All Good Things Come To An End

13 Apr

I guess Nelly Furtado was right when she sung the line “Why do all good things come to an end?”

No-one can predict the future with accuracy, and there always comes times in our lives where unexpected events occur in a short space of time that leave us confused, wondering the same question Ms Furtado did. We all dream of stability and an element of routine, because no-one likes the unknown. Life can throw us so many experiences and complications that we never want to be involved with; but without them, where would we progress and where would the excitement be?!

As I write this, I have been reminded of this fact over the past month with my recent un-announced departure from Care Vending – having left it for some time for the dust to settle, it’s only fair I let my loyal readers know of what happened, and what the future holds for me. You will need to bear in mind some details will remain private and out of the public eye.

Care Vending, before I begin, will always occupy a huge place in my heart and memories as one of the most enjoyable environments I have ever had the pleasure of being employed in – a fantastic management team (and credit really does go to Geoff Turner, whose infectious energy spread throughout the office), a wonderful bunch of colleagues and, above all, a dedicated, professional and stable operational department. As a business, they are truly dedicated to vending and I implore anyone looking for a company that cares to approach them; they’ve built up the reputation to do it, and will continue as such in the future.

I know it came as a shock to many people within our industry to learn of my departure – partly due to the fact I was unable to complete a full handover process and contact my customers and colleagues about my departure. Sadly, I cannot ever apologise enough to these people and I do ask that if you would like to reconnect and talk, including my old colleagues, then you can find my mobile number at the bottom of this post.

“What happened then, Dave?” I hear you ask – it’s very simple. What I want out of life, and where I see myself in 10 years, meant that I had to follow my head. My way of thinking and living my life differs from that of some at Care; I guess it’s the different ways we have been nurtured through life.

Yes, there is a LOT more to it than that, but for legal protection, I cannot disclose more on a public website, even if it is my own and I own all copyright to work here. We have both made mistakes and I am an avid believer in the saying that “we learn more from our mistakes than our successes” and I hope we both look at the positives and forget the negatives.

“What does the future hold, Dave?”

At the moment, it’s a hard one to answer. I’m actually enjoying a nice period of rest that’s allowing me to complete some personal goals and a bit of travelling, so it’s not all bad in purgatory! I am indeed currently looking for new opportunities and am carefully thinking about where to take my future, so I would like to state that anyone interested in contacting me is more than welcome to – you’ll find the number below!

Until then, sit tight, check back regularly…and let’s see what the future holds. Nevertheless, I will remain an active industry commentator and blog where I can. Don’t hit that unsubscribe button just yet please!

All good things come do indeed to an end for a reason, but only better things come along afterwards.


David Cocozza


The New Westomatic of the Future?

28 Feb

The new Westomatic Sigma Touch

This week, I was delighted to have installed at my office the new Westomatic Sigma Touch machine, which is being billed, by many, as the “Future of Hot Drink Dispense” – following on from my critical but constructive review of that at the AVEX show, as you can imagine I was most looking forward to seeing if Richard Brinsley, MD of Westomatic, had listened to his customers that had suggested changes. Here’s what happened…..

For those that have not had the chance to preview the Westomatic Sigma Touch nor had a chance to have a look at the production model, then be prepared for a paradigm shift in the way hot drinks are prepared and sold in vending. As an industry commentator and professional, I have long cried out for the “futurisation” of hot drink machines, where the move from traditional push button vending goes to touch screen, build-a-drink systems; last year and earlier this year we have seen this introduced into full-sized vending machines by Coffetek with their “Step” machine offering, and whilst the Step is a “Step” towards the future, it’s my opinion that the Sigma Touch has leapt far ahead of them into the 21st Century.

What this industry has long lacked is the ability to be able to charge retail prices for hot drinks – margins have always remained low, and when a cup of coffee that costs £3.20 from Starbucks can taste the same, or sometimes inferior, to new machines dispensing 12 ounce bean-to-cup with real milk drinks, we have always been cautious on how much to charge – it’s a well-known fact that psychologically, users see vending as an inferior product, no matter how well a drink is produced or how premium the products are. By introducing “disruptive technology” such as touch screens, speakers, and advertisement opportunities, the Sigma Touch represents what I have long wanted; a retail EXPERIENCE, rather than “just a vending machine”.

Loyal readers will know that I was critical of the Westomatic preview machine at AVEX, however I am most impressed with both the build quality and quality of dispense offered on the production machine delivered to our offices. Although not the bean-to-cup version, the Freshbrew espresso that I was dispensed had a good crema, was full bodied and had a lasting flavour – and for a pressure brewer that is not designed as an espresso-pressure brewer, it’s of a high quality. Similarly, other drinks are of high standard, with a full sized cappuccino being coffee-shop quality.

Most importantly on this machine, and what sets it apart from being just another innovation in vending is it’s 19” touchscreen with speakers. Advertisers note that vending is now a new way to get your message across to people – here at Care, we’ve run a series of adverts from Volkswagen, Coca Cola, Kit Kat and MasterCard, seamlessly integrating with each other and rather than being a distraction on the machine, actually enhances the offering.

Companies with an international staff base will be happy to know that you are able to select multiple languages on the machine interface, with German, Spanish and French loaded as standard (so, those working in an Asian office could even have the ability to load Chinese Traditional Characters on the screen – impressive for those coming from overseas).

Accessibility has also been made a key factor here, with the machine fully meeting regulations and guidelines laid down by the UK government for accessibility, a first for a touchscreen machine as far as I am aware of.

The New Westomatic looks as if it has a bright future, with a commitment from Richard Brinsley himself to his customers that he is dedicated to regain his, and his company’s, place at the top of the manufacturers league table – I have no doubt that, following some new staffing implementations, a move to a new office, and innovations like the Sigma Touch, if he maintains his drive behind the company then they will regain that place quickly. Only time can tell if my initial thoughts and hopes for the Sigma Touch are grounded and true, certainly past experiences I have been told about from other operators are good indicators that a lot of work has gone into making the Touch a reliable and efficient machine.

So, next time you’re in your office foyer – have a think about why you’re not using the Sigma Touch to advertise yours and your clients’ services even more?

Thanks for reading and until next time, take care.

David Cocozza

The Importance of First Impressions…

3 Jan

Might I first introduce this post by saying Happy New Year to all my loyal (and new) readers – it’s been just under a year now since I started this blog, and began writing to further my career – 2011 has been a year of changes, mostly for the better – and on reflection, I am amazed at how much interest this blog is now generating on a daily basis.

With my new work schedule, it’s becoming harder to find time to post regular updates, but my promise for 2012 is that new articles will be on their way. I’m working on some VERY exciting developments that will hopefully pull through and possibly change vending for the future – when they do, I cannot WAIT to tell you and the rest of the world about them

So, without further ado, let’s get started with 2012….

People often say that first impressions count – and certainly in the world of business, I believe they truly do. Psychologists tell us a counterpart will make a judgement on whether they like you or not within the first two minutes, sometimes within the first 20 seconds, of getting to know you – in my eyes, understanding how to present “open” body language and how to adjust your style dependent upon the situation, knowing how to dress well for the occasion and looking and talking presentably are only just some of the parts that make up a good “First Impression”.

 As I’ve always been told, “You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.”

Recently I had the pleasure of staying in two suites in two luxury hotels in Liverpool and London, both part of the same Worldwide Brand – what amazes me is how different my first impressions were of both locations. The Liverpool hotel was built about two years ago, looking clean, modern and bang on trend, whereas our London hotel was built in the early 1990s, and has begun to show its age. The Liverpool hotel staff had clearly been trained on how to deliver good customer service, and the management had done a stellar job on correctly choosing the right staff to employ, whereas the hotel in London had seemed to be more focused on delivering higher profit margins, employing staff that in a multicultural city had absolutely no knowledge of a second language and very little customer care training. Might I add, each suite in each hotel was identically priced. No guesses about which hotel made more of a good first impression on me then!

When you bring clients to your premises either or interviews, reviews, visits….I cannot stress how high on the agenda serving a good selection of refreshments is for making a good First Impression. Sure, in most small offices, there is a general anticipation that the tea is tea bagged and the coffee is instant, but when dealing with the corporate world for international clients, there is an expectation to provide a “premium” drinks service – such as milk-based bean-to-cup continental cappuccinos with chocolate on top, much as you would find from a high-street coffee-shop chain. I have known cases where business deals have been done purely on the basis that the first impression of a company’s offices, from the staff being welcoming and courteous to the provision of a cappuccino in a china saucer with a biscuit or chocolate, was of a professional and quality nature.

Those who put some thought into how to provide a first-class refreshments service really stand out when I visit them – more often than not, it’s generally the service provider that has helped provide this by understanding a typical visitor profile and staff composition. Think about it, if you visit a client’s premises, when asked for a tea or coffee, and you reply “Cappuccino” – if you’re about to spend £1 million with this company and they can’t afford to be able to provide a decent hot drinks selection, what’s your first impression? Of course, some may say that the company is just being fruitful, but my research has shown that offices with more than 10 staff can actually spend MORE money by investing in a kettle and instant tea and coffee than they would do by using a coffee vending machine.

By providing a decent beverage upon request, not only are you providing a good first impression, but it breaks the ice with any new meeting with an individual – it provides a personal connection by essentially “sharing” a beverage and making the meeting less informal. Stay with me on this one….it is all in the mind but I promise it’s 100% the truth.  You end up transforming any meeting from a possible “barrage of questions” to more of a “social discussion” – all parties will feel more relaxed.

Finally, before you make any rash decisions about your refreshments solutions in the office – think about what your typical customer profile is, and try to match what you provide with their requirements. More often than not, an outsider like me can help you “see the light”.

So here’s my question to you, how do you view your company’s first impression and what would you do to change it?

To health and happiness in the New Year,

David Cocozza

“Mr Refreshments”

Seven Reasons as to Why Your Office Refreshments May Be Failing

14 Sep

Getting the right office refreshments solution for your office is a complex solution – there are no one size fits all approaches, and indeed a correct solution for your workplace relies on a number of factors. Fortunately, the complexity is the reason I have managed to remain in business – and below I offer Seven Reasons as to Why Your Office Refreshments May Be Failing.


Reason Number 1 – It’s The Wrong Solution

Obviously at the top of the list is a solution that has been placed in an environment where it’s just not suited. Think about your work environment – are you surrounded by the top-level Execs of the organisation, are you in the warehouse, are you in a call centre, or are you located on Level 50 of some high-rise skyscraper in the middle of Canary Wharf? Each of these environments needs a different solution to tailor to their individual clientele – a worker in a factory will not need a bean-to-cup barista-style machine that whilst brews a brilliant drink, takes twice as long as a instant or ground coffee machine – in no way should we stereotype the people requesting these drinks, but speed is an issue because of the work environment.

Think about how your business will grow in 3 or 5 years time (both being the general lease terms for most office refreshment equipment); will the output and size of machinery be enough to meet your requirements in the future? A machine capable of being sufficient for 100 staff may not meet your requirements in 5 years time when your headcount is double or triple (or even more) than 100.

Surveying your staff and asking for their input on what refreshments solution they would like in their office is a key point that is, more often than not, overlooked by many of the people I have worked with in the past – implementing a solution that your employees and clients do not want, like or need can lead to more hassle than it is worth. Ask your staff for their input and work that into your budget.


Reason Number 2 – Outdated and Tired Equipment

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” is a phrase most of us are familiar with – in the world of vending and office refreshments, it’s also a phrase that speaks of dread and increased service calls and one I never like to hear! Yes, your office refreshment solutions may last 8,9,10 years or even longer, and may have indeed been implemented for that long, but in the long run, re-leasing or financing current equipment can cause issues – both for the business and your staff.

Increased service calls are my number one complaint from the professionals I talk to, who complain of their machines “constantly breaking down” – the majority of the time this is from wear and tear caused over years of consistent use. Leasing new equipment does NOT have to be a costly experience, and in most cases you can deduct leasing payments from taxable business income, saving you money on your corporation tax bill* and working out less expensive than having to pay for parts for machines that no longer have their manufacturer warranty.

Finally, as with everything on the market, new innovations come along all the time and manufacturers have specific lifespans for all machinery – those that were purchased 15 years ago, although still working, risk being subject to the inability to get replacement parts for machines that are no longer supported by the manufacturer; meaning your staff are left without their morning coffee, water or snack food until you can budget a replacement machine or get your supplier to ship something from a dodgy dealer located 3000 miles away!


Reason Number 3 – No Implemented Service Level Agreements

Picking a new supplier can be a hard business, and can be even harder if their fail to live up their promises once contracted in to your company. Implementing a quantitive and measureable Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an important aspect of any contract, large or small, and allows you to benchmark your service partners’ performance over specific periods of time, and sets out pre-defined expectations for both your business and your service partner.

Without an SLA, neither party can comfortably agree what expectations are to be met and how to respond effectively to all issues. Additionally, without an SLA, a service partner that is failing to meet your expectations and delivering bad service can be harder to “remove” from site.

I will be writing a blog post in a few weeks on how to constructive effective SLAs – please subscribe here if you’d like to receive this (free, of course).


Reason Number 4 – No Customer Support

A good level of customer aftercare is important to any service provider – meeting expectations and delivering good customer service means repeated business and good references. We’ve all been with the companies that have extensive hierarchies of command – a worker who reports to a manager who reports to another, who reports to a divisional director, who reports to a national director, who reports to a group director, who reports to the CEO…big businesses have both their pros and cons, and for those companies that like a personable approach are more often than not better dealing with smaller companies who have limited command chains – there’s no “buck passing” or low employee motivation that I have experienced with when working with or for the “big boys” in our industries.

Regular account management is something that is often not implemented – account reviews are something that I am extremely keen on to keep everything in ship-shape condition. Without regular contact from account management, issues can be left without resolution for days or even weeks, and indeed without establishing a correct communication procedure with both parties (i.e. how complaints are dealt with, and furthermore escalated and their appropriate timeframes) can leave bitter memories when dealing with service providers in the future.


Reason Number 5 – Stale Ingredients and Stale Offers

Stale in this aspect means two things – ingredients that have gone past their paramount use date and refreshment solutions that have not changed since they were installed.

Did you know that coffee beans have a very short lifespan before they dry out and lose the majority of the naturally-occurring oils that give your espresso most of its taste? In time-terms, this can equate to as long as two weeks or as little as three days, depending on a number of factors (when the bean was roasted, humidity, light, temperature…). Not replenishing your coffee machines often enough to ensure your beans are never past the stage where the oils have evaporated is key when installing bean-to-cup machines. A once-per-week replenish is often never enough.

Office refreshment solutions that have not had any work put into them after install can tire out, with diminished used because the offer is the same. Snack and Cold drink vending machines are such an example, and operators should implement seasonal promotions where possible. Many machines now have “Winner” features on them that can be activated for promotional purposes to drive sales (after the Xst product has been vended, the next sale item is free, for example).


Reason Number 6 – Location

Do your employees actually know where the nearest refreshment station is? Do your clients have access to cold water or coffee in reception whilst waiting for their counterpart to meet them, or do your staff have to run from reception to fetch them something?

Location can be one of the smaller reasons why office refreshment systems fail, however it can also be one of the key reasons too. In public sites, it is usually of more importance – if you are looking to return a profit from pay-vend machines, are you placing them in areas that have the highest footfall, are you putting them in thoroughfares, are you matching the items in the machine to relate to it’s location (for example, in a hospital, machines near the children’s unit are better with fruit juices than energy drinks)? Think about your environment and whether location does play a role, as this can have an effect on the level of revenue generated.


Reason Number 7 – Lack of Water Filters

I am an ambassador of the importance of water filters (and those who work with me and regularly read this blog will be aware of this fact) and the problems that can be endured without implementing them on machines that are connected to the mains water supply.

I am often asked why regular filter changes are necessary – and the results speak for themselves. Limescale build up happens all across the UK and in fact the world, but it’s more prevalent in hard water areas such as mine, London. I have even had the case where two weeks after a coffee machine install and the client insisting they did not want a water filter jug to replenish their self-fill machine, everything failed – upon inspection, the water boiler was completely scaled up and needed to be replaced (needless to say, unfortunately this was an expensive bill for my client!).

The majority of service calls that I experience in the centre of London revolve around scale related issues – again, there is no “one size fits all” approach to how often water filters should be changed, and it’s something that needs to be analysed for the correct timing. Think about how often your coffee machines and water boilers have their filters changed, and make a note of how many drinks are being served annually – as a rule of thumb, in hard water areas such as W1 London, the large ScaleGuard Pro filters from 3M can process around 2,100 litres of water before the filter needs a change (which equates to approximately 17,000 120ml cups)




I have been advising business across London and its surrounding regions, and in some cases across the UK, on installing efficient, manageable and correct office refreshment systems long enough to know what works in almost every environment imaginable (even on-board an aircraft!) – take note of the above and apply it to your offices. If your current supplier hasn’t identified any issues already, or installed an incorrect system – then act before it’s too late.

To good health and good fortune, and a working refreshments solution,

David Rinaldo Cocozza

Bunzl disposes of UK Vending Business

30 Aug

Bunzl plc, the international distribution and outsourcing Group, today announces that it has disposed of Provend Group Limited and its subsidiaries (including Bunzl Vending Services Limited) to Autobar UK Limited. Based in London with operations throughout the UK, Bunzl Vending Services is engaged in supplying, servicing and operating food and drink vending equipment and systems.

Bunzl entered the vending sector, which is both more capital intensive and less resilient than other Bunzl businesses, in 1999 with the purchase of Provend Group. At the time Provend Group also included a large foodservice distribution business that expanded Bunzl’s existing catering supplies operations. Since then, although the Company has further developed the vending business, it is restricted to operations solely in the UK. As the Group’s strategy is to focus its resources on areas where it has or can develop real competitive advantage, the Board concluded that the vending business was no longer a strategic fit within the portfolio of the Group’s businesses.

The disposal will generate a net cash inflow of approximately £30 million. Revenue of the business was £33.2 million in the six months to 30 June 2011 and in the same period the operating profit before intangible amortisation was £nil. Based on the estimated net assets disposed of, a loss of approximately £55 million is expected to arise which will be recorded in the financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2011.

Commenting on the disposal, Michael Roney, Chief Executive of Bunzl, said:

“The Board decided that it would be in the best interests of our shareholders to divest our vending business as it was no longer considered to be a strategic fit within the Group and that the funds generated from a disposal would be more usefully employed in our core, higher return and higher growth businesses. We are pleased that the business has become part of a European market leading vending group where it can continue to develop further.”

Guest Post: Hosting The Perfect Coffee Morning

5 Aug


NOTE: The article below is a guest post by Jack Russell. I hope you enjoy his article, as I certainly did! Find out more about him @ Cafe Gaggia


At some point in our lives, most of us will either attend or host a coffee morning. The latter can  seem daunting; however generally it’s for a good cause, so you should put your fears aside and work hard to make it the most successful event ever.

There are a few ways in which you can improve the chances of your coffee morning going off with a bang.

  • Firstly, you could do worse than to invest in one of the market’s finest bean-to-cup coffee machines (such as Gaggia). Providing really high quality coffee will encourage your punters to come back for more; ultimately spending more money and increasing your donation to charity.


  • Secondly, don’t be stingy with the treats you offer up. If you’ve got the time, inclination and skill, then you should really home-bake all of your goodies. There really is a recipe for everyone – from simple sponges and shortbread to more complex macaroons or florentines. However whilst this is a nice extra, don’t fret too much if you simply don’t have time. Head to a really good baker and ask them what they can do for you. If you tell them it’s for charity, they may well even give you a discount.


  • Next, consider your decor. Is your living room or event space looking a bit dingy? Why not buy some fresh flowers, light some incense and perhaps hang a few reams of bunting to spruce it up a bit? This’ll give the place a really warm atmosphere, and if you partner it with some relaxing music, people’ll have a really nice time.

  • Lastly, don’t forget about the visitors that don’t drink coffee. Whilst you may recoil in horror at the thought of not having your morning espresso, many others think the same about their green tea or freshly-squeezed orange juice. So don’t forget to cater for people like this.



If you follow these simple tips, you’ll likely hold a coffee morning to remember – and one that your chosen charity will be very thankful for!


Author Bio: Jack Russell is content writer at Cafe Gaggia – and has authored an extensive collection of articles on coffee and the industry

Is This The Future of Vending?

1 Aug

[NB: 30th August, 2011 - I have been asked to make it clear that the development of this technology is a joint partnership between TouchGo Technology and DarenthMJS - find more about Darenth at]


In our world of refreshments and vending, innovation can take a while to be implemented. ‘Innovations’ such as touch-screen technology is nothing new; as humans we have had the ability to use touch-screen technology for decades now, yet it has been slow to creep into the world of Vending – this year’s AVEX show was certainly the turning point for me, and a realisation that what has long been overdue has now been grasped and is being driven into production by the manufacturers.

Whilst all this change does happen, there is one component that has yet to take the leap into the 21st Century and is perhaps the biggest barrier to development – the Motherboard. For those that are not technically minded, the motherboard is the control center of the vending machine – much like your motherboard on your home PC is, controlling what happens when you input data to receive an output, and vice versa. What I am aware of is that the motherboards used by manufacturers, in some cases, date back 10 years or more in technological standards – and in an era where technological change happens over the span of 24 hours, let alone a year or even a decade, that seems to me like one heck of an outdated piece of technology.

Just over a week ago now, I had the pleasure of meeting a trusted industry associate of mine and real visionary, Per Hovland, and his Chief Technological Officer, Chris Bamford (who has a degree in Applied Cybernetics or something that mere mortals like me would be baffled by, so that certainly warrants his title of CTO!). Formerly M.D of a large catering consultancy firm, Per has been developing a PC-driven vending machine for a number of years now via his company TouchGo Technology- and I doubt there is anyone else in our industry changing the way vending is seen for the future like he does.

TouchGo Tech’s machine is a new standard in automatic retailing, representing the start of a paradigm shift in vending that takes it above and beyond a retailing outlet – the TouchGo machine is more of an ‘experience’ than simply a ‘vending machine’.  As a snack/cold drinks machine it certainly is different to not be able to actually see the products through a glass window, but rather see an icon on a 32″ touch-screen display; although weird at first, this allows a whole additional range of user functions by incorporating a scrollable ‘cube’ on the screen showing nutritional information, promo videos, similar items….as it is all software driven, the functionality is essentially only limited to the dreams and ability for the programmer to write software code.

The fact that the machine is software driven is a big development, in the same way we have seen mobile phones become software driven over the past few years – not only does this allow much more functionality but it allows TouchGo’s customers, clients and resellers to customise their machines beyond what is currently possible by other manufacturers. Per explained to me how he developed an “app” for a well-known international florists that users could pre-order their flowers for occasions while buying their KitKat, and then be issued with a receipt to complete the transaction online – just one example of the potential app development of this software. As an operator, we have been looking for ways to interact with caterers for years, and following the invention of Saffron Express by Fretwell-Downing Hospitality (a PC based, internet driven restaurant ordering system), this is now even more of a possibility with the TouchGo machine – as the machine is connected to the internet, could the Saffron Express source code be loaded onto the TG system so that user buying a morning snack could pre-order lunch or dinner in the onsite cafeteria, allowing the operator to take a small percentage cut of sales by providing additional sales opportunities?

What makes these higher-margin sales possible is the introduction of multiple forms of payment processing. Credit and debit card transactions on snack machines are now becoming more popular, and the TouchGo machine additionally incorporates contact-less payment methods from Mastercard and Visa – contrary to popular belief, the processing costs per transaction are incredibly small at about 2% of the value so for an operator make the proposition very viable. Losing sales because the customer is without change is now not an option.

It would be impossible for me to detail the full features of the TouchGo machine and how it will shape the future of vending in on  single blog post, however this article should serve as a dangling carrot – the first TouchGo machine is now live in operation in Canary Wharf, and is commercially available for customers and operators via TouchGo now. It would not surprise me if we saw one thousand of these machines in the market over the next two years, with other manufacturers beginning to get in on the action – Per has already demonstrated to me that N+W are keen to retrofit their system on current machines as a low cost option, so I expect touch screen technology to be incorporated into all machinery by the end of 2015.

In an industry where old-time operators are slow to adapt to new technology, citing reasons such as non ease-of-use, complicating vending, or cost – I hope the TouchGo machine breaks all of these barriers and throws the industry up in arms. Owners of vending companies need a wake-up call that people expect more than just pressing two buttons and getting their item these days; those current manufacturers that are sitting in the 20th century with outdated machine parts, hoping technology passes them by without change, need to take notice of what Per and Chris are doing.

Although cliched, all that remains for me to say is:  Welcome to the New Era of Automatic Retailing.


David Cocozza


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