreation centres and universities. The vending machine business will deliver you a vending machine and will maintain and restock it on an on-going basis. They will usually hold the necessary insurances (always check) and food permits. In most cases the vending machine and on-going services will be provided for free. The vending machine business is able to make their income by selling snacks and drinks through the vending machine that they buy at wholesale prices. It’s that simple really. However, since the vending business are reliant on sales through the machine to make the service profitable for them, the vending business is likely to only offer their service in venues that are likely to experience a high enough level of sales i.e. a venue of a reasonable size. In venues of a very large size, the vending business may even offer a commission back to you to have them around. If you are interested in this approach then contact a handful of local vending business and arrange a meeting for them to your venue to talk to you about their service. We have written a blog post to help you choose your vending service provider.

Of course since this is the Snack Savvy Vending blog we will urge you to consider our health focussed vending business

for your vending needs (or at least ask your vending provider to ensure as many healthy products as possible are available in your vending machine)!

How Does a Vending Machine Work?

According to Smithsonian vending machines have been around since the first century A.D. and were invented by Hero of Alexandria to dispense Holy Water at temples. The vending machines of today still dispense water (although not the Holy kind) but it does not stop there. If you have visited Japan you may have noticed vending machines dispensing live crabs (albeit in a state of hibernation) and in Germany you will soon be able to buy gold from a vending machine!

From Holy water through to gold the fundamental principle of a vending machine remains; money goes in and product comes out. These days however ‘money’ can include a whole range of things from cash to credit card to pre-loaded smart cards or even payment from your mobile phone

! And as we’ve already seen, the ‘product’ vended may be any one of a plethora of items. Convenience has taken on a whole new meaning.

The traditional vending machine, and the ones we use here at Savvy, are snack and drink or ‘combination’ vending machines. They are fairly impressive pieces of equipment and although they come in all shapes and sizes they can be effectively considered a large, often refrigerated, cabinet typically containing five or six trays with a set of spirals resting on each tray. Each spiral holds a number (approximately 10-20) of the same product and upon user selection a motor at the back of the vending machine rotates the selected spiral to push the products forward until the front product falls off the end and into a tray for collection by the customer. Vending machines can usually be configured to accommodate most snacks and drinks and even food such as ready meals and pot noodles.

The ‘brain’ in the vending machine is effectively a small computer that performs the role of registering the customer selection and instructing the relevant spiral to rotate. The software in this computer also often incorporates innovative additional functionality such as the ability to confirm a vend was successful by way of a laser sensor in the tray and energy saving modes to reduce electricity consumption in low use periods.

We’ve come a long way since the first century A.D.

Our (Savvy) Story

Myself (Adam) and my fiance (Alisa) are the proud founders of Snack Savvy Vending. You might be interested to know that our backgrounds do not originate in healthy vending, or even in traditional vending for that matter.  Following university, Alisa spent seven years as a systems engineer for a multi-national technology company, whilst I was employed for eight years as a consulting engineer in the field of contaminated land assessment.  As a result, our decision to bring healthier vending to Melbourne was based on our passion for healthier eating and our desire to create a truly beneficial service that we can proudly promote.

We follow very active lifestyles and have an extensive history of sporting pursuits.  We strongly support the organic food industry and home gardening.

We both share an intense desire to learn, to eat well, and to help others.  With the current forecasts for childhood and adult obesity gaining much public attention, our resolve continues to strengthen.

Our goal is to drive the community to greater health by providing convenient access to healthier eating choices.  We believe that convenience is a key factor in promoting healthier alternatives to traditional snacks.  Our business proudly pursues a truly win-win outcome for all parties and this principal lies at the heart of our passion.  We hope you can benefit from our service and we’d love the opportunity to support your endeavours in healthier eating!

Buying a vending machine business

So you are thinking of buying a vending machine business. Well, at Snack Savvy Vending we don’t sell vending machines or vending machine businesses but we do enjoy running a Melbourne based vending machine business so we can share some of our experience with you.

Firstly, our experience has shown us that the vending industry is not, as is often declared, a ‘very low effort, very high $ return business’. As with many businesses, it is a challenging environment but success can be earned. Here are some questions for you to answer when you are considering buying a vending machine business.

  1. What is the sales history for the business? Try to ensure you can review the sales for each season, ideally from audited accounts. If the business is new, try to establish as accurately (and with as much evidence) as possible what your likely sales will be. This may be difficult but is very important.
  2. What are the costs associated with running a vending machine business? So once you have a feel for your anticipated sales levels you must consider your costs. Ensure you include costs such as: vending business insurance, the costs of running a vehicle (van or truck), the cost of the goods sold, the cost of finance (if required), the cost of any rental / commission required by a venue and the depreciation expected on the vending machines each year. Ideally you would prepare a full Profit and Loss forecast for the business, even if you are only considering buying a few vending machines. After estimating all the sales and costs, subtract the latter from the former to arrive at a net profit (excluding your wage and any staff you may employ). You can review business start up literature and find business templates from the Business Victoria website. You can calculate your return on your invested dollars and decide if it is acceptable for you.
  3. How much of your time will the business take up? Include time for restocking the vending machines, traveling to the machines, loading and unloading your vehicle, calculating and placing orders and receiving deliveries (or collecting). If you will be finding your own venues for the vending machines, this will also take up your time (and money). Including what you learned from point 2 above, you should be able to determine your anticipated wage (and pay rate) and decide if it is acceptable for you.
  4. Will you enjoy running the business?
  5. Are you passionate about providing a good service and high quality product?
  6. If you are buying an established business, ensure it has been delivering a good service to its customers.  If you are buying a ‘route’ with sited machines and are paying a premium accordingly, ensure that the vending business has existing and transferable agreements with the venues.

In short, run your numbers and be sure you know what you are getting into. Good luck!

Please note the above is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No reliance should be made by any user on the material. Also note that Snack Savvy Vending does not provide consulting services to vending businesses so please do not contact us for advice.