Read how Jim Kelly, President of P&J’s Vending of Massachusetts, uses Seed Cloud™ to help him deal with Boston’s freezing winters, rainy summers, and notorious traffic.
“NEW ENGLAND BRACES FOR COLDEST FRONT OF WINTER” reads a headline in a newspaper. “Perfect timing,” I think to myself as I step off the plane. The road toward P&J’s vending is small and unassuming – and amongst the wide open snowy fields and trees that have shed their leaves for winter, P&J’s Vending warehouse sits tucked away in a picturesque nook in Hopkinton, MA – just outside of Boston.
Jim greets me warmly, a welcome change to the weather. He apologizes that he is so busy running around. “One of my service techs is out, so I’m the stand-in.” We sit down at his desk, as he takes a seat, a commanding presence amongst the stacks of paperwork surrounding him.
Jim was born and bred in the Boston area, famous for its deep colonial heritage, quite evident in downtown where you can walk to Paul Revere’s house from Starbucks. The city is quaint yet expansive, with seemingly a mind of its own with bustling people strolling down the streets, and cars headed down one-way cobblestone alleys.
A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING
As the President and Founder of P&J’s, Jim has his hand in all aspects of his business. “I do everything from paying the bills to jumping routes to fixing machines – it depends what has to be done and when it has to be done.” “How did you get into vending?” I question.
“I was an accountant and worked for several real estate developers in the city of Boston, and then started my own accounting practice before I went into vending.” Tax season was right around the corner so I thought I’d ask…he politely declines and smiles, “I gave up doing tax returns a long time ago.”
“Accounting is the basis of the vending business, it gave me a good foothold as far as understanding financials – it’s a natural transition to that area.” He ponders, “I guess back in 1990 it was time to make a change. I actually ran the accounting and vending businesses simultaneously. Then when we got a few bigger accounts it was time to make the leap, so we did.”
Crunching numbers at a desk is a far cry from fixing jammed coin mechanisms and placing new machines. He jumps to answer, “I definitely like the hands-on aspect.” Seed Cloud is a natural extension. Jim has always used accounting systems to keep track of the many aspects of his business. Looking into wireless technology was also a natural extension for him. “I was in the market looking for wireless technology. At the time the Atlanta NAMA was coming – I went to specifically look for wireless technology, and Cantaloupe was there.” Laura Kelly later adds, “We liked the reporting system. It was really the only system he looked at that actually uses real-time data.”
Jim talks about the merits of wireless – “Wireless gives you more access, more efficiency. I like looking at the actual data and not estimates.” An accountant at heart, indeed.
He tells me about the constant challenges with vending. “Trying to provide the best service is something we are always striving for. This is a competitive business. Cantaloupe Systems helps us provide better service by allowing us to spot trends and see the volumes in the machines. Where before we filled machines on a certain day, now we can go on a volume basis – on what’s selling out of the machine. We’re basing it on dollars.”
He adds, “We’re looking at filling 3 to 4 additional machines per day based on the information we get from Seed Pro and not having to go to machines that don’t need service.”
Jerry Doucette has been working at P&J’s for nearly two decades. In a later interview, Laura tells how the drivers are adjusting to Seed’s pre-kitting. “The drivers like the pre-kitting. At first they were a little skeptical about it. They take a lot of pride in what they do; these are their machines, these are their routes, these are their customers – and so I know they were initially hesitant. But when it’s been right on and they’re not packing their product, they think it’s great. They love the idea of having the bins pre-packed and ready to go.”
EXTENDING SERVICE TO THE BEAUTIFUL CAPE COD
Cape Cod is a scenic stretch of land at the end of Massachusetts, famous for its beaches, dunes, and warm waters. Seed Cloud makes it possible for P&J’s Vending to extend its service route to the Cape.
Jim states, “we have a seasonal location there that normally would not be serviced in 5-7 days but because it was a rainy weekend on the Cape, the machines were actually wiped out. When there’s a rainy day on a weekend in the summer, you can’t go to the beaches – this drove up the inside attendance for the day. You won’t get kids at the beaches when it’s rainy.”
He notes how Seed’s real-time inventory reports helped him deal with the unexpected rain. “By going online and looking, I was able to determine that the machines needed to be serviced immediately. [Doing this] lets us pick up incremental business, especially in a transient location like the colleges. They shut down for a specific amount of time during the holidays. We can monitor that and see if there are any additional sales going on and if the machines need to be serviced during the slower periods.”
“Cantaloupe helps us become more efficient at what we’re doing – if we can determine when the machine needs to be filled at its maximum optimization – that’s what we’re looking for – we can keep the customer happy. We can pick up service issues before they become issues. That’s what I’m looking to get down the line.”