Having been in the ATM Machine business since 1994 and having trained hundreds of individuals on how to do it, I figured it was time to post it here.
I literally have binders full of information and will try to boil it down into a format that most entrepreneurs, business opportunists, sales people and others can follow if they are determined.
The ATM Machine business is NOT a get rich quick scheme nor is it easy. If you are strong, determined, and patient you can be successful in the ATM Business.
INVESTIGATE THE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Before venturing into any business opportunity be sure to do your homework. Research the company you're thinking about working with.
Check not only their web site for information, but try and find independent reviews or video testimonials. Anyone can post "our customers" list or post "testimonials, but actual customer video testimonials are usually reliable. Not to say companies can't compensate people for doing a video, but most of the time what they say is true regardless of the motivation for giving it.
INTERVIEW THE ATM COMPANY
Call them, speak with the Sales Manager, Dealer Manager or person in charge of "ATM investors" or Business Opportunity seekers. Ask this person the following questions:
What is your name, title, email address, direct phone # and how long have you been with the company?
- This person should not hesitate to provide this information. Some ATM companies think competitors are doing research but it shouldn't matter if everything they tell you is true. There is no "secret formula" to the ATM business. 10 years ago, it was more of a mystery but the industry has grown and consolidated. You also want to make sure the person who will be helping you with your business has been in the ATM business at least 3 - 5 years and knows what it's like getting locations (after all that is the toughest part).
How long have you been in the ATM Industry?
- This is relevant since you want to ensure the person that will be helping you (responsible for your success) has the experience to do so. A good answer here would be at least 5 - 10 years.
How many ATM Machines do you personally manage?
- Let me qualify this question. When I mean personally manage I mean, how many location owners do you personally speak with on a regular basis or at minimum how many locations do you manage? Meaning they review transaction reports online, inform the owner of issues or concern if they see down time (low or no transactions), or even how many ATMs do they visit regularly to either load cash or help with in some way? A good answer here should be at least 100 or more.
How many ATM Machines does your company manage?
- A good answer here would be several thousand or more.
- Since There used to be dozens of small Independent Sales Organizations "ISO" like Credit Card Agents but now being an ISO is expensive and tedious. It requires mountains of paperwork and thousands of dollars annually. So now there are several dozens instead of hundreds of legitimate ATM companies that are direct with the processors.
Still, you may run across someone posting ads for business opportunities in the ATM business who are not ISO's or are not even affiliate with ISO's and don't manage or operate any ATMs. Stay clear of them. Also stay clear of scams (people offering to sell you ATM locations). Unless you really know the business I would not recommend purchasing a "ATM route" or locations without some thorough research.
What support or training do you offer for Individuals interested in Owning and/or Operating ATM Machines as a Business Opportunity.
- This answer should be simple and extensive.
- It should include a toll free number to an individual that has at least 5 - 10 years industry experience and who manages a portfolio of ATMs themselves. Someone with experience that you can learn from, not some corporate desk jockey that has never been face to face with an ATM merchant.
- It should include Toll free Technical Support 7/24, should you need help with any machines you own or operate any time of day.
- It should include free access to online reporting in real time so you can see your ATM transactions as they occur and check cash balances so you know when to prepare cash to fill them.
- It should include access to local field service technicians to help you with any problems associated with hardware failure or warranty issues.
Do I need to sign a Dealer Agreement or can I operate ATMs an Owner Operator and under what terms.
- This answer can be complex depending how you decide to pursue the business. If you simply want to sell ATM machines to retail merchants, you would typically sign a dealer agreement. However, if you are going to own and operate ATM machines like a vending machine you may not be required to sign up as a dealer, simply an owner operator.
- Ask for a copy of both agreements so you can read the fine print and discuss it with the manager. Some companies are flexible because they want to work with you. some are strict and go by the letter of the law not the spirit of the law.
- I can assure you that if you called the company and said you wanted to purchase 10 ATMs and had locations all lined up, the terms would be more flexible.
What start up fees are involved?
- This answer is simple. There shouldn't be any significant fees to get started. The requirements are usually a normal background check and credit report since you are dealing with Banks and the Patriot Act. So the anti-terrorism laws are in effect in this business.
- If they try to sell you a business starter kit for hundreds of dollars or offer to sell you locations for $5,000 each run as fast as you can.
How Do you make money?
- Most legitimate ATM processing companies will pay the ATM owner and or person that loads the ATM 100% of the surcharge plus a percentage of the interchange (this is the back-end fee paid by the banks when customers use out of network ATMs - this is how the business works).
- There should also not be any monthly minimum and little if any statement fee. They should also offer free online monitoring and as mentioned about toll free technical support.
- ATM transactions vary all over the place but the average free standing ATM machine in a retail store nationwide does about 200 transactions monthly. Great locations can do 400 - 1000, poor locations may only do 30 - 100. It all depends on traffic. A good rule of thumb is to find out how many people frequent the establishment daily. Then you can estimate that is the # of people that will use the ATM monthly. Each business is a little different, but you can ask your manager or company rep for some advice on location selection.
- If your ATMs average 200 transactions monthly and you charge $2.00 to use it, you should earn at least $400 - $425 per ATM per month.
COMPARE ANSWERS AND DEALS
Once you speak to a few ATM companies you can get a feel for who you would be working with. It's all about relationships so if you get a good feel from the person who helped you and they follow up and answer all your questions and give you a good feeling, it might be a good fit.
ATM MACHINE HARDWARE
You should be allowed to purchase ATM Machines from who ever and where ever you want provided they are compliant with your ATM processing companies requirements.
There are several major brands that should be compatible with everyone including Triton ATM Machines, Tranax ATM Machines, Nautilus Hyosong, & WRG ATMs. Here is a quick list of some of the more popular models. Always be sure when purchasing new or used (certified refurbished) ATM Machines that you get a warranty. Most ATMs from legitimate certified manufacturer distributors include at least a 1 year parts and 1 year labor warranty on both new and certified reconditioned machines.
Some of the most popular equipment available now includes:
Triton 9100 Triton 9600 Triton 9700 Triton TL2000 Triton RL1600 Tranax 1700W Tranax MB1700 Tranax MiniBank C4000 Series Hyosung 1500 Hyosung 1800 Series Hyosung 2100T Series
Be sure any ATM Machine you purchase is 3DES compliant and has a VEPP Keyboard. These are easily identified in the product specs or the order forms when you purchase.
Don't be fooled by low cost ATM Machines from unknown sources. Used machines without warranty could be boat anchors if 3DES and VEPP are not standard or units have not been upgraded or certified reconditioned. A good refurbished ATM should cost about $500 - $1,000 less than a new one and is often just as good for standard volume locations. Speak to the ATM processing company you chose to do business with to help you navigate the various ATM options and select the right ATM machines for your locations.
There is no magic here. The numbers are usually the same. The amount of income you generate from your ATM will be based on the surcharge amount (fee you charge customers to use it) and the percent of interchange shared with you. This can often be based on your total transaction volume. So as your ATM portfolio grows so does your residual income.
There are many other factors involved in the ATM business, it's much like the old payphone business model and very similar to vending machines. Take a look at my resources below to learn more before you begin calling companies.
Take your time to learn as much as you can so you can sound like to know what you're talking about. If you have some cash that you would like to put to work in a new business venture and you like the residual business model, and you like talking to people that own stores, or buildings where there is a lot of traffic this might just be the business for you.
DECIDING WHO TO WORK WITH:
Once you have your answers, you've done your homework and you're ready to invest your hard earned cash you need to chose who you're going to get ATM Machines from and who is going to do the ATM Processing.
You want to try and get the best deal on ATM machines by checking pricing with competitors, but keep in mind that some companies will sell ATM machines at a loss to get the processing (which is usually not the best deal if they rope you in with low cost hardware). Be careful if the "deal" seems to be much cheaper than anyone else. Most ATM machines will be competitively priced.
ATM Processing - The same holds true here. The processing company can't give away more than they get and they also need to stay in business so you want them to make money. Otherwise, when you need help no one will be there to answer the phone. If they are paying out too much, service will suffer and so will your business.
- Get a good deal on ATM Hardware - Get a good deal on processing - Don't sign long term agreements (more than 3 years) - Work with a company that has been around a while - Work with someone at the company who has been in the ATM business at least 5+ years. - Work with an ATM processing company that has several thousand customers. - Be sure they offer Toll Free Support for both sales and service. - Be sure there are no hidden charges - Be sure you get online monitoring of your ATMs - Be sure to do your homework and use the resources below to investigate and learn more.
Do some online research before making calls. When calling, have a pen and paper ready or your spreadsheet open and prepare to take notes when talking to these companies. Don't just send off emails if you want to get a good feel for the company. Be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes talking to your prospects. If you are familiar with the Vending Machine or Arcade Business or have relationships with retail merchants, you should seriously consider the ATM Business.
This is not a get rich quick business, this is a legitimate money making opportunity. Don't waste your time or others. If you are serious about owning or operating ATM Machines, investigate it online as much as you can before making calls. If you plan on owning or operating ATM Machines be prepared to invest at least $1500 - $2500 per ATM Machine plus a few thousand to keep in it on a weekly basis.