Women's Month 2023
Yvonne had always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Translated that meant spotting a problem and figuring a way to help solve it. She saw at her place of work a need for cold drinks to be kept cold during summer months. There was a staff fridge but with a growing work force it wasn’t coping. There was nowhere nearby to purchase anything to drink or a snack on during working hours. The plant she worked at was a new one and was expanding daily. Employing more staff meant there was more of a need, and as the new plant grew its manpower so the space issue grew. Yvonne took the gap and set out to solve the problem she saw in front of her. She had an idea and started chatting to her friends at work about the possibility of a vending machine.
Having had no previous experience with vending, she asked her brother for his help – she knew that selling worked and had previously ventured into selling perfumes.
“I spoke to my younger brother and he came to evaluate the site to see whether we needed one or two machines. I felt we needed one machine, we have about 300 staff members here and bought one machine and see how it went. He shopped around for me, in JHB, to find the best supplier. It was down to two suppliers and hands down, Vending Solutions were the better choice. The staff were so friendly and helpful, the service was so great. We just knew.”
She knew that she needed to partner with a reputable company who would offer her value for money, technical backup and the support she needed to begin her vending journey. “Its not just the price of the machine, it’s the support and the after sales service that you need to look for.”
Her bosses embraced the idea as they had two other plants on which there were vending machines and had seen them in action. They stood to benefit having a happier workforce and Yvonne stood to benefit from an additional income stream.“ Being a single mom and full time employed, there isn’t really the time available to take on another job, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I found that vending really fitted in with my life, with my work and my world, so much so that it has become a family affair.”
“My father had retired and gone on pension, he was bored. He would wake early every day and rattle around the house with too little to do.” Her dad is now the one who runs the machines, visiting three times a week to re stock them and take out the cash. “My parents live close to the plant. I have since found another job so that there isn’t a conflict of interest. My dad has learned a lot about my machine, how to programme and fill it. It has become a wonderful thing for him to do during his retirement and it really helps me. If he isn’t able for some reason to fill the machine, I can stop by after work to do so. The security knows us, its quick and easy, it isn’t bound by specific hours which is wonderful when you have a busy life. You can always find a gap to get there.”
Yvonne has an account with Coca Cola, they deliver to her house. Thanks to a great credit record, she was able to finance her machine over 3 years and very soon, the repayments will be added to her bottom line profits. “Its so easy for me, Coca Cola delivers the stock to my house where it is stored, I source my snacks from Makro and my father runs the machine for me.”
It’s important to know what to stock for your clientele as well as how this changes seasonally. Coke is always a winner and sells year around but Yvonne has found that during winter people drink more ginger based drinks than in summer.
“Cold drinks do less in winter but snacks do better in our case and I really think it differs between locations. Cash wise, I have realised that having a cashless payment option is important. I don’t have one fitted at the moment and do think that having a re chargeable staff card would be a fantastic way forward, alleviating the need for cash. I think that it could be a good way not to lose out on sales even if people don’t have the correct cash on them.”