When you’re first getting into the vending machine industry you may come across ads for vending machine locators. But, what is a vending machine locator? Essentially, a vending machine locator is a service business that will help you find a spot to place one or multiple vending machines. You may have thought it was an app to find a vending machine near you (which exists), but that’s not the case for vending machine industry lingo.
Vending Machine Locators do a lot of Cold Calling
A vending machine locator (also called a vending machine placement service) will call and talk to a variety of business in the area that you are looking to place vending machines. Of course, you could do this legwork yourself, but if you’ve got the money to pay for prospects (the going rate typically tends to be $30-$50 per location, but varies by state/city/town).
Finding vending machine locations is essentially a cold calling sales job, so if you’re not a particularly good sales person, or just have some social anxiety, then hiring a vending machine locator would be a good fit for you. Why is it a sales job? Well, you’ll have to convince whoever you’re calling that having a vending machine on their property is a good idea – and depending on how far out there your idea for product-market fit is, it may be a tough sell.
The main selling point are that their customers can have access to other items that the business owner wouldn’t typically stock themselves – like an alcohol vending machine in a dispensary. Or that the property owner can receive some ancillary income from the sales that your machine produces.
Vending Machine in a Car Mechanic Shop or Dealership
A basic example is a car mechanic business. Mechanics are not in the business of selling snacks or drinks, but they have a business that requires that a person physically goes to their shop. Mechanics also typically have a waiting room where their customers can wait while the car is repaired.
So, a mechanic’s business is ripe for a vending machine placement – plenty of foot traffic and customers that might need to wait around for hours on end, and possibly get hungry or thirsty during that time period – heck, a pizzabot would be awesome for a luxury car dealership.
So, to pitch your vending machine service to a mechanic’s shop, a vending machine locator would probably offer the owner’s a small cut of the vending machine sales, but also point out that the vending machine would be a welcomed service for their customers. As an added bonus, the mechanic will probably also not have to deal with as many “hangry” customers who have been sitting around waiting for their car to be fixed.
There could even be cool or practical car related items in the machine as well – like HotWheels for kids who are waiting with their parents, ice cream for the kiddos or sweet toothed adults, or car related art and merchandise for die hard fans of car brands in dealerships.
The Items in the Vending Machine are Important, Too
I chose a car mechanic shop as an example location because, well, those are popular locations for vending machines. So, there is likely already a snack and drink vending machine in all of the car mechanic shops near you. But, I would bet that none of the mechanic shops have a healthy snack option like a fruit vending machine, or, going the other direction, a milkshake vending machine. So, don’t be disheartened if a place already has a vending machine, just try to figure out something unique to sell that could still be profitable. If the mechanic’s shop is in a rural area and they work on a lot of farmers’ trucks, a corn vending machine that sells corn feed by the pound or truckload might make sense.
Micro Real Estate Experts
The very best alternative to a vending machine locator service is the Micro Real Estate website – which is essentially designed to act as a crowd sourced vending machine locator – it is a micro real estate site (kind of like traditional real estate sites like Zillow or Redfin), but specifically focused on Vending Machine locations and locations for other small machines like electric vehicle chargers.
Just wait until there are readily available combination machines like EV chargers with a built in vending machine – for snack, or maybe even electric vehicle parts or batteries! The future is going to be even more wild with the addition of Big Data to track vending machine sales and optimize item types, and the ability to offer augmented reality digital entertainment products, so it’s a good idea to catch this next wave early.