If you are new to or thinking about getting in the snack machine business, we should first let you know that the vending machine business covers much more than simply snacks! With drinks, combo drink-snack machines, and school supplies, there isn’t anything that can’t be sold in a vending machine! With the knowledge that there are now endless possibilities available to you, here are some questions to consider:
Are you ready to be your own boss?
Many of us dream of being our own boss. Picking your own hours, choosing who you work with, and the length of your commute is all liberating. The advantages also come with plenty of responsibilities, so be sure you are ready to shoulder the work that comes with being the boss.
Are you motivated?
Starting your own vending machine business means no more 9-5 schedule. You must be willing to stay until the work gets done! Some days will require the entirety of your day, while other days pass in the blink of an eye. One of the best parts of working with vending machines is that many times they can conform to your schedule. Depending on the location, vending machines generate sales 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and could be serviced at any point in the day!
If you have the motivation and desire the freedom that comes with being your own boss; we recommend contacting NAMA (the National Automatic Merchandising Association.) They have collected a series of invaluable resources that will provide you with the information needed to make sure your company hits the ground running! Call (312) 346-0370 to contact NAMA or visit their website: www.vending.org.
Food For Thought:
Pick the Right Brand of Vending Machine
Not all vending machines are the same. Steady income of your business is dependent upon minimizing the downtown and maximizing the sales for your individual machines, and a lesser machine is simply going to make your life harder. Because the type and quality of vending machines vary so greatly, we recommend taking a look at NAMA-certified vending machines or calling a local vending company (click here for a list of vendors by state)
Watch Out for “Biz-Op” Scammers
Some companies will sell a route with inferior machines claiming a stake in a franchise that exists only in name. After you have committed your time and money, the company will have stolen your money and ran!
If you find a passion for owning and operating your own vending machines, you can stay in the business for life! Set your schedule every week and above all take pride in being your own boss!
Is There Money to Make in Healthy Vending An interview with Larry Towner
Excerpts from the interview: Is There Money to Make In Healthy Vending
“Healthy vending products are hot, they constitute a growing market segment that needs to be capitalized on,but the business opportunities,…Is There Money to Make in Healthy Vending you need to do serious research on any business opportunity before investing in that opportunity.”
Are there ways to offer Healthy vending solutions besides these Business opportunities?
“A business opportunity wants to sell you machines fronted with a healthy promotional sign. They promise to place the machines. They promise fabulous profits.” Is There Money to Make in Healthy Vending?
“I always suggest to my clients that they partner with a reputable equipment supplier, someone that has many years of experience in the vending industry, a company that has a reputation of providing excellent equipment at a fair price and provides outstanding customer service after the sale. My choice was Joe Nichols and his staff at A&M Equipment.”
“In regards to Healthy product promotion, he has many options available, from machines fully with Healthy Vend logos, to individual column selections promoted as healthy selections.”
“The opportunities abound, just be smart. Get help from experienced people. I can consult, Joe Nichols can consult, talk to other business people, network. Be wary of someone promising the world.”
Listen to the interview:
Tom Shivers: Is There Money to Make in Healthy Vending Hi, this is Tom Shivers with the Vending Business Show and Larry Towner is on the call here as well. Thanks for joining us, Larry.
Larry Towner,: How are you, Tom?
Tom Shivers: I’m hanging in there. Today we’re going to talk about healthy vending and I know that’s a very hot topic right now. All kinds of things even up in Congress are talking about it. So is there a business opportunity in vending healthy items?
Larry Towner,: Boy, Tom, you’re not kidding. Healthy vending products are hot right now. They really do constitute a growing market segment that needs to be capitalized on. But the business opportunities, I think you need to do some serious research on any business opportunity before investing into that opportunity.
Tom Shivers: Why do you say that?
Larry Towner,: Well, business is business and there’s several ways to approach business. But one thing all businesses have in common is a desire to make profit. Any business opportunity that offers something of value that you cannot get elsewhere, you now, the offering company wants to make a profit too. So if a guy comes to you and says, “You can make a million dollars in healthy vending,” why wouldn’t he be doing it himself? So I guess the question always is, is what are these opportunities offering? What makes them unique and valuable? If you’re going to spend some money on a business opportunity, what makes it unique? What makes it valuable?
Tom Shivers: Well, are there ways to offer healthy vending solutions besides these business opportunities?
Larry Towner,: Well, there’s always alternatives. The first place to start is with the business plan. Write down your business idea, conceptualize it on paper. Be very specific, run numbers, go in and see how many things you have to sell, do a break-even, things like that. It’s very, very important to write a business plan for any business that you get into. This exercise in writing a business plan can either save you or make you thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.
Tom Shivers: Get more specific.
Larry Towner,: Well, let’s just say a business opportunity wants to sell you machines fronted with healthy promotional signs and they promise to place the machine, and they promise fabulous profits and what alternatives might be out there? Well, vending companies invest large amounts of money into their equipment. Vending is a very capital intensive business. I suggest to my clients that they partner with a reputable equipment supplier, someone that’s got lots of years of experience in the vending industry, has a great reputation of providing excellent equipment at fair prices and providing outstanding customer service after the sale. I’m going to tell you, if you don’t have customer service after the sale on your vending equipment, you are really going to be left out in trouble because equipment is equipment and I don’t care what business you’re in, if you have equipment, things are going to happen to it, you’re going to need either a repair source or somebody to help you troubleshoot these things. My choice has always been Joe Nichols and his staff at A&M Equipment. Joe started in the vending businesses and actually his family has been in the vending business for 35 years. He intrinsically understands the wants and needs of vending operators because he’s been one.
Larry Towner,: In regards to healthy product promotion, he has a bunch of options to choose from. You can get a machine that’s fully logoed, that has healthy signs on the front and you can customize those signs, you can do whatever you’d like as far as your own branding concept is on healthy vending. Or it can take you right down the column level, meaning if you just want to vend one or two items, he can do a promotional item up inside the machine that says, “These items are healthy” or whatever it is. But my goal always is, is if you can stay flexible with your promotions, it’s almost a better way to do it. You can promote your healthy selections as a part of your total product instead of the whole machine. But that takes you back to your business plan. You want that whole machine to be healthy products or do you want to mix those product selections? Have you even thought about it? A couple of words of caution, a typical snack machine costs around a thousand to 35 hundred dollars used, and 25 hundred to 5 thousand dollars new, depending on options and your customizations.
Larry Towner,: This snack machine should be fully electronic and have the ability to take credit cards and debit cards, as well as coin and paper currency, as it were, to take actual money. These are all things that, again, a reputable equipment supplier will be able to discuss your options and to give you the kind of information that you need as to whether or not this is going to be valuable to you. That’s always been my take. It’s just stay flexible and understand exactly what you’re trying to do.
Tom Shivers: You didn’t address the placement of machines.
Larry Towner,: Well, machine placement, it’s real common for people to promise they’ll place a machine out there for you and one of the things that we always say in that is is that sales basically is a … Or machine placement, if you want to call it that is a sales prop. It’s just a numbers game. If you call in enough people, you’re going to be able to place your equipment. In vending, placement is relatively easy. My numbers ran, and I’m not a stupendous sales person, but if I called on 10 businesses, I would end up placing one machine. And again, that’s a general average. It always seemed to work out this way. I had to make 50 calls before I got that one placement, but then I got 5 in a row. So when I took my long-term statistics, I knew if I knocked on enough doors, I would get the business.
Larry Towner,: But it depends on a bunch of factors and things like that. But that’s the kind of thing that if you think about it as it’s just a sales process, you need to do it. A lot of these business opportunities promise placement, but usually they provide you with locations that you could obtain by yourself with minimal efforts. I wouldn’t be paying a premium for placement of machines if they’re in marginally profitable locations. If there was so much profit to be made in these accounts, why would you be giving them away? That’s what I always say when it comes to the placement issues.
Tom Shivers: What else can you tell us about healthy vending?
Larry Towner,: Well, opportunities abound right now. As you said, we’ve got legislation going on in congress, we’ve got … It’s really a hot button right now. The big thing is just be smart. Get help from experienced people. I can consult, Joe Nichols can consult the vein of equipment. Talk to other people in the business, network. Just be wary of somebody promising you the world and talking about net profits and how you can place these and make tons and tons and tons of money. So that’s just always my words of advice to anybody that’s considering starting a new business is just be smart. Be patient. The opportunity will be there. The healthy vending opportunities are here now and they’ll continue to be here as our society gets more and more health conscious. And so be smart.
Tom Shivers: Well, thanks for sharing, Larry. Tell us about your business and what you do.
Larry Towner,: Well, we do consulting for the vending industry and we do videos and podcasts just like this. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s S-E-R-V-I-C-E-G-R-O-U-P-I-N-T-E-R-N-A-T-I-O-N-A-L. I don’t know my own spelling. @earthlink.net. Anyway, that’s how you reach us. We would love to consult with you on any of your leads and things like that. We’re extremely reasonably priced and things like that. Or contact Joe at A&M Equipment.
Tom Shivers: You’ve been listening to Is There Money to Make in Healthy Vending at the Vending Business Show, a production of A&M Equipment sales.
Should Schools Have Vending Machines As many of you know, Congress has been debating legislature to regulate vending machines in all K-12 schools to require that vending machines provide only healthy options. The debate is rather interesting…
Should Schools Have Vending Machines Those in support of this bill argue that:
There’s an obesity epidemic among America’s youth and vending machines are aggravating the problem.
The market for healthy snacks will improve if this action is taken.
Sugar and caffeine often cause students to lose attention and focus.
Should Schools Have Vending Machines Those who oppose the bill argue that:
It’s not up to the schools to decide the eating habits of students or teachers.
Revenue from vending machines is used to pay for all kinds of school expenses like football uniforms, band trips, etc. Healthy snacks aren’t expected to bring in as much revenue.
In banning these machines, schools are saying that some foods are “bad.” Instead schools should provide educations on healthy eating and exercise habits.
Banning these foods on campus will cause some students to leave in search of their desired snack, increasing tardiness, etc.
Over at debate.org, a site that promotes open discussion between all members of the community on a wide range of topics, people have weighed in on this issue. As of today:
81% say “Yes, schools should have vending machines” and
19% say “No, schools should not have vending machines.”
In addition to the above arguments, there are a number of other arguments or opinions on this issue. On the “Yes” side of the debate:
Chele72 says “There is no reason a vending machine HAS to be filled with garbage they can just as easily be filled with fairly healthy choices like granola bars or 100 calorie packs or perhaps nuts and trail mixes.”
Kurta234 says, “IF the parent teaches the child the good and bad foods early on kids would know that its okay to have a snack every once in a while without overstuffing.”
alyssaa says, “There is nothing wrong with giving students choices about what they will consume.”
On the “No” side of the debate:
Anonymous says, “Putting vending machines in school is putting temptation in school for our kids – a poor choice on our part as adults.”
Anonymous says, “It wouldn’t be fair to have vending machines in school because the children that don’t have money to get vending food would feel left out and if a friend gave them money for vending foods they might not have the money they need and go after the kid who he has given the money to”
What’s your opinion on this debate? Should Schools Have Vending Machines More Vending Business Blogs Gym Vending Machine
Popular Vending Machine Snacks When it comes to using vending machines, we all have our fond associations. For many, vending machines bring connotations of going swimming when we were young and eagerly tucking into a packet of chips and cup of soup from the cafeteria’s vending machine after the swim! For others, vending machines may remind us of our university years, when the students would gather outside the lecture hall’s vending machine in order to stave off hunger pangs after a rather laborious two-hour lecture!
Whatever vending machines remind us of, it has to be said that what have now become an almost inherent feature of both urban and even rural landscapes around the world, never fail to cease in popularity. Given the somewhat unique longevity of what could be described in the modern era as being a slightly old-fashioned piece of equipment, it would be interesting to know what the most popular snacks are that people demand out of the time-honored vending machine.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks According to American Merchandiser’s the top selling snack in vending machines are Snickers. Part of this chocolate bar’s popularity is likely to stem from the fact that comprising of caramel, nougat, peanuts and chocolates, Snickers are not only mouth-wateringly delicious but they fill you up as well, which is, after all, what vending machines are all about.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks The great thing about Peanut M&Ms is not only do they taste great and keep you going until lunchtime, but they are also more nutritious and healthier than you may think. Being a predominantly peanut snack, with a light coating of chocolate, Peanut MandMs are the perfect way to satisfy those pangs of hunger and cravings for a sweet snack without devastating the diet. Given the fact that Peanut MandMs are tasty, nutritious and filling, it is hardly surprising that they are one of the most popular snacks to be bought from vending machines, as they really can refuel you whilst you’re on the go!
Popular Vending Machine Snacks Unlike a ‘conventional’ bag of chips, Doritos seem to go that bit further. This ultra-crunchy snack that comes in a variety and bold and unique flavors certainly fills an empty gap in stomachs and therefore have almost inevitably proven to be a popular choice of snack from vending machines around the world.
Popular Vending Machine Snacks The one thing that is great about the world-famous Twix is they are a fantastic accompaniment with a cup of coffee or tea. More often than not people will buy a coffee or tea from one vending machine and then choose a snack to go with it from another vending machine, which, according to American Merchandiser, is a decision which often falls in favour of a Twix. More exciting videos at Vending Machine License: Is It Something You Need?
Harry Kelly has been installing vending machines across the UK for the best part of five years and therefore has a good understanding of what snacks are popular. Harry writes for numerous websites, including www.wholesalecoffeecompany.co.uk.
“We started in the vending industry interested in promoting the healthy vending options to the schools… and we learned very quickly that all healthy vending is not necessarily the way to go. People like choices – some of the products are healthy, but then there’s your traditional, not so healthy stuff, that’s also available in the machines.”
“Our biggest thing with the schools is… we make sure they are very well taken care of. So if that school needs something, we are there that day to take care of the problem… It’s a priority to take care of those kids that day and to make sure the administrators are happy.”
“There’s talk about all sorts of regulation that really is in the pipeline (regarding healthy)… to regulate the vending in schools… it’s going to become problematic because students will figure out how to circumvent the system.”
“Why can’t you marry the two together, why can’t that choice be there?”
Seden shares more experiences, opinions on regulation (quite humorous) with healthy vending and school vending or School and Healthy Vending integration in the podcast:
School and Healthy Vending integration Tom: I’m Tom Shivers with The Vending Business Show, here with Seden Harrison of Smart Source Vending. Today we’re going to be talking about a few topics: healthy vending and school vending. Thanks for being here, Seden.
Seden: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Now, tell me, how did you get into school vending?
Seden: A little bit of an accident, actually, but it turned out to be a good accident. We had originally started into the vending industry really interested in promoting healthy vending options to the schools. That was the key approach when we first started in with the school. We learned very, very quickly that all healthy vending is not necessarily the way to go. People like choices. People like choices. We provide … Some of the products are healthy, they can definitely choose those products, but then there’s your traditional not quite so healthy stuff that’s also available in the machine.
Seden: The thing about the schools is they’re a very hard group to get into, but if you do well with one, they will definitely refer you to the next, and onto the next, and onto the next. Our biggest thing with the schools is … We have our own kids in the Gwinnett County School System. We’re very active in sports, in schools, and everything else, so there’s that connection we naturally have to the schools. We wanted to definitely give back and take care of … We just make sure that they are very, very well taken care of in the sense of, if that school needs something, we’re there that day to take care of the problem.
Seden: If anybody tells you that a vending machine is never gonna jam, or a vending machine is not going to have a problem, they’re not telling you the truth. The key is, what does the operator do to resolve that? If we get a call that says there’s a problem with a machine, we are out there that day to take care of it. We don’t push it off. It’s a priority to make sure those kids are taken care of and the administrators are happy, because another thing you don’t want is mad kids in the school. Those machines, if something jams, they love to rock it and shake it and try to get their product out and do different wonderful things to it, so you’ve gotta stay on top of it.
Seden: As far as the healthy goes, it comes down to choices. There’s talk about all sorts of regulation that really is in the pipeline. Whoever gets elected is going to depend on what happens, but there’s a lot of talk about regulating the vending in the schools. It’s happening in a lot of other states and could very well happen in Georgia. It’s gonna become problematic because students will figure out a way to circumvent the system, and that’s the bottom line. I’m a strong proponent on choice, just put part healthy, part junk, if I can say that, but part not so healthy, and let the person choose. These kids are old enough to make these decisions. We’re not talking about elementary school kids. These are high school kids that are driving and are working, and they have money. If they don’t buy it at school, they’re gonna buy it somewhere else. They are past that point of forced decision, making them to make the right choice. They know right from wrong and what they should do.
Tom: So regulation ain’t gonna help them, huh?
Seden: Regulation’s not going to help them. I would say it’s like prohibition, it didn’t work. The kids are going to black market sell the candy. They are going to figure out ways to get around it, and ultimately that hurts the schools. The schools do get commissions from these machines, and if sales drop, those are funds that the schools use for multiple things. If sales drop, it does, it affects the schools, and they already have a tough time with the budget cuts and everything else. I don’t know.
Seden: I read the different vending articles that come out across the country that such-and-such parks and recreation has decided to only provide healthy products in their machines. I think having the healthy option is great, and I think it’s absolutely necessary, but I really don’t believe in it needs to be all or one or the other. Why can’t you marry the two together? Why can’t that choice be there? Why does somebody have to tell me, if I’m craving a Snickers bar and I walk up to that machine and all I’m looking at is granola bars, and I don’t want that granola bar, I want a Snickers bar, you know? Give me that choice. It makes me mad.
Tom: You’re gonna go somewhere, you’re gonna pay somewhere to go get you a Snickers bar.
Seden: You’re gonna figure out … That’s exactly right, you’re gonna figure out a way to get it. Same thing with the drinks. If I walk up to a machine, and I’m a Coke, a Diet Coke, or a water person, if I want that Coke, and the machine is only filled water, well I am not gonna buy the water. I’m not. And that’s exactly what happens. People don’t get forced into making the right choice, they just don’t make the choice. They walk away from it. It is going to hurt a lot of operators. It almost sounds like we’re saying, “Eat junk, eat junk, eat junk, eat junk,” but you know, it’s not that. Provide the choice, provide the options. It goes with everything. There’s good restaurants and bad restaurants. There’s restaurants that have healthier food, there’s restaurants that have worse food. If you-
Tom: The problem is a little deeper than just regulation, if there’s a problem at all. It’s something that has to be … Your kids aren’t eating right, then-
Seden: I’m the first one, I mean … We have teenagers that eat horrible. They eat horrible, and I’m constantly battling that, but I don’t think that it’s because the government hasn’t done their job, it’s probably ’cause I haven’t done my job. They’re my taste-testers, I bring home samples all the time. Try this, try that, try this, does this pass the test? Okay, then I’ll put it in the machine.
Tom: Very smart.
Seden: They’re the garbage disposals.
Tom: Only violence sells, right?
Seden: But the thing is, it is up to me. It is up to me, from a young age, to teach them. I’m sure everybody’s like this. You have kids that one kid gets it and eats right, the other one doesn’t, and me telling them that when they … I just know for a fact anybody who has teenage kids know that they are going to make the choices in some … They’re gonna find a way to get what they want when we’re talking about the food and doing what they … Where they’re gonna go and find the product they want at the place they want to buy it.
Tom: Well thanks a million. Tell us more about Smart Source Vending.
Seden: We are in the area in Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, primarily what we service. We work in a lot of the high schools. We have a lot of micromarkets and the corporate accounts. Growing and working hard, and keep … One day at a time, you know?
Tom: You’ve been listening to School and Healthy Vending Integration atThe Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales. More Vending Business Blogs New To The Vending Business?
AMS Visi Combo Tim Paul: This is an AMS Visi Combo, a glass-front merchandiser, of course, that vends both snack products and beverages. It’s a fully insulated cabinet, with dual pane heated glass. You have your sense it system across the top of your delivery bin to guarantee that any product vended the customer always gets his product. You have your changes, validators, or any peripheral you need inside a fully insulated, away from the refrigeration compartment. The AMS Visi Combo is very user friendly, your control board is right up here, easy to get to, easy to reach all the components for. You can vend this … use this machine in either a 39 inch, which you think of as a five-wide, or a 35 inch, would you think of as a four-wide.
Tim Paul: The AMS Visi Combo shelves are easily removable. Products are easily adjustable. A shelf just comes straight out. You have 19 positions for vend motors. You can have up to 10 products across there or you can use five, three, or whatever is convenient for the products you are vending. Shelves just slide right back in, and plug in inside of this compartment. Each shelf has enough cord to reach all the way to the floor with a six-foot cord.
Tim Paul: As you use our equipment, you are going to need, with refrigeration, to make sure that it has plenty of air getting to the compressor and across that compressor. And we have made a couple of changes. You have a door here. You can get to your screen to clean a screen and make sure that you have clean air getting to your compressor. In fact, every 30 days we’re gonna give you a little beep on your control board to tell you to clean the system. Available through A&M Equipment Sales.
AMS Snack Machines Tim Paul: This is an AMS Snack Machine. AMS Snack Machines are available in two different sizes. This particular machine is a 35″ machine, what you think of as a 4-wide, also comes in a 39″ machine, which you will call a 5-wide.
Tim Paul: AMS Snack Vendors are non-refrigerated but still using an insulated cabinet. Also, this machine may be purchased with a small refrigeration system to keep products such as chocolate candies at 60 degrees or so. The AMS Snack Machine has fully flexible shelves. They may be moved to 19 different positions on the shelf. Each shelf is adjustable in 1″ increments up and down. A Gum & Mint is on the bottom of the machine. That is also a helix-driven Gum & Mint, so you can use different products other than just gum or mint.
Tim Paul: The AMS Snack Machine also features our patented Sensit system so that if you have a product that doesn’t fully vend or just comes out and hangs up some way, it will attempt to jog the motor and deliver that product, also, dropping it through the sensing system to deliver the vend.
Tim Paul: The changer and validator is in a fully protected compartment. All peripherals go in this compartment. The control board is easily to reach. One touch sends you into the menu items, very user friendly as you walk through using the pound button. Prices are easily set. This machine has a three-year warranty on electronics and a one-year general warranty.