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Pre-Kitting
Vending Market Watch

"Pre-kitting has made a huge difference to H & L Tom's Distributors Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., according to Rick Matthews, owner. The company, which has three routes year round and five during the school year, is more profitable despite a 10 percent drop in sales over the past year. Pre-kitting has helped to reduce operating costs to offset the drop in revenue.

"Everything that's in there (the vehicle) is going to be in the machine today," Matthews said. He has also been able to replace step vans with more fuel efficient (and comfortable) cargo vans. Both the company and the employees have benefitted.

Matthews custom designed his own Windows-based pre-kitting software. It has taken him five years to pre-kit all of his routes. His drivers use a cellular phone to send him machine data for all machines on the route. He then determines the quantities of each item to pack to refill each machine. Managing product par levels in conjunction with dynamic scheduling is key to the operation.

"The route man doesn't make any decisions," Matthews said. He noted that all delivery vans leave full and return empty. He hopes to eliminate the need for drivers to send data from the location by introducing RMM. He plans to install RMM devices from InOne Technology in the machines. He is presently working on the software that will allow the InOne device to automatically download to his management software."

Operators: We Can Make It
Vending Market Watch

"Rick Matthews, owner of H & L Tom's Distributors Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., was able to change his operating procedures to improve his profitability four years ago. As a result, he's making more money today even though his same store sales are down 10 percent. This was accomplished by replacing step vans with more fuel efficient cargo vans, and moving from a static route schedule to a more flexible schedule. He also pre-kitted the trucks. "It really puts us at the location when we service the machine more at a time when we need to be there," he said. This has allowed him to eliminate two routes.

ON THE HORIZON: REMOTE MACHINE MONITORING

Matthews isn't finished exploring more efficient ways to operate. He is presently testing InOne's remote machine monitoring software. "When we get done integrating that, we're going to have a huge leap forward as far as efficiency goes," he said. Matthews echoed other operators in noting the personal fulfillment he feels running a family business and having a love of the industry. "I'm having the time of my life," he said."

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