Franchise Gator recently had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Swain, Co-Founder and Managing 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 75 years of experience into this market.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
When we first entered into the market in 2011 the marketplace was very different compared to what you see now. People used to scoff a little bit at healthy products being sold in vending machines, now it is not just accepted, but people expect it. The market has grown so much as so many people have made a lifestyle choice to live healthier. We have seen an explosion of locations that support healthy living and that has been very beneficial to our owner/ operators.
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
I think the single biggest factor is finding the right partner in the parent company. You need to agree with not just the end product, but the overall feel of the company and the ownership. If you don’t feel a connection with the brand your evaluating, you’re probably not going to love your new business. Its important to really share the vision of the company you partner with, because otherwise it will be hard for you tell sell that vision if you are not a believer in it. Never buy a business because it was cheaper than the one you really wanted. That is a mistake every time, because you will suffer the “What if?” for years to come. Buy something you love, because then it isn’t really work when you are following your passion.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
Because we really care about our owner/ operators. For us, this business is much more than machines and locations, its about people. At first we teach our owner/ operators how to operate the business, then we mentor them on how to into a different lifestyle. Being business owner is a truly a lifestyle, not a job.
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 10% 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. Our equipment owners have all of the market forces helping them succeed.
What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?
We are looking for passionate and motivated people that want to become part of this 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?
Our success has been largely attributive to our dedication to producing state-of-the-art machines and backing up with training for our new owners. This has given us the ability to partner with so many major brands and grow our locating platform in robust ways. Having high quality machines and trained affiliates allows us to have a fantastic reputation with the consumer and all of location owners or managers. That is a pretty simple formula, but it really works.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
We also look forward to continuing pushing forward with innovating machine designs and features. In 2019 we rolled our 4th generation machine, and we just keep raising the bar on equipment quality.
One of the many benefits to having our machines manufactured here in the United States, is we can engineer new features and go into testing and manufacturing quickly. We expect to see even more great things coming soon.
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 fast in our business because the machines are manufactured and warehoused in the American Midwest. Once your order is confirmed we book your training class 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 we start shipping machines to your locations and you're in business within a month or two 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.