ATM Business Basics Part II: How to Start Up and Operate an ATM Business

Understanding how to start up and operate an ATM business might be one of the most overlooked parts of owning and operating ATM machines.

Yes, the ATM machines are important. But, most of the time investment actually goes into operating the business. After all, it only takes a few minutes to load cash into an ATM.

There are plenty of resources that explain how ATM owners make money. So, we’re going to focus on the process of starting and running your ATM business.

How to start up and operate an ATM business

Contrary to how it might seem, buying an ATM machine is not the first step. First, you need a place to put it (that isn’t your garage). These are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Identify potential ATM locations. There are plenty of options—gas stations, convenience stores, bars, and so on.
  2. Talk to the business owners and negotiate an agreement to provide an ATM for the business. You will need a contract for this agreement.
  3. Buy the ATM machine.
  4. Install the ATM machine, and secure it properly.
  5. Fill the ATM with cash.
  6. Tell people about your ATM.

Three of these steps actually have very little to do with the ATM machine itself. These three steps are major cornerstones of any business. And, these are the steps that most new business owners struggle with.

So, we’re going to break them down.

Identify ATM locationsGreat ATM Locations

In other businesses, this would be called “lead generation.” And, in many businesses, it’s a tricky process that some people never quite master.

But, in the ATM business, identifying leads can be as simple as visiting nearby businesses, choosing good candidates for an ATM placement, and asking if they have an ATM machine.

If the location already has an ATM machine, that doesn’t mean that you can’t place an ATM there. But, it’s an additional hurdle, since you’ll have to replace the current ATM provider. The business owner may or may not be willing to do that.

Either way, you can generate leads simply by visiting businesses and tracking which ones have ATMs and which ones don’t. Keep notes on locations, and remember locations that may be worth the extra effort to replace an existing ATM.

This list of businesses is essentially your leads database.

Negotiate with business owners

In traditional business terms, this would be the “sales” stage. This is where you actually sell your ATM services to the business owner. And, this can be the most challenging and time-consuming part of the process.

First, you have to convince the business owner to talk to you at all. Business owners are busy. And, people generally don’t like being sold to.

But, even though this is a sales process, it doesn’t have to be salesy.

Approach this as a relationship-building process. It’s important that people trust you and are willing to work with you. Focus on understanding what the business owner needs and helping them solve their problems. The agreement is beneficial to both you and the business owner. Be willing to make the arrangement lucrative for the business owner, and help them understand how it benefits them.

If you struggle with negotiation and sales, it’s wise to develop a script for starting the conversation. It’s impossible to predict how any interaction will play out. But, it’s easier to start the conversation if you at least know what you’re going to say first.

Using a script or some sort of plan also enables you to optimize your negotiation and sales process. If you’ve tried something several times, and it’s not working, try something else. Once you find the thing that works, put it in your plan and stick with it.

You’ll also need a contract for this step. A verbal agreement won’t cut it.

You can get a lawyer to draw up a contract for you. However, this will usually cost about a thousand dollars.

Or, you can use a contract template, which is much more affordable. We offer contract templates as part of our membership at ATMDepot.

You can probably find other templates on the internet. But, if you download a free contract template, make sure that it has all the necessary recitals and protections you need. Your contract is the only thing that protects you in a dispute.

ATM at a Gas Station via StockPromoting your ATM

This last step is otherwise known as “marketing.” You’re going to get some organic transactions simply by having the ATM placed.

But, more transactions are better. And, the more people that know about your ATM, the more transactions you’ll get.

You’ve probably seen the “ATM” signs in the windows at gas stations and convenience stores. Adding one of these signs will raise awareness about your ATM.

But, if there are nearby businesses that don’t have ATM machines, go tell them about the new ATM. That way, when people ask if they have an ATM, these other businesses can direct people to your ATM machine.

As a bonus, it’s a good reason to have a conversation with more business owners who don’t have an ATM of their own. It could lead to installing a new ATM.

The business cycle

These three steps will essentially be your ATM business. Yes, there will be accounting and service calls. But, the vast majority of growing your business will be going through these three steps over and over. If you master these steps, your business will boom.

Get leads.

Negotiate an agreement.

Support and promote your ATM.

The rest is just the manual labor of installing the ATM machines and filling them with cash.

It might seem daunting. But, the first step is the easiest: just go out and visit businesses and find out which ones have no ATM. It’s simple, and you’ll start building your book of leads.

After that, you just need to follow up with your leads. Then, go through the core business steps to start up and operate an ATM business.

Need more help mastering these core business cycle steps? Get contract templates, sales scripts, and tons of other resources for starting and scaling your ATM business from ATMDepot.

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