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Article about our company from the Leading vending trade magazine, published Automatic Merchandiser ( May 1997)

Should you need a locator, good ones do exist.
Legitimate vending locators do exist and can help the time starved operator find prospective accounts.

Vending locators got their bad name from those white-linen-table-cloth "blue sky" hotel seminars, spring boarding off of "Business Opportunity" newspaper ads. Slick salesmen talking bumpkins into shelling out four times the real price of rinky-dink-mechanical venders. Act two: the promised "vend locator" places them willy-nilly and splits town, leaving the fledgling vend operator bereft of anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Almost all his locators prove to be losers, his machines end up rusting in the garage, his wife divorces him. Funny, but it's not funny.

But a location service emerged to a major vending magazine as legitimate:
run by Seth Sauberman out of Boca Raton, Florida.

Seth Sauberman - NATIONWIDE LOCATIONS - Finding Locations for your Vending Machines
How the good guys work
Reputable location services let the vend operator come along on location solicitation calls, or at least gave him final veto rights before the machine gets placed. That way the operator can make sure the locator, paid per placement, has placed his placement zeal tempered by someone with sharper awareness of the local business community and the quirks of the people in the buildings that commonly house the vendors.

Glen Cohen, owner of World Wide Vending, Pompano Beach, Florida, has hired Sauberman's company seven times since Cohen's startup with a handful of machines. At that time, Cohen was stuck with $10,000 worth of combination soda/snack units left over from a hit-and-run scam. "That jerk delivered on only two of the five locations I'd requested. Some of the machines, he never placed; those he did had to be pulled because they were losers."

Baptism by Fire
When Cohen finally got him on the phone, the scoundrel gave him story after story about family and car problems, along with promises to revisit and make it right. This, by the way, is how the scam artists operate. After they leave town, you'll never get them back. And, you'll hear every excuse in the book, until they switch to a new 800 number and you're completely in the dark.

"Seth lets you go along if you want, see where they're placing. I was so busy, though, I opted to let his locator go alone. But I had final approval right."  Most of those accounts were 30 to 40 people. Now Cohen is running 250 full-line vending machines, having graduated from mechanical units, and his account size is up to 300 people at times.

Working with Nationwide Prime Locations, Cohen went to each locator-derived account before machine placement. "If I walked in and saw a location I couldn't make money in, I said 'NO way. Get me another one."'

A rock-like presence
"My company's five years old, and we've never changed the number," said Sauberman. "I'm the third-oldest location company in the country." Contrast this rock-like presence with scam companies that change 800 numbers routinely, ducking out on irate customers and finding new chumps.

Most operators that use locators are bulk vending operators, or operators of mechanical machines. The small location market is growing at such a rapid rate, however, that full-line vendors may find use for reputable locators. Hence, they should pay attention to the experiences of their bulk brethren who have ventured into the territory.

One vendor's testimonial
Jerry Lutz, owner of L.L. Vending, Woodburn, Oregon, a bulk vending company, is a seven-time Sauberman customer. "His people go in and do a subtle type of closing on people. It seems a little pushy, but they don't get people mad. They know how far to go. Not all vending locators have that skill." (Like most bulk operators, Lutz works with charities, in his case the local Boys and Girls Club as well as the American Heart Association. That way, you're selling social conscience, not just vend product.)

"Seth's company points to a location," explained Lutz. "They survey the area. I'm a small operator. I locate all the time, but I don't like facing that sheer volume of face-to-face rejection. But I go in with the locator to make sure what he's telling people is right."

In his candy bulk vending business (which accounts for the majority of his volume), Lutz has found success in restaurants, large beauty shops, and, to a lesser extent, car dealer waiting rooms and real estate offices.

Watch them in action
"I pick up the spot," Lutz said. "The locator and I communicate, I use the same locator over and over. We know each other's needs. He'll tell me that this or that type of business has done well for him. And there are a few things I've learned. Like dry cleaners are useless - people don't stop to put a quarter in. And forget travel agencies - not enough people in there."

Going along on the calls with the locator is the key to his success in using them, Lutz said. "Otherwise you wind up having to pull machines that some cashier told the locator to go ahead and put in. You paid to put them there, now you go out to pick them up. The locator got paid, but you're screwed. I want to listen to what's being said, who the locator's talking to."

Lutz is not afraid to tell Sauberman he wants the locator to come out and "just fill in the gaps" in a repeat area. "He's not going to put out as many machines per day as he's used to putting out, I tell Seth, so he'd better plan for him to be in town with me an extra couple of days to get it all done."

- only reproducing information relevant to Nationwide Locations and Seth Sauberman.
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