So many of us struggle with the issues of how our lives fit into the greater scheme of things. Some might think this a "spiritual" question. In the context of this column, spirituality means no more than nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that reflect the belief that everything in life is mutually dependent. I do believe this.
Vending Times is my life's work and for me, that involves exploring aspects of experience that go beyond the material. I have always hoped that what we do at Vending Times makes a difference in the industry, and that we can inspire others.
This is the main reason why, in the midst of so many obstacles, I continue to forge ahead. In the words of Jim Croce, "I've got a song. And I carry it with me, and I sing it proud. If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud." So, when the column I wrote last month struck a chord with so many readers, it was especially rewarding. And when I received this letter, I had to share it with you.
Dear Ms. Lavay,
I recently read your article in Vending Times titled "what I know for sure," and boy, did that hit home. I feel your article had a lot of merit because this is for every business, but now more importantly in the vending business. Business is tough these days. The days of giving away all of our profits must and will stop, because basically we're driving ourselves out of business. Profits we use to buy newer equipment, better technology, better vehicles, etc. ... and who will reap the benefits? Our customers! It's a "win-win." We, as vending companies, have created our own destiny. For this industry to survive, we need to be in the double digits in net profitability.
So how do we solve this issue? Simple. It starts with us! No more passing the buck; every account must be spoken with until they understand that you must -- and deserve to -- make a fair profit. Talk to your customers. You do not have to become their best friends, but they should be able put the name with the face, so they know who you are. When they call you at 4:55 p.m. as they are walking out the door and say, "call the Vending Guys; the machines need service or repair" that costs money. That's called "service," but service costs. We all have expenses. Our men are clean-shaven, look well in appearance. We pay for a percentage of their health care (and FICA, of course); we started a 401k for them to defer some of their pretax dollars, and gave them knowledge of this industry that they can use to get a job in any of the other 49 states. We're there for them when they need a little help, for whatever reason.
I know it's easier to match the other guy's commission rate or pricing, but that's not even playing follow the leader. In most cases, it can be called "following the follower." The leaders are so far out ahead of you, that they're not lowering their prices. They offer excellent service and equipment, and have nicer trucks. They just do things a different way with a little jazz! This is not magic, it's Business 101.
Your father was basically training you on all those long road trips, and that is very special. But you also have another degree from a different school; the school of Hard Knocks. You earned it! I'm a graduate of that same school, and I'm proud of it. To run a business you must know all the jobs and how they work.
Some of my dad's sayings were:
» You can't write excuses on the back of a deposit slips.
» The only people who sleep late all the time are the people who have a lot of money in the bank.
» If you are looking at the money, you are looking at the wrong thing; if you love what you do, the money will come down the road.
» If you try really hard, and think a little ... you will go far. Never give up.
» When you don't know what to do ... do nothing! Life has a funny way of working itself out.
My father was a great guy, and I still wish I could ask him some questions, but in reality he probably would have said "Joshua, get back to work" But that's what I love to do! So we should all just go back to work, talk to our customers, and try to make our accounts profitable. It will be a fabulous year in 2012 if we apply ourselves.
Have a nice holiday and thanks again for your article.
Joshua Koritz, President,
Dynamic Vending Inc., Hazelwood, MO
Thank you, Joshua. I agree that 2012 will be as good as we make it. As we continue "moving down life's highway" I, and all of us at Vending Times, wish everyone a happy and prosperous journey through the New Year.