If you’d like to make a little extra money on the side or want to transition out of your 9-5 job, you might want to know how to start an ATM business. In just 5 steps, you can own and operate an ATM machine that brings in passive income almost immediately.
You don’t need a business license or any specific entrepreneurial training or experience to start an ATM business. Just complete the required documentation, select your ATM machine type, find a location, set a surcharge, and start making a profit. Here, we’ll tell you how to start an ATM business today!
Step 1: Get Compliant with Paperwork
When starting an ATM business, you have to complete the required documentation. The following forms and documentation are necessary in order to even get your machine. This proves that you are qualified to operate an ATM machine and helps set you up for success. This process is designed to make purchasing and operating an ATM machine seamless.
Your ATM processor will require an equipment order form. This is where you choose the equipment you want and indicate whether you or someone else will handle installation. You will also need to document what your surcharge will be (see below) and what denominations your ATM will dispense.
Next is the ACH form so that your revenue can be deposited into your bank account! Your driver’s license is required to prove your identity and pass a background check. You cannot run an ATM business if you have been found guilty of a felony or financial crime.
A voided business check verifies the legitimacy of your linked bank account. For the purposes of running an ATM business, the account must be a checking account, not a savings account.
The ATM Operator Agreement and application tells banking partners who they are working with and ensures all federal regulations are met. You will need to complete and submit a W-9 form as well. Since you will be making money from your ATM machine, you’ll need to document your earnings for tax purposes.
Finally is the ATM processing agreement. This document lists your rights and obligations as the ATM owner as well as the rights and obligations of the ATM processor. It’s the legal contract between you and the ATM processor that runs your ATM machine program. This agreement also ensures you receive your payment as agreed upon.
Other Applicable Documentation
You may or may not need to complete these forms. They don’t apply in all situations. For example, a business license and permit might only be necessary if your local government requires it. Otherwise, you can register as a sole proprietor under a “doing business as” business name.
A placement agreement, or site location agreement (SLA), would only be necessary if you are planning to install your ATM machine in a location that was owned by someone else. This document serves as a contract between you and that third party and outlines each party’s responsibilities and share of the revenue.
Like all insurance, ATM insurance is completely optional. You can opt to purchase it and account for the cost when calculating your potential profit after operation costs. Or you can test your luck without it. Kind of a gamble here, but if you work with an insurance company that is associated with the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), they can guide you toward a policy that meets your specific needs.
Last is the wireless agreement. This allows the ATM processor to send you a wireless modem which converts your signal from Internet to cellular and speeds up your connection. Again, this is optional and can be done on your own timeline.
Step 2: Select ATM Type
When choosing ATM equipment, there are three necessary decisions you have to make: ATM type, manufacturer and model, and new or refurbished.
You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing ATM equipment. First you must decide the ATM type. There are free-standing, through-the-wall (TTW), and wall mount ATM machines.
Free-standing ATMs offer the most flexibility when it comes to placement. They can be installed anywhere there is a power source. They have a small footprint which is helpful when planning around available floor space in a store.
TTW ATMs are bulkier but more secure because the interface, the back of the machine, is secured within the wall extending into the next room. This can make accessing the machine to replace currency a little safer.
Wall mount ATMs can be mounted to a wall, table, or countertop. This can be convenient if your location doesn’t have a lot of extra space available. This is also a more practical choice for small businesses and low-traffic locations.
Manufacturers and Equipment Options
Two of the most popular ATM manufacturers are Hyosung and Genmega. Both produce high-quality, reliable equipment. ATM Depot also offers the full lines of Triton and Hantle (Tranax) machines.
Each of these market-leading manufacturers produces sturdy ATM equipment that lasts upwards of ten years. Just remember that pricing will vary based on the manufacturing company, machine type, and features. You can get more information about manufacturer and equipment options in our ATM Buyers Guide.
New vs. Refurbished
You also have the option of purchasing your ATM machine new or refurbished. New machines are recommended for first-time independent ATM deployers (IADs) who are just starting an ATM business. The new technology informed by feedback from IADs and users makes new ATM machines easier to use.
However, purchasing a refurbished machine could save you some money and therefore speed up your ROI and increase your profit. It’s also better for the environment to reuse electronic equipment rather than having it sent to the landfill.
Step 3: Find a Location
Choosing the right location is very important when it comes to making a profit from your ATM business. You have to find a location where there’s a great need for an ATM machine. Where do people go where they need cash to pay for goods and services? Where is there a large gap between one ATM machine and the next? What are the areas of your city with the most foot traffic? And who might you have to partner with in order to place your machine in a strategic spot?
Who Will Own the Space?
Before you should even think about ordering an ATM machine, you need to know where you’re going to put it. Choosing the perfect ATM location is a very strategic process. You have to consider factors such as visibility, ease of access, and competition.
The first decision you have to make when choosing a location is whether you want to rent your own space, supply a space you already own, or coordinate with a site location owner. If you rent or purchase your own space, you have to factor that into your operating costs and adjust your business model accordingly to still make enough of a profit for it to be worth it.
The same is true of partnering with a site location owner. Depending on the agreement you set up, you could end up splitting your profits with the owner of the location where you choose to install your ATM. Keep this in mind when calculating your potential profit.
What Are the Best ATM Locations?
When it comes to choosing the right location for your ATM machine, you really have to consider what’s best for you and your business specifically. And you have to work with the locations available to you. Generally speaking, the best ATM locations typically share the same characteristics: cash only, high traffic, good reviews, liquor license, distance from other machines, and convenience for you.
Locations that are cash only or that encourage cash transactions create the demand that your ATM supplies. If people need cash, they need an ATM. This is good for business. So is high traffic.
The more people who pass by and see your ATM on a regular basis, the more business you’re likely to get. High traffic areas also provide a certain level of security and comfort among users. Isolated machines away from security cameras or the public eye present an increased risk of vandalism and theft.
If you partner with a store owner, you want your ATM to be placed in a store or business that has good reviews. The more customers that store gets, the more business your ATM is likely to get.
Locations with liquor licenses are good options, too. They are open late, so that extends the hours of operation of your ATM machine and offers more opportunities for transactions. Plus, it’s reasonable to have an increased surcharge at these locations, too (more on surcharge later).Finally, you have to consider the proximity of your machine to you as well as to other machines. The closer your ATM is to other machines, the more competition you have to get customers. But you also want the machine to be convenient for you to access. The more time and money you spend getting to your machine for maintenance and surveillance, the less profit you make.
What Are the Most Profitable ATM Locations?
There are some specific business types that tend to be more profitable due to increased surcharges, high demand, and large volume of patrons. These include casinos, gentlemen’s clubs, hotels, nightclubs and bars, convenience stores and gas stations, restaurants, barbershops and salons, microbreweries, and parking lots.
Keep in mind that profits will vary based on each individual business’s success. When looking for an optimal location for your ATM, choose a business that is busy, regularly brings in customers, and has good potential for staying in business for a while.
Step 4: Set Your Surcharge
The surcharge is the fee customers or users pay for the service your ATM machine offers. For each transaction made on your ATM machine, you make the surcharge amount in return. Setting your surcharge is a very strategic process. You want to offer a competitive surcharge while also setting yourself up to make as much profit as possible.
The average ATM surcharge fee is about $2.50. Depending on the competition in your area, you can raise or lower that fee amount. And you can change it at any time.
You might want to start with a low surcharge to encourage people to use your machine as you are just getting started. Or, alternatively, you might want to set a higher surcharge to meet your ROI quicker and start profiting sooner. The choice is up to you.
You also want to consider whether or not you’ll be sharing any portion of the revenue with a third party like a site location owner. If you are, you might opt to set a higher surcharge so that you make more after the site location owner’s share.
Step 5: Start Making Money
It is possible to make a good amount of money from an ATM business. When you’re just starting out, you will want to undergo a modicum of trial and error to get your business model just right. But with an ATM business, you have a low overhead and many opportunities for growth.
As long as people use your machine, you will make money. Getting people to use your machine is the hard work that you have to do once everything is set up. But once you do, you should expect to be making at least $450 monthly gross revenue. That’s 180 transactions a month at $2.50 each.
You can expect 40%-70% annual ROI from any location that warrants 80-100 transactions monthly. To make $1,500-$2,000 monthly in profit, you would need to own and operate 5-10 ATM machines. This is certainly possible if you can establish an efficient routine with your first machine and find optimal locations for subsequent machines.
How to Start an ATM Business
If you want to know how to start an ATM business, it’s actually very easy. In just a few steps you can start making money. It will require a little bit of work to develop a routine with your machine and test different surcharge amounts and marketing strategies. But there are very few steps involved between completing the required paperwork and beginning to make money.
The best part about running an ATM business is that most of the factors that determine your success are in your control. You decide how much to invest in equipment, where you want your machine, who to work with, and how much you’d like to make per transaction. If you still have questions regarding how to start an ATM business, you can speak with an ATM Depot representative. Contact us today!