Franchise Gator recently had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Swain, Executive Partner, of Healthier 4 U Vending. Here are some interesting discussions we had with him:
How was Healthier 4 U Vending originally conceived and started?
My Father Del and I founded Healthier4U Vending to be the premier Healthy Food Vending Company. We saw the short comings of the other companies offering low quality imported machines and not offering support, training, follow up services to people once they purchased equipment. Seeing a market in its infancy (Healthy Food Vending) and knowing the manufacturing and business opportunity markets; it just made sense to bring our expertise and 50 years of experience into this market.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
Coming upon our 2 Year Anniversary date we at H4U are doing a significant amount of reflecting. Originally we envisioned us doing a better job of what others were doing in the marketplace already. We quickly realized that we were going to change the marketplace by providing services nobody else was offering. As an example, we learned that machine placement services are the key to success in this business. We have developed a team of placement professionals that work from here in Las Vegas finding machine locations for our clients no matter where they are from. This service being provided by us is key, because we both have a vested interest in seeing success. The business model we teach during our Vending University is all about seeing results then growing your route with more successful locations. Currently we have seen over 50% of our clients expand their businesses by adding more machines in the first year.
Our vision is to supply high quality machines, training and support services allowing our customers to meet their financial goals (be it a 3 machines route or 1000 machine company). We know taking care of our customers will ensure our future growth.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
Equipment Quality with Training and Support. I have seen many people purchase business opportunities or franchises and fail because they didn't get sufficient support from the "Home Office". Buying a business opportunity is in essence buying a shortcut and a partnership; so make sure you're getting those support services. Training, phone support, and follow up services will make the difference in 8 out of 10 business buyers succeeding or failing. With our locations services being provided in house, it really makes a difference in our clients' success.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
We offer the best in American Made equipment, proprietary placement services, technology, training, and value of any vending business I have seen. We don't just talk about support we supply it! Training is conducted over 2 Days in Las Vegas where you meet business experts that are paid to support your business. Nobody offers the depth of service, value, and quality equipment that we have available to you.
What makes the vending industry attractive?
Obviously the biggest benefit is the passive income aspect of the business. Being able to manage a significant business with far less employees and time than traditional business really leads to a jump in quality of life. The vending business is a proven method to sell all kinds of products and Healthier 4 U Vending is part of the fastest growing segment of the Vending Industry right now. With just 4% of vending being Healthy products, growth is expected to be double digits for the next 5 years at least, in an otherwise flat market. There are not too many markets growing in the double digits right now, and vending with a $42.9 billion market cap, offers a huge industry that is undergoing a metamorphosis from junk food to healthier options. From schools to governments, even legislation is being passed forcing this evolution to take place. Our equipment owners have all of the market forces helping them succeed when most industries are shrinking considerably.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We are looking for motivated people that want to become part of this new and exciting evolution in the vending industry. People that aren't scared of change but instead embrace the changes in technology (remote monitoring software, credit and debit card acceptance on vending machines), and changes in eating habits and choices of Americans. You don't need technical expertise or knowhow, but instead a desire to learn because we can teach you the rest.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
We have no franchise fees or royalties of any kind.
How do territories work for your franchisees?
No restrictions of any kind.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
We have recruited business opportunity specialists with decades of experience in helping make new businesses successful. We have chosen to be different offering not just equipment, but the know-how of succeeding in business. Our machine placement services are second to none and really make the difference for our clients' balance sheets. Our equipment owners have been given the support to succeed and thus we are a true partner to our clients and where we benefit together with their success in added machine sales. It's a winning situation for both parties when our clients succeed.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
Our long term growth is multifaceted including new machines, more machine sales, and licensing of products available in those machines. In today's world of mass distribution, in order to remain price competitive, we will make available privately labeled products available locally thru the large wholesale clubs (Costco, Sams Club etc.) for our customers to utilize in their machines. The continued branding and co branding of our products will continue to build brand loyalty and brand recognition for us and our clients.
We also look forward to continue pushing forward with innovating machine designs and features. We are the first Healthy Vending Company to engineer machines to vend not just 12oz cans, but 16oz cans using high capacity can dispensers. We pushed forward and have an ADA compliant machine and are on the leading edge of the next innovation, touch screen technology. We are making the machines customized to vend healthy products because in healthy food packaging is different. One of the many benefits to having our machines manufactured here in the United States is we can engineer these features and go into testing and manufacturing quickly. We expect to see even more great things coming soon.
We are also starting the process of obtaining National Accounts where we secure the vending rights for all of their gyms, workout facilities or what have you. It is a really good way to organically grow our clients routes with proven and successful locations.
What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?
Don't lose sight of your goals. Make a business plan and stick with it; opportunities will start jumping in front of you and it's easy to become distracted. Adding some of those new opportunities into your business plan is great but don't become totally distracted jumping from one thing to the next before fully exploring the opportunity. Keep your focus and don't be scared of failure, it's often the failures that lead you to successes.
What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?
Well most business people would agree, it's like having kids. If you waited until you thought you had every angle covered and were ready for those financial responsibilities of kids, nobody would have kids. You have to be smart and plan your finances accordingly, not exceeding what you can afford during the business startup cycle. The great thing about vending is that it doesn't take as long as a restaurant, or corner store to build, then generate clients amounting to sales. Vending is an instant business once the machine is on site. People see it and purchase products, it's simply a convenience based impulse purchase, thus the startup sequence is fast and generates cash flow immediately. We also help our client's pick an investment level that is appropriate for their situation. It varies from person to person so we spend the time to get to know each person and help them put together a plan that works for their financial situation.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
The sequence is pretty fast in our business because the machines are manufactured and warehoused in the American Midwest. Once your order is confirmed we book your training appointment and help setup travel arrangements. We usually have training every three weeks so within a couple weeks you're attending a training seminar in Las Vegas for 2 days. After training you are ready to run your business so depending on how placements are being handled (your doing them or you hired a company to do them), we start shipping machines to your locations and you're in business within a month of making the order. It will take additional time to get all the machines placed but you can start to see some cash flow just that fast.