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Finally getting my golpher in gear

I posted last week about feeling stalled out, and unmotivated to do much with the business right now. Well I realized what has been missing. Tina and I started this thing together as a way to bring in more income. She was going to locate and service all of the machines. Well....that didn't work out. She gets very shy talking to new people, I learned this as I had her go into a couple locations to pitch a machine. She lost interest in servicing the route. That sucked, because I was stuck working 60+ hours a week and having to service all of the routes, refurb machines, and do all of the placements. I also do all of the shopping for product.
Over the previous months it begun to take a toll on me. I felt like I was just working all the time. I knew that something had to change, but i couldn't for the life of my figure out what that was. Two days ago, it dawned on me. I needed my wife to help me. I couldn't do it all on my own.
I spoke with her about helping out more, and she agreed. In the last 2 days, we have cleaned, repaired, repainted, upgraded, and put together 11 machines! We placed a couple spots. I got my own telemarketing lists prepared for Eddie. I have 8 more machines in various states of disassembly and will get my better half to help tackle them tonight. All it takes sometimes is a little communication to find motivation. I now have that loving feeling for vending again!




Expanding the business

I am seriously trying to expand my business, but I need to get it to a place where I can hire a trusted employeee. I currently have a group of routes that cover a 15 mile raidius around my home. I have one location outside this radius that grosses $1000 bucks a month(fulline) and has to be visited once per week. The 340 or so heads I have out gross enough for me to pull about $400 a month in net income with an additional $1000 for expansion. I figure I need to add another 200 heads and 2 full line locs, before I can hire my father in law. Once he's hired, I can expand into some new territory, and build out about another 200 heads to keep him busy, but not overworked. At that point I will need to start setting up for finding another employee, and since they will not likely be family, I will need to install counters on all of the locations they are going to service and monitor their collections. I will figure out where to go from there, but i think I can get up to 600 locations or 1200 heads, and still keep both of them on part time status. I will be reviewing my insurance, and the ins and outs of workers comp soon. It's interesting how much more complicated it gets as you grow.




More of the same.

Well 2 weeks ago my father had to be taken back to the hospital because they discovered his colon was perforated. This caused leaking into his chest cavity, limiting his ability to breath. Friday he went back to the rehab center, but will need a followup surgery in about 2 months.

During this time I received a a request to remove one of my machines, and discovered another location had moved my machine back into a hidden area so nobody was using it, so I pulled that machine also. A little annoying, but these were not very good locations anyway.

Also much of my time has been spent attempting to clean up (and fix) my fathers house so it can be sold, as well as clean up a retirement condo he inadvertently owns because his step mother left it to him. She was a very hard smoker, and I am trying my best to remove that smoke smell from the condo. Unfortunately my father thought all you needed to do was paint the walls, and change the carpet, and that would eliminate the smoke smell. But it may have helped to preserve the smell of the smoke under the paint.

But I think the worst of the smell may be coming from the ceiling, which is unfortunately covered with that sprayed on popcorn crap.

The Mage

The Mage


#3 down leaving 17 needed

I went today looking to buy a van. I bought a van and landed a location, too. As I was leaving, I said "Would you be interested in a soda machine?" His response was "Of course!" easist location I have landed in my almost 3 years of vending!!




# 2 landed, 18 left.

This location I picked up last week. I stoped in at a local motel. I asked the magic question "Are you happy with your vending service?" They practilly screemed NO! Needless to say, it was easy landing that location. Coke machines should be delivered in 2-3 weeks.

The most agervating part of 3rd party vending is the 3 week lead time on a machine. I plan to order a few to keep on hand for quick delivery, but I am not ready to do that yet.




Count down to full time

I have done the math and I need 20 more soda locations that generate $100 per month profit inorder to quit my job. I figure that $100 per month profit is not a high goal and some locations will generate more profit and count as more that 1 location for my goal.

I will post a countdown as I aquire more and more locations. I will post 3 quick post for the frist 3 locations I have gotten thus far to get caught up




The "Junkie" (Part 2)

The Junkie needs another fix. He goes to all his usual places but can't find anything. Sweat pops out on his brow. He shakes uncontrollably. He must have it.
After days of looking he spots it. An old model 60 thats been sitting in a barn covered with dirt and rust. Heck, there's even some old stale gumballs still left in it. He bids on it. And again,again,and again. What would anybody want with such a dirty neglected machine he wonders.
He watches the countdown clock on the auction site slowly tick down to zero. His fingers positioned over the keys lest someone else bids on it. 6......5......4......3......2.....1.....0. He breathes a sigh of relief as he double checks to make sure it is his. He has won again.
He turns his computer off and goes to bed. He dreams of bright red ,yellow, and blue gumball machines. He hears the ratcheting sound of a coin mechanism being turned. Tick,tick,tick,tick, and then kerplunk. The sound of a quarter dropping into the bottom of the machine.
I've found another machine to restore. I've found my fix. Until tomorrow.




What Is Potentially Threatening To Your Biz?

Below is the answer I gave to this questions in a questionnaire for a local business magazine. I thought I would post it as a blog entry to hear comments.

[i][b]Legislation[/b] – Obama care contains calorie disclosure legislation that will effect the vending industry. The details of the exact requirements have not been ironed out, but depending on what is determined to be an acceptable solution, the implementation could be costly and time consuming. The sales tax schedule E526 (effective 4th quarter 2010) that requires sales taxes to be paid by delivery address has become time consuming to keep books since we operate in four counties. I am also anxious to see how the new 1099 requirements for 2012 pan out.

[b]Rising commodity prices[/b] – Pricing for vended products tend to lag the commodity price increases. This cuts into profits as prices in stuff like coffee spike.

[b]Fuel prices[/b] – Vending is mostly just logistics and fuel is a huge expense for us. This gets multiplied as some suppliers start adding “Fuel Surcharges” to invoices for product purchases.

[b]Sales Tax Increases[/b] - Since vending prices are inclusive of all sales taxes, any increase in sales tax rates comes directly from our bottom line and is not just collected from the customer as with most businesses. [/i]




The Decision To Expand

I have been working my vending business part time for over 2 yrs now. At first I did not have the capital to expand my full line vending. I now have over a year with Coke as a 3rd party vendor. From what I can tell on the forum, I have a very good deal with them. I have been slowly adding a loc here and another there, but working full time, serviing at church, and having a family with 2 kids under 3yrs has not left me with alot of time to build the business.

So, with the capital investment greatly reduced through the 3rd party vending program with Coke, the only thing holding me back is time to locate. After much discussing with my wife, who loves the security of a pay check, I am planning to cut back to 4 days a week at work. I would work Weds - Sat and have Sun, Mon, & Tues off each week. That will allow me 2 weekdays each week to focus on Vending.




Family Matters

Well my Father is having a lot of trouble moving, and has hip replacement surgery scheduled for next week. As a result I am now taking care of his house, and pets. I am hoping this does not interfere too much with everything I am working on. But family is a priority.
My biggest problem is that he lives in a town outside of mine, and is now staying in another town outside of mine, on the opposite side and further out. And with my schedules, I am the best option for getting him to his doctor appointments.
But I know others have gone through worse then this, much worse then this, so I will deal with it, and work through the issues.

The Mage

The Mage


Does Size Really Matter?

Does size really matter? We've all participated in those conversations. But what about gumballs?

I've often wondered if people buy the gumball because it is big? What if they had say, 2 smaller gumballs at a lower price? Which one would they choose?

I decided to find out for myself. I bought 6 chicklet wheels from Ebay that only vend 2 at a time. I bought some 1/2" gumballs and tried them in the wheel. Works perfectly. Every time.

I can get the 8500ct gumballs for $26.90 and I'm guessing the shipping would be about $14. So 40.90 for the box of 8500 pieces or 4250 vends. Cost per vend is almost exactly 1 cent. If I vend them for a dime that gives $425 gross per box. Net is 384.10 per box.

That's a hefty increase over what a box of 850ct will bring.

Now all I need are some .10 mech's and I'm ready to roll. Wait I already have them out in the garage in a box. I took them out of machines to put in a .25 mech's. So, I have everything I need.

So, does size really matter? We'll all find out in a month or two. Just hang on to those ten cent mech's. Somebody just may need them.

2/26/2011 Update

I have 1 machine out and should have another located within the week.




The Frankenstein Project

I began changing my Oak flat panel machines to 300 and 450 globes right after I started in the business. The look of the globes were more appealing to me than the flat panels. The flat panels were cheaper on Ebay than the globe machines so I bought them originally.

In doing this I amassed a great deal of parts that I had no need for. I started trading for stuff I needed and began to sell some on Ebay and on Vendiscuss. I used that money to buy parts that I needed to make complete machines.

Somebody on here used the term Frankenstein to describe these machines. Over the last couple of month's, I have managed to buy enough parts to make 9 Frankenstein machines. Oak Vista 450's and NW Super 60's.

That equates to almost a 10% increase in my number of machines with almost no extra money spent. I will need to buy a few globes though.

So come on. List those spare parts you have. The classified section is free. You never know who may need what you have.




A Tip Of The Hat

What continues to amaze me is that I learn something new about bulk vending all the time. I've been doing this for over a year now and my practices just keep getting refined and polished a little more each time this happens. At some point in time, I'll be able to call myself an experienced vendor.

I had an issue with an Oak coin mech yesterday and was talking about it to a buddy on here late last night (late for me any way) not him (he sleeps till noon). He suggested I check something on the mech and I was shocked. Not once have I read about what he suggested.

Now this mech in question already has 2 modifications that I have done to it to help prevent a piling problem. These modifications were the result of past conversations with him.

I am a skeptic all the way down to my bones and want to check it out before I post about it. (He has been known to yank a chain or two). But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It also gave me the inspiration to write about the coin mech's. My experience is limited to Oak & Northwestern's, but nevertheless, it would be helpful.

So since he gave me this tip and a bunch of other's, I would like to tip my hat to [color="#FF0000"]will.vend.[/color] Continuing to pay it forward. Thanks Buddy.

Well, I checked it out and it's true so I am gonna post about it. If you look closely at the gear on the back of an Oak mech you will see a line on one of the teeth. If you turn the gear over you will notice a square hole. The tooth with the line on it is aligned at a 90 degree to the side of the square. This tooth should be pointing up when the mech is in the machine. None of the other teeth line up straight. It is that way so that the mech is in time with the wheel in the hopper. If not it will become out of time and mis vend or skip a vend every now and then. Since there are 9 teeth on the gear, this is probably why sometimes a machine mis vends every 4 time when using a capsule wheel. It goes through the motions 3 times and then re aligns itself on the 4th vend.





[size="2"][size=2]Pic #1 what happened with this album cover and who is it?[/size][/size]
[size=2]Pic # 2 what is that a picture of?[/size][/size]
Pic # 3 what is wrong with this pic?




Ramblin On

I have a wide taste in music...I was raised in the south so I guess I lean toward southern rock n roll...I have been to several concerts some I remember and some I dont, I have vague memories of a concert in Atlanta at Grant Field which is Ga Tech's home field, bands that I remember being there that day were Santana, Atlanta Rhythm Section...ok thats all I remember, was anybody else there?
I have seen Crosby, Stills and Nash 2 times, the time in the Omni back in the 70's was the best, the acoustics were great and David wasnt shitfaced yet. I saw them again several years later in Columbia, Sc after david had his liver transplant and they werent so good, he got so pissed because ppl were screaming that he walked off the stage. I guess the new liver was from a cranky old fart...
I have also seen The Greg Allman Band, Im not sure they even had greg's keyboard plugged in that night, this was pre Cher but post Duane.
I saw Elton John in the Omni in Atlanta too, not that big of an Elton fan but it's a great memory! I think...
Marshall Tucker was ok...
Elvin Bishop was at the Silver Saddle...they tell me I was there.
The best concert I have ever been to was U2, I saw them in Columbia, Sc at Williams Brice stadium, they rocked...it was so loud but it was crystal clear...you could feel the bass hitting your chest. Bono is a good singer but I dont follow his politics or anyone else's for that matter.
more to come another day, I gotta pee!

just remembered I saw molly hatchet too! they were good but the local jail wasnt too accomadating...seems they frown on being drunk at their concerts!




Supplier Woes

I am becoming frustrated with buying from my suppliers. Aside from the fact that it is taking more and more time, it seems that both Sam’s and Vistar are losing their grip. I will start with Sam’s then add Vistar at another time.

Have you noticed that Sam’s club has stopped using the "in business for small business" slogan. I haven't, and there stores reflect the shift. As a result of slipping sales in end use customers to Costco, Sam’s has made a shift in their target customer and it is no longer me.

They are systematically doing away with the very reasons I shop there in the first place. They have taken down the "flatbed" designated checkout lines. This leaves customers with a handful of purchases in the lines without the conveyors and me with three flatbeds in a lane with a conveyor. I'm sure that the 65 year old 95 lb lady that they used to stick at the "flatbed" register is very happy about this change!

The packages are changing from bulk packaging (for business) to a mix and match variety pack. Everything from pastries, Gatorade, and chips are making this switch. Vendors cannot sell variety packs as nothing ever sells in the ratios that its packaged. Sam's Club knows this, but they don't care. As items switch from bulk single serve to variety single serve, I have no choice but to stop buying those items.

The date control is out of hand and Sam’s doesn't care. One week all the dates on all of the Frito Lay products are normal 6-8 weeks. The following week every Frito Lay box expires in only 1 week! It is very obvious that the Frito Lay Rep dumped all their short dated crap at Sam’s and pulled back the good dates. I complain to the CSM and the store manager, place an emergency Vistar order to fill the gap. The following week I show up and every box expires on that very day! Since I needed chips I began searching the pile for any good dates. I ended up removing almost all of the boxes from the shelf and left them stacked in the middle of the isle to prove the point. I have since done this on every trip with expired product. If I have to move the half a pallet of diet soda to get to the cases that still have three weeks left on them, I am no longer putting the expired stuff back. Maybe the Sam’s employees will get tired of moving all the expired crap like I do 3 times a week!

Is it really that hard to make at least half of the 4 faucets in the bathroom work. There is nothing like trying all four sinks to find one that works only to get done and find that the paper towel dispensers are empty. I know that occasionally these things happen, but this is week after week. The one sink closest to the door has not worked for a year and a half. Either the store manager never washes his hands or he just doesn't care.

So keep up the good work Sam’s! I know your sales through the Great Recession have suffered, but is turning your back on the small businesses that made you successful in the first place really the solution? As I look for alternatives for suppliers I wonder, just how many large families do you need to add as customers to equal the 40-50k I spend there annually? I know nothing at sam’s club happens by accident, but what makes you guys think that people want to pay a $40 membership fee for the same items and terrible service we can go to Walmart for? You have made it clear that you are going, [i][b]out of business for small business![/b][/i]




Tool Time

In this section, I want to list the tools that I use during the refurbishing process. This will be a work in progress as I am always coming up with new ways to accomplish tasks.

While most repairs can be handled with common hand tools there are a few specialty items listed because they make the task so much easier.

[u]Screwdrivers[/u]-One of the most used tools is a screwdriver. You will need a good selection of Flat and Phillip tips. Long ones come in handy to remove the screws that hold globes on. Magnetic screwdrivers are nice when you are trying to reach down into the globe.

[u]Files[/u]- A good selection of small flat and round files are good to remove small burrs and imperfections in the metal. Especially useful where the gear rubs against the hopper and where the hopper sets on the body. They come in real handy when cleaning up coin wheels inside the coin mechanism too.

[u]Mallet[/u]-I use a rubber mallet instead of a hammer. You can give a machine a real good hit without damaging it whereas a hammer will leave an indentation or scar.

[u]Wrenches[/u]-Combination wrenches in various sizes will handle just about anything bulk related. A few adjustable wrenches are handy too.

[u]Socket Set[/u]-A small 1/4" set is all you need. 6" extension is especially useful when attaching a base to a stand.

[u]Tin Snips[/u]-These are available in LH, RH, and straight cut versions. I use the straight cut. Nice for trimming chute covers and cutting brush housings. A lot of triples have brush housings that are straight on the sides. Take a round one and cut it to fit.

[u]Mini Air Grinder[/u]-The only way to cut center rods and take loose, flaky paint off machines. Great for removing the chalky patina that is on most used machines.

[u]Jigsaw[/u]-Used for cutting center rods and modifying coin mechanism backs on Oaks so that the quarters do not pile up.

[u]Rotary Tool[/u]- A multi purpose rotary tool is a good piece to have. Good for filing and cutting just about anything. I use to cut out drop thru holes on mechanism's. Also use to turn candy wheel brushed into capsule brushes.

Here is a picture of an Oak mech that has been modified. The drop thru hole has been cut out and the bottom of the back plate removed to prevent a piling up of quarters when they do not exit the mech properly.

[u]Scotchbrite Pads- [/u]These things are 10 times better than sandpaper. Save it for the really bad spots.




The Gumball Junkie

You've seen them.

Maybe not noticing as they briskly walk past you. There eyes fixated on an object on the other side of the room. A glaze in their eyes, not blinking,not even once. They walk across the room and stop with their back facing you. They reach into their pocket and grab loose change by the handful.

Quarters, looking for quarters.

Slowly they put a quarter in the machine, turning the handle in hopes of scoring not just 1 but 2 gumballs. They only receive 1. In goes another quarter. Then the gumballs get stuffed into their mouth and they start chewing like a cow chewing their cud. Ahhhh!!!!!

You've just witnessed the Gumball Junkie.

Helping them break the habit is out of the question. The sugar fix is needed and you are an enabler. You are the "Pusher".




Doin' Stuff

With everything going on recently, my sleep schedule is completely out of whack, and I have been distracted. So I have decided that since it has snowed, and will continue to snow for the next day or so, combined with me having 3 days off of work, I have decided to sequester myself and work on my project.

There have been roadblocks, and things I have had to overcome, but since I have started from scratch a few months ago, knowing almost nothing, I think things are going quite well. I had hoped to be done by now, but I knew there would be problems and issues I would have to overcome.

The Mage

The Mage


Picking A Machine

Picking a machine to refurbish can be challenging. You don't want one in too bad of shape but don't want one already repaired either.[attachment=897:NW Super 60 # 43,44,45.jpg]

Sometimes I'll buy a machine even though it is not complete because I know in the future I'll have a need for it. I'll also buy parts lots to use in the refurbishing process. Buying parts lots gives you the spare parts inventory that makes refurbishing more cost effective.

I try to make sure the machine has no holes or dents in the body, base, hopper, and lid. Other small parts such as chute doors,chutes,wheels,brushes,rods,and locks can be replaced relatively cheap if they are not reusable. Some of the parts I buy are coin wheels, coin pawls, washer pawls, and return pawls,(commonly called dogs because they are the shape of a dog leg) sometimes a new globe here and there,wheels and brushes,stickers,lids, springs, screws and nuts and bolts.
[attachment=898:NW Super 60 43 and 44 004.jpg]
[attachment=899:White Super 60 Refurb 002.jpg]

Some of the dirtiest roughest machines can be turned into usable ones again with a little work and tender loving care.




Turning Trash Into Treasure

I started my bulk vending business by buying 10 new Northwestern machines and located them.

It didn't take me very long to figure out that the growth would be slow unless I could come up with an idea to get machines faster. I thought if I could get 2 machines for the price of 1 it would grow twice as fast.

I've got some mechanical ability so I looked on Ebay and started buying old used up machines and repairing them.

Since I started with Northwestern's, I looked at those and Oak Vista machines. I just liked the look of those. There is something about the triangular shaped mechanism that catches the eye.

I knew nothing about the working knowledge or how to take machines apart when I started this, I just learned as I went. I asked a lot of questions on here and became comfortable with my understanding of how the things work.

In keeping with my 2 for 1 plan, I decided to give no more than $30 for an Oak and $35 for a Northwestern machine. Of course the amount also determined how much needed done to the machines. I currently have 99 heads right now and my average cost per machine is $29.83. That includes 11 2" capsule machines, 6 NW triples, and 1 Super Bounce a Roo Ball machine.

I always thought it would be nice to have a source to turn to for information so that is the idea behind this blog.


Ever notice that when you are trying to deal with somebody, their machines are worth a lot more than yours? At least in their eyes, that's the way they see it. Where does this extra value come from? I found a guy who wanted to sell some equipment he had and talked to him on the telephone. He kept saying come and look at the machines. So I went and looked at them. I had told him what I would pay over the telephone and thought we had agreed to that. When I got their, he wanted more. I think he thought that once I got there I would pay his price for them.
This sucker walked away. Maybe he'll call me back and accept my offer. We'll see.