WHAT BUYERS WANT NOW: PRIME VENDING LOCATIONS
In January of 2020, many industry observers were writing the obituary for vending. Two months later, when the pandemic brought coffee service, pantry service and most micro markets to a standstill, vending locations continued to operate, with many seeing a dramatic increase in sales. Now, buyers want prime vending locations.
Early in the pandemic, it became apparent that vending locations in distribution centers, manufacturing and other industrial locations were positioned to outperform other convenience services locations, simply because they remained open and had limited touch points relating to product. This fact was not lost on of some of the nation’s largest operators. For the first time in years, I have large operators expressing interest in buying vending locations.
Valuations for vending companies with prime locations are now soaring. That is great news for vending operators who resisted a move into the micro market business and have been told repeatedly that they have made a big mistake. As it turns out – your business is now in demand.
Interest in vending has intensified for two reasons.
Reason #1 – Large operators seek to diversify
While coffee service and pantry service operators, along with micro market operators who served white collar locations, saw their sales plummet as much as 75% during the last year, vending operators in certain types of locations saw an increase in sales during 2020, or at worst, a minimal downturn.
As one executive from a national operator explained, “We have been busy targeting the tech accounts and the downtown offices – new age companies that were pouring on the amenities. Unfortunately, those companies were able to flip a switch and work from home. Many are still working from home. We need more accounts that have a workforce that must be present to function.”
Reason #2 – Vending locations have tremendous upside
While working on a three-part series for Vending Market Watch that explores the challenges faced by operators around the country, the actions they took, the lessons they learned, how their business practices will change and their outlook for the future, contributing editor Bob Tullio asked industry leaders if they thought there was a shiny new “halo” around vending following the pandemic.
“The revived interest in vending has more to do with the potential that exists in those locations, than with vending itself,” said Tullio, who shared the responses with VBB Advisors.
Trending – Vending location to micro market location
For Arthur Siller of Evergreen Refreshments, the best thing about a great vending location is that someday, it will be an even better micro market location. “We don’t see growth in vending, but micro markets will continue to move forward,” said Siller.
C. J. Recher of Five Star Food Service agrees. “There is always a place for vending, but we haven’t seen a push to add more vending locations. Unattended retail, in a hybrid model or in a micro market has plenty of appeal.”
Hybrid Vending Model
Dave Mandella of American Food and Vending sees a hybrid model being used in prime vending locations that need to remain vending locations. He predicts the use of new technology, like PicoCooler being used for fresh food and premium items, while traditional vending machines will deliver the snacks and beverages.
Micro Markets outperform vending
“I think that there is a new understanding and need for micro markets versus vending. People definitely liked the micro markets during the pandemic better,” said Matthew Marsh of First-Class Vending. “On most of our larger accounts, not just the distribution centers, we've already switched to micro markets and we find it is a better solution.”
The message for vending operators
Prime vending locations that have not been converted to unattended retail are currently coveted by operators in the same way a developer eyes prime real estate. It is all about the potential of the location. Accordingly, vending operators will inevitably have to do one of two things:
Sell now while the valuations are high
Invest in technology and equipment as they convert to either unattended retail or micro markets
If you are a vending operator, knowing what your company is worth will help you make an informed decision.
Our Philosophy at VBB Advisors
“No matter what is going on with the economy or the world, it is time to sell your business if you are ready and we can make the right deal, a deal that makes sense for you, your family and your company.”
My philosophy is driven by the fact that I do not represent buyers. I represent sellers. Please consider what that means for you. I am not interested in just making a deal. I will not be jockeying from one side of the table to the other. I do not subscribe to the idea that a deal requires both sides to feel a little pain. As the seller – you know what you need to receive to move on, to retire, to go in a different direction – comfortably.
I never lose sight of the fact that there is more than one buyer out there for your business. This is a defining characteristic of a “sell side broker.”
That is why I offer free resources like the 2021 Exit Strategy Planner. I want you to have your eyes wide open when you consider whether it is time to sell your business.
Buyers come to me because they know that I serve sellers who have thoroughly and thoughtfully considered their exit strategy with my help. That is the type of seller that you want to be – a seller who has their ducks in order, has taken steps to make their business as attractive as possible and a seller who values their employees enough to make a deal that everyone will feel good about.
Take that critical first step. That is often the toughest one to take.
Order my free 2021 Exit Strategy Planner. At the very least, it will provoke some thought, and this is a good time to think about your future.
Why make VBB Advisors a part of your team?
There are at least three very good reasons to talk to me about being a part of your team for this important chapter of your business journey.
Experience – I have done more significant deals than any other business broker in our industry.
Access to buyers – Throughout the pandemic, I have been in ongoing discussions with potential buyers, from both inside and outside the industry.
We are a sell side broker – We only represent the seller. Everything we do is on behalf of the seller.
Whatever your reasons are to sell your company - the timing, the current frustration, the desire to enjoy life or an interest in rewarding yourself for years of hard work – VBB Advisors can help you realize your goals.
We specialize in sell-side advisory services and mergers & acquisitions. Our focus is on maximizing the realized value on behalf of our clients. VBB manages the entire process from valuing your business, assembling
information, to qualifying prospective buyers, through due diligence, legal documents and closing. Our process is entirely confidential in order to protect the interests of our clients.
Business Valuations. VBB business valuations are based on financial analysis and actual market comparables producing extremely accurate estimates of value.
Financing Assistance. VBB will provide assistance to businesses in the acquisition of various types of financing. Services include preparation of loan packages and presentation to various funding sources.
Strategic Consulting. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, VBB brings to bear a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the business.
Buy-Side Services. On a contract basis, VBB will assist qualified, well-financed buyers seeking acquisitions in the vending, office coffee and bottled water industries.
Preparing Your Business for Sale. VBB offers a two year strategic plan designed to prepare a business for a successful sale and maximize value on exit.