Jump to content



Worked on Marketing materials Today

Well worked on my Tri-Fold flyer today some. This is one to promote placing some racks as I will have a couple ready here soon. I will probably order some more products the end of the month as well as some coin mechs to get them ready. I have enough to do a few. I should have
1- 5 way 2-2" 3-1" machines on a rack
1- 4 way 4-1" machines on a rack
1- 3 way 1-2" 2-1" machines
and a tattoo sticker machine to place were ever there is room.

I had the wife go over my flier (she is a newspaper editor/reporter) to correct a few grammar errors but all in all she thought it looked pretty good. I also worked on some more business cards. I did some the other day but ran out so I need to do some new ones again.

Love the Avery labels ones. Get online do the template and you have business cards and you can do a couple of different ones. One with just with candy machines and your Charities name for the candy side of things. One with Racks to help give a emphasis about doing toy/capsule vending.

I will rework another flier to help with that aspect of things also. I also made up a card Big Red Buy routes. Email if interested in selling your location or route. I am one of those hard headed guys that don't have a cell phone right now but will probably get one in the next month or so just for the vending route.

I had to laugh I did get a email from my Craigslist add looking for routes. Someone wanted info on buying mine. I think I know who it is I will have to check a location just to make sure. I had to inform him I am looking to buy routes not selling one right now. He was at least kind with his reply.

I think it is the person that has a few NW Triple plays around town. I don't know they have the racks in the laundromat or not. If is that guy I know he has about 4 of them In town. Keep quite and keep an eye on them and will probably place a card on one or two of the machines every couple of months until I get a buzz off.

I also pulled out the cash to pay for the Blair stops on Monday. I have two vendstars ready to place. I need to get one of the route masters ready also. I will probably do that tomorrow. What I know so far is that one is a nursing home and one is a hardware store. Was told the hardware store dose 75 a month. It has two triples and two old Komet singles. All vending candy. It might be a place to slip in a toy or two on a couple of heads and see what happens.

With this purchase I will be up to 32 stops.




Growing a business

For some of you This might be old news but for the new guys it is something to think about. I have been doing this for about 3 months and am getting a idea on how to run the route and keep up on stuff. I been keeping track on some spread sheets and what I have been spending.

Just opened up a account for the vending route now that I am starting to have a more positive cash-flow at the end of the month. I worked on a route book so I can keep track on product levels and how each one dose at various locations around town. How well each product dose So I can build an inventory large enough to run the route for the month for now.

I also did it so I can keep an eye on the sales averages for each stop. I am working on spreadsheets to figure out sales for the quarter and yearly averages. I want to keep my Averages up to around 10 a month for a single 15 for a double or triple. As I grow and get more stops I want to work that up to Higher levels. Especially in the Metro area I do. That is the rate I figured to get the ROI in a year less if the machine averages more. GB given I have about 50-60 $10.00 a month would be 6-7 months after COGS.

To leave machines sit in dude locations is inviting a lot of risk in my book. You have a low performing location. Work on finding a better one and moving it to a new one then. Why let it sit. Pull it and try it in the new one you got that might or might not work. It not making any real money so your not out anything but a trip. When is sitting there you still have the risk of theft, vandalism, or a business closing.

That is where keeping good records and keeping monthly totals on stops help. I put together a nice basic route sheet printed on card stock and paper punched for a 3 ring binder. I keep track of product levels F-full 1/2 3/4 etc... Helps keep track on what is selling what I need to bring into each stop and what candies I have tried and how the sold after the change over and sales per machine. (I am not keeping track on a per head amount) Most of my machines fall into the 15-20 dollar category. Which is fine with me.

I do think as I grow and get ready to get more machines placed I want to work that level up to the 20-25 range and then step it up to 25 plus. I not looking for those numbers now I am keeping that as a goal For a gross amount per location. There will always be a few that someone will have.

I have 6 check cashing stores 4 do ok to good 2 don't. The two that don't I put in GB singles so I can have a longer service cycle with them. That is because I have all the stores.




Some machine work today Locating tomorrow

Well I got the Tattoo machine repainted today and got another machine I am giving to a buddy ready to paint. I am doing working on doing a Hawkeye Themed NW 60 for his game room.

I am also going out an try to locate a couple of GB machines and maybe my small 4 way rack. I have scoped out a few places to try. I also got the 2" capsule machine on one of my small racks. thought about doing the 2" on top and 2 1" on the bottom. I have enough product to fill two of them without any problems just need to order display cards.

I will order some BB I will probably need to get some more .50 cents mechs for the eagles and 2 .75 and 1 1.00 for the NW 80's I would like to find a 5 way rack frame to set up the New NW 2" machines I got.




Long weekend and the Route

[indent]Well We have a long weekend coming up I plan on doing some stuff to get a couple of machines prepped up for the route. I have two route masters I need to break into (I have No Keys) cleaned up and ready to place. I also have 2 vendstars I need to do some stuff to and get ready to relocate.

I also need to get the Tattoo and Sticker machine repainted and order a lock for it. I am thinking of ordering some more capsule wheels from NW for my 60's and setting up one of my other 4 way rack with two 60's and the one 2" 80 and try to get them placed here in town. I have enough product to give them a good fill on from the with what I got left over from the eagle 4 way. Just will need to order some display cards. I have one place I want to pitch for the small racks and see what happens same person owns both Attended laundry mats in town. I figure this would be a good place to start. If not then try the Small Grocery store and or the Pizza joint nearby.

I just need to figure what I want to sell out of the 2". I also need to figure out what I want to fill the Tattoo machine up with. Kind of holding off until I know where it will go. I will probably take the current stock and give most of it away at work. Keep some for a mystery mix maybe in the middle but all of it is pretty outdated. Whinne the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Hanna Montana. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

Since My long weekend is Sunday Monday and Tuesday I plan on trying to find a home for a couple of small racks this Tuesday and maybe my NW 60 Fathead Gumball Globe. I have one place in Omaha scoped out also a Chinese buffet with a crane machine by the front door. It tells me Hey we don't mind something making us money. I just hope they don't own it.[/indent]




Route building

As Some of you know I am the new kid on the block in this business. I just started in May bought some old vendstars off of Ebay got around 80 bucks in each with a re-key on each machine. Been using locators to start locating them. I have worked on keeping things as Tight as I can. Started g with trying to get machines placed in my home town. 25,000 is the Population. I have a couple of ok spots out of the 1st five of them 3 have worked out ok. One I pulled one I replaced with a single GB It did have some problems So I had to fix it on the last service. (Make sure to Run a quarter though when done next time) The other location I just had to pull it wasn't close to make it worth keeping at 6.25 and then .25 for a month.
The other 3 spots are ok Mac and Cheese 15-20 dollar stops.

The GB single is a last chance to see if that spot was worth saving. The company that Did that was all American locators 60.00 a spot and a 30.00 replacement Fee for any location. I plan to ask for a replacement on the garage next week.

Mexican restaurant 3 months 16.25 10.50 20.25 =47.00 next month I should get the payback on that location

Check Cashing. 16.25 16.50 14.25 Next month same thing here I did flip this one into 5 more stops In two more towns. Almost doubled my size with one call at the time.

sports bar restaurant 16.50 17.25 21.50 The best of the Three but will get the locating payback next month.

Small Garage I almost passed on this one I should of but being new I gave it a try. It sucked

6.25 .25 Pulled it

Valley restaurant Then next town over on the way to Omaha

6.50 4.50 Pulled and put a GB head in Will move to a EOM every other month and see what happens.

3-Modest wins 1 Loser 1 Not sure

As I have been using Locators I been trying to keep the locations as Tight as I can together. I don't want to run way out of my way for one stop. I would rather keep things In a tighter location. In Omaha with a fairly Dense population It dose make it a lot easier. I have been concentrating on the NW CW part of the city for now. As they ask for more areas to call I will move into the North central and North east part of the city. Then just let them continue to work around the city in a loop kind of fashion.

I did learn on running the Sandwich route it helps to keep your route areas as tight as you can. Another thing is I picked up a city map and am marking with pins on where my stops are. So as I look at it I can find a more efficient ways of running it.

We don't have a lot of overhead cost a small candy or toy inventory enough to run a week to month on the route is all that is needed. So other then managing that working on managing your drive times and how quickly and efficiently you can service your route. The Faster and more efficient way of doing it will make your more money but allowing for more stops on the way.

There are some variables like Time of day but most the time if the stop just leaves you alone and you just do your thing then Keep it low keep it clean and work to make the customers on your route happy.




Finished the route

Well I did get the route Finished up on Monday. I did swap out two vendstars for single GB in two stops. I my per machine average was still the same had several accounts that were down from last month. Hair salon 4 of my 6 check cashing spots were also down 30-40% from last month. I still did ok though

I did pulls on 18 stops and made 240

The Break down is this

I placed my first machines in May

did my fist pull end of June

June 7 stops 91.00

July 12 stops 131.25

August 18 stops 240.00

September will be 32 Stops Looking for 500 when I run it then.

I had to go out of town today to get a new machine. I got a good deal on a old Folz NW 80 paid 75 for it half full of product. I been doing candy Thought I had a toy spot lined up but it feel though before I could get a the rack into place. I got new upgraded mechs and ordered product and then the when I went back to place the stop said no thanks.

Lesson learned I will have another one ready soon. Since I have several NW 80 I think I will order some capsule wheels for them and get two ready for the rack. It will be a nice 3 way I will probably up the vend price on the 80 to .75 or 1.00 and then do one at .50 BB and one at .25 Probably GB

I have been scouting places for the racks. In town there is two attended laundry mats Same lady owns both of them. One smaller independent Grocery store, and one pizza joint with just some video games in it. I would like to get one or two toy spots close to home for starters just to see how they work out.

I will probably put a call in with First Choice again for more locations also. They got me much better locatins then LRU or Kickstart. I will give them another pull to see how they do but after this month I don't have to high of hopes.




Service Cart

I started about 2 years ago using a little Stanley cart from Wal-Mart when I serviced my route which was mostly candy back then. Since then I vend mainly toys and gumballs (finally listened to will.vend and Havending) and outgrew that little cart a while back. Recently I have been going in and see what rack needed then go back out to my trailer and grab the toys I need, they are pre-bagged in 4 mil bags (a will.vend idea) purchased from uline. Then grab what gumballs and flat products I need and carry yhem in a gumball box that also contains mini clip board with route cards and a scale for weighing quarters. If there are any issues with mechs or anything got to go back to trailer and get parts and tools. Seems like I have been making to many trips to trailer so been eyeing the Stanley FatMax cart. The other day I went to go pick up a sand blasting tank and blast cabinet (craigslist find, $100 for both) for refurbing machines and lady had a FatMax cart and I could have it for $10, jumped all over it since they go around $70 or 80 new I believe. Hopefully this will save a few trips to the trailer.




Finish up the route tomorrow.

Well I will finish up the stops on the route tomorrow and will post some figures on how it is doing. I did do 3 of the First choice stops they did real well. Compared to the rest of the route. everything was down from last month. I did swap one Triple out for a single GB. Will do another one tomorrow depending on how the location dose. I also moved the machines to another spot in the store to see if I can get a little more revenue out of each one.

I have 9 stops to run. I will also see if I can get work on getting a home for my 4 space rack. I have a few places I want to check to try to place it. And maybe another GB machine.




Running the Route tomorrow

Well I got the car and the cooler all ready to go. I also loaded up a couple of GB machines to swap out two vendstars in a couple of my check cashing places. With what they did last month I will hold out and see but Thinking a swap might be in order. For 6.25 and 10.50 I figure I would try a single and see what happens.

I hope to do 6 tomorrow after work and that will leave 13 for Monday. I have worked on some route sheets and put together a route book so I can keep track of stuff on the route. Levels of product and what product is in each stop so I can plan my inventory for the day. I also want to keep better track on what each stop dose overall.

Since I have grown larger and want to work on getting into toys in the future I figure the route sheet will go though a few changes but this should get me by for a little while. I also ordered some locks for the new vendstars I squired on the route.

As I am getting the small route In Blair doing the deal in two weeks I put a order in with LRU for 4 more stops Adding Blair to the zip codes I gave them. I hope they can get me 4 stops in Blair. We have a new Mexican Restaurant that opened in town. I hope to get a Gumball or my small rack in there now they are open.

revenues Month 1 91.00 7 stops
Month 2 131.25 12 stops
I will let you know how Month 3 turns out on Monday evening.

Month 3 will be 18 stops
Month 4 with a little luck should be 32-36 Almost double to double of what I will run this month.

Should start doing some good cash-flow now at least. Yea.




Located a stop today

Well got my last stop from LRU today a Nail Salon In Town where I live. With the route I purchased In town I am up to 12 stops now in Fremont. I have 16 In Omaha for a total of 28 My per machine average has been 13 a stop. I have pulled one machine for non performing and relocated it. I also pulled one vendstar and replaced it with a single GB. Will probably let it sit for 2 months this time and see what it dose.

I am hoping to get a little Higher average with a couple of spots I got this month. I am hoping to get close to 20-25 a machine. I hope to replace some of the vendstars with single GB this weekend. I might Change out the Mexican Restaurant also with a signal or double not sure. Did 16.50 1st month and 6.25 the second. It will depend on how it dose this month I have enough stuff to do either one.

Need to keep back around 400 for my future route purchase. I am getting in a couple of weeks. One Gravy location and a couple meat and potato ones at least.

See What I have after that and maybe put some cash aside for now and see how things go next month. I am probably to a point to split things up into two days now when I get the Blair stops.

When that happens it will be

Omaha/CB 15 Omaha should be 300+ When I hit 40 stops I will probably try working the
Little towns into Norfolk NE.

Fremont 13 200 add the Blair run to Fremont and it will be 17 and about 350 from the
numbers I have on the Blair route.

Looks like I need to do more work In the west Omaha Area for now and work on getting 9-10 more stops to start with. I have enough equipment to do Up to 7 singles ready to go and at least 3 doubles

Looks like things are on there way.




Well I am going to get some more stops

Well did the route purchase today 8 stops total paid about an average of just over 60 a stop. Looks like all should average 15-20 One should do a around 40. All vendstars will work on changing locks in them the next week or so. One of them is a route pro. Seaga three way.

Going to pickup his Blair run Will need to update 3 machines there the old vendesign style plastic with the metal coin mechs. I will probably put in some Vendstars or some of my new NW I got. I still also Have a few eagles to place He pulled out 150 for the service and did a fill on them so It shouldn't be to bad. Have the date for the deal on August 10th. The plus is one killer stop it has 2 NW triple plays and a couple of old Komet machines.

With the Blair route I will have hit one Goal on my list. To Cash Flow enough for the route to fund its own expansion. Actually What I make running this month should pay for the Blair route. Will now probably work and see if I can land in some of the small towns going up to and away from Blair.

I Finally got busy and made a route sheet and book to help keep track of things now I have grown some more. I need to also get busy and think I might take a page from the candy king and put cards on various machines I come across Big Red Wants your Business. Looking to buy your machine and any or all locations you care to sell.

I should also now be Loaded for some good location Hunting. The Force is growing with this young one LOL

I know have on location

21 vendstars
1 Route pro
2 NW doubles
1 eagle double
2 eagle single

27 stops

In reserve

1 4 way toy rack ready to go .50 cent mechs All eagle.
9 NW to be singles or doubles 3 Gumball 6 candy
2 NW Gumball machines on stands
2 eagle doubles Candy/Gumball
2 eagle singles I have extra wheels can be Candy or GB
10 Cast iron Pipe stands.
3 extra 4 way racks
1 3 column T atto Sticker mahcine




New Route purchased

Well I did it I bought my First route. I got 8 local stops to add to the route. That will make things just about even between Omaha and Fremont. 12 in Fremont now and 15 in Omaha. I need to get locks ordered so I can change them out as needed. I need to come up with a couple of extra tops and back doors it would make the job a lot easier. 2 he didn't have keys for so I need to run out today and place some of the extra locks that I have here in them to get by with until my new ones arrive.

I got the NW 60's all tucked into the storage unit for when I need them. I might if I get the Blair route It has some old Komet machines.

fun Fun Fun




New machines

Well I just called and will be on my way shortly to pick up a few new NW 60's with stands. 9 of them NIB so that should be a great thing. The seller knows at least Three are gumball machines I hope for 4-5 are GB when it is all said and done. Well we are on are way now. If the deal happens on Monday I will have 26 he also has 4 more that are kind of out of his way he wants to sell will le mt know after his first service in a couple of weeks. . I could even do a 4 way or two if needed. enough to keep me busy Untill i get them located.

I am changing out three stops with either a single gumball or a gumball candy combo. When I run the 27th. Then see how the sales do for the couple of months after the change. The vendstars will probably get preped to go into some more break rooms.

Depending on how well I do on my pull I will problay get First Choice a few chances to get a couple more accounts for me. Still waiting on the 4th one from LRU oh well. Might give Kickstart a chance on a couple of singles also just to see what happens. I don't plan on dumping a lot into any one locators lap untill the finish the first order I give them.

Personally I would rather have a couple small orders with several loctors then put all my egges into one basket with one locator. I am still working on doing self locating also.

All together I will have about another 10-20 machines to locate in small batches for the next couple of months. This just depends on how I do it singles doubles 4 ways and one sticker machine.

One last thing will be get the sticker machine painted and placed on the rack for a location. Inow have about enough stuff for two small racks so I might hit the gal that owns nicer of the two laundrymats in town about the racks. Also have a pizza place that might give it a go. If not move on to some of the small towns around me and see what happens.




A chance to grow.

Well I got a chance to pick up some more stops. 300 bucks all vendstar 14-20 dollar accounts. That are up for sale. If figures 42 dollars a stop. All in my home town. That would bring me up to 11 here in Fremont. Will talk with the guy on Monday at about 10:00 am. Saturday I get my next batch of NW from my local source. Grabbing 9 machines with stands NIB for 50 each. Getting excited about running the route on the 27th. If i get these 7 next week that will put all the service set up for the same week. I will be up to 26 stops 27 if LRS comes though with my last one I ordered.

Plan on pulling 2-3 vendstars off the route and replacing them with at least one single and two doubles and see how sales go then. Also the Volvo dealer I plan on pulling out the MM and runts for Gumballs and maybe Reese's Pieces. Found another machine I will be the location with so want to make sure Next time I am don't have the same candy. One nice thing about having extra machines around to do the swap. I will just have 2 cabinets ready to go so when I get there presto chango new selections.

See what the route makes this month and then roll that into helping to get the next batch of machines located again. If I can get what I have on hand located in the time frame I want I should be up to 40 stops before thanksgiving.

I have been thinking of maybe putting BB @ .50 cents along with gumballs at .25 and see what happens.

I also squired a Tattoo machine this week will need to talk with AA for the lock for it. also need to give it a good cleaning and repaint. It should be good as new.

I was planning on doing some locating in Blair but with buying the small route That might be put on hold. I might try a couple of places on the way to Wahoo and see what happens. Some small town bars. One town that is the only business is the bar. Other has a Bar and a C store.

The exciting life of a vending Dude.




Final result

Ten days ago [url="http://www.BrickFair.com"]BrickFair VA 2012[/url] finally came and went.

[u][b]The sad news:[/b][/u] The candy machines were a flop by any measure. Upon setting up I sadly discovered that one of my 1" machines had a $1 coin mech; it should have been only $.50. So right away I left that machine filled, but put a sign on it that it was out of order. Not the end of the world, but disappointing.

By Saturday night my brother noticed ([i]from behind; the machines bordered our t-shirt/hat tables, facing outward[/i]) that the machines were nearly full. It turns out someone had placed a "out of order" post-it note on the fronts of nearly all the machines. And sure enough, many were jammed. Why those people didn't ask my sister-in-law for assistance (she was manning the t-shirt/hat booth), I don't know.

I quickly opened the machines and discovered that in most cases, kids had tried using only 2 quarters were 4 were required. And they had forced them turned, so they jammed. In some cases I could simply force it backwards and pull the quarters out. In other cases I had to open the machine to un-jam them.

But even fixed, they still didn't get much use. Kids just did not flock to them as I'd expected.

I wonder if I should have purchased different colored machines? Or different colored 2" caps? Or it might just be a bad idea all around. It's very disappointing because those machines and my damn red boxes took up most of my past 4 months of time, and a helluva lot of money.

But I plan to try again next year with the minifig parts - [i]build your own random minifig[/i]! We'll see if that fares better.

[u][b]The good news:[/b][/u] The cranes were wildly popular - among adults, kids, my paid exhibitors and the teeming public visitors. They were far more popular than I had predicted.

The cranes did give out far more prizes than I'd expected. I practiced in advance a lot, and set the machines to my liking. I had marked the control panel next to the dials with permanent marker, so I could remember my settings (there was not even a pre-drawn 1-2-3-etc numbers on there). But somehow people were better at the game than me. I suppose that's because they had real money invested, so they tried harder, paid closer attention.

On Friday I let them have their fun. The machines grew more difficult as the prizes depleted. On Saturday morning when I refilled the prizes, I also adjusted the settings to make it slightly more difficult to win. Then the public poured in. They still won often. The machines were directly across the aisle from our info booth, where I spent most my time. My brothers and I sat and watched people play.

On Sunday morning, before the doors opened, I re-filled and toughened up the machines again. I've marked the new settings - they were nearly 25% off from my original settings, yikes. Next time I'll start there. My very rough estimate ([i]because I didn't keep track at all, but I know that each machines holds ~120 four-inch balls[/i]) is that I gave away [color=#006400][b]~240 prizes[/b][/color].

On Saturday evening one exhibitor played the game. She stuck in a dollar, and not only did the machine reject her dollar, but it spat back another dollar at her. She informed me of this, and gave me the dollar. I immediately knew the cause. I opened the machine and the dollar bills had been piled up high against the door of the machine. I pushed the mound of green back deep into the machine, and also pushed back the little metal box that was meant to hold them. My brother came back after me and emptied the cash. The two machines, for Friday and Saturday together, had amassed $[color=#006400][b]1,417[/b][/color]. I'm not sure what Sunday's take was, as that money is still sitting in the machines, now in the warehouse. Mathematically, there should be nearly $[color=#006400][b]700[/b][/color] in them now, for a total of about $[color=#006400][b]2,100[/b][/color]. I only paid $1,700 for both machines, including gas. And I still have boxes of 4" balls I've already filled, waiting to be used. So next year's three shows will probably have a cost of $0 to run.

So there you have it - my great LEGO experiment. The cranes were enjoyed immensely; people told me often during the weekend. The candy machines were a bust

I'm wondering how Beaver machines ([i]requiring 3 or 4 quarters[/i]) function during normal use, on location, when there's no one around to immediately fix them? My current plan for next year is to switch to all $.50 machines, so this jamming issue should be greatly reduced.





No luck

Well no luck today. I did have some interest from a quick lube place. I will stop back later this week when the proper people are in. Now that the weather is cooler I will probably keep a set up or two in the car so I can hit a spot or two on the way home. Next week have to take the dog into the vet. After that I will probably try to hit Blair and see what I can place there. Small town I should get a couple of machines placed.




Making flyers etc...

Well tomorrow I go out for my first real day of locating some machines. I have 3 Gumball machines I am going to try to find a home for. I also have a 4 way toy rack that is ready to go and needs a good home. I have a few places I plan on targeting tomorrow. When I get this batch of stuff located I have lined up 9 more singles to continue the process.

Made up some business cards and worked on a new Flyer. Wife being a journalist did a little editing. Being married to a newspaper editor/reporter is like having a English teacher for a wife. After 20+ years I am glad she still deals with me.

I still need to call locators are us about my 4th location haven't heard from them since I declined one of the 4 I ordered. Holding onto one single and one double to place in my check cashing spots that are on the low side as far as average performance do that and increase there service time to every other month and see what happens. .

I am getting excited to see the pulls at the end of the month. More stops better chance for more money. 1st month 7 stops 2nd 13 stops now I am up to 19. Hoping to be to 35 by the end of September to mid October.

Also trying to work out a route book for my stops. To record things. I also plan on taking a notebook with my while locating to keep track of names numbers etc... anything that can help me work into a location. If I can get a machine in on the 1st try great if not I will make a few notes and come back in a couple of months. Copy them to the computer and see what happens on the next visit.




Trade shows and Networking with other operators.

What trade shows or conventions do you attend for your business??

Most of the trade organizations where started by a group of guys just like us here on this forum. Like minded individuals wanting to chat about there day to day operations. A operator can't just talk to anybody around because if they "brag" about how much money they are making then the person they are commenting to will be their next competitor. Or if they complain about not making money the other party will immediately say " I told you that you where crazy buying those vending machines!"

Most operators have their area they want to cover and other likeminded vendors in that area don't want to share any secrets or help the competition. It is imperative to find other operators to network with in other areas. Other operators that will be honest and forthcoming and are not trying to sell you anything. This forum is the best thing since sliced bread as far as networking is concerned, but face to face brings a kinship and since you know who is listening a honesty that isn't always found on a public forum.

When i first started vending i had to find out the hard way as the internet and all its magic wasnt what it is today(1995). I bought different products and machines and some where great and some where junk. I kept plugging along and when i finally found out about message boards and forums I joined right up. I couldn't believe all the like minded folks out there having the same issues as i was dealing with. I stayed up all hours of the night chatting with other vendors in other states and other countries.

I compare this time to the points of times in a person's life where they emerge from a shell and start a new chapter. Being when someone enters high school and makes all new friends , or when a person gets out of school and starts their career and makes a new batch of friends that are now coworkers. This point in my life was when I met a bunch of guys/gals that are in the same profession as me and we became friends.

After I joined the vending clubs I first heard about trade shows. I was under the impression that this was a big expenditure and not really focused on a small operator like myself. I was informed by some other operators that I was actually loosing more money than i would spend at the show on traveling expenses etc. by paying full price for my products. When I finally went to a show it was the NBVA show in Las Vegas.

Now for those that don't know, I am as country as they come. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee so the term "Redneck" rings true,country accent and all. I was really intimidated about traveling to Las Vegas all by my lonesome. I was 25 years old divorced and single and I might add all of my friends locally could not afford to travel as most of my friends where new parents and working at the same factory as me. They also would tell me about every day that I was a fool for buying gum ball machines!

I made my reservations and went to the show. I finally got to meet my salesmen i have been talking to a A&A, Oak, cardinal etc. and I would like to thank they then had a newfound respect for me as they now knew I WAS FOR REAL and this was my profession,not just a hobby. They could see I was at the game and I was able to see all the players. Now when I called to make a order they would know that I knew my other options. I placed a few large orders at show and took advantage of the show specials. I got invited to after parties at some nice clubs and restaurants from some suppliers and had a great time. Sitting on top of Rio Casino at "The Voodoo Lounge" at A&A's after party enjoying the cool night air and looking out at the Vegas lights someone said "Who would of thought we would be on top of the world in Vegas by operating gum ball machines!"

But....the best thing was the times I had sitting around that table in Caesars Palace-- that now has forever been named by Me and my friends and "The Hooker Bar"! We coined the name because about every 10 minutes either me or my friends (It was a guys night out folks) would be approached by a beautiful lady and we would find out after a few moments she was a working girl. But for me being some redneck from Tennessee in the big city at a nice casino bar being hit on by beautiful ladies I was in heaven, ,,even though I might add I am too cheap to pay for something that should be free so I went to my room alone. While we sat around chatting about vending all night it just hit me, This is my career! This is my profession and these are my colleagues.

Around the table there was some guys that where part time with just a few machines and there where some guys that had routes grossing over a million a year. We all had stories to tell and opinions to share. I think we stayed up to 4 am talking and drinking beers and like I said before, GETTING HIT ON BY BEAUTIFUL LADIES! Most of us where just alike, bullsheeetters at heart and the only difference in our incomes where how many years in the business. I made lasting friendships at that first show and now I chat daily with a lot of those guys I met. And now when i attend other shows during the year like ASD, IAAPA, NBVA and others I always have someone to hang out with.

Im going to the fall ASD show next week. This is the merchandise show where all of the closeouts and new products are showcased. A few years ago i was at this same show and there was a golfball seller who over on his shelf was a small remote control car. It was the size of a golfball and he wanted $2 each and it fit nicely in a 2" capsule. This supplier had no idea this would be great item for bulk vending so he never solicited the industry. I jumped right on it and it was my number 1 seller for about a year. You guys may be familiar with Brand Imports Gonzo mix and the little golfball remote control car that I turned them onto In their Mix.. I shared the item with cardinal and Brand once it had ran its course through my machines. You never know what you'll find at the [url="http://www.asdonline.com/"]ASD show[/url]. Its basically (in redneck terms) a big giant flea market, but instead of rednecks selling pocket knives there is a Chinese guy selling those same pocket knives for a tenth of what they sell for at a normal flea market. This is the first link in the chain of middle men that handle the products we all use everyday. This is the largest show in the country and it takes 3 days of fast walking to see it all.

My trip is normally always paid for by Rhode Island Novelty as they offer free shipping on anything ordered at show. So you take a couple pallets of super balls that is a lot of weight and shipping would be at least 4-500.. I still get them for 2 cents each for 27mm just like they advertise, but with free freight I know exactly what my COG's is when i order.

I can also see all the plush importers booths and check out the plush and actually feel it in my hands. This isn't a vending show like IAAPA so the booths aren't filled with pre-packers selling mixes to crane operators, but these are the direct importers or representatives from the factories in China. You can cut out the middle men and buy your plush for 20-30% cheaper and its still shipped from a US warehouse, more than likely in California. You know your at the right show when the suppliers you normally buy from are there as customers!!! and buying from same booths you are visiting.

If you decide to go next week, email me at blazingquarters@gmail.com and we can hang out! I love shooting the bull with fellow vendors. If not this show you should definitely make it to the IAAPA show in orlando this fall. I rate these two shows as most important to my business.




Working On Machines

Well I got some time on Monday to get some stuff done. I didn't get out to do any Locating. My Dog was sick and the battery Died on the car. I did get three eagles ready to place as GB machines. I also repainted and changed one of my NW to a Gumball machine. Turned out good. I thing I will swap out a few of the vendstars for the eagles on the next running of the route In a couple of spots. 2-3 of my Check cashing places.

I am hoping to get some locating done next week. No sick dog and no dead battery should help. I wil probably check out a Mexican restaurant in Omaha for lunch next week and see if they have any kind of machines. Recon so to speak they are opening a store here in town so I figured it was worth checking out. I also found a Nice size place that has a crane Machine. No gumball or any other type of machine in there so It would be a great place for my little 4 way rack and a Gumball machine. Probably put the NW Globe in there. The Crane says they like extra money so It should be an OK commission spot.

Right now I have been buying machines doing the initial fill out of my extra overtime money. Last month the route made enough to do the initial fill on the machines with the little bit of inventory I have been carrying. I am hoping to that again this month and increase my inventory a little bit more. Then add a small shelf unit to keep it on instead of on top of the freezer.

Hoping 2-3 of my First choice spots turn out to be Prime rib kind of spots. I have a lot of hamburger stops and a couple of Mac and Cheese. I hope to hit at least two Prime Rib to help the bottom line.
I made a deal for 9 more singles sometime after the 15th.

Most of my machines I have used a locator I want to start working on my locator skills to get some of these placed. I will still probably use locators some though just because of time constraints.

I have 20 stops wold like to be at 40 by Christmas. If I can place one stop a week over the next couple of months I should hit that goal.




Good day today

Well I dropped off two more machines today put a double at a Dry Cleaners GB/Runts from Locators R Us. I figured stuff with a long shelf life. Did another corp break room from First Choice. No other candy or pop machine. They barely had room for my little triple in there. MM, Hot Tamales, and Runts. The manager on duty seemed grateful about it.

I talked with Phil Nice guy got a couple of extra stands his Girlfriend has. Made a deal to by the rest of her singles in two weeks all NIB with stands 50.00 each all NW 60's.

I can now get a couple of GB machines ready and work on getting them located on Monday. I will probably need to go get a couple of cases of GB just to be safe also.

I am officially at 20 stops now and have one more to place for sure on Monday. 20 stops and 50 heads
Still have enough to make up a few combinations at least

1 GB globe NW looking to find it a home Monday
7 eagle heads
6 Dbl plates
4 stands
In two weeks add 9 NW 60's 3-4 gumball the rest candy all NIB

2 NW 60 heads getting reworked. Both candy One the coin Mech is free-spin So I might redo it for my buddy's College room He is a big Iowa fan. Done a lot of favors for me in the past so I might do a Iowa Hawkeye Themed Machine for him to place on his counter downstairs The other one I will get get ready and Might do something crazy with for sh#$% and Giggles.




New Locations tomorrow

Well got a couple of locations to place tomorrow. Another corp break room from first choice and also a dry-cleaners/Laundry. Found a couple of stands from a guy I bought some NW from for 50 bucks still new in the box. Also ordered a couple 6 gumballs wheels and risers from Eagle for a few of my machines and a few stands. That is about the only thing I am short on is a few stands. I hope to get a few GB machines ready to place next week. I go back to having Sunday and Monday off so time get get things ready to locate some machines. Moving to singles and doubles. All the vendstars are out now. Now after Monday when I place one more machine I have 1 gumball globe and 7 single heads and 1 4 way rack set up loaded with toys. I hope to get a couple of Gumball heads located on Monday. Take a double plate or two and see if I can maybe add a double or two also. Could be a fun day Monday.




Getting Ready

Well picked up a vendstar. Melted MM's replaced it with a single GB.

Worked on prepping some machines I got a 4 way rack painted this week so got that put together. Also put another double together. 4 way Gumball 1 candy 3, Double Candy/Gumball, Double candy/candy and one single Gumball ready to go and a 4 way loaded with toys. We have a new Mexican Restaurant going in and will try to land it there. I will also try to work a couple other places also.

I also have 2 single stands and 7 double plates with 4 machines that have not put on a rack or stand yet All should be repainted 2 need to have locks drilled out. Got to laugh No Keys, Not product in them, and no money. Oh well one can dream. Had a few stuff gummed up mechs on the machines so blasted them with some brake clean. now turn smooth again.

Ordered more locks from wiczer again. Looks like the cost must have just gone up. 8 locks no keys this time 60 bucks. Last time got 8 locks 2 keys and it was 56. Not a big increase but still a increase. Still need about 6 more to get all my singles keyed alike.

On running the route I did have the same machine average with more stops. I plan on checking the little 3 man garage and see if it dose anything If not I will pick that vendstar up.

Probably give first choice a call again on Wednesday about locating both of them. After a good cleanup and fresh candy. Go to the Mexican restaurant I have and do a candy change. See if that helps sales. will probably put runts in it and see how it dose. Also need to do a candy change at the hair salon. if the that doesn't work I will just put a double in with mmp's and skittles. Did add Reese's Pieces to the mix on my new stops rather then mmp. Kept the vend weight to .4 oz COGS 7.2 cents
MM's .4 COGS 6.4 Mike and Ike .8 COGS 7.2 cents Will probably do the swaps on Tuesday. Then see what happens from there





I have tons of tricks and gimmicks I have used over the years to locate vending machines . Every thing from upfront commission (payola) to "gorilla locating" etc.. I have tried them all.

This blog here I want to share my favorite buddy in locating. I started using him a few years ago and I even spoke during the seminars at BOSS show in Baltimore I elaborated and it was even quoted in the Vending Times and Playmeter. Just a mention of it of course.

The buddy I'm referring to is "Microsoft streets and trips software with GPS locator"..Im sure there may be other forms of GPS for locating but this is by far the most effective. All you need is a laptop and the software. He is updated every year but someone could buy an old version off of ebay with locator GPS for 20-30 bucks and 2009 is just as effective as the brand new 2012.

The reason I think he is the most effective tool for locating on the planet is some of the features he offers. The designers didn't know they where designing a locating tool but they sure did a good job.

The first reason i prefer it over dashboard gps is the feature to zoom in on a town, and then use the "show nearby places" tab and actually pick the radius from your location.. So if I choose "restaurants" if will show me a little "fork" for each restaurant in that radius. Now the little red icon on the screen is my position and I can choose to "create GPS trail" and every where i drive it will leave a blue line.

Now when I approach a location I can enter the location,make my pitch and either sell it or not but glean as much information from the owner, gatekeeper or manager that I can during my facetime with them. If the gatekeeper stops me cold and ask me "What is this regarding,the manager is really busy." I can brush her off with a response " Oh its nothing very important, Ill come back later,and by the way,,what was the owners name again? and when is the best time to talk to him in person?"

I then return to my van and choose the option "drop a pushpin" and select a yellow pushpin(yellow is what i use for follow ups) and drop it on my position. A little cartoon looking text window will pop up and I will enter the information. In this example it would be "House of Gyros, William is owner, come back on weekdays before 10 o'clock, has 1 double with gum balls and candy,William drives a yellow dodge truck, Has several charities on wall and has NFIB sticker on door." these are all sales related comments to help me with follow up. I could elaborate but that would be longer post and you would quit reading!!

I will continue this throughout my day and save this map as "Locating , Jackson TN map" and the next time it is time to service this area I will have all the comments to read over a few days before making my service trip.

I also use these same files to create my route sheets and routes for my drivers. I can open the "master file" which contains all of the locations I have sold and located but none of the notes. I then can choose each pushpin location and "add to route" in the route planner feature of the program. The software will choose the shortest route for the trip and re-allign locations for service based on distance or fastest time. I then save the route to my drivers thumb drive and they install in their laptop with same program in their vehicle. They are all trained to use the program and will head out to service without me standing there giving 100's of directions.

The feature of "dropping the pushpin" is the best feature of the program. Because if you have street address for a location it is not always the actual physical location based on GPS coordinates . I would say with commercial locations its not correct even 50% of the time! Before I discovered this method and used a Garmin I would have route people calling all day with the same response "Hey boss, Im here at the address and its a field? where is this place again?".. The pushpins give 100% accurate location as I dropped the pushpin on my location when making my master file.

Its cheap and it works. How do you lay out the logistics for your routes?