One of the most common questions I get asked as a Vending Distributor is how to find good locations. This is the topic I would like to discuss this week. There are basically two ways to obtain vending locations. You can find them yourself or you can hire a locator to do the work for you. I have done it both ways and can tell you that both ways can be right or wrong for you depending on how you approach the task.
If you are going to locate yourself, there are a few questions you should ask yourself, such as:
- Do you have a lot of time?
- Are you a good salesperson?
- Do you have a lot of friends in your community that would be willing to host your vending machine?
If you answered “no” to two or more of these questions, then doing the locating yourself may not be the right solution for you. Finding good locations takes a good sales pitch, good people skills, self-motivation, and time. Another great tool that many vending guys recommend is having a local charity in which you sponsor. I will discuss this in a future blog post. For now, I will say that most of my prized locations are ones that I found on my own. I have found locations by making cold phone calls as well as just walking into the business and talking to the manager in person. Both ways can be effective. If you are a regular customer of that business and they know that, then your chanced of getting in will increase 10 fold. Don’t be afraid to ask as you are leaving your favorite restaurant while you’re on a date, or when you’re checking out at the dollar store. Sometimes these impromptu opportunities are the best and take no effort at all. Lastly, you need to hit up your friends. Whether they are the business owner or an employee, they will have the ability to get you into their business and they can keep an eye on your machine for you too.
If you don’t have any friends, don’t like making the cold calls yourself, or if you just don’t have the time for it, then you should consider hiring a locator. I have tried this mechanism and used 3-4 different companies to help locate for me. I wish I could recommend an outstanding locator, but to be honest, I haven’t had super success with any of them and so I’m not endorsing anyone at this time. I would love to hear your feedback though, on good or bad locators that you have used. The other thing to consider when hiring a locator is money. Typically locators will charge between $40-100 for each bulk candy location depending on the type of Bulk candy machine. They will typically charge $300-500 for your full size snack, soda, or Combo Vending Machines. They typically will have some sort of a guarantee and replacement policy but be sure to read the fine print very carefully. Unfortunately, there are many locators out there that don’t care about what type of location they get you as long as it has an open sign on it. You need the right of refusal and you also need to be able to test out the locations and be able to trade for better ones if they aren’t working for you within a two month trial.
Lastly, you shouldn’t ever pay the full amount until after you get your locations. Good locators will need 50% up front typically which is ok as long as you screen them well, but 100% up front is asking too much in my opinion unless you have worked with them in the past or they have raving reviews.
Finding good vending locations is not rocket science, but it is one of the most overlooked aspects of vending. You have to take into consideration your time involvement or make a budget for it- especially if you are in the bulk candy machines since the lifespan of these locations is much smaller than the full size machines. Vending machines in your garage don’t make money. Vending machines in crappy locations also don’t make money, they only make stale candy. However, vending machines found in high traffic businesses with plenty of traffic do make money and you need to get your machines there, and I am here to help you do just that.