If you’re interested in how to start an ATM business, it’s likely you’ve seen or heard of people who install ATM machines and make nearly passive income from doing so. You might know some places that could use the added convenience of an ATM machine, and you want to tap into the opportunity, but you’re concerned about the process. Like most entrepreneurs starting a new venture, you’re probably concerned about:
- How much money you’ll make?
- What a typical day would be like?
- What do you have to do to get started?
In addition to the “normal” concerns that are natural for every business startup, you might also have these unique concerns specific to the ATM business:
- How do you get the money to fill it?
- Who fills it?
- Where do you find the locations to place an ATM?
- and, so much more…
I know I had the same questions before I placed my first ATM a few years back. I remember having the desire to start an ATM business and even locations in mind, but I was so concerned about whether I was doing things “right”, and I didn’t want to make a mistake that could cost me big time. Since I’ve been in your shoes, I know how it feels, and I plan to answer all of those questions for you. This guide will show you step-by-step how to start an ATM business. If that sounds interesting to you, let’s get started…If you’d like to see this content in video format, check it out here:
- 1 What is an ATM Business? An Overview
- 2 Who is an ATM Business right for?
- 3 What’s a typical day in an ATM Business like?
- 4 Who is the target market for an ATM Business?
- 5 How does an ATM Business make money?
- 6 What is the growth potential in an ATM Business?
- 7 What are the skills you’ll need to make an ATM Business work?
- 8 What are the costs involved with an ATM Business?
- 9 What are the steps involved in starting an ATM Business?
- 10 Ready to Start Your ATM Business?
What is an ATM Business? An Overview
Most people who think about the ATM business think about big banks like Chase, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, but what some people don’t realize is there’s room for small and medium-size businesses also. Anywhere there’s consistent traffic that could use the added convenience of having quicker access to cash is the ideal opportunity for an ATM business owner.
ATM business owners place ATMs in locations to make it more convenient for people to access cash. There are several locations throughout the world where there’s a desire for cash, but it’s not convenient to go to a bank or to use a card.
For example, when you go to an amusement park, you tend to have your car parked far from where you might be when you want to spend money. You might see a smaller vendor or a place where you don’t feel comfortable using a card. In these instances, it’s best to use an ATM if there’s one available.
When you use an ATM, in essence you’re borrowing someone else’s cash. The owner is enabling you the convenience of having access to your money without leaving where you are and going to a bank. When you withdraw money from the ATM, the owner has given you their cash, and has to process the payment thru your bank to get their money back. In exchange for the convenience, you pay them a surcharge.
Each person who uses the machine is “borrowing” their money and paying a surcharge as a result. Then, once the money is drafted from the customer’s account, the ATM owner gets their money back, and can process the cycle again.
In an ATM business, you’d be responsible to:
- Keep the machines operating and stocked with money, reciept paper, and ink
- Negotiate placement deals with property owners
- Find locations with a high demand and low supply
- and, Set reasonable surcharge prices
Who is an ATM Business right for?
The ATM business is good for:
- Someone who will be responsible enough to maintain the machines or employ people who will
- Those who have a good eye for where the market demand could sustain an ATM
- Those who have savings or credit sufficient to buy the machines and startup capital
What’s a typical day in an ATM Business like?
The ATM business will vary based on how many machines you have, what’s the demand with your machines, how much cash you put inside, what’s the condition of your machines and other factors. In a typical day, you’ll likely have to make sure your machines are working properly. Depending on the models of machines you purchase, you can check the operations online, or you may have to manually visit to inspect the machines.
You’d want to make sure enough cash, cartridge paper, and ink is stocked inside of each machine to support the normal demand in the locations. If maintenance issues arise (which should be rare), you’ll have to either resolve them yourself or hire ATM repairmen to fix the issues with the machines.
Although it was uncommon, of all maintenance issues, it was most common for me to get jams in my machines. When you get a jam, the machine won’t be operable, and if you don’t have a reputation of quickly fixing the issues with the machines, you can upset customers (which can include the property owner), and eventually they may stop using the machine, or even worse, forfeit your deal in place of another ATM business.
It’s important to resolve maintenance issues in a timely fashion.
As an ATM owner, you could run your business full-time, part-time, or as a side hustle, so day-to-day will vary. Regardless of what schedule and business-size you decide, it’s still important to divide your time between four general functions (acquiring the work, doing the work, managing the work, and strategizing about the work) if you want your business to continue growing.
Acquiring the work: When you’re acquiring the work, this is when you might be looking at a map of an area where you’re considering placing an ATM, studying to identify the traffic patterns, and deciding on where a good high demand and low supply location may be. This is also where you might be calling property owners, posting flyers, emailing, or running online ads to gain awareness of your company, so people will become interested and potentially do business with you.
Doing the work: When you’re doing the work, you might be placing the ATM, purchasing a new ATM, refilling the reciept paper, fixing jams, making sure the machine is operable, communicating with property owners to maintain your working relationship, or even networking with potential ATM users near your location.
Managing the work: At some point, you may want to hire. Maybe you’ll want to hire people to do repairs, people to keep the machine stocked, or maybe you’ll want to hire out the admin tasks like accounting, legal, and marketing. Regardless of whether it’s time to hire or not, you always want to prepare by creating training. If you have training, it helps you to systemize your processes, balance your quality, and maintain efficiency even when you have new hires.
Strategizing about the work: As a new startup, there will be lots of growth opportunities, untapped markets, and process improvements you can make in order to grow your business, but if you don’t take time to think about them, they’ll remain hidden to you. It’s important to carve out time to prepare for the future, plan growth, identify weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Who is the target market for an ATM Business?
The target market for an ATM business is the government, other businesses, and direct to consumer.
I can’t speak on other governments accept for the US, but the US government mandates a percentage of their business to small business owners. They do this because they know small businesses stimulate the economies. As long as you’re business has less than 500 employees, it can be considered a small business.
Then, added to your small business designation, there’s even a more probable chance of working with the government if your business is woman owned, minority owned, or veteran owned because the government is trying to include these populations (who are less likely to pursue business or are disadvantaged) into the business sector more.
As a result of the mandates within the US government, small business who build some traction can bid on government contracts to place or maintain ATMs.
Other Businesses or B2B
Most ATM businesses focus on placing their machines on other businesses’ premises. When I placed my first ATM, I noticed there was a large private school and a vibrant community with many businesses that only accepted cash. I spotted out locations in that area that would be convenient for majority of the people there, and I narrowed it down to one corner store.
I talked to the owner and personally took time to calculate the amount of foot traffic to the store, and negotiated a deal that was better than what he had. The income from that location ranged between $400-$500 per month, but the best benefit was that the store was RIGHT across the street from my son’s school, so it was really easy for me to inspect the machine and perform any maintenance (if needed).
Like my situation, other ATM businesses find great opportunities to place ATMs:
- In areas where there’s a high demand for cash, but a low supply of ATM machines (event centers, bars, corner stores, amusement parks, recreation centers, churches, etc.)
- Where businesses don’t use credit card processors or don’t prefer to
- Where businesses have a machine or ATM deal they’re unhappy with (maybe they pay to lease the machine, maybe they want an upgraded machine, etc.)
- Or, where people may feel a higher discomfort with using their cards (for various reasons).
Direct to Consumer
While the consumers aren’t likely to need one of your machines, it’s still important to consider them. They’re the ones who will use the machine. If they don’t feel comfortable, if there’s little brand awareness, if they’re uncertain about the security, or if there are other objections, it’s important you take time to “warm up” your consumers to get them using the machine.
Just by networking with the consumers, you could learn of reservations they may have. Let’s say for example, you decide to place your ATM in the prime flow of traffic right by the entrance of your local corner store. You might think you’re doing everyone a favor, but maybe the customers may feel like it’s insecure if they’re entering their personal information right in the middle of the traffic flow. Simple reservations like that could be the reason your ATM may underperform, but you wouldn’t realize it if you don’t pay enough attention to your consumers.
Sometimes, the machine use will happen more naturally than others, but nowadays, many people have experienced fraud or ID theft, so they may not be as comfortable with using your machine without some explanations. The more brand awareness, the more likely people are to use your machines.
How does an ATM Business make money?
While most people are familiar with the model of earning money in ATM businesses from the surcharge, there are more options for monetizing an ATM business.
Products: The main way most ATM businesses make their money is from their product: the ATM. They may split the ATM surcharge with the property owner, they may lease the machine for a flat fee, or they may do a lease to own deal where the property owner would become the owner over time.
Services: In addition to renting, selling, or leasing the machines, an ATM business can also charge for services to the machines or to other people’s machines. If you already fill reciept paper and perform maintenance to your machine, you could also get the person nearby who has an ATM machine to pay you to help them out with theirs. If you’re leasing to own the machine or if you’ve sold a machine, you could also have the owners and potential owners paying you to service their machine as their learning to do it on their own. You could add an additional stream of revenue to your ATM business with services like:
- Routine maintenance
- Fixing jams
- Or, consulting…
Affiliate partnerships: In addition to products and services, you could also get paid from affiliate partnerships. Let’s say for example, you’ve placed your ATM at a local hotel. You could print coupons on your receipts and get commissions for referring people to relevant products and services the consumers would enjoy.
Some ATM businesses charge for ad space on their receipts if they have enough traffic and relevance that they can prove that conversions would be likely. Alternatively, with affiliate marketing, you could promote products and services, and when consumers use your referral code or link, you’d get a commission for the lead or sale.
Talk about another stream of passive income….Affiliate marketing alone could double (or more) your income from your ATM business! You see there are so many categories you could earn from. Take a look….
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What is the growth potential in an ATM Business?
Although the use of credit and debit cards has grown significantly, there are still quite a few places where it’s more beneficial to use cash. People want convenient access to cash when they need it. As a result, ATM businesses are still a lucrative opportunity. If you can find places where people would want more convenient access to cash than what’s available, then you can have a steady stream of income in your business.
What are the skills you’ll need to make an ATM Business work?
To make an ATM business work, it’s best to have:
- The ability to do market research
- The willingness to maintain the machines or hire others who can
- The ability to price
- The ability to maintain expenses with room enough for profit
- The skill to negotiate
- and, the ability to work with legal professionals to create good contracts
What are the costs involved with an ATM Business?
To start an ATM business it’s most important to start with the minimum viable funnel, test whether you’ll enjoy the business, and scale once you’ve proven the concept works for you. Here are the recommended things you should have to start out:
- Legal contracts (via Rocket Lawyer) – $400/yr
- Sufficient money to put inside of the machine (otherwise you’ll be running around constantly refilling the machine and you won’t make money) – $1000+
- An ATM machine on standby for purchase once you’ve negotiated the contract – $2000-$5000 (depending on the features)
- Reciept paper – $100
- Office supplies – $100
- A Website – $400/yr
- Business cards and brochures – $100
At the low end, I’d say an ATM business will probably cost you around $4000 to get started. Then, once you’re earning from your first machine, you can reinvest into growing your business, or you can take money from an alternative source and grow your business. When you reinvest, it’s probably best to reinvest into:
- Finding more locations
- Purchasing more machines
- and, Hiring help (as needed)
What are the steps involved in starting an ATM Business?
I recommend you set up your Minimum Viable Business first, then once you’ve got sales and confidence you can do this, then you get into the other steps like legal and accounting later. The steps to create a minimum viable business consists of:
1. Validate your Idea
You want to be careful to choose a good location, good property owner you’ll enjoy working with, and use your first placement to feel out whether you enjoy doing the business or not.
2. Prioritize Your Business
After you’ve decided it’s a business you enjoy, then you have to carve out the time for it. You may have to reorganize your schedule and take time away from other things to acquire work, do work, manage work, and strategize about the work.
3. Build Your Brand
You want people to perceive your ATMs as safe and convenient resources to get cash when they need it. It takes time and attention to build brand awareness. Getting a logo, color palette, and creating a professional image can help to manage your impression, then as your business grows, you can also expect referral traffic and sales as a result of the brand you’ve built as well. Check out FreeLogoServices, a Deluxe company. They can help you to create your logo and print them onto brochures and promo products!
4. Start Getting Leads and Traffic
Choosing an optimal location is going to be a major key to getting traffic and leads, but another major component will be initiating activities that build brand awareness and trust. You can set up a website that informs customers and property owners about your company, lets them know about the safety measures and payment arrangements, facilitates advertising and affiliate marketing deals, and even lets them know what to do if they’re interested in getting an ATM placement by you.
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5. Convert the Traffic into Customers
Once you have people coming to you interested in what you’re offering–whether it’s withdrawing money from your machines, setting up an affiliate partnership, or getting a machine–you’ll have to have a process to turn the attention into cash. You’re website can help to explain your processes, get them to leave contact information, and initiate the follow-up process.
Once you’re sure you’ll pursue the ATM business, then it’s time to incorporate so you can minimize the tax and legal liability. Incorporation services can help to give you peace of mind that you’re paperwork has been filed right, and they tend to be very affordable.
7. Organize Your Books
It’s important to organize your books to make sure you’re balancing your expenses and income well, and to make decisions strategically rather than optimistically. Your financial data can serve as a map to help you decide what to do going forward if you have the right tools in place. For the ATM business, I’d recommend using Quickbooks, however, if you run a small to medium size operation, you might also like Freshbooks. They both offer free trials so you can check them out with minimal risk.
8. Get Your Office Supplies
You’ll be surprised how many things come up in business between managing your paperwork to communicating with vendors, and so on. It’s going to be important to have the office supplies you need to maintain your workflow and make things easy for you.
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8. Systemize Your Process
Once you’ve been operational for a little while, you’ll be able to see the tasks that generate a consistent flow of potential customers, the methods that keep your machines operating best, and the strategies that work best in growing your company. It’s important to be consistent and systemize these processes to build a reliable and trustworthy brand.
9. Reinvest and Scale
Once you get money (beyond your expenses), it’s important to set some aside for growth. Don’t spend it all! Hahaha. You’ll need to:
- Continue improving your skills
- Hire new people
- Give training to people
- Place more machines
- And, maintain working capital for “just in case”
Ready to Start Your ATM Business?
The goal of this article was to show you how to start an ATM business. I know this was alot of information, and I’m hoping you are able to choose if this business is a good fit for you as a result.
If you’re looking for more explanations of how to grow your business, I explain all of these concepts in much more detail in my free Business Growth Blueprint E-course and my full video course on creating your full minimum viable business plan at Wealthy Affliate. You can get access to my e-course and all of my free bonuses by signing up here. You’ll also get 7 free days of coaching with me, 10 lessons of internet marketing training, and two free websites you can try out for free. Let’s get started building your ATM business!