FRESH HEALTHY VENDING: LOOKS TO SWAP JUNK FOOD FOR HEALTH FOOD
Leading the way in replacing junk food vending machines with healthy alternatives is the appropriately named Fresh Healthy vending.
People won’t find chips, pop and candy bars inside Fresh Healthy Vending machines. Instead, they’ll find an assortment of healthy snacks, like baked or popped chips (rather than the traditional fried chips), granola bars, protein bars, fruit bars, packaged fruit, fruit cups, coconut water, natural organic diet sodas, protein shakes, cold press juices and a variety of iced teas.
Founder Nick Yates says Fresh Healthy Vending has been in operation for four- and-a-half years and started franchising in June 2010. The company now has 185 franchisees spread out over 45 states in the United States, plus Canada, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Although the main service for Fresh Health Vending is vending machines, it has recently introduced customized Fresh Micro Markets. These are kiosks that consist of a wall unit with its own refrigeration unit that can sit in the break room of a business. They are completely self-check-out. “We just built that program and launched it about six weeks ago,” Yates said during a recent interview from the company’s headquarters in San Diego.
The company has a corporate market where it operates vending machines and micro markets in San Diego and Yates plans on expanding Fresh Micro Markets throughout southern California and beyond. And, similar to the vending machines, the micro markets will be available for franchising, as well.
Fresh Healthy Vending’s franchisees are a diverse lot, Yates said, but they do have a couple of things in common. One is that they all have a desire to do something socially responsible within their
community. And the other …?
“It just so happens that all our franchisees are families,” he noted. Currently, the entire country is open for franchisees. The company rarely sells exclusive territories, Yates said, and now with the Fresh Micro Markets starting, there are even more opportunities available because the vending machines and micro markets can exist within the same territory without competing, as they would be in two different types of locations.
The minimum package is 10 vending machines for a $110,000 investment, Yates said, and the average franchisee has 14 machines.
USDA creating Demand:
While the Fresh Micro Markets are perfect for a corporate environment, the vending machines tend to go into schools, and they are an increasingly hot commodity, the founder said, now that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started its Smart Snacks in Schools program, which aims to replace junk food in schools with healthy snacks. “Most of our vending machines find their way into schools or education related facilities and especially now with the USDA enforcing nutrition guidelines on vending machines within cafeterias within schools, the doors to even more schools are currently opening up for us,” Yates said.
“There have been so many that have been forced to remove the junk food and they’re looking for a replacement for that.” Along with schools looking to replace their out-of-date junk food vending machines, corporate wellness is increasingly becoming more important, as corporations realize they can decrease absenteeism and increase productivity by offering employees better snacks and drinks, Yates pointed out.
While other vending machine companies are starting to jump on the healthy bandwagon, Yates said, Fresh Healthy Vending pioneered the concept so most of the industry’s innovation has stemmed from the company. Fresh Healthy Vending’s franchising model is comprehensive, as the company supplies the machines, secures locations for those machines on behalf of the franchisee, and has an E-commerce platform in place for fulfillment of product orders. All snacks and drinks are delivered nationwide for the franchisee free via the company’s distribution program. The company also advocates for franchisees via the FreshandHealthy.org website, which aims to convince decision makers in schools, businesses, YMCAs, hospitals and other locations that it would be a good idea to replace their junk food vending machine with a healthy one or at least give people the opportunity to choose between the two different types of machines.
“Our model is very well thought out and it just comes from being in the business for so long,” Yates said.
“Although the main service for Fresh Health vending is vending machines, it has recently introduced customized Fresh micro markets.” As for training and support, all franchisees have to attend a two-day Fresh Healthy Vending University course in San Diego where they spend time with each department head learning everything about the business. Franchisees are then introduced to an online education portal called Steps to Success, which is a 90-day accountability program that franchisees are required to go through. It helps them understand all the different components of the business, helping them to be more successful during those crucial first 90 days of operation. Plus, the company hosts the Feel Free Fresh Franchisee Facebook Forum that all franchisees can access to communicate with each other and share best practices and ways to avoid mistakes.
“Product tips, technical tips, accounting tips, relationship building tips, all of those things are discussed every day in real time among our franchisees,” Yates said. They can also use the forum to communicate with department heads at the main office and ask any questions they have. And, for technical support for the machines themselves, Fresh Healthy Vending also works with a network of vending distributors that work with their machine manufacturer. This network provides labor support and technical assistance for the machines nationwide. For those who want to support Fresh Healthy Vending, but who don’t want to become a franchisee, the company is also publicly traded on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board under the stock symbol VEND.
With the new USDA regulations and health mania sweeping the nation, there has never been a better time to become a Fresh Healthy Vending franchisee.
For more information on Fresh Healthy Vending, the Franchise Program, or to receive a free healthy vending machine in your school or business, visit www.freshvending.com or call toll free 1-888-902-7558