Should you operate an indoor or outdoor ATM? If you’re thinking about purchasing an ATM machine, one of the first things you have to determine is where you’re going to put the machine.
You’ve probably seen and even used an ATM both indoors and outdoors. But what are the major differences when it comes to owning an ATM? We’ve got your answers.
Here we’ve outlined the major pros and cons of operating an outdoor ATM, but it essentially comes down to availability. What spaces are even options for you? Let’s start there.
Choosing a Location
Choosing a location, or a place to put your machine, is one of the very first things you have to do before you even order your machine. Our article Choosing an ATM Location goes in-depth on where to look for locations, the best ATM locations, and how to negotiate with location owners to develop a partnership.
It’s a great place to start when it comes to scouting for locations. If you already have a location picked out and you have the option to place an ATM machine either indoors or outdoors at that location, then skip on down to the pros and cons of an outdoor ATM.
If you have not settled on a location yet, here are some things you need to consider:
First, do you already own a business where you plan to use the ATM? Do you think you might lease a plot or property where you’ll install the ATM? Or do you think you’ll approach local business owners to gauge their need for an ATM machine and potentially start a partnership?
Whatever your answer is (or ends up being) might determine for you whether you need an indoor or outdoor ATM. Once you settle on a location, you might find that there isn’t room indoors for the ATM. Or the opposite might be true. The location might not be able to facilitate an outdoor ATM machine.
If you end up working with a site location owner, his or her preference might affect the decision as well. Maybe there’s room indoors for the ATM but the location owner doesn’t want to give up that space. Or alternatively, maybe the site location owner would rather the ATM be inside to get customers into the store.
Next are some pros and cons of outdoor ATM machines.
Pros of Choosing an Outdoor ATM
There are some clear benefits of operating an outdoor ATM. First, you have the potential to earn more revenue. Second, you potentially have more flexible access to your machine. And third, they can be space savers.
If you own a retail store or business, or if you are partnering with a site location owner and you want to add an ATM to the business, there’s a chance the space isn’t available inside the store.
Maybe there’s too much inventory and to get rid of something will just cause you to break even with ATM revenue. Or maybe the only space available isn’t visible enough or convenient for customers.
If this is the case, you might want to consider putting an ATM outside of the store. It can be close to the front door, in view of the register or desk so that it can still be monitored during business hours even though it’s not inside.
That way you don’t have to get rid of anything else inside of the store to make room. And you don’t have to worry about owning a machine that no one sees or uses. The more visible and easier to access the machine, the more users and therefore more revenue for you.
Earn More Revenue
There’s a good chance an outdoor ATM could warrant more users than an indoor ATM. It depends on your specific location, of course, but an indoor ATM might be seen more by people who are already customers while an outdoor ATM is available to all passers by.
Additionally, and this is the biggest benefit, you have the ability to offer 24-hour access to an outdoor ATM. An indoor ATM is really only “in business” during the hours of operation of the store or business where it’s housed. So you increase the opportunities for transactions and therefore earn more revenue that way.
Not only do users have 24-hour access to an outdoor ATM, but you do too.
Unless the site location owner gives you a key or access to the store after hours, you really only have access to your machine while the store is open. If you have to refill cash or receipt paper or conduct any maintenance or cleaning on the machine, you have a window in which to do so.
This might not be so convenient for you if you have a day job or other obligations which overlap with the store hours. If the ATM is outdoors, though, you can access the machine when it’s most convenient for you regardless of whether or not the store is open for business.
You could of course coordinate with the site location owner to perform certain routine tasks or maintenance in your absence. But it might just be more convenient to house the ATM outside if you have the option.
Plus, the more responsibilities you put on the site location owner, the more revenue you have to spit. You’ll have to make that deal in your site location agreement (SLA). So it might be more cost effective for you to handle those responsibilities on an outdoor ATM rather than leave yourself at the mercy of the site location owner.
Although there are plenty of great reasons to operate an outdoor ATM when you have the option, there are unfortunately some risks as well.
Cons of Choosing an Outdoor ATM
An outdoor ATM is not always the best option. It’s perfectly fine to operate an outdoor ATM if that is your only option. But if you are deciding between indoor and outdoor you might want to consider some of the downfalls associated with operating an outdoor ATM.
First, they can be more expensive to set up and maintain. Second, you could lose out on revenue depending on where you’re located. Last, you have to compete with the weather.
On particularly hot or cold days, or days when it’s raining, snowing, or particularly windy, users will probably prefer to use an indoor ATM rather than an outdoor ATM. However, if you are the only ATM for blocks, you might retain those users by default. But if your neighbor has an indoor ATM, you might lose business to him or her on days when the weather isn’t great.
Loss of Revenue
Besides losing customers due to weather, you could also lose customers who prefer to use indoor ATMs for safety reasons. Indoor ATMs are less accessible to vandals which makes it less likely that a user’s information will be compromised on an indoor ATM.
Indoor ATMs are also under the watchful eye of the store or business owner as well as other patrons. So this could encourage users to use an indoor ATM as well. But again, if you’re in a location where ATMs are scarce, you might still get a lot of business on an outdoor ATM regardless of these safety concerns.
But you still have to make sure customers feel safe using your outdoor ATM.
An outdoor ATM is available to users 24 hours 7 days a week. But it’s also available then to vandals and thieves. To prevent damage and tampering on your outdoor ATM, you’ll want to invest in a quality security system. You might also need to provide your own lighting if your ATM is located in a dim area.
You might even be required to provide certain security measures based on the safety and security laws of your state and municipality.
Outdoor ATMs are also vulnerable to the weather. Exposure to the elements could cause you to get less life out of your ATM if it’s outside rather than inside. To extend the life of your machine, you should invest in a cover or awning for your outdoor ATM.
Most ATMs are weather protected which can help prevent unnecessary damage, but exposure can still affect the lifespan of your ATM. Weatherproof and weatherized ATMs are both made to withstand harsh weather conditions.
A weather resistant ATM, however, is not going to be as resilient as a weatherproof ATM. So you’ll definitely need some sort of cover for a weather resistant ATM. And all outdoor ATMs should be temperature protected for the best results.
Other Outdoor ATM Options
If you’re still unsure whether to go with an indoor or outdoor ATM, you could look into a through-the-wall (TTW) ATM. Or, if you are considering purchasing an ATM for outdoor events, a mobile ATM could be the way to go.
Through-the-Wall (TTW) ATM Machines
Through-the-wall (TTW) ATM machines can be set up to have the chassis (front) facing outside while the interface (back) remains inside the building. TTW ATMs are heavier and bulkier than other ATMs because the interface has to be inserted into the wall extending into another room.
You might see a TTW ATM in an office building or lobby where the front or screen faces out toward the customers and the interface extends into the next room that is locked and only accessible to authorized personnel. But to facilitate this, you have to have the hole cut in the wall for installation.
So this might not be the best option if you are considering an outdoor ATM due to space concerns. However, if you have indoor space but want the 24-hour access of an outdoor machine, consider a TTW ATM where customers can use the ATM outside but you can safely load cash from inside the store either during business hours or behind locked doors.
If that’s the case, a TTW ATM is more accessible to users while also offering better security.
Mobile ATM Machines
Mobile ATM machines are pretty much intended for outdoor use. They are great options for fairs, farmers markets, concerts, etc. Any major event where attendees have the option to purchase merchandise or make donations is the perfect place for an ATM.
Rather than carry an excess amount of cash on them, patrons can withdraw the exact amount they need for their purchases when it’s necessary and minimize the risk of extra cash being lost or stolen.
Since mobile ATMs are intended for temporary, pop-up, outdoor events, they are often equipped with overhead lights and security cameras since the location will vary. But of course your placement should be secure as well. You want the ATM in an area with a lot of foot traffic, not isolated. This is better for increasing transactions but also for security.
Make sure the location is well-lit, under watchful eye, and protected by a tent in the case of inclement weather. However, mobile ATMs are built to withstand the worst weather conditions. They are typically water-resistant and include advanced temperature control systems to heat them up or cool them down depending on the season.
When to Choose an Outdoor ATM
There are just as many pros as cons to choosing an outdoor ATM machine. So there’s a chance you might still be on the fence. In summary, then, remember these main points:
- The safety concerns associated with outdoor ATMs need to be offset by adequate lighting, lots of foot traffic, and a first-rate security system.
- Although outdoor ATMs can be more expensive to maintain, they typically receive more transactions—enough to justify the expense. Just calculate your investment and set your surcharge accordingly to reach your ROI as soon as possible.
If you can meet these requirements with an outdoor location, you have the opportunity to make more of a profit than you would with an indoor ATM. Weigh your options carefully and contact us if you have any questions!