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ATM Machines, A Buyer’s Guide (part 3)

A Buyer’s Guide (Part 3)

ATM Machine Buyers Guide image of Cash

If you’ve read part 2 of the [intlink id=”2013″ type=”post”]ATM Machines, A Buyers Guide[/intlink], you’re ready for part 3. Now you know if you want an automatic teller machine at your place of business or if you want to own and operate ATM machines as a business.

Let’s say you own a local brick and mortar business, but you don’t want to purchase the machine outright, you basically have three alternatives: leasing the ATM or arranging payments over time, opting for a free ATM placement program, or partnering in an ATM co-op program.

First, Leasing: Hardly anyone leases an ATM anymore. Most sales reps that try to lease ATM’s are looking for big commissions. It’s difficult to get a lease on a $2500 piece of equipment so they have to jack the price way up to get a leasing company to even consider it and then you’re paying them big commissions. It’s actually easier, cheaper and better to pay for the ATM with a credit card or to ask your bank for an equipment loan to include other equipment you may need in your business and to include the price of the ATM in the loan

First, if you really want to lease an ATM, (I’d like to talk you out of it) but you may need to search the Internet (or the yellow pages) for leasing companies located reasonably close to your business or get a recommendation from the vendor. Try sampling a few such companies to find the most favorable leasing terms – each company’s agreement will be different to some extent, but most leases go 5 years. First, and most importantly, you want to figure out who’s offering the lowest cost for a lease. Also, who determines how much your customers will have to pay in ATM fees to make your lease payment each month so you don’t have negative cash flow. Leasing companies will rarely over fund the equipment lease to give you extra cash to fill the ATM. Some business owners think this is a great idea, but the cost of that extra cash is very high and not worthwhile.

You should also compare the economics of leasing versus buying to be absolutely sure that you’d prefer to lease. Specifically, you should weigh the following factors:

  • If you’re planning on leasing a machine for a long time it would save you a lot of money in the long run just to purchase one.
  • If you can take out a loan at your bank verses leasing, that is the next best option instead.
    • Note that some vendors offer short term funding options such as 60 or 90 days. Since most ATM’s these days are typically under $2400 most business owners pay cash or use a credit card, however, we have seen deals where a merchant is able to put 50% down on a credit card and float the balance for 30 days.
  • Would buying an ATM allow you a substantial tax deduction – or could you get more tax deduction mileage out of deducting the annual costs of leasing an ATM?
  • Does it seem as though you’d stand to make a lot of money from ATM surcharge fees? If so, then owning an ATM might be the more lucrative proposition.

Second, Free Placement Programs: The next option for you as a business owner may be to consider entering into a free ATM placement program. If you’ve never heard of this option, you should know that free ATM programs have been around for a long time. What you have to do is find either a local or national ATM vendor that runs such a program and fill out an application.

Free placement programs typically require  that your business needs to be attracting a certain number of customers each day in order for you to earn acceptance. If you’re accepted, the vendor will ship an ATM to your business, install it, maintain it and service it as needed. Some free programs even take care of restocking the cash in the cash dispenser for you. In addition, you may qualify to receive some portion of the surcharges that the ATM collects, which the vendor will send you either through direct deposit or in the form of a check.

All in all, a free program is, no doubt, the easiest way for business owners to obtain an ATM. However, the profit potential from such a system, obviously, is much lower. Note, too, that companies offering free placement ATM’s will require a substantial amount of information about you and your business (they will even be delving into your bank account figures) before they approve you for such a program. While the free placement program sounds great, it takes the longest to get approved and returns the least amount of profit.  The pros are that you don’t have to deal with the ATM machine at all.  It may be easier to get approved from a small local company verses a large national company if you can find such a local entrepreneur willing to take on your business as part of their ATM portfolio.

Third, Co-Op Program: The last option to consider and a bit newer, is to enter into an ATM co-operative program. Under such an arrangement, you’d buy half the ATM and load the cash. That is, you’d be co-owner of the machine, paying for half of the upfront cost and half of all the operating and repair costs.

An ATM vendor, the other co-owner, would pay the other half of those costs. In a way, this kind of program splits the difference between owning an ATM yourself and getting a free placement or owning the ATM outright.  That is, you get a much larger share of the profits verse a free placement program would allow, but you also have more maintenance responsibilities. And, you’d get a lot less than if you owned the ATM outright yourself.

While co-op agreements, like leasing agreements, can vary widely, if you’re in such a program you’ll probably have to replace the receipt paper, load the cash as necessary and provide first line maintenance (FLM). FLM includes clearing a paper receipt jam or a cash jam. The co-op deal is more suited to a hands on business owner or manager who doesn’t necessarily have enough cash to purchase the machine outright. By the way, it’s your own cash that will go into the machine. And you’ll have to decide if you want o install any security features – a new camera or an alarm, for example or if you’ll just remove the cash from the ATM each evening like a cash register.

An extra benefit of the co-op program, however, is that the ATM vendor can figure out where to place the machine within your business, and can also provide you with helpful advice when you’re still a novice at ATM operations. That way, you can really maximize the profits you’ll get from your ATM. In some instances you can agree to a buyout over time if the vendor is in agreement.

Once you decide if you want to own the ATM or have someone else do it, it’s time to decide who is going to load the cash.  We’ll talk about that in the next ATM Machines, A Buyer’s Guide in the near future.  Have questions, [intlink id=”509″ type=”page”]contact us[/intlink].

ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide (part 2)

ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide (Part 2) 

So by now you’ve read the ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide part 1 and you’ve figured out that you want to be in the ATM machine business. You’re confident that your place of business could benefit from an automatic teller machine. The next step, then, is to decide if you want to buy one of these machines, lease it, or enter into a free placement or co-op program. In this post, we’ll look at what you should do when you want to buy an ATM (and we’ll examine those other options in our next post).

The ATM Business Buyers Guide

At first thought, you might think that a major bank or financial institution may be willing to install one of their ATM’s inside your business. Unfortunately, however, the answer is probably ‘not likely.’ Banks rarely if ever choose to place their ATM’s into small business locations, so don’t take it personally when Bank of America rejects your application. In fact, to save time it might be wise to not even bother asking major banks.

What you need to do is find a reliable, reasonably-priced ATM equipment and processing company. First, you might consider compiling a list of licensed ATM companies in your area if you like to deal with local vendors. You can obviously use the internet to compile your list as well as ask other members of your industry if they like their ATM company. Keep in mind that many local providers are simply commissioned sales agents for a larger processing company.

Anyone presenting themselves as an ATM provider must either be registered with the International Standards of Organization, or ISO or working directly for and in cooperation with the licensed ISO (one easy way to check is ask for their ATM agreement, it should have at least one document in the package stating who the ISO is).

Once you have your list, you’ll want to start comparing their programs. Don’t just compare prices, this is rarely and apples to apples shopping comparison. First, if you are purchasing machines, there’s the price of the machine itself.  Currently there are a lot of options but a good ATM with a warranty will typically cost you around two thousand dollars, give or take a little depending on the options or upgrades you select.

Options and upgrades can include a fixed cassette or a removable cassette, an electronic lock or your standard dial tumbler, ATM illuminated toppers or plain signage. All these items make the price vary by a few hundred dollars and you may or may not need them. For instance, if you are considering operating several ATM’s or you would rather not deal with the old style tumber locks where you go left and right to open the combination, you can opt for an electronic version.

Electronic locks allow you to simply punch in a six (6) digit code of your choosing and then get access to the safe quickly.

A standard fixed cassette for example does not come out of the ATM and requires that you load the ATM in place (if you’re loading the machine during business hours, we suggest a removable cassette so you can take it some place private and load the cash).

You’ll need to consider any fees for options, upgrades, maintenance, repairs, or monthly fees when selecting the right ATM provider. Keep in mind that some, but not all, ATM providers may automatically charge or deduct service fees, statement fees, maintenance fees, or hidden fees each month. Be sure you know if and what any possible fees may be charged are when evaluating services so you can make an informed decision and not have any surprises upon start up that will change your investment returns.

You should also consider consumer service as well as prices. If inclined, contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against any of the vendors on your list, and read testimonials on objective consumer websites. If applicable, contact your friends and relatives who have ATM’s at their businesses to find out how well they regard their ATM vendor’s customer service is. You may even ask for references and if the vendor doesn’t have any or can’t provide them, that should be a red flag. Any good vendor should have plenty of customers that would be willing to give a reference.

You want to make sure that whatever ATM company you choose to do business with has a call center, preferably one that’s available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. If they do, give that call center a ring, just to see how well they treat you and how informative the representatives are when you ask them questions. If it’s possible see if you can visit the offices or even the call center of some of the vendors you’re deciding between and have a good look around.

As a business owner yourself, how impressed are you with the facilities, the staff or with the operation in general? It’s useful, too, if you can speak with someone that’s willing to offer to help you select the spot inside your business where your ATM is likely to receive the most usage.  If you’re an ATM investor and not a business owner, what experience can the vendor provide that will help you avoid costly mistakes. Does the vendor have their own ATM’s that they run locally and can they give you references to those locations?

It’s also important to consider ATM troubleshooting. Ask any vendor you might do business with what happens if your machine is stolen or damaged by vandals. What happens when you lose electricity? If your ATM breaks down, how long will it take for a technician to show up? How long does it take the vendor to order new parts should you need them? Also, your vendor’s technicians should be certified, which means – at a minimum – that they’ve successfully completed a reputable training course.

You might want to obtain a few sample contracts from a few different vendors. Read them all carefully and make comparisons, especially when it comes to hidden conditions and fees. For instance, beware of any stipulation in a contract which won’t allow you to get rid of your ATM if it’s just not working out for you. Or better yet, if you employ an attorney, have her or him examine those contracts. And a warranty that lasts at least a year is highly preferable.

Be aware that most ATM vendors are actually equipment resellers. Many larger resellers are completely reliable and great to work with. Some simply offer the equipment as an extension of the ATM processing services they offer. Purchasing an automated teller machine from a reseller is usually fine since ATM manufacture’s don’t sell direct, so every vendor is a reseller in one form or another.

You may want to ask some questions to determine the ATM resellers experience.

  • Such as, how many ATM’s the company services to get an idea how large they are?
  • How long have they been in business.
  • Who are the owners and can you Google them?

While the sales representative can tell you just about anything; which could be difficult to prove or disprove, a thorough internet search by entering the vendors name into a search engine such as Google or Bing with the words reviews or scams can usually reveal information on what others think about the company and give you an idea of how long they’ve been in business and if they are doing a good job.

Any ATM vendor that has been in business for a decade should have history on the internet. You can check the dates of reviews, articles, video’s and other periodicals you find to give you an idea if they are new in the business or have been around a while. You can even Google the name of the owner or the representative you’re talking to to find their social profiles and learn about who you are working with before you make a vendor selection.   Want to know more? Check out our new passive income book called “The Amazing Money Machine”.