The longevity of a business often depends on an organization’s ability to adapt to the ever-evolving market and provide excellent value and service to its customers. Maumee Valley Group, a leading food service provider based in Ohio, has done exactly that for more than 75 years.
In fact, what started as a cigarette company in 1946 – selling cigarettes out of vending machines – eventually transformed into the vending industry leader it is today, delivering high-quality vending machines and fresh food micro-market services to 700 locations across Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.
“It’s a complete 180-pivot from then to now, and it shows how we continue to adapt to what people want and the kind of thing our customers are asking for,” says Maumee Valley Group’s operations manager, Jacob Plassman.
The business evolved with societal changes, listened to what customers wanted, and stayed at the forefront of up-and-coming technology – including its recent implementation of ZippyAssist, which began as a small pilot test before full implementation (initially 200 locations then all 500 of their fresh markets, and now expanding out to all of their vending, too). Maumee Valley Group isn’t slowing down any time soon, either. To learn more, we asked Plassman about the company’s game plan for success, as well as how ZippyAssist fits into it.
Customer-first Mindset Drives Exponential Growth
70% of new business is just through word of mouth or finding out about us through somebody they know.
~ Jacob Plassman.
According to Plassman, Maumee Valley Group has experienced exponential growth over the past several years, going from a team of about 50 to more than 200 employees. “We continue to grow and our growth has been accelerating the past year or two,” he says. Plassman credits much of this growth to the company’s dedication to its clients.
“We have a mantra that, with our clients, if we provide tremendous service then we don’t need to do as much sales and advertising because of word of mouth,” he notes. “I think 70% of new business is just through word of mouth or finding out about us through somebody they know, which we find is a pretty cool stat.”
That means that the majority of growth comes from simply providing customers with the best possible experience. In order to do that, Maumee Valley Group must be a trailblazer within the vending industry and beyond.
Plassman notes that getting to know your customer intently is essential, and each specific client is different. “We want to know our clients intricately, and we want to be in lockstep with what our clients want from us and what their customers and day-to-day employees using the fresh markets want — do they want healthier items? Are they looking for seasonal things?”
“It’s really important for us to know and adjust on the fly based on what people are telling us,” says Plassman. “ZippyAssist allows us to just get to know our customer a lot deeper.”
In fact, while the company’s initial intrigue with ZippyAssist was its texting feature to communicate with customer service, the ability for customers to rate their experience is one of the assets Plassman appreciates most. “It’s so simple, and yet it’s so valuable. You kind of get an overarching view of how well we’re doing,” he says. “What little things are we going to do to get better? It allows us to make actionable insights.”
Unlocking Efficiencies and Data-driven Insights
“Technology, if it’s used and harnessed correctly, can save so many man hours and it can help your business be so much better throughout time.”
~ Jacob Plassman.
In today’s fast-paced environment, keeping up with the leading technology is a challenging yet necessary feat for any business. Maumee Valley Group has learned the importance, and experienced the success, of incorporating modern solutions to its business. “We try to embrace technology to try and streamline operations and digitalize our business,” he says.
ZippyAssist is Maumee Valley Group’s latest technological addition, and it’s helped streamline the internal operations of the business. “[The texting feature] got our initial intrigue thinking this could have a place in our business, and then we saw the extra features like giving refunds, the customer ratings, and doing product requests.”
“You can really nail down what your customer wants to see, and then it’s all backed up with the analytics digitally. So, instead of someone jotting it down, everything is stored in that database.” This has proved especially helpful as the company continues to expand across the Midwest.
“We have 500 fresh markets in our three states, and a lot of times it’s tough to accumulate the insights and then make actionable insights on that data,” Plassman notes. “ZippyAssist now collects the data and we can kind of chart out: What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? It allows us to make some critical decisions that help the company move forward.”
Bold Goals for the Business
Every successful business started with one big goal, and Maumee Valley Group continues to raise the bar on its mission. It wants to be the “iPhone of the vending industry,” and it’s well on its way.
“We want every little detail of our business to just be the best and be better than everybody else, and to always be on the cutting edge.” Therefore, the team has to stay on top of the best tools and solutions in the market, from its operations to its communication with customers.
Plassman notes that, as communication across the world continues to become more and more online, the last thing customers want to do is make a phone call and be on hold. “ZippyAssist, with the text line, helps us be more on the cutting edge of technology,” he adds.
“This fits into where we want to continue to be – where if a company is looking for a food service provider for their break room, it’s pretty much a slam dunk that Maumee Valley Group is going to be the obvious choice because we’re the best at everything.”
Maumee Valley Group has been using ZippyAssist for several months now. Plassman shares that the company rolled the platform out quickly to many of its clients, so the team has been able to have the full effect. “We initially rolled it out to 200 locations and it was a really good success. So we just ended up not even waiting and rolling it out to all 500 of our fresh markets.”
“Now, we’re going to be adding it to our vending machines as well going forward. We haven’t done that yet, but it’s a no brainer for us.”
If you’re an operator who can benefit from ZippyAssist, get in touch for a demo and find out how the platform can help you build a stronger client-customer relationship.