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Big ups!


...seems as if my business model mutates or morphs every so often. Gotta keep the mind fresh, the motivation high & the ambition strong!


I've been setting out USi combo II (3155B & 3516 models), Bevmax 4, and Merchant 6  models for the past couple of years. The USi combo II models are no longer in production, but i've been picking them up off of CL.


My current focus of account type is office building common areas, although i will set other account types too if they appeal to me. I currently run 55 accounts by myself (that's been about my average for the last 10 years), so there's not much room for growth. If a prospective account comes up and i want it, i'll close out my smallest or least desirable account on the route, usually passing it on to another fellow vendor.


 In new accounts, i'll set a Bevmax 4 along with a Merchant 6. If the numbers for the account don't appear to hit my gross sales target zone for a Merchant / Bevmax set-up, $200+/ week, then i'll pair up a 3155B and Bevmax. I only put bottled soft drinks, no cans, in the Bevmax, along with lots of different types of beverages...juices, energy drinks, cold coffee products, teas, water & flavored water. The 3155B is a true 3 wide snack machine conjoined with a 312 can or 156 bottle beverage section. I usually stock it with can drinks in order to relieve the Bevmax of product demand and depletion. On the snack side of the 3155B, i replace the factory stock 8 count chip augers with 10 & 15 count. Shelf A i leave the 8 ct. spirals for LSS size chips & large vend products. Shelf B i replace all selections with 10 ct. Shelf C i replace all with 10 ct. Shelf D i replace all with 15 ct. Shelves E, F and G are left with the factory augers.


I've been putting USAT c.c. readers on all machines that i set out. I've got some accounts that barely use the readers, and some that hammer them. It's definitely the point and click generation, the youngsters, that's pulling out the plastic! I've got most of my machines equipped with Mars 7512i coin mechs w/ dollar coins and either Currenza SMV-4117 bill acceptors or Coinco BP4SX valis. I've got them set to accept $1-$20. I like the hypnotic appeal of the Currenza's blue cascading lights along with the sequential flashing blue lights on the c.c. reader. I don't have any recyclers and i don't plan on using them. I feel that technology is advancing so quickly, sooner than later it's gonna be mainly credit / debit cards and mobile wallet purchases. I do have miscellaneous mechs & valis on the route, but over time i'll phase those out.


I've been using a Mercedes Sprinter van for my route vehicle for the last year and it's a huge difference (space-wise) compared to my Chevy Express 3/4 ton van. With my Chevy van, i had to dig and move things to find stuff. I thought i would eliminate all of that with a bigger vehicle, but seems as if whenever i get more space, i want to stuff it with more product too! And so i'm still digging and bending, twisting & turning! And through a lot more stuff! There are some accounts on my route that have parking garages that i could drive into with my Chevy van but not with my Sprinter. So now i gotta stand out in the rain when, before, i was shielded from the elements. It was nice to be able to re-arrange the day's run and go to the parking garage accounts on rainy days. But with all of that said, i love the Sprinter van!


Anyone have any experience with the Crane Merchant Media? Is it comparable to the Merchant 6?


Cheers to your business!...



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...Since most of my accounts are white & gray collar accounts, my product mix has changed dramatically in the last 5 years. "Healthier" products have proliferated the market and my patrons are asking for more facings in my machines. My menu for the Bevmax has incorporated a larger variety of non-carbonated, good for you beverages, such as different flavors of ICE drinks, 23.7oz Arizona teas, V8 Splash, V8 reg., Special K and Slim Fast, O.J., apple juice, cranberry juice, milk... to name a few of the popular drinks. Soft Drinks still are my biggest sellers, with Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Coke Zero, Sprite, M.D., and Sunkist Orange being my most popular flavors. 


In the snack machines, I have at least 10+ facings of healthier items, such as almonds, peanuts, pretzels, different flavors of fig newtons, baked chips, Wheat thins, trail mixes, protein bars, tuna & chicken kits, among other products. It's still a delicate balancing act with knowing how many & how much of the healthy stuff to put in the snack machines. I don't pay any commissions to my locations, so that leaves me a little wiggle room for stales. With more and more folks eating to live instead of living to eat and becoming more intuned to living a healthier lifestyle, I have definitely seen an upward trend in healthy snack purchases over the years and i don't see it slowing down anytime soon.


Just want to share 1 more thing with ya. When i started out in vending, my basic goal was to build my business to where i could work full time and make decent bank relative to the amount of work & hours i put into it. With thought out planning & execution, it happened. Not exactly as foreseen, but that was ok, there's always challenges looming around the corner in this industry.  I always planned to stay a one horse operation and to this day it's just me in the stall. For me, keeping my route small keeps it fun & enjoyable. I have had friends give me a helping hand over the years, but not anyone working with me on a regular basis...


Hope business is great for ya!


...Anyone else willing to share your current business strategies for others to grab ideas off of?...

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Sounds great! I love seeing how everyone runs diferent. Do you mind telling us your work schedule? Your best accounts and lowest? Gross maybe? I too was getting a sprinter but decided on a box truck

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Thanks, TKK! I have read your posts about trying to figure out which vehicle best suited your needs. How's the box truck working out for you? Currently my work schedule is 8:00 am 'til around 7:00 pm Monday - Friday, and I work Saturdays 9 am 'til about 5 pm. Sundays are reserved for the Mrs. & house chores. :mellow:


Just about every morning I'll swing by Kroger and Sam's club and stock up with the day's inventory. Those are my 2 main sources for product. When i get to my locations, i always take in my 2 large coolers that contain my chocolates. In the summer i use blue ice packs to chill the chocolates. I have 6 Rubbermaid containers that I fill with a variety of snacks, chips, cookies, etc. Of the 6 containers, 1 is gray in color and i keep Gardettos, Chex Mix, Zoos, Cheezits, and similar packaged items in it. Another is green and i store Famous Amos, Knotts cookies and similar cookie items in it. The other containers are blue & they have mostly chips in them. I take all 6 containers into the accounts. I have 2 dollies that i use and they are awesome! They're Magliner dollies, model # MT1TA, six wheel merchandise platform truck 1500 lbs capacity. I ordered them from Amazon about 4 months ago and they are the best dollies i've ever used!


About 75% of my accounts I pretty much know what inventory i'll need so i will load up 1 cart with snacks and the other with beverages. The other 25% i know what i need for them too, but the machines are easily and quickly accessable, so i'll go inside and take a mental inventory of the stock i'll need. When restocking a typical Bevmax / snack machine account, it takes me 1-1.5 hours. A stand alone USi combo II takes me about 20-30 minutes. A Bevmax / USi combo location takes me about an hour. I could probably finish restocking the machines in less time, but i enjoy yakking with the clients. ^_^ After restocking, i always clean the glass and check the delivery bin for trash and crumbs. During the next few weeks, i'll be cleaning the tops of all of my machines.


The best account i've had grossed $2500 / week. It was an IT company with about 300 employees and lots of contractors. I serviced them for about 7 years then sold it. It didn't fit in with my business strategy. I had to go there everyday for 3+ hours. I had 17 machines throughout the facilites which consisted of 6 snack machines, 7 can / bottle machines (this was before Bevmaxes were manufactured), 2 AP Cafe Deim 223 coffee machines, 1 AP 320 frozen vendor, and 1 AMS bottle machine. The building had 3 floors and was HUGE! After 9/11, the security had gotten very tight there and getting into the building was a nightmare.


My current highest grossing account does about $600 / week. I've been servicing them since 1996, back when they had about 17 employees and grossed $30 a week! Now my weak accounts, which i call punk accounts, are horrible! I have a Barnes & Noble that i picked up this past summer that does $15 / week gross sales! I'll be removing my machine from there in January. I have a couple of other punk accounts that i'm just waiting until something else pops up before i remove my equipment from their facilities. They also produce weekly revenues south of $20. My current average revenues for my route is about $120 per location / week. That's based on a 50 week year and counting 50 of my accounts because at least 5 of them are absolutely worthless, with another 5 being borderline. Since i don't have any employees, don't have a fleet of delivery vehicles to maintain, don't have a high rent payment for an office / warehouse, don't have a crushing amount of taxes / healthcare / commissions to pay, I don't need mega size accounts to meet my goals. I look for accounts that will gross at the very least $60 / week per machine but optimally $100+ / week per machine. I prefer accounts that require a snack machine and a beverage machine.


How's your route performing, TKK? Comrades, feel free to share your business plans & strategies ^_^

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Here's a breakdown of types of accounts & equipment that currently make up my route: 


9 Retail locations:  

    6 of these are Ulta Cosmetic stores. In each of these stores, i have a USi 3155B combo, each equipped with USAT c.c. reader.

Their breakrooms are teeny tiny, so the combos are a perfect fit. 1 of the stores average $150 / week, 3 average $50 / week, 2 average $75 / week. I service these accounts once every 2 weeks except for the $150 location, which is serviced every week. I have 2 Jared jeweiery stores in which i have a USi 3155B in each of their micro sized breakrooms. Both machines are equipped with USAT c.c. readers. These stores average around $75 / week and i service them once every 2 weeks. My last retail account is Barnes & Noble, which is not even worth talking about. The killer here is that they have a delicatessen in the store and the employees get a discount.  I have a USi 3155B w / c.c. reader. All of my retail accounts hire Christmas help, so gross sales actually increase during our industry's typical seasonal lull. I would like to add a few more retail accounts to counter the slowdown even more so.


24 accounts are office building common areas. These have a variety of equipment, ranging from a solo USi 3155B to a 3 machine set-up. 13 of these accounts have a Bevmax and most machines are equipped with USAT c.c. readers. If space allows, i like to offer snacks, cans, and bottled beverages in all of my accounts.


20 accounts are offices. Again, i have a garden variety of equipment at these locations, with 8 of these accounts sporting a Bevmax. I placed equipment in these locations that specifically targeted their demographic make-up and industry ( if it's a medical facilities, IT firm, call center, architecture firm, etc...) Most of these accounts are serviced once every 2 weeks. There are about 4 that i service on a weekly basis.


2 accounts are manufacturing plants. 1 plant has a Rowe 5900 and a Royal 768 with cans only, the other plant has a National 157, a Vendo 720, and an AMS bottle machine. I haven't equipped either account with c.c. readers yet.


I have 1 pending potential account that i'm supposed to set-up next month but, as we know, you never have an account until your machines are in the breakroom. It appears to be a snack only account so far, but i'm really going to push for a Bevmax too. I'm planning on installing a Merchant Media snack machine with a USAT c.c. reader. It's a retail business with about 175 gray collar employees. Keeping my fingers crossed!... 

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