Meet Spirit Box
How One CPI Customer is Changing the End Location Game
Service is a pain point that affects the bottom line. This is especially true for operators performing independently. Tasked with overseeing every detail of their machine, from installation to filling to servicing, operators’ costs can be limiting to growth and business expansion. What if there was a way for operators to be hands-off? Enter Spirit Box, the company delivering a business model both beneficial to their company, and the end location.
Rethinking Machine Management
Empowering Students, Streamlining Operations
Spirit Box LLC supplies custom vending machines to high schools as alternatives to their traditional, brick-and-mortar spirit stores. What is unparalleled about Spirit Box is their school program that empowers students to supervise the vending machines, acting as onsite operations and business managers. Philip Baird, CPI customer and VP of Business Development at Spirit Box, explained the genesis and mission of their unique model.
Addressing Brick and Mortar Pains
Security Delivered by Custom Vending Solutions
The custom vending machines and programs were originally deployed in high schools to curtail the pressure and costs that arise in brick-and-mortar school stores. This includes lost and stolen inventory and labor requirements. Spirit Box solves this problem by working with schools to deploy custom equipment outfitted in school colors and graphics that vend school shirts, notebooks, and electronics. With this method, Spirit Box eliminates concerns of a physical school store. It also provides an opportunity to sell higher end merchandise—all within the 24/7, secure convenience of a vending machine.
The Next Generation of Operators
Delivering a Unique Curriculum
Since the start of the program, Spirit Box pairs machine deployments with a full curriculum offered to students as a class or an extracurricular activity. As a part of the curriculum, students are trained on the vending business model from product to inventory to servicing. Through this program, Spirit Box enables the end location (in this case, the students and faculty) allowing his team to be essentially hands-off once the machine is up and running.
Tools for Success
How Spirit Box Ensures Accountability
How does Spirit Box ensure compliance with the end location? By utilizing the CPI portfolio end-to-end with equipment, payment, and software, Spirit Box has the tools and oversight to ensure the success of their program, even without being on site.
- Customization is Key. The customization of CPI vending machines makes the space a very interactive experience for the students and faculty. The custom graphics and large, interactive touchscreens attract and engage students, while also giving Spirit Box a foot in the door when it comes to making the sale to school administrators.
- Remote Management Made Easy. Spirit Box utilizes Simplifi, CPI’s device management platform, to track the vending machines' inventory, payment processing, and service needs. Furthermore, Simplifi gives students opportunities to maintain the machines properly, be it through inventory management or measuring sales.
- Teach a Tech to Service. Baird knew the right service team was essential to keeping machine maintenance hassle-free and allowing his team to cut down on on-site visits. One of the reasons Baird preferred CPI machines was the “ease of serviceability and response rate” of the Crane Field Service Engineer team. He explained that a good service team aids the ease of dealing with machine issues, with many concerns resolved by a Crane technician walking students through the problem over the phone. Over time, this hands-off approach enables the students to the point where they’re able to resolve issues without any outside support.
What About Profitability?
Results That Speak for Themselves
But what about profitability? With the concern that a hands-off machine experience may lead to theft or lower profits, Baird’s program has proven that autonomy can be beneficial. By empowering the students to manage the machines themselves, they take a personal stake in the success of the machine as they build business skills that can be used in the future. In one case this past year, a school saw a yearly profit of about $35,000 from the student-run vending machines.
The Opportunity for Operators
Reduced Service, Reduced Costs
Spirit Box’s model of empowering the end location to monitor vending machines can be applied to other locations. Machines in apartment buildings, for example, can be serviced by any number of people within the complex, from maintenance and operations staff to administrators. Creating this opportunity for the end location to be responsible for machine maintenance provides end locations with more uptime and customer satisfaction, while, in turn, reducing service costs for operators and machine owners.
Vending machines provide an array of business opportunities for operators, distributors, and end locations. While Spirit Box sets a great example of operations for schools, other locations (including residential and retail settings) can provide opportunities for operators looking to expand their reach. Operators should look for ways to position their machines. Not just solutions for product distribution, but positioned for operational efficiency, cost savings, and even a targeted answer to labor shortages.
Enabling the end location to share responsibilities can reduce unnecessary costs, including transportation, service technician fees, and even regular route fill visits. Vending isn’t just for vending anymore. Instead, it is an answer to the growing demands of retail and consumer expectations.