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Issue Date: Vol. 46, No. 2, February 2006, Posted On: 2/24/2006

Client Relations Take Center Stage At NAMA Spring Expo In Las Vegas

Tim Sanford

LAS VEGAS — The importance of taking a new look at client relationships will be one of the principal themes at the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s Spring Expo here. It’s set for Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25.

On Wednesday, March 22, the association will stage its popular Quality Coffee Certification Program, for which separate registration is required. New during this presentation will be an added 90-minute block dealing with customer and coffee industry trends, and the implications of these trends for operator marketing and public relations activities.

According to Dean Gilland, vice-president, coffee services and membership for NAMA, the added session will focus on delivering “a better coffee experience,” setting up tasting demonstrations to convince clients of the improvement in quality attainable through increased pack weight, premium product, and a wider range of allied-product offerings. Such demonstrations can validate the increase in customer satisfaction – and, thus, staff productivity – that is achievable at very modest added cost to clients.

The sharper focus on customers carries through to the business sessions scheduled during the Spring Expo’s educational program. “Keeping Clients Forever,” slated for presentation by Rick Leffke of R.C. Leffke & Associates (Dallas, TX), will outline approaches to moving customers from “merely satisfied” to completely satisfied. Satisfaction does not establish loyalty, Leffke emphasizes; complete satisfaction does.

In a session open only to NAMA members, Bill Dalbec, vice-president of issues and industry associations for Harris Interactive (Rochester, NY) will update operators on the landmark research into workplace decision-maker and consumer attitudes toward refreshment service commissioned by NAMA last year. Preliminary findings were outlined at the recent NAMA National Expo (see VT, November 2005). The Spring Expo session is titled “Insights and Challenges when Dealing With Coffee Service Decision-Makers,” and it will summarize findings of the second phase of the study.

Also themed to the changing concerns of today’s decision-makers is a presentation on building high-impact proposals by Jim Proebstle of ProDyne Inc. (Deer Park, IL). Proebstle, who is NAMA’s Knowledge Source consultant on sales management, will detail ways to make each proposal specific to the prospect through understanding what the prospect wants.

This year’s NAMA Spring Expo will offer a new look, with the association designating three distinctive new facilities as official show hotels. Bally’s, the Flamingo, and Paris – all on the world-famous Strip – are connected to the Las Vegas Convention Center by the new elevated monorail line, and shuttle bus service also is planned. Information may be had at the NAMA website, vending.org.

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