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  1. I agree stick with charity junk candy boxes for now... you need time to analyze your theft rates and learn with low cost/consequence. Going to bulk raises the stakes quite a bit and makes many more logistical problems (namely costs and vehicle and becoming fairly cemented to working in that area). Don't forget that this is your side job, and you need to remain fairly flexible if your primary job had a better opportunity or required transfer arise. You also don't want a side hustle to interfere with your real job or your fitness or real life things (romance, friends, etc)... trust us, it sure can. Chris is also right that the "experts" on YTube are selling their system, not actual success. He is also definitely right that this site is good to search and gain info from, and RJT's 'Truth About Vending' is also a good ebook for a couple bucks on Amazon... he is a former contributor here. Theft is always a thing in honor vending. You will have to pull many more of your current locations than you currently realize. Just keep placing more in the tightest pattern you can and do the best you can. Many locations start off fine enough, but employees (and regular customers) find out soon enough they can steal can not get caught. It only takes one or two stealing regularly to cause a location to go sideways and need to be pulled. It is not the managers' job to police your box, so you generally want to quit discussing it with them (notes are no use with charity junk boxes... and very minimal help with break room snack either). If you make your box a hassle for the employee or manager, you won't have to worry about deciding whether to pull or not... they'll tell you to take it out. Personally, I won't compete with other vending in the same office/store (unless it is your own). People just steal from the one they can grab from when they have no money (the snack or charity candy box) and pay for the better quality option (vend machine or snacks for sale at the store) when they do have money. My biz is snack boxes, and I leave when I hear there is a vending machine or even if I see a candy bulk machine. Similarly, you should also not put a charity junk box against a snack box or bulk machine. Yes, those are easy placements, but one is secure and one is not. It is tale as old as time, but find out the hard way if you like. As was said, good job on getting locations... keep at it. It is basically just trial and error though... no need to type novels about location details and whether you will pull it (unless you find it therapeutic?). For me, it was "three strikes" to yank any snack box with 3 shortages of 30% or more in 3 month timespan... just set an objective metric that makes sense to you and stick to it. You will get some boxes that will last at one place for years and others that you will have to pull in just a few cycles. GL
  2. Yeah, good point. I guess it is good to be in a place where necessities and grocery including candy/snacks are largely not taxed with sales tax. I assumed most states were that way (at least no sales tax when you buy the snacks, most also not having sales tax when you sell them)... but yeah, if it is a place that's not exempt, ouch and track/pay accordingly.
  3. Welcome, man. Your math is wrong in two main places: 1) You don't pay tax on every dollar sold; you pay taxes on every dollar of profit. That is a huge difference. Imagine a grocery store like Kroger or Publix that sells a ton; they'd all be in the red if they paid taxes on total sales and not on revenues (aka profits). Their actual profits are often 5% or much less of their total sales. Use your deductions. If you spent a lot on boxes, labels, candy, track mileage, computer software, shelves for candy, etc etc and just started this... then your profits and therefore your taxes should probably be $0 on your charity box biz for the year 2019. Talk to an accountant if you need to, but it's very simple stuff. 2) Having 20% theft is 0.20 per dollar... not sure where you get 0.06? Theft on charity junk candy boxes in lobby areas as you are doing will be highly variable... they have different customers every day. Don't be so quick to pull them; you are freaking out for no reason (common new honor box mistake). If there is a trend of unacceptable theft and/or very low sales, then pull... but don't talk to the manager or leave notes. That is pointless; you are not paying them to watch the box and it is mostly random ppl and not employees taking and paying for the charity junk candy. Theft on honor boxes in break room should be only slightly variable... mostly same employees. In those cases, you can talk to the manager/contact... and have a quick hook to pull boxes. ...personally, I do honor snack boxes, but it looks something like this per 100c dollar that goes into the box: 20c theft, 35c food cost, so leaving 45c profit (GPM = gross profit margin). My net profit margin (NPM) then has to subtract maybe 5c gas/car mileage and 5c supplies (boxes, marketing flyers, biz cards, loyalty gifts for locations, etc)... which leaves me 35c net. I probably would then owe about 2c taxes (I'm only taxed on the net of 35c... but I can pay nothing if I put that somehow back into my biz, like buying a lot of candy or boxes in December). You only pay tax on profits, get it? GL
  4. Candy honor boxes are full of candy. They are done on the honor system (honor = honesty). People take candy and leave money... if they are honorable! Now you are familiar with them. GL
  5. KISS You are trying to turn a donkey into a war horse or a equestrian champ. No need and not possible. You are enthusiastic, but this is a case of being too smart for your own good. Get cheap boxes, use popular snacks, and keep it basic. Learn by doing a proven model, and then begin to tinker a bit if you want. Managers do things right and leaders do the right things... snack boxes isn't really the realm for a leader who wants to be ultra-creative. You suceed by managing yourself, putting in regular consistent work of getting new locations and keeping good exisiting ones happy, having good overall sales skill, and plugging away. There is very low cost barrier to entry and much competition in all forms of vending... and therefore limited potential. The chance of success is high if you follow proven models, but the top end is limited by competion and pricing ability. It is a red ocean through and through. If you want to be the inventor and the game-changer type, you would be much better off doing other entrepreneur endeavors or going to school awhile to get skills very few people have (and having disposable capital stream). I don't believe in blue ocean theory, but it certainly doesn't apply to vending. In vending, you will find many threads of graveyards of such "revolutionary" individuals (healthy stuff, weird pricing, niche vending, fancy box designs, etc etc). Just search. I do basic snack boxes as a hobby/side hustle. I do make money... not much. I could probably make a living if I did it full tme, but my day job pays a lot better and there is no reason to do that. I will likely do snack boxes in retirement for the social aspect and exercise. My basic econ goes something like: 100c Item price 35c item cost (avg) 15c shortage ...leaves 50c per item to cover all else (gas, boxes, labels marketing, etc etc). It's a numbers game. Like grocery or nearly any consumer staple, vending is a numbers game with a very low profit margin. Very simple and basic typially wins. There is a reason that grocery stores and gas stations and laundromats and mechanic shops and vending machines that last awhile usually look 95% similar to local competition. Don't reinvent the wheel. GL man
  6. I just pull the boxes. Tell the location whatever you want when you pull the box... leaving the area (aka leaving their store!), closing up or downsizing your box business (at their location!), shortage was too high, etc. Doesn't matter. I sometimes give them a competitor snack service's card if they whine The trust was obviously broken if there is a pattern of shortage (mine is "three strikes" of 3x being over 30% short within 3 months), and that's the way it goes. I agree the makeup of employees or management at a location could potentially change over time and that you always want to be friendly, but it's highly unlikely that stuff happens anytime soon. Besides, with new manager, that would be a fresh start anyways. My only chance to salvage the relationship might be if I notice that the location has the box in a customer area. If that's the case, you could tell them the shortage rate has been unacceptably high... but you think that moving the box to the break room where only employees will use it might help that. Have a short hook if you do that, though. I treat a place that has consistently high theft just like one that tells me verbally they don't want the box/system when I'm locating. You want to be polite, but you don't want to waste your time or theirs. Link below has more on this around the middle... learn the lesson and move on from the stumbles. Don't fixate on them. De-attachment... like the Buddhists, lol. GL
  7. TCF Bank has a free change counter (CoinStar type) for account holders. Probably not at all locations, but worth checking into...
  8. We talk about these all the time, so I figured that a list would be good. Might help some people and might generate discussion of more good ideas... Clear price labels. This can be price sticker(s) near the cash slot, and you can also add dot or price gun labels on each snack ("garage sale labels") if it fits your business model. Exchanging the boxes frequently. A box that is well stocked and looks full and "happy" will get more business and less theft. A box that looks "sad" can expect more theft and less sales and respect. The same goes for bulk and vending machines... the rusty, low stock, etc ones are sitting ducks. The same would be true for a car that sat parked in the same place for weeks with a flat or a house with lights off and mail overflowing its mailbox... they become "scary" and an easy target for problems. The aim should be to time the routes so boxes are exchanged when they're roughly half empty (probably 1-4weeks for most places, vast majority exchanged every 2 weeks). Changing the box more frequently instead of letting them go nearly empty also minimizes expired snacks and lowers the hurt if you ever do have an entire box stolen. Clean looking box. This is common sense and ties into frequent box exchange, but cardboard boxes are very cheap and fairly easy to clean (pencil eraser helps, magic eraser with a drop of water works decent, whole new box fairly cheap too). The acrylic boxes are very easy to clean. There is no reason they should have substantial smudge marks, big creases, potato chip grease spots, etc. There should be no expired snacks in the boxes... keep track of those, donate them or toss them, and write them off when you do taxes. New locating should be done with brand new boxes whenever possible. Customers are always right. Your box arrangement should go with what people are buying. I'm all for keeping every box 90% or more identical for reasons of efficiency with stocking and counting, but if many boxes are selling out of fruit snacks yet your granola bars hardly ever sell any, probably adjust to have 1 or 2 more fruit snacks and 1 or 2 less granola bars in each and every box. Variety just for the sake of variety is also useful to mix it up, so it is good to keep a few spaces rotating at least one or two new items from time to time (more true for snack boxes with same employees buying week after week than mint/lollipop boxes with random customers buying). Doing your own locating. This builds valuable rapport with the owner/manager and other employees at the location. It creates a win-win where they value the box. People generally are nicer and more respectful to folks they know and like. A return visit after 1 week is good for new accounts to exchange the box (emphasize "just bringing you a fresh one") and to build more trust and familiarity. If you simply use a telemarketing locator who just pushes the charity guilt trip on the business and then you drop off the box without hardly saying hi or getting anyone's name, you are probably digging your own grave for a poor performer or even a box removal request upcoming. You want them to like and care more about the box than they care about the average crusty magazine in the lobby or Lysol can in the break room. Being friendly with location staff. This is a no-brainer, but you should be well groomed, dressed fairly well, smiling, and have a list of at least a couple people's names for each location. Greeting them by name, telling them "just bringing you guys a fresh box," exchanging small talk about weather/sports/etc, and maybe a high five or handshake on some box exchange visits is ideal. Again, people generally don't steal from people they like... and they might even go out of their way to tell co-workers about the box, help promote your box, keep an eye on the box, and aid your success. Securing the cash box. This can be hole punches with zip ties, packing tape, or whatever you devise to make the cash box flap on your style of box secured and tamper-evident. It won't prevent someone who really wants to break in there or who steals the whole box, but that stuff is rare. A basic security measure on the cash box will keep the honest people honest. Let them position the box. Yes, you usually want your mint/sucker boxes by the cash register or your snack box in the break room, but keep in mind that it's not your business. The owner probably knows it better than you do, and you want them to feel in control. These are generally control people; it's their business and their decision. They may have limited space, knowledge of where is best foot traffic, they might pick a location by a security camera you are unaware of, or some other reasoning. Besides, any box position is better than in your garage and making $0 per week. You'd ideally have the box in a clean, well lit location like a top shelf, but all you can really do is softly suggest that ("do you think the box would do well ___ ___ ___?"). The only time I'd ever strongly steer them on where to position it is if a snack box is getting continued high theft in a lobby or customer area or if a mint/sucker box is getting very low sales in a back room; in that case, you can explain the situation and ask them if they want to move it into the break/lobby room instead (if not, just remove the box... see below). Don't hesitate to dump bad locations. If locations are not performing (theft % is too high or volume is way too low), don't hesitate to replace them. A customer who doesn't pay is not a customer... those are theives. Especially with snack boxes, if a pattern of increased and consistent theft is becoming clear, it is best to learn the lesson and move on. Don't let it cost you money and occupy your mental space. It is a waste of time to putz with discussions or sticky notes for reasons below. More often than not, the owner/manager will just take offense if you accuse the location of shortage, and the employees will just realize they can steal more if you leave notes. If your logs show that trust and respect relationship between that location and your box is compromised, then it needs to end. Just like a romantic couple or any relationship with broken trust, it's best to cut your losses and begin anew. Tell them whatever you like ("Sorry, I'm no longer servicing this location" is fine)... just end it. Avoid talking about theft or shortage at all costs. Keep it positive. This goes for locating scripts and especially for established locations. The negative signs like "Not Free!" or " Please Pay!" on boxes are just dumb. If you were looking at grocery store or gas station snacks and someone said those things to you, you'd feel like you were being accused of stealing. The "Box Was Short" or "Box Will Be Removed" sticky notes on snack boxes are even dumber. Those signs and notes broadcast that people are stealing from the box, and people will just begin to steal more if they realize others have been stealing and/or they have been noticed... since the notes imply the box will probably be gone soon anyways. Even the honest people who were paying for snacks will quickly decide they don't want to pay for what other people are taking for free once they see those notes. Nobody wants to be the only fool paying; people hate double standards. If the owner/manager or anyone ever asks how the box is doing, asks if people are good about paying, or asks if box sales are good, simply reply "doing well" or "oh, it's right in line with most of my locations" and change the subject to light and fluffy small talk. Then finish up and get out of there asap. Treat it how your accountant would treat you asking him how much his shoes and his lobby art cost... or how a woman would treat you asking if that was her hair was the real natural color. Easy pricing. Increments of $1 or multiples like 2/$1 or 3/$1 or 2/$3 etc is easy. Basic structure keeps people from having to bother the cashier for change or even worse: people having the urge to get into the cash box to make change. Difficult pricing will cause shortage and probably start to annoy the cashier (if there is one). You want your box to be liked and enjoyed... not viewed as a nuisance. Give freebie bonuses to the locations. The best way to get people to do what you want comes down to two words: pay them. This gift can be a bit of candy (use something not sold in your box) or whatever you can get for a few dollars per location. I would suggest this be done at time of locating and then a few times per year (not at Christmas when gifts are simply lost in the shuffle). Again, this simply banks on the human norm of reciprocity and gets people to like you... and people generally treat people they like much better than strangers or people they know yet feel neutral or negative about. Have good quality snacks. Everyone likes to save money, but you'd rather have 50% gross profit on a huge number than 70% on a much lower number. You need some favorite snacks that are attention getters and easily recognized. Those companies spend a lot on branding, and you need to take advantage of that. Which exact snacks those are depends on your price and your area. Examples would be that every vending machine or snack box should probably have regular Snickers and peanut M&M, Cheez It bag 1.5oz. Every 4/$1 or 3/$1 charity box could consider York patties, mini or fun size Snickers, and Blow Pops. Snacks appropriate to the price. If you have 3/$1 as your price, you shouldn't have small Tootsie rolls and small Jolly Ranchers and candy that buyers feel should be 5/$1 or even 10/$1 in terms of value. People will reject that price (rightly so), and many will not buy, might take extra, or might have some and just not pay at all. If the snacks are more appropriate for the price (eg, Blow Pops or fun size big name candy bars for that same 3/$1 price), people are more likely to pay. For any price, you want the value to be there for the buyers. That's just a start... what do you guys have to add? How do you minimize shortage/theft on your boxes?
  9. Yep, I agree fully. You are simply paying for leads with locating services, nothing more. You will still need to close the sale with the DM and build the trust anyways... might as well do that while walking the block and asking other businesses. You will also have much better loyalty and much lower amount of call backs stating that the box needs to go when you place them yourself. Even with doing my own locating, I still get bounce-backs... and they're almost always ones where an employee just asked the owner/manager and I was unable to ever speak to the DM directly - and preferrably face-to-face. It just builds good trust to do your own placements, and you need at least a few people at each location who like you, greet you with a smile, and will look out for the box. Any vending is a numbers game, but I've found that it is mainly a business of personal relationships.
  10. I agree on no commissions for snack or charity boxes... profit margin is too thin. It is a numbers game. If they want a cut, simply move along. Never be tempted to cave on this, because it makes for annoying extra accounting and could be detrimental to your business if some but not others got locating gift, commission, etc. You never want to create double standards. I've only been asked "what's in it for the store" a couple times (seems to always be salons asking), but I just tell them that the profit margins are already very slim in snack boxes... so my product and service is the benefit they'd get. If they press, I simply explain to them that any commission paid would just be a tax on their employees, and I'd need to raise my pricing... and that's not how I run it. I've never been asked about charity, but the reply would be the same to that. I do give a small gift bag of individually wrapped candy to my locations a few times per year (usually Hershey kisses around New Years, mints round StPat, Starburst for 4th, suckers near Halloween, etc) to say thanks for the business. That only cost about a buck per stop, and it builds goodwill.
  11. A price label "50c or 3/$1.00" to the left and/or right of coin slot (or on the lid if acrylic box) and a "Pay Here" or "Deposit Here" above and/or below the coin slot are all you need. You also want your company name/logo with email or phone number somewhere (biz card works fine)... for the location to be able to reach you about problems, box empty, they want it gone, etc. It is a very basic concept. Nearly everyone has seen them and knows how they work (or can figure it out in 3 seconds). Charity boxes should be in customer driven locations and will always have slight to significant theft. It is part of the game. A lot of the "customers" are young kids and teens who steal and little kids who can't read but see a sucker. A lot of parents won't have change or singles since many people don't carry cash. You just have to hope most of the adults will pay for what they and their kids take. Avoid the negatively toned and exclamatory stuff like "Not free!" or "Please pay!" or "On Your Honor." Those are basically accusing the reader of stealing; having a price already said they're not free... without doing that implication. I also avoid the sticky notes "box was short last week" and "please remember to pay" and "box will be removed if shortage continues," etc that a lot of vendors try. You don't want your box to trying to be a hardass and lay down commands... the box won't win many fights. Using those harsher wordings, basically calling the location thieves, or giving light threats just breaks rapport, causes people to laugh at and/or dislike the box, and they broadcast that theft has probably been occurring. That is not a good place to be, and it tends to increase theft or even raise chances of vandalism or theft of the entire box. Simply set your acceptable limits for theft/shortage % and frequency, and stick with them. Tell the location whatever you want when you pull the box... leaving the area (aka leaving their store!), closing up or downsizing your box business (at their location!), shortage was too high, etc. Doesn't matter. ...You really just need price listed visibly in one or two places, "Deposit Here" by coin slot, and then your contact info one or two places on the box. KISS
  12. Research shows 9 out of 10 vendors exaggerate about their rates of locating success for their machines/boxes Guys, aiming for 50% or better is nearly impossible unless it's some everyone-knows-everyone tiny hick town or something. Even 1 in 5 of all stores you go into is aiming quite high in many places. I agree with hoping for success each and every time, but don't get discouraged by unrealistic expectations. Every market is different. ...I would honestly say I'm between about 1 out of 5 or 1 out of 7 all time for ones where I even have a chance. That "have a chance" is not including the ones where I ask about snacks and find out they have a vending machine, they have another snack box company already, owners buy free snacks for the break room and/or lobby (common with financial offices), or their store/corporate policy doesn't allow it. I suppose nail shops that can't speak English don't really offer any hope either... and there are many of those, lol. If you include all places, those places where I had zero chance or a legit chance, then it is probably closer to 1 in 10 of all businesses I walk into that I manage to place a box. Before you simply say "what a loser," realize that I am not bad at sales... I'm far above average with people skills and I'm a relatively good looking and young guy (like it or not, that helps). My boxes are clean looking, marketing materials are sharp, and service is good. My full time job is customer service... selling a service, actually. It's just that snack boxes, or any business, is usually VERY saturated in any major metro area (and I'm providing honest stats). I imagine I would be doing much better in rural areas (but I'd be driving much more and probably selling fewer snacks per box). I suppose it is a big fish in a small pond... versus being a variable size fish in a lake or ocean situation. There are pros and cons to each. As was said, it is highly variable, though... some days, I might be 3/11 and other days 1/19 or even 0/22. No joke. Those are all real days this year. I just checked my locating log stats so far this year for the heck of it, and I'm 7/86 in 2019... 8.1% success. I don't feel like checking my notes and counting them up, but I figure that a quarter of those cold calls I had no chance for reasons mentioned, but that is still only 10.8% success (7/65) if you drop those off. Remember, I'm just part time (one day per week with roughly 1hr swapping boxes and 2hrs locating new)… those %s would change a lot if I do good next time out or re-visit prior ones and they decide to accept a box. From those trips this year, I still have a dozen or more leads to follow up on when I have time or go back to that street (employee liked it but I'd need to email or call decision maker, need to stop back since store was too busy at the time, manager was on vaca or not working that day, manager supposedly asking corporate, etc etc). Most of those kernels never pop into popcorn, but a few occasionally do... worth emailing or stopping back in when you're nearby. Where I am, there are at least three competing snack box companies I've run into that also do snack boxes very similar to mine. I think one is full line vending that also does snack boxes, but I don't care... just minding my own business. Some shops actually have multiple boxes (I won't play that game). A lot of places say to me "snack box is back there, but your co-worker just brought a new one yesterday" when they see me walk in... saves me time, I guess. Other places reject me since they tried it in the past with other snack services and got burned for whatever reason... I try to ask them what their dissatisfaction was and offer to do better, but the bridge is typically burnt long ago. I've even found banks or shops that literally opened a month before I visited and they already have a box company that beat me to it. It is pretty competitive. I guess the good side is that the majority of the area businesses are familiar with how snack boxes work... saves me some time explaining. Corporate places (cell phone shops, urgent care centers, banks, oil change shops, etc) are the toughest because the decision maker is often someone in a HR office halfway across the city, state, or even the country. Even if the first front desk person you see and that store's manager is interested, they typically cop out since they don't want to go through the trouble of asking corporate for approval... or corporate says no. Medical or dental or vet places are also very tough since the doc is usually the owner, and even if they're not busy, they often just say no when the front desk girl goes back to ask them since they want to avoid coming up front and talking for a minute. It is still worth trying everywhere, though. I find that I do the best with local businesses or franchised shops (where the manager/owner is decision maker and might even be sitting up front), but they are not always high volume places. These are your salons, credit unions, shops, shared tax/insurance/law/etc offices, auto and manufacturing, etc etc. You never know until you try. I will give any place a chance and treat them well unless they violate my theft rate % policy. My point is simply that you can get this to work well anywhere if you work at it and have a good product + service. I could have easily given up once I kept running into competition, but I have built up to around 50 boxes, and it is a good, fun side job. I just wanted to put this out there so any new reader on the forum starting snack or mint/lollipop boxes doesn't get discouraged if their area is in a busy city with a lot of competition and dead-end corporate businesses also. If I ever retire or move to somewhere more rural, I'd imagine I might get success placing 1 in 5 and having far fewer locations where placing would be impossible. If any of you are in that type of location, count your blessings. Either way, it's a fun side hustle. GL
  13. He had some a month or two ago when I inquired... maybe half that many boxes. I was gonna buy them, but he wanted a pre-paid mail label or something I didn't understand how to do... maybe you do? Try PM'ing him
  14. Update with prototype plastic snack box is pictured below. The plastic one fits 60 snacks: 38 dollar items (2 cheez it, 4 cookies, 15 candy, 5 crackers, 5 trail mix, 3 fruit snack, 2 oat bars, 1 trail mix bar, 2 nutri grain) and 22 half dollar ones (4 reeses single, 4 fun size candy, 6 slim jim, 6 peanuts, 2 gum). I tried to keep it as close as possible to my standard cardboard box that you can see in the left side of last attached pic (73 items: 50 dollar 23 half dollar). I can post more pics of the plastic ones when I put logos and cash area cover onto it (cash area will be two squares in middle, covered with a cardboard logo piece approx. 4x6in), but for now, you get the jist of things. I hope not to change over any locations since the plastic boxes are more expensive. They will just be an alternative for any new locations that have that dust/mice objection. No charity affiliation for me; I find it phony and unnecessary... good product and service sells itself in my experience. Box logo cards would go on the outside (clear lid) of the plastic box and on the cardboard piece that will be cash slot/cover, which would be the two square middle sections.
  15. There is a wealth of info on here if you search around and read threads. You can read here, Google around, maybe read a book or two (Thomason's Truth About Vending is my fav), and then decide what makes sense to you. Like anything, you will do some learning by experience... trial and error. Snack boxes and charity lollipop/mint boxes are two different animals. You want to be specific when asking questions. Vending is a numbers game, though... no doubt about that. I would start with as many boxes as you can get into decent locations. Put the boxes anywhere reasonably busy that wants them. You never know until you try. My basic business model that I've developed in the past couple years is posted here, but that's just me... you will want to gather ideas and develop your own game plan: GL and welcome!
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