Veronika Malnača on Planet Vending
There’s a definition of ‘selling’ that I quite like: ‘helping people to buy’, writes Ian Reynolds-Young. The old adage, ‘people buy people’ has a similar ring of truth to it. Both philosophies are personified by Vendon’s ‘rock star’ Global IoT Project Manager, Veronika Malnača.
Vendon, the Latvian data and payments powerhouse behind many of the world’s most progressive automated retailers, has insisted from the start that their’s is ‘the friendliest vending telemetry team there is’. Having had occasion to interview many of the company’s leading lights over the last few years, I’ve been struck by the enthusiasm each of them brings to the business. You can’t fake enthusiasm.
But then I ‘met’ Veronika and she, let me tell you, is something else altogether.
I was scheduled to discuss Vendon’s new Preventative Maintenance capability, and Ieva Salina (the hub through whom PV’s interviews with Vendon are organised), told me that Veronika, or Vero, as she’s known in the office, was going to join us. Vero had a watching brief in the conversation, contributing only when invited. However, when I was certain I had the facts I needed for the article – (you can read it here) – we got to chatting, and Vero was happy to discuss her approach to sales. Her command of English is complete, by the way… I’ve added nothing to what follows..
‘When we talk about OCS in general, we kind of look at the three main pain points that operators might have: financials, operational – that’s everything that has to do with maintaining the machines and keeping them running – and the third, and most important, the customer experience. How people feel after they have used the machine’, Veronika tells me.
‘These are the three things our customers always ask us about. How can I improve my financial situation? That’s when our real-time data comes into play. We can show people which products are selling and when, so operators can optimise their offer. I recently had a client who was offering two different types of coffee in their machines. The data showed that one of the roasts wasn’t being used, and two weeks after the package was opened they had to throw away the unused beans. They were losing a lot of money and until that time, they hadn’t been aware of it. They just delivered the beans and the milk to the machine; they didn’t know what was going on and had no idea that so much was being wasted.
‘There was another client who was losing 300 litres of milk every month because of leakage and spillage, because people didn’t clean the machines when they had to be cleaned’, Veronika recalls. ‘This was really eye-opening data for the client. If the machine just stands there and it has no technology to let you know what’s going on, then you’re in the dark. When you take those 300 litres of milk a month, and turn it into money…
‘So that’s a couple of examples of how we have improved the financial health of our customers.
‘When we talk about Operational, this is where preventative maintenance comes into play. This is a solution we really wanted to have, because operators have to plan visits to machines, to replace a water filter for instance, on the basis of educated guesswork. For instance, they know that the water filter should be OK for a year, so they put in their schedule to change it in a year. But the water filter doesn’t always need to be changed. If it’s a very busy location dispensing lots of coffees, the filter might need changing after six months or the coffee machine might be damaged. On the other hand, in a slow-moving place the same filter may be fine for two years’, Veronika says. ‘This is something that was really important for us, just to take the guesswork out of the equation for the operator. The same thing applies to grinders, they are very important for operators. If the grinder is old, then it doesn’t distribute coffee in the necessary amounts and then, the drink quality is compromised – and that brings into play the customer experience pain point.’
There’s a brief pause for a sip of coffee…
‘Preventative maintenance is the tool operators need to ensure maintenance visits to their machines are only undertaken when they are required’ Veronika continues. ‘Maintenance is therefore based on consumption, not on elapsed time. It also reduces the requirement to keep stocks of spare parts, with the financial benefits that entails. Machine downtime is virtually eliminated.
‘I’m super stoked that even now, the clients who have started to use it are giving us really good feedback. One client told me that the system revealed that one particular machine was ‘pumping out coffee like crazy’ and they realised that because of that, the milk system needed to be changed several months ahead of schedule…
‘Preventative maintenance is not only good in practical terms – it saves valuable resources of time and fuel – but also it prolongs the life of the machine.
‘And as operators are only too aware, the first steps towards winning customer loyalty are ‘consistency’ and ‘reliability’. By adding great tasting coffee to the offer, you’re well on your way to keeping your consumers coming back for more.
‘I love how we take the data and make an impact out of it, not just in terms of cost reduction but also in terms of enabling an operation to work more efficiently and more sustainably. Our solutions really do make a difference and I can see the difference that it makes, and that’s what I love most about my job.’
Take it from me: Veronika evidently loves everything about her job…
And that’s the end of that, the screen goes blank. I blink. Vero, I can tell you, lands on you like some kind of benign hurricane. Familiar with the phrase, ‘you’ve just been tangoed!”? She makes complicated technology easy to understand. She fires you up, so you want to find out more. If you were a potential client, why would you not want to harness that power, so that your operation could work smarter, leaner and keener?
I asked Ieva if I could write this article, because I reckon PV readers will recognise a rising industry star when they see one. She agreed, but when I started to research, the first thing Google offered was an article on Veronika, on Vendon’s web site. It’s there that she is referred to as Vendon’s rock star, so the company is fully aware of the asset they have on their hands.
And just when I thought I had an exclusive! D’oh!
Read more about Vendon on Planet Vending