The future of vending in the FM world

Here John Broad from British tea and coffee merchant Ringtons Beverages explores the considerations Facilities Managers should take into account when looking to install vending solutions.

When it comes to deciding which hot drink solution is appropriate for a business’ needs, the Facilities Manager has firstly got to consider the reason for installation.  Does the solution need to be profit generating i.e. drinks are sold, or is it installed as a service for colleagues and visitors?

No matter which solution, the business needs to consider whether to manage and operate the contract in-house or enter into a contract with a vending operator who will stock, clean and manage any money (if applicable) on a daily basis, or however often the contract stipulates.  This is applicable whether it is free vending or drinks are being charged for.

As you will appreciate it is more expensive for a fully managed service so the decision for the FM is – does the business have staff available to stock and clean the machine or is a hassle-free solution the requirement?

As one of the UK’s leading suppliers of tea, coffee, catering equipment, machinery and catering supplies for the food service industry and business, Ringtons Beverages supplies products for  use in vending equipment as well as table top coffee machinery and custom built workstations such as self-service coffee towers which can be constructed to a customer’s specific requirements and available space.

Vending operators are continually looking to trade up in quality – similarly to other areas within the coffee industry – as their customers’ knowledge and taste expectations continue to grow.  In order to meet this demand there has been great development and innovation in the past few years in the style/ appearance and quality of the equipment and the quality of drinks dispensed.

Ringtons Beverages has seen a much greater demand for premium quality espresso bean and fresh loose leaf tea offering.  This now tends to be the preferred option rather than machines serving instant coffee and instant tea which was the norm in years gone by.  Premium quality disposable cups and other premier ancillaries also tend to have replaced the thin cream plastic cups.

Increasingly popular are fresh-brew machines and bean-to-cup machines which use fresh coffee beans and grinds them to order to produce a fresh and superior quality coffee.  Although this machinery and the coffee itself can cost a little more than instant coffee you can consequently charge more for a cup – it’s fairly common practice to charge upward of £1.00 for a good quality vending machine beverage, which gives a great return on a cup which can cost as little as 15p.  Some systems even use fresh milk and loose tea so you get an even higher standard of product.

As beverage selection, equipment and the fittings in which vending equipment is placed are so specific to individual needs it is always advisable to seek advice from a third party as to what would work best for particular circumstances, reason for installation, audience and available floor space.

Added benefit

Some companies believe the power of a good cuppa is so strong that installing equipment for staff alone will make a direct positive impact on the business itself.  It can be argued that providing quality beverages on-site for staff reduces the number of employees leaving the building and buying coffee elsewhere which many businesses find reduces downtime as staff aren’t leaving the building for as long, or at all, and are therefore not losing momentum.  It can also be demoralising to be given terrible coffee at work so small tweaks to the offering can make a huge difference to staff morale.

One company from Newton Aycliffe has invested in good quality vending equipment and products via Ringtons Beverages and has benefitted from the installation of two top quality Cimbali M1 machines which use fresh milk.  Managers saw the value in rewarding staff with free tea and coffee from this top quality equipment.  On average they find employees consume around two cups per day which does not equate to a huge outgoing for the company and the reward they received in terms of employee productivity, loyalty and satisfaction are believed to be worth the investment.

Another caterer client of Ringtons Beverages even upgraded all of their equipment, Point of Sale signs and cups and replaced their Costa tea and coffee with Ringtons to boost the quality of their tea and coffee offering – they believe the quality boost has meant sales have risen.

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