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  1. FlyGuy

    Beef Jerky Options

    As I mentioned above, I was bumping to get ideas. I do snack boxes, so I can use snacks with basically any size. I can see how Slim Jim would be bad in coil vending machines for sure. Thanks for the replies... I figured Dollar Tree might just be able to do it with thinner margin than we can due to massive volume. I was hoping maybe there was a supplier with roughly 50c for 1oz beef sticks they have, though.
  2. FlyGuy

    Beef Jerky Options

    I just use Slim Jim originals and sell them for 50c in my snack boxes... that is the only thing I can find that makes sense. They sell real well. I will probably do Slim Jim Giant for $1.50 when I decide to go to that price point, but for now, I'm at $1.00 and 50c items. The Slim Jim Giant are roughly 70c each, and other brands are even higher at Sams... not possible to have any of those in a $1.00 honor box. I truly don't get how Dollar Tree has Jack Link Squatch 1oz, Jack Link beef strip 0.8oz, beef and cheese pack, Slim Jim Giants 0.97oz... all for $1 each. Yes, I obviously realize they buy them by the tens of thousands and probably get them for 25-35 cents each, but should really mean that could be a supplier that could profit selling those items for 50c or thereabouts to folks like us who are buying a few dozen or few hundred? Bumping this thread for any ideas...
  3. FlyGuy

    honor box

    I grew up there. I'm in center Detroit metro (Royal Oak) now. Yeah, tough sledding with the winter weather. I find this to be a real good time to get new locations, though. Yeah, everyone is grumpy with the SAD going around, but most places are slow, less bombarded with salesmen, and more willing to chat (even managers)... not so much when they have a full lobby or waiting room in a few months lol. Is this one yours? https://www.snacktimeflint.com/
  4. FlyGuy

    honor box

    Yes, I understand all of these points. Good insight by all. My gross profit potential is roughly 40% on the candy bars and about 70% on everything else. Assuming 20% theft (mine has never averaged that high), I'm then actually at 20% gross profit margin on candy bars and 50% on everything else. Since my box is 20% candy bars and 80% other stuff... you get 44% overall gross profit margin (higher if theft were under 20%, which is almost always is... also higher when I find snacks on sale, which I frequently do... above margins were assuming current full prices on snacks). Keep in mind that I'm not giving two crackers or larger chips or other costly things for $1, so that offsets the candy bars somewhat. I am not afraid of losing locations, and I'm definitely not afraid of going out of business (this is my side hustle for fun and extra bucks, not full time job). As I said, I have many reasons I keep the box at $1.00 with eventual transition to $1.50. The main one is ease of customers purchasing and less coins. Another is perceived quality and simplicity of candy bars and $1 price point; I find this to really help with locating and my sales pitch. I feel that $1.25 is clunky and odd, and honor boxes are in the exact change business. Again, people would be asking for change at the business' register (annoying after awhile, good way to lose a location), paying whatever they have (probably $1 anyways), or trying to open the snack box cash door to "make change." I see no logical way to do it without 50c increments so that it is easy to pay exact price or buy two for a flat dollar amount. Nobody wants to overpay, and most feel guilty about underpaying. It has to be easy and enjoyable for them. This is a major difference between vending machines or store sales versus the honor box. I know that what works for me doesn't work for the world. As an aside, a nice additional reason for $1.00 snacks is that I have a local competitor who does $1.25 boxes that don't even have candy bars (mostly just chips and crackers), so it is easy to displace their locations which are not very satisfied... but that really had nothing to do with my decision making, that was just a bonus I ran across while locating some boxes last year. Who knows, though, he might take some locations back if I go to $1.50 snacks when he is still at $1.25... but he'd need to get much better quality of snacks.
  5. Much good advice already. I do all my own box placements face-to-face and will just share what works for me: 1) Look good (casual but professional... biz logo or nice T-shirt or polo, clean shave and haircut, etc) and big smile, be very friendly. 2) Have something they want. That can practically sell itself. That something could be good candy, charity contribution, commission, great service, etc. The more the better. A lot of people use charity connection to try to turn the screws on the potential box placement, but I find that cheesy (and 99% false). They quickly realize you are trying to pressure them, and most people will then resist that. Even if it works sometimes to pimp the charity angle, you still have to look it yourself in the mirror at the end of the day. Honesty is telling the truth, but integrity is being honest with yourself, ya know? It is fine to have a charity, but I wouldn't always lead with it when placing boxes. As for commission, I am too small time and too lazy at accounting. Therefore, I just have good product... and service. I show the quality candy and snacks they'd want at good prices, I tell them I provide good service with re-stocking, keeping them fresh, etc. ...No matter what main selling point you decide on, the key is to establish and maintain the tone of the convo so you are authentic but always explaining to them how you are going to do them a favor. Get it? Instead of explaining why they should let you put your box in their business, you want to offer to bring a good box which will be loved and helpful at their business. If they direct the tone to what you are getting from it, immediately try to flip it back to their benefit. It is all about who is helping who. Option 1: 'Hello, can I talk to the manager... umm, hi sir, I am helping to collect money for charity X and would appreciate if you would let me put this box of penny candy which will be sold for dollars on your business counter." Option 2: 'Hi, good morning (to first worker you encounter). I'm bringing these snack boxes to AnytownUSA businesses like this to offer high quality snacks at better prices than most vending machines... right in the break room. I know a lot of people don't like having to walk down the street or drive to get food when they want a snack or forget their lunch. No contract, no obligation, good re-stocking service as needed. I bet that'd help you guys out here?" I don't do the cheapo candy like gumballs or charity mints, but I would probably sell them as a great way to keep the kids in their waiting room from getting too whiny and keep the parents liking the place. Basically, it all comes down to who is doing who a favor. It is all about tone. Get it? GL out there guys, you will do well "LAW 13 WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE'S SELF INTEREST, NEVER TO THEIR MERCY OR GRATITUDE If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself." -Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  6. FlyGuy

    honor box

    I know this is an old thread, but since it is a sticky, this mistaken kind of thinking above regarding $1 candy bars being unfeasible needs to be addressed. ...First, full size candy bars (good stuff like Snickers, Twix, M&M peanut, etc) now cost more like 60-65 cents each as I write this in 2019. I still charge $1.00 each. Why? How? Many reasons: -Competition. Local grocery stores and dollar stores charge $1.00 or a bit less, gas stations usually charge $1.00-1.25, vending machines usually $1.00-1.25 depending on location. No, those are not your direct competitors, but that doesn't matter. Everyone sees these prices every day, though. Those become the prices that a candy bar "should be" sold for in the eyes of the decision maker you talk to about placing your box, the employees considering buying from your box (and paying in full versus shorting or stealing from you), etc. You are limited by people's perception of the market, which is largely a function of what your competition prices the same item for. -Quality sells. Many vendors may have great locations for a snack box (or other vending types) which they don't even know are great. They don't know since they have low sales due to bad snacks in the box/machine (and they just blame the location for being "slow"). Even worse, they may have zero sales from that great location since they were denied or removed of placement of a box/machine which was viewed by decision maker manager or the employees as low quality candy/snacks or too highly priced. Quality sells. What sells much better: Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn? Yep. -Goodwill. If you focus on how much money you can make, it is unlikely that vending (or any biz) will be enjoyable... even if you do make money. If you focus on adding value to customers and people by giving them a service they want and need, it is generally much more enjoyable... and the money usually follows. It's funny how that works. If I was selling the cheapest low quality candy I could find and hyping up a false or barely existent charity affiliation to place and keep the boxes, I don't think I'd enjoy it at all. It would barely matter what the profit margins were if you didn't like the work. I enjoy giving new accounts a free candy or snack item... and the occasional one for continued good business. The smiles and handshakes I am greeted with on my route are the best part of it all. I would rather have 50 quality accounts who like my box and watch out for it versus 100 that felt pressured or bribed into having the box there and have little respect or interest for it. Like any small business, this is a game of personal relationships. You will generally notice a difference in higher box acceptance, lower box removal requests, higher sales, lower theft % if you spend the time to make good relationships and good product... rather than mainly keying in on getting and keeping every nickel and dime you can. This is why the reject rate is so high when you use box locator services: you never made the personal relationship. Business owners talk, and your accounts who like you will even try to get you a few more. -Loss Leaders. Guys, the Dollar Tree doesn't buy every item on its shelves for under a quarter. Taco Bell or McD doesn't have quadruple markup on all dollar menu items (some are probably sold at 10x food cost and others only 2x). They know that some products will make higher margin than others, but it all builds brand loyalty and gets the customer coming back. It is a game of averages with pricing. Again, quality sells. If there isn't at least some quality on the menu, you will have a very rough go of it. Even if you assume the $1.00 full size candy in a snack box is a break even (60c cost, 20c theft, 20c labor and driving etc), it is still a huge win for you... since it wins you so many accounts - and keeps them happy. That popular candy bar at a good price is the main thing people are looking for as you pitch new locations on having a box, so even if it makes me little or nothing... it gets the rest of the box in there and builds goodwill. You can't ask for more than that in a loss leader! -Simplicity. With a snack box, you're obviously in the business of exact change. There is often no ability for people to easily get and make change in the break room... or even in the building. Odd price amounts can result in shortage from people just paying a dollar - or worse, people trying to get into cash box to make change. If it is a gas station or a newer vending machine that accepts credit cards and makes change, go ahead and charge $1.15 or $1.25 or even $1.38 if you want. Snack box is a different animal. It has its pros/cons, and pricing ability is one of the cons. I will eventually go to $1.50 on everything (so most people will buy 2 items for $3.00), but I'm holding off on doing that for as long as possible. -Less Coin. This is not bulk or full machines or large scale lollipop box vending where massive amounts of quarters are part of the game. Don't get me wrong, I like coins and hope I get the occasional pre-1964 silver quarter, lol. However, on the route and during accounting back home, coins are a chore. They waste a lot of time. Part of the appeal of snack boxes is keeping coin change volume manageable and not needing expense of a change counter and rolling machine. For me, coin is a pain. CoinStar machines are expensive unless I need an one of their no-fee gift certificates anyways. Banks usually charge fees also or won't accept coin unless it is in rolls. Going to $1.25 on candy bars (or everything) just invites a lot more coin and/or a lot more shortage since people won't have exact change. As I said, I'm holding off on increasing prices until $1.50 for that reason... hopefully three dollar bills for two snacks at least half the time. -Spoilage. With full size candy bars, you get your most popular item AND the longest shelf life of all items (tied with maybe nuts or gum). In snack boxes, the candy will be in a climate controlled break room, so temp isn't usually an issue. Good candy bar expiration rate in snack boxes is zero percent in my experience. That is great for everyone... except my friends and family hoping for freebies, lol. ..."But, but, but I wanna make more money per item! I don't care about coin or simplicity of pricing, and I already have enough boxes located and I'm rural where I don't need to have best quality or price to get and keep accounts." Ok, then do $1.25... or even do $1.50 for your box. That might work in some areas, or people might just walk to 7 Eleven. People might go for full size candy priced over $1 in your box and actually pay that extra quarter or two most of the time (if they have it in their pocket or purse or can make change at a register on site), but I doubt they'd do over a dollar for crackers or chips or most of your other stuff. Go ahead and try; there is no right and wrong. As I said, I just wanted to debunk the myth that $1 candy bars are not possible. They absolutely are. Even if Snickers cost went to 75c, I would still use at least a few of them due to what they bring to the table in terms of quality and goodwill and overall benefits to my biz. Assuming theft % and box longevity were equal, I personally would rather sell 25 snacks per week for $1.00 than 15 for $1.25 weekly. Other places people see and buy the same candy you have in your box (groc, gas, drug, etc stores) might get their candy cheaper due to big volume buying, but they pay rent and bills and employees and etc etc, and vending machine companies pay for machines/parts and employees and heat damage and etc etc which a small time snack box guy doesn't have to worry about. The "big guys" will have to keep raising prices as product and handling costs go up, but I feel you want to stay a half step behind them for reasons stated above. The main reasons are certainly competition and quality and simplicity. JMO
  7. FlyGuy

    RTJ's vending book

    This is hands down the best book on vending that I've come across. I refer back to it from time to time. It should be read by every type of vendor (charity, snack, machines, bulk, pro company, etc)... and preferably read before they even start or order any boxes/machines/snacks. This was the book which really opened my eyes and showed me that vending machines were not for me... but gave me the info and confidence to launch snack boxes with good success. The most valuable part of the book is definitely the dissection of customer service issues (appearance, scripts, locating, commission, etc). He gives tons of great pearls on developing scripts, customer service to get and keep accounts, and things to consider. Even though I'm just a snack box guy, many of his same principles recommended for drink/snack accounts certainly apply to mine also. Every other eBook I've read on vending is too short, too narrow, or just plain bad info. My only minor gripe about the RJT book is that it is a little too light on bulk vending info and too heavy on drink/snack... but I guess that is clearly the target readership. Still, easily a 9/10 rating for this book while other books I've read are usually 5/10 at best.
  8. FlyGuy

    What type of candy seems to work well?

    Not sure what kind of honor boxes you are referring to? ...Charity boxes? Suckers, mints, caramels, fun size, etc. Some are cheaper and some are better tasting. ...Snack boxes? Candy bars sell best, long shelf life (but lowest margin). Most ppl use candy, chips, crackers, cookies, healthy, etc. Definitely better to pick it up at the wholesale club, IMO. Even if you get free shipping or "ready for store pickup" options, I would avoid those online options and to go grab it off the cart. It lets you look for sales that might not be online, lets you learn and think of options, and takes minimal time since the candy is all side-by-side anyways. You can also verify that you aren't getting short-dated stuff that way. Exp dates becomes a major factor if you are just starting out or part-time. A lot of "sale" candy by mail will give you a bad surprise once it gets to you. A box of candy or chips for $20 that is regular price $28 is NOT a good deal if it will expire in a month or two (unless maybe you have a ridiculously high volume, multi-location biz). GL
  9. FlyGuy

    Snack box update

    I have the same business model: small and a few medium snack boxes.... all snacks, no chips. I have a good day job, but the boxes are my part time side hustle: approx 3 dozen locations and only roughly 6 hr/wk (4 hrs route placing/exchanging boxes and 2 hrs re-stocking, purchasing, accounting, etc). The part time status limits the biz types where I can place boxes and the type of product I can sell. Just in case it gives you any ideas, though, I do basically the following... -nearly all small Cameron boxes with approx 65-70 snacks (yes, you can fit that many, see below), a few Sheridan big plain white boxes with approx. 120-140 snacks at my longstanding places with low theft after they prove themselves as a weekly exchange Cameron box for awhile -no chips at all due to too much space taken in small box, grease marks on box, short exp dates, unhealthy... I use a few Veg Straws and Cracker Jack with mixed success -snacks mostly from Sams, some grocery store, some dollar store -punched reinforced holes with zip tie on the box right side flap to discourage theft -most items $1.00 (full size candy, cookies, crackers, trail mix, fruit snacks, granola bars, etc) ... some 50c items (fun size candy, peanuts, Slim Jim, 5pk gum... and any $1.00 items I need to "clearance") -dot price labels on each item... costs less than 1c per, makes for no question of price, and may help discourage theft -Vistaprint color labels ("rack cards") for box top (over cut-out cash drop slot) stating business name and email, "thank you" and "enjoy your snack"... biz cards with biz name and email to pass out and to tape to box front, t-shirt for doing my route -Tri-fold brochures brochure (email, pic of boxes, "healthy snacks," "no contract," "no obligation," "pay only for what you take," etc) that I designed and print myself and leave for the potential new accounts if mgr in charge isn't available when I stop in. I want to get these professionally done in color, but it is not worth it unless I was full time. -No charity affiliation... I don't want that recurring expense and I find charity affiliation phony. I realize hyping the charity connection puts pressure on the location to accept the box, but pressure is the enemy of pleasure. I want people who are receptive and genuinely interested in my product (good snacks, healthy options, good service), since that means they'll help promote and take care of the box. -sales pitch and people skill is key, so perhaps I over-invest in marketing and slick appearance, but it works for me... usually can place a box for every 4-5 businesses approached. My pitch is under one minute (basically just recite my brochure), and Q&A conversation with manager is 2-3min tops. They either want it or they don't. You have to read that and respect their time. -exchange most boxes every 2 weeks (new accounts checked on in 1 week to build rapport and learn volume, slower boxes every 3-4 weeks). Boxes that are routinely more than half empty in 2 weeks and have low theft can become a weekly exchange or even a large size box -new box goes in, grab old box and drop labeled card in cash slot so I will know where box was, say hi to manager, and on to next spot... back home, cut zip ties to count money and re-stock boxes -drop any account with "3 strikes" (25% or more shortage) in 3 months; I don't give any notice or warnings before dropping (I think they'd just steal more), and besides, manager has my card so they can email me if they really want box back (none have) -pretty minimal accounting... I just try to weed out very slow volume or very high theft locations and pinpoint any very poor seller or frequently expiring snacks, but I don't change snack assortments too much. Variety and speed is key. -current box arrange is 70 snacks: one column has 1 cracker jack, 15 full size candy bars, 6 cookie (oreo/nutter), 6 crackers, 8 fun size candy, 4 slim jim... other column gets 2 veg straws, 2 david seed, 4 trail mix, 3 fruit snack, 6 oat honey gran, 3 raisin gran, 4 nutria grain, 6 peanuts, 2 gum. Yes, you can really fit all that comfortably in a Cameron box. I make a few notes and adjust the boxes a bit if something is selling very well at one place or based on what my stock levels are, but I keep them with 70 items (50 dollar and 20 that are 50c) to make the accounting of my gross and theft % quick and easy. ...I enjoy the snack boxes. I think the cheap charity boxes or gumball/mech machines are too much hustle and driving and too high initial investment for me, and I really feel people buy those suckers/mints more from pity for a (basically false) charity affiliation or buy a gumball to quiet a whining kid. I prefer the snacks that people actually want and some healthy options. Full machine vending obviously can't be part time (unless it is a pop and snack machine inside an office you own). I'm sure glad vending offers something for everyone, though. I don't make nearly the per hour from snack boxes that I do at my day job, but the snack box route is fun for me. It also lets me have treats to give out at office, basketball league, etf. It would definitely be the ideal part time retirement job in my opinion... esp if you go to a new area and want to meet some people around town. Keep up the good work! I think you are doing really well with this thread and enjoyed it; only read the first few and last few pages, but I will check back once in awhile.