Business Strategies: Finding and Maintaining Relationships with the Best Food and Food Equipment Vendors

Food service now ranks as such an integral component of, and profit generator for, many leisure entertainment facilities, making it more important than ever to offer high-quality fare. Finding the best food and food equipment vendors, as well as cultivating and maintaining long-term relationships with these entities, will help venues of all kinds to attain this goal.
When it comes to identifying “top” equipment vendors, owners and managers should start by asking the right questions, questions manufacturers must answer, rather than gloss over, if long-term working partnerships are to be formed. One such question is how, specifically, the units being considered will suit the particular needs of the facility. When attempting to decide on a vendor from which to acquire food service equipment for his snack bar, Luther Bernstein, owner of InterSkate Roller Rink in Lewisville, Tex., noted that he needed the flexibility to prepare a variety of items using one type of unit. Instead of merely touting the bells and whistles of his company’s offering, a representative of the vendor whose equipment he eventually installed explained in detail how the features of his company’s product would fit the bill.
Another critical query, this one for equipment and food manufacturers alike: What type of training, if applicable, is available from the vendor and/or through its distributors, and is it possible to arrange for a demonstration or to obtain product samples? “If they are” less than forthcoming about training and “reluctant to do a demonstration and/or let you sample whatever it is they are selling before you commit, beware,” advised Marko Petronijewic, manager of Wallington Lanes in Wallington, N.J.
Quik n’ Crispy, which maintains a joint marketing program with eight food processor partners, will sometimes make initial contacts with manufacturers to ask them or their brokers to bring food samples to leisure entertainment facility operators, said Paul Artt, president and founder. “These would all be items that can be prepared very well in our equipment,” Artt explained.
Nieco offers operators the option of viewing a demonstration of its broilers; this can be set up in person or via a contact form on the company’s website. Gold Medal Products Co. makes samples of its food service items available to “qualified” prospective customers, according to a spokesperson.
Moreover, noted Bernstein and Petronijewic, owners and managers of leisure entertainment facilities would do well to distinguish manufacturers that fall into the “best” category from those that don’t by requesting details pertaining to any ancillary support they can expect.  While not all customers specifically broach the topic, Broaster will work with operators to help determine which items they might incorporate into their foodservice menus and how these should probably be priced for maximum profitability and appeal, reported Mark Markwardt, director of marketing. “Many foodservice operators don’t think to ask these questions of us or our distributors, but it’s a good idea and the willingness to help out is definitely there,” Markwardt noted.
Quik n’ Crispy shares direct feedback with its customers on designing menus whose scope extends, as Artt put it, beyond core offerings like chicken strips, French fries and cheese sticks. “We will ask how experienced they are with foodservice and, taking that as well as what is selling at comparable facilities into consideration, come up with suggestions,” he stated.
Gold Medal features a high volume of ancillary information on its website. For example, several pages of the site have been reserved for an explanation of how to price and, more importantly, promote caramel corn to visitors.
Meanwhile, owners and managers of leisure entertainment facilities can help to foster viable relationships with manufacturers in part by addressing negative feedback or communicating problems directly to those companies rather than to third parties. One vendor cited an instance in which the proprietor of a venue with which his firm had done business was experiencing ongoing trouble with a piece of equipment. Instead of bringing it to the attention of the manufacturer, and waiting for the latter to rectify or at least address the situation, the operator hastily posted a less-than-positive comment about the vendor online. When management at the manufacturer organization discovered what had transpired, they jumped in to handle the difficulty and soon eliminated it. The venue owner still buys some of his equipment from the vendor, but the relationship between the two entities remains strained.
Operator-vendor relationships also get a boost when the former are open to suggestions as to adding new menu items and, in certain cases, to serving as beta-testing grounds for new products. Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Mo., is currently experimenting with several new products, partially based on manufacturers’ suggestions.


Randy Fromm and Frank Seninsky take “CRT/LCD Video, Redemption and Crane Game Repair” Workshop to the West Coast

by Popular Request, Fromm/Seninsky Schedule Workshop in San Diego, Calif., March 26-30, 2012

Industry experts Randy Fromm and Frank Seninsky are once again merging their talents to present a five-day amusement operator and game technician training workshop in San Diego, Calif., March 26-30, 2012.

The upcoming course will guide attendees through a simple, (non-mathematical) look at electronic components, electronic circuits and schematic diagrams, which allows them to learn the basics of how circuits and components operate. Randy Fromm will cover the theory of operation of power supplies, CRT and LCD monitors and will show attendees the most common failures in each of these areas so they can repair them quickly and easily without having to spend time troubleshooting.

Frank “the Crank” Seninsky will discusses the most common video, redemption and crane problems and what tools you need to fix them.

Attendees will learn how to lay out the games and program them properly, inexpensive technologies to track game play in real time, as well as some popular game marketing ideas. He will share tips and tricks for maintaining and fine-tuning cranes, money making and money saving strategies, how to maximize your percentages for profit, best practices for merchandiser displays and enhancing player appeal, how to apply marketing magic in self-redemption, and much more. “A basic fact of game operations is that, for machines to earn their best, they must look and work their best,” said Seninsky. “Too many games do not look, or earn anywhere near their full revenue potential.”

The upcoming class will be held at the Sheraton Mission Valley San Diego Hotel starting at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 26 and ending on Friday, March 30, 2012. Early bird registration is $795 per person.

After February 24, 2012, registration will be $895 per person. For more information and to register, go to and click on the CRT/LCD Video, Redemption & Crane Game Repair link to download the brochure or contact Tracy Sarris at 717-533-1945 or

A few of the comments received from participants include:

“This is absolutely the best class I have ever attended! The class was very informative. Randy and Frank were awesome!” – Matt Knicley, Diamond Jim’s Arcade

“I would like to take this time to thank you for making the LCD/Video Game Repair Class one of the best classes I have ever attended.” – Stevan Collins, Director of Games/Electronic Services, Palace Entertainment

Coast to Coast Entertainment Offers Free Shipping on Friction Gun Game Kit

During the month of February, Coast to Coast Entertainment is offering free freight on all Friction Kits. Since the kit was released early last year, the game continues to yield impressive earnings while remaining at the most competitive price in the industry.

Fiction is a two-player gun game video kit. It is designed to be easy to play with something for the casual player, as well as for the experienced gamer. The kit is reasonably priced and can go in almost any cabinet you might have, as it supports EGA, VGA and CGA monitors. The kit comes complete with everything you need, including two guns, and can be fitted into just about any cabinet: Time Crises, Area 51, Big Buck Hunter II, Golden Tee ‘99 and Street Fighter Alpha 2.

Safari Ltd® Celebrates 30 Years of Educational Toy Excellence

Safari Ltd.®, one of the leaders in authentic toy replica collectibles, is celebrating 30 years of bringing educational toys and one-of-a-kind models to children and educators all over the world. 

What began as an educational toy company run out of founders’ Bernard and Rosemarie Rubel’s apartment, is now one of the leading manufactures and worldwide distributors of replica collectibles, with the largest variety of model themes and sizes in the industry. 

It all started when the Rubels were vacationing in Germany and discovered an educational game about endangered species in a gift shop in Munich. They thought it would be a great idea to translate it into English and sell it to zoos, museums and other educational facilities in the United States. 

Now, 30 years and thousands of successful products later, Safari Ltd.® continues the commitment of educating children about the earth and its creatures with a wide selection of hand-painted collectibles and educational information in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian, making it easy for children all over the globe to learn from its products. 

In 2004, Bernard and Rosemarie’s daughter Ramona Pariente took over the company, bringing this long-standing family business into the 21st century with new leadership and fresh ideas, establishing a new level of excellence in replica design without forgetting the fundamental mission of educating children. 

Safari Ltd.® collaborations with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., also help the company lead the industry in replica design and produce some of the highest quality scale-model replicas in the world.

TrainerTainment Training Summits Set for March

The first of four TrainerTainment Training Summits, Party Summit, are scheduled for March 12 and 13, in front of the Amusement Expo at the Sunset Station Casino in Las Vegas.

Day one of this party-packed event will have you emersed in Everything Birthdays, where you’ll learn how to build and sell the best birthdays, recruit and train the best birthday party hosts, as well as create the most memorable birthday experience for your guests. Lunch is provided and the day of fun is followed by a happy hour.
Day two allows you to get the scoop on groups and covers topics like: Target Marketing, Lead Generation through Social Media and Cold Calling, and recaps with the Top Ten Takeaways every center should be implementing. The day ends about mid-morning, just enough time for you to get back to your center and start increasing sales.
Sponsors like Embed, Redemption Plus, Bowling Music Network, Qubiaca AMF and Betson will also be on hand to give attendees up-to-the-minute information on the entertainment industry, as well as give product demonstrations and swag bag goodies.
TrainerTainment is a training company servicing the family entertainment and other hospitality-driven markets wanting to improve their sales teams, products, guest service ability or social media marketing skills. The company focuses on sales training in order to enhance promotions, events, birthday-party programs, team building and other corporate and group outings. The company, located in Texas, has worked at facilities all over the United States, and in 2009, took an international leap and trained at the DEAL Trade Show in Dubai.

For more information on available sponsorships, or to attend one of the TrainerTainment Training Summits, visit  HYPERLINK “” or call (817) 886.4840.

Betson Enterprises, Automated Services International and Choice Equipment Sales Renew Strategic Marketing and Sales Agreement

Betson Enterprises, a leading worldwide distributor of coin-operated amusement and vending equipment, coffee solutions, coin-operated parts and service announced recently that it has renewed its strategic marketing and sales agreement with Automated Services International (ASI) and Choice Equipment Sales (CES), distributors of used and reconditioned vending machines.
Betson, ASI and CES entered into the original agreement in September 2010, with Betson having sole marketing rights for used and reconditioned vending machines for New York, New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
“We are extremely pleased with the results thus far, and we’re looking forward to taking the program to the next level in 2012 and beyond,” stated Steven Betti, president of Betson Imperial Parts and Service. “We knew that we would be successful marketing the high-quality reconditioned machines that ASI and CES provide, but we have been particularly impressed with the level of hard-to-find items that they always seem to have in stock, and the fast turn-around times on getting them out the door. Our salespeople sell with confidence, and also know that any after-sale support will be handled quickly and efficiently.”
“Having Betson as a partner forces you to elevate your game, so the renewal of our agreement with them is extremely gratifying,” said ASI President Joe Loparco. “Working with their salespeople every day has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me, both personally and professionally.  But to also be able to draw from Betson’s depth of talent in everything from procurement to logistics, well, that’s been icing on the cake!”
CES President, Bob Loparco, added, “For more than 30 years, our success has been based on our ability to faithfully serve the traditional vending operator, and Betson wrote that book long before we ever sold our first machine.  It’s pretty special that we can help them write a couple new chapters.”

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