What You Must Know About Vending Businesses

From an online marketer’s perspective, owning a vending machine business is not ideally suited for automation or scalability.

However, vending machines are big business. But this does not mean a vending machine business is right for you.

I know the appeal this business model has on people because I’ve “been there, done that.” Please, if you’re thinking about getting involved with vending, read this article first, and go in with your eyes wide open.

Aside from the obvious questions about machine price and delivery, here are 3 questions you must ask yourself and the person trying to sell you either vending machines or a vending machine business opportunity:

1. What is the mean time between failure for your machines?

You probably won’t ask the question quite like that, but the point is, you need to know how much it is going to cost to keep your machines operational and reliable. You may also want to consider whether or not you have the mechanical skills to do the maintenance yourself.

In my experience, some of the machines, and especially the currency acceptance devices, can be very difficult and expensive to repair. One piece of gum jammed in a coin receptacle could theoretically put your $5,000 in the back of the shop, out of order.

2. What type of products will I be able to sell with your machines, and will any of them require that I maintain a food service permit?

Amazingly, many potential vending entrepreneurs fail to consider this, and find themselves retrofitting their home warehouse to meet food service standards.

Also, in the section below I discuss the categories of vending products that sell the best. Hopefully, your machines will be able to market these.

3. Where can I put my machines? And, if the machines are already in place, how long can they stay there?

Perhaps the most critical point in this business is the placement of your machines in high traffic areas. Sadly, as a vending machine business owner, you will be faced with strong resistance in this area. After all, what’s in it for the property owner to allow your machines on his or her premises?

You may find yourself having to share profits with the property owner in order to place your machines.

The vending industry accounts for over $45 billion in annual sales volume, which is a substantial chunk of money. Very briefly, here are the key factors to success in this business:

1. Ability to buy and maintain quality machinery

2. Placement of your machines in high traffic areas

3. Control of employee costs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 44,000 people work in the vending machine industry, with about 18% of those owning their own vending business, and a projected growth rate of 7% per year. At one time I was both an employee of a vending company and the owner of my own vending company.

In this exclusive report, I will discuss my personal experiences in the vending machine business, a few caveats you should consider prior to getting started, an overview of your potential to make money with vending machines, and a look at the current market and possible websites you can investigate further.

My Personal Experience

As an employee of a vending company I had a regular route where I serviced about 100 food and beverage machines. On any day I would normally have to deal with machine maintenance issues, customer refunds, expired food, and being asked to get my machines off the property, that day.

As an employee I took all of this in stride. It was just a job.

Several years later I decided to buy an existing vending machine business. I then learned just how hard it was to get machines placed in profitable locations. I also found out how expensive those “little” maintenance issues were. For example, to replace a dollar changer was going to cost me several thousand dollars. The sales at that particular location did not warrant that kind of expense, so I had to pull two snack machines and one drink machine to allow another vendor to come in.

I also dealt with vandalism on numerous occasions. At one time I got a call from my local airport where I had placed a phone card machine. I was informed that my machine had been broken into. I lost over $300 in inventory and about $100 in cash in that one incident.

Challenges To Success

There are essentially six challenges you will face in your drive to make money with a vending machine business:

1. Getting your machines placed in profitable locations

2. Maintaining and servicing your machines

3. Loss of product due to theft and spoilage

4. Labor and vehicle expenses associated with servicing machines spread around town

5. Liability issues related to machines and food products

6. Vandalism of machines

If you can generate enough profitable sales to cover these expenses, plus the value of your time, effort, and capital risk, then the vending machine business may be right for you. Keep in mind that there are companies that specialize in locating and servicing your machines, but their fees may not be realistic based on your projected sales and profits.

Making A Decision

I’m sorry I may sound a bit negative about the vending business, but believe me, I speak from hands on experience as both an employee and owner in this industry.

The idea of making money from your little profit centers spread all over town sounds great–but reality bites.

Do some solid research in this business before you jump in. At the very least, go to work for a vending company for a while and see what’s involved.

Vending Machine Statistics in U.S.

The sale of cold beverages represents over half of all vending machine sales, followed by non-refrigerated snacks.

Interestingly, while cold beverages sold in containers, such as bottles and cans, rank well in the industry, the “cup-drop” variety of cold beverages does not do nearly so well. In my experience, cup-drop machines may pose significant maintenance challenges, these machines are also fairly scorned by the consumer.

Within the cold beverage arena, vendors typically choose either a closed front, or glass front machine. The closed front currently dominates the market, but the glass front is gaining in popularity as the glass front allows the consumer to see the product, which in itself aids in the marketing of beverages.

Among cold beverages, soft drinks account for about half of all sales, with diet drinks coming in second. There is also a growing trend for marketing bottled water and energy drinks.

Within the snack category, rolled candy and gum represent only a fraction of the overall market, with candy bars and bagged pastries leading the way. Keep this in mind when you look at snack machines.

You want a machine that can handle the bestselling product categories. If you commit to a machine that only allows gum, or small rolled candy, you may be limiting yourself.

Of note, the hot selling bagged pastries and chips typically require dispensers specifically designed for those package sizes. Again, this was a mistake I made when purchasing snack machines, and found myself sorry that I was not able to offer more variety to my customers.

While it is hard to quantify, I am sure there were many missed sales opportunities as a result.

It should also be noted that a snack machine should almost certainly have a glass front. The customer’s ability to see the product is essential in this category.

Should You Hire Employees?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the majority of vending machine firms retain employees, with some of the larger ones having as many as 66,000 employees. Ideally, you would want to start your vending company without employees, and hire route service people as your machine placements and profitability grow.

As an employer, let me expand on why it so important to carefully manage the hiring and retention of employees in your small business.

If you want to make money and eventually attempt to allow employees to manage the bulk of the day to day activity in your business, keep in mind that vending machine employers often pay near minimum wage to its employees, which means you will have a high turnover of employees. Additionally, keep in mind that your employer costs will represent between 22-25% of base wage expenses.

For example, if you pay an employee $10 per hour, your true cost will be around 10×1.25 = $12.50 per hour. Given an 8 hour shift, you would need to realize $100 in profit from your sales to breakeven with this one employee.

In my experience, I was able to sale my products with a typical 25% mark up, with between 2-5% in product loss due to theft and spoilage.

That means you would have to sell over $400 in product to breakeven on your employee costs for that day.

Additionally, costs not even considered here are the expenses associated with operating a truck driving around town for hours each day.

Is it any wonder that some vending company owners choose not to hire employees?

Additionally, you need to think about the health care and insurance implications associated with hiring employees.

Law Of Large Numbers: 3 Ways to Make More Money

The Law of Large Numbers basically states that success in any endeavor is directly related to the number of trials and failures. This is particularly true in the area of small business, especially the vending machine business.

In any business there are ratios, percentages, and customer conversion rates that impact how that business is operated, and its profit potential.

Operating a profitable vending machine business is no different, so, knowing the numbers that govern your success is critical, and comes back to what I call The Law of Large Numbers.

Here are three suggestions for applying this law to your vending machine business…

1. Find Your True Sales Conversion Rate

Understand that success requires a much larger number of trials and failures than you may realize. For example, some marketing programs will tell you that their product offer converts to a sale for every 20 people who pass their machine.

However, in reality, your experience may suggest it actually takes up to 100 visitors to generate a sale.

Knowing that conversion rate is important, and although sometimes it may prove difficult to accept, knowing the truth is the only way to stay motivated and progress in the vending machine business. Do not accept assumptions or marketing sales pitch data when you are attempting to buy into the vending business, add machines, or chose locations for your machines.

Much of this data will come from experience, but you can also conduct research online using government vending association websites. One word of warning: Do not accept the sales figures and profit potential published by the manufacturers or suppliers of vending machines. Obviously, they are in the business of selling machines, and their data and survey results may tend to over state the profit potential.

If you purchase a vending machine and expect to get the results a vending machine supplier advertises, you may be disappointed.

2. Know Your Costs and Profit Margins

If it takes an average of 20 visitors to your product offer to make a sale, is the profit potential worth the effort, time, and expense to place and service a machine in that location? For example, if you place a machine in a factory that employs 500 people, you may be able to expect around 25 product sales per day. If each product offers a 50 cent gross profit after wholesale product prices and location fees are considered, is the $12.50 in profits for this machine worthwhile?

It may or may not be, depending on your other costs, including employee expenses, number of times per week the machine requires servicing, and your return on the investment in the machine.

These are important numbers to consider before investing in the vending machine business. If you don’t have a clue what these numbers are, you may not be ready to take the plunge.

3. Put Your Marketing Into High Gear

Finally, if the conversion rate, costs, and profit margins are acceptable, you should consider ramping up your marketing efforts to the maximum sustainable rate to capitalize on the profit potential.

For example, if you could consistently make a profit off of one machine, after all expenses are factored in, what would happen if you had 10 machines placed in comparable locations? The answer lies in the Law of Large Numbers. As long as it remains profitable to do so, add machines and grow your business.

Final Thoughts on Vending

I’ve come down pretty hard on vending in this article, but the point I’m trying to make here is that just because a business industry has potential, or built-in consumer demand, does make it an automatic winner for you.

In any business endeavor you pursue, act like a pro:

1. Keep an open mind.

2. Do you due diligence.

3. Decide if the business is right for you or not.

4. Take massive action.

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Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!