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First day on route

The Mage

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First day on route


(Warning, long post.)

Today was the first time I had ever ran a vending route.  This is pretty much how that day went.

When I bought this route 6 days ago, I was a little reluctant due to the fact it is located in Omaha, and I live in Lincoln.  But I travel to Omaha often, and have relatives we visit  who live there, so I decided the thought of going up there once or twice a month didn't bother me, and I bought the route.

Anyway I spent the past week trying to prepare myself.  Buying a large plastic tote to store bags of candy in.  2 large plastic food storage containers for the Hot Tamales, and Mike & Ike's.  (Dump 'em in, spry them with Pam, stir, and ready to go.)  1 cup measuring cups to keep track of how much candy I put into each machine.  Binder for records, file folder for expense receipts, and my own 2 part receipts for the commission locations.

Oh yeah, I bought some candy too.  $90 worth.  Knew it would be more then I needed, but I preferred to be over then under on candy.

The day started, and of course I was running late.  Started taking everything to the car, which took a lot longer then expected.  That included a filled machine I was going to trade for one on the route.

I ended up arriving at my first location 1½ hours later then I planned.  The first stop was very clumsy, and it took 3 trips to get everything to the machine.  The Hot Tamales in that machine were sun bleached, and the front of the skittles looked a little sun damaged also.  Well I cleaned out all the Hot Tamales, and I also taste tested the skittles, and found they were fine, so only removed some from the front.  (Yes, clean hands.)  All of that candy was placed in a WalMart bag for later disposal.

One thing I dislike about these machines is that all the money falls into the bottom, all mixed up, so you only have a general idea of which quarter came from where.  I designed these cardboard separators to install on the machines, but this is the only machine I put them in so I could test how well they do.  The position did not interfere with the quarters dropping into the machine, at least when I tried them at home.  But I found that even without those separators, taking the quarters out of the bottom of the machine was quite a task, so having these separators may make this even worse.

I did clean this machine throughly, and found that the chutes looked terrible.  I spent extra time cleaning these out.  Stuck candy pieces, dust, and the dirt that should not have been there.

On purchasing these machines, the previous owner said he had just run the route a little more then a week prior, and was going to leave all the money in the machines for me.  I knew there was the possibility that he was lying, and cleaned out the machines before he gave me the keys.  But I decided to go under the assumption that what I was going to see on this route was 2 weeks worth of vending, and would receive was about half of a normal month.  (I also trusted the guy.)

Well my first machine, which I spent way too much time on, produced a grand total of $3.50.  Not the best of starts, but hopefully making the candy look a little better will help with sales.

I left for my next location, and started really worrying about time.  Unfortunately I became slightly lost heading to the second location.  I missed the street I was supposed to turn on, thinking it was about a mile further then it was.

Well I caught the error, backtracked, and got on the right track.  And of course, construction on the street right in front of the location I was going to. 

I was getting a little smarter though.  Some of the sealed candy I had was in a Hot Tamale box.  So I took all the candy out, put in the candy I needed, plus the cleaning supplies, and my record book.  Everything fit.

Since I was planning on returning in 2 weeks, I figured I would fill the machines half way up, and see how they dropped in 2 weeks.  Anything that dropped below a quarter of the machine would need more then half, and anything that had only slightly dropped may need to be kept low.  (And might need a different candy for that head in that location.)

Well 2 of the heads at this location were already ¾ full, so I only added to one.  But once again the chutes needed a good cleaning.  Here I started following a pattern.  Add the candy - Clean the machine - Put the money in the bag - Take it all to the car - Count the money - Drop in the safe.

This time things looked up.  Exactly $10. 

After I went back to the car, I realized I didn't put my label on the back.  I printed labels with my business name, a contact number, and I also used this label to number each machine to help with my records.

On my way back to the car I was stopped in the parking lot by a person seeing a job at the location, and had to tell him I didn't work there, so I couldn't help.  As he drove off I was thinking I expect to make more an hour from vending then they would pay.  (Well eventually.)

As I traveled to my next destination, I thought this route was too spread out.  I hope to get more locations soon, and split the route into 2 more condensed routes.

On the drive to the next location the bag of disposable candy from the first location opened up in my car and spilled out.  Should have dumped it into a garbage can immediately instead of putting it in my car.  Or tied the top together.

The next location is a bank, and everything went smoothly there, except for pulling out the quarters  Which still takes way too long.  I may need to pick something up to scoop under the quarters to make picking them up easier.  Or get coin trays and see if they work in this machine.  Or even make my own out of cardboard.

Pulled $13.50 out of this machine, so things are looking up.

The next place was where the previous vendor's daughter worked, so he didn't put an actual address since he knew how to get there.  Unfortunately I forget to get the real address, at least I  had a general idea of where it is, but still had to do a little looking.  All for a paltry $2.25.

He did say they have classes there, (I think 1 or 2 times a month,) and it does good when the classes are going on.  I will wait and see.

Next up, a pizza franchise.  I seem to be getting the hang of things, and pull out $6.25.  Hoped for more, but then I paid the 30% commission, leaving me with $4.37.  I may try to get that reduced, but not sure how they would react to that.

I found problems with my map, which seemed to give weird directions, telling me to find the next address on a different street then where it was located.  It was only a couple of blocks away from my last location, and not hard to find.

But  it's the peak of rush hour, and just getting onto the street was annoying.

Another bank.  Discovered one of the candies he had listed was wrong, and had to run back to the car.  Pulled out $4.

The bank closed as I finished the machine, and this is a problem because I still have 3 of the same types of banks on this route.

I drove past my next 2 locations, (banks,) and to a real estate office where I traded my Vendstar machine for the one located here.  The switch didn't take long, of course, but taking apart the old machine to put into my car was a pain.  Hard to get at little bolts in bad positions.  But another $10.50.

On to the next pizza place, same franchise as the first.  Pulled out a grand total of $3.25, of which 98¢ went to the store.  (Come on now.)

Now I have to drive passed the next 2 locations because one is a bank, and the other is another real estate office which has now closed too. 

But once again my map failed me.  The route directed me to a residence instead of the business.  I could not find any logic in how it came up with this address 7 blocks away, on the same named street.  (But not connected.)  I did find the right place.

Another Pizza place, but local.  The previous vendor said this was a good location, so I was thinking of upgrading to a 4 head here if it pans out.  And I pulled $22.25 out.  And promptly gave $6.68 to the manager.  (30% sucks.)

I disliked being here this late in the day, and the place was busy, so I was doing this in front of everyone, and drawing attention to myself.  I was hoping to beat their rush. 

At this point I was just pouring the candy in without measuring it.  (In 2 weeks, when I know how exactly much candy was in the machines will that start to matter.)  But once again, taking all the quarters out of the machine took almost as long as doing everything else. 

My final destination was a rec center.  2 machines badly in need of cleaning.  But a location with lots of kids with quarters.

There was a Scout meeting going on, and one of the leaders asked me for change for a dollar.  (4 less quarters to count at the bank.)  One kid put a quarter in while I was taking the money out, so I got his quarter too.

One problem is that one of the heads has runts, and is running out.  I have no runts, and was thinking of using a similar candy sold by Sam's, but had not ordered it yet, and it takes 7-10 days to ship.

At this point I wanted to finish up, so I combined all the coins together and counted them, so I don't know what each machine made.  But together they brought $29.75.  (And another kid bought candy as I was leaving, so there is already another quarter in the machine.)

6½ hours from the first machine to the last.  Way too long.  But I missed 4 locations, and still broke $90.  I believe he was being honest when he said he was going to leave the money in there.  (At this point I would almost love it if he lied, and this is just a weeks worth.)

The whole route seems to be running within what I was expecting, but I want to cut 2½ hours off the route time.  Hopefully the machines will need less cleaning next time, and each time I run the route, I will learn the area better.  And if I get something to make removing the quarters easier, then I could cut at least a minute or two off of each location.

So my goals are:

Get something that will make taking quarters out of the machine quicker.  Not exactly sure what that is yet, but I know what I am looking for.

Learn the route so I can drive it quicker.

Once I am comfortable with vending what I have, start expanding my route in Omaha, so I can split it up into 2 smaller routes.

Also get some in Lincoln too.  One of the reasons I decided to add Omaha was to expand the list of possible locations, but I don't want it to be my only locations.

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Sounds like your on the right path. Did you move the machine with the sun damaged candy? People don't usually like that......if you can move the machine out of the sunlight. Also a reall good said the chutes in a few of the machines were dirty.....depending on what kind of machine you have you should check the dispensing mechanisms(wheel,barrel,whatever it is). I once came upon a machine of mine that had never emptied before. Well it had been emptied to due an event at the store bringing in a surge of foot traffic that month. What I saw disgusted me....there was a clump of rp's in the bottom and the dispensing mechanism was covered in wax from not being cleaned or switched in awhile. I immediate switched the machine on site. Just be carefull because if the chute was dirty this could be happening as well. If your machine empties and the customers see what I saw you'll lose a few customers. Good luck with the route....upgrade,ugrade!!

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I am actually planning on going through the route and changing each machine out, one by one, with a clean, fresh one.  I am fairly certain there are plenty of machines out there that have been placed, and other then being wiped down, they have never been taken out of service and cleaned.

I don't think he was neglecting the machines, but sometimes people miss certain things, and I think he focused on the outside of the machine, and not the chute.  Me, I have a little ocd, so I have thought of taking a clean, unused toothbrush, and getting the crevices clean too.

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If your talking about the route, I have to go counterclockwise due to banks closing at 5:30, and one of the pizza places opening at 4:00. 

Now if your talking about adding in turning into locations, and turning left turns into a few right turns, that can make sense, and yes I am familiar with this.

Side roads can also be good, or bad, or even it could depend on the time of day.

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One problem is that one of the heads has runts, and is running out.  I have no runts, and was thinking of using a similar candy sold by Sam's, but had not ordered it yet, and it takes 7-10 days to ship.

If your talking about Rascals be careful. A lot of candy mechs have a metal plate that does not completely cover the hole. Rascals will slip through. So I cannot vend Rascals in 1800's otherwise people will figure out if you twist the handle you get a couple for free everytime. (Same with Reese's Pieces)

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At the time I was talking about "crazy banana candy".  Mixed fruit flavors, but all in banana shapes.  But after this post, I decided to go with the rascals.

I don't think the leak would be a problem with the machine I have.  Different dispensing mechanism.  A round tube surrounded with rubber fingers that keep excess candy out of the dispenser.

But I will keep that in mind when I am trying out different machines.

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So you have 15 locations, all in omaha. living in lincoln does hurt a bit, but with only 15 machines to do, if you wake up early enough to be at the first location when they open, you should be able to knock it out. I live about an hour from louisville, ky. i got about 30 machines there. on louisville day, i wake up about 5.30-6am, get everything loaded up, and get to my first location (body shop) right at 8. I am normally done with this route by 2-3pm. my machines are all modded vendstars, so service is pretty quick. I always take extra stuff with me. 12 canisters, 2 coin mech hsgs. 5 backs, 5 lids. is somethings broke, or looks bad, i just swap it out, and deal with it later.

on a side note, i know where there is an empty uturn at, in lincoln. not sure what it's story is, but i could tell you where it is if you want to investigate. its at a place i would think would be a decent location.....PM me.

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My wife is actually a little annoyed that she doesn't have the same day off the next time I am going up there.  Taking the time to visit her sister, and hit the malls appeals to her.  (Then again, that could turn a profitable business into a financial disaster.)

We're up there anyway, so why not try to make it coincide with making some money?  And it's actually 15 machines in 14 locations.  I have decided that I will take over his sticker machines in a few months if they are still for sale.  (As soon as I save enough.)  That would be another 9 machines in Omaha, 3 of which are in locations I am already going to.

I have thought of contacting him earlier, and offering to buy the ones in the locations I am already going to, with an agreement to buy the others at a later date.  24 machines in 20 locations, worth the drive I think.

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why not make an offer to buy on a contract sale? I have bought many a machine this way.

the worst thing that happens is he says no. it will give you a head start on all the no's once you will get when you start locating...

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He already said no when I suggested it on the bulk candy machines, so I really doubt he would do it for the sticker machines.

I tried to parlay his no into a discount on the price, but he wouldn't budge there either.  But I was willing to accept his price, and I knew that going in.

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