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Looking for info on a single machine startup


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I am not currently in the vending business but am interested in setting up a single vending machine in a Crossfit gym.  I will stock it with drinks & snacks that the members have requested, but some of these items will be expensive, such as protein powders that sell for $30-$50 a container.


Now on to the questions I have.


1.  Would a simple Excel spreadsheet be fine to accomplish inventory & sales tracking for a single machine?


2. Can anyone provide me with an example spreadsheet?


3.  What brand or model machines can handle both drinks & snacks while keeping the drinks cool?


4.  What brand or model will accept credit cards, & how are these machines connected to process the card?


5.  What type of card processor do you use for vending machine services?  Does Square have the ability to handle this?


6.  Should I setup an LLC, S-corp, etc, for a single machine operation?  I'm a member of the gym & friends with the owner but do want to protect myself from the unforeseen. 



Thanks for any info you can provide me!

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Welcome to the forum.  I must say, based on your questions, that you haven't utilized the search box at the top of this forum page.  Many questions like yours have been asked many times in the last year.  Here are the short answers:


  1. Yes, a spreadsheet would be the easiest way to track a single machine or a few machines.  The more machines you have the more cumbersome a spreadsheet gets.  Don't try to micro-mange this, but one machine is hard to over manage.
  2. Check the Downloads link at the top of this page.  You'll probably find something there that will work for you.
  3. There are many combo machines available, but you want to stick with one made and built in the US so that you will have good support.  The uncertain part of this is your mentioning of high price protein powders.  What size powder sells for $30 or more?  Any combo machine you use will have a maximum size container it can sell which will be the size of a 20 oz bottle.  For that you'll need a combo machine with pull out bottle shelves like one from AMS or USI.
  4. Any late model machine can be retrofitted with a card reader as any machine built in the last 10 years or so will use the MDB communication protocol.  The card reader will use cellular service to connect for transactions.
  5. You will need to use one of several providers that cater to the vending business.  The most popular is USA Technologies and they provide their own backoffice processor.
  6. In reality the chance of some liability is small but if you're concerned about the liability, and you should be, then a simple LLC will be sufficient to save your house if you poison someone.
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