The 6 Basics of Starting an ATM Business

The Basics of Starting an ATM Business

Did you know that there are over 425,000 ATMs in the US and fewer than half of those are owned by banks?

The majority of them are owned by people like you and me. ATMs are very profitable businesses because there is very little to no overhead expenses. You don’t need employees.

No store front or rental space is needed, and there is a low start up investment. The best part is you can manage your ATM business from home at your own schedule. Are you ready to get started?

Follow these 6 basic steps to set the foundation for starting an ATM business to ensure maximum potential for success:

  • One of the most important factors to the success of your ATM business is location. Think of your own experience to narrow down potential locations. Have you ever needed an ATM and couldn’t find one nearby? Where were you? The obvious prime locations are malls, shopping areas, and high traffic areas, but it’s also good to think outside the box. Consider your local fair grounds, parks where food trucks frequent, or sports venues. Think of places where people don’t tend to accept credit cards like farmers markets or craft shows.
  • Before picking out the ideal location, do your research. Spend a little time in the area checking out the foot traffic. After you’ve picked out a spot it’s time to talk to the store or venue owners. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking a store owner if they would like a free ATM machine. The convenience of an ATM benefits you, the store owner, and the shopper. Who wouldn’t want one nearby?
  • Every successful business starts with a business plan. This plan includes the location of your machine as well as how you will be investing in your venture. For instance, how much are you looking to invest in a machine? The machine itself can cost between $2,000 and $5,000. If that is more than you were looking to invest starting out, there’s no need to worry. You can opt for leasing a machine or short term financing. Lease can run about $70 to $110 a month depending on the term and ultimate cost of the machine. This and a number of other factors need to be considered in a business plan including the cost of start-up, maintenance, time invested, return on investment, and so on.
  • Your ATM machine is a transaction machine. So, who will process these ATM transactions? You can use an ISO or an IAD. ISO stands for independent sales organization. IAD stands for Independent ATM Deployer, You will need to work with an ISO or IAD to process your transactions. Talk to a few different organizations before making your pick. Each one will have different transaction fees, or monthly fees, as well as reporting, statements, bank sponsorship, service and support, so you will want to choose the one that best fits your business plan. Be prepared to sign a contract as these companies will require commitments of various lengths. If you are talking to an ATM Company that wants a lengthy contract that you aren’t ready to commit to, simply move on to another company until you find one you are comfortable with.
  • There are two factors to take into consideration when deciding who will stock your ATM: safety and convenience. Taking safety into consideration first, depending on the neighborhood where your ATMs are located and how many you have, you may want to work with an ATM company that can coordinate and manage armored guard cash services. However, you may not need to take the same cautions for a small locations or if you only plan to operate a few ATMs. Convenience should also be considered when it comes to stocking your machine. Consider the other responsibilities you have to tend to in a given day. Does your schedule allow time for restocking? If it does then you can save some money by restocking your ATM yourself. If not, simply hire a reliable company to do it for you. Also, keep in mind that stocking your machine with your personal cash is the most profitable way to manage your ATM.
  • When you’ve got a machine full of money, you may want to consider getting ATM insurance. There are a number of reputable companies that offer ATM insurance. Your insurance policy should protect both your equipment and the cash, but options for this are available. Be sure to check with the owners of your ATM location. They may have insurance requirements for you to follow. Look for an insurance company associated with the ATMIA (ATM Industry Association). They will be well versed in what your needs are and will be able to provide you with the best policy. Optionally if security is not an issue as the location is open 24 hours or has alarms and security cameras, insurance may be a waste of money.

As with any new business venture, it’s important to learn as much as possible before getting started. ATM’s are great investments that have some unique responsibilities that come with them. It is a real tangible business that takes time and commitment. Get to know the business before you dive in. Follow the steps you need to take to make it successful and you will have a thriving business that you can grow as big as you wish.

2 replies
  1. Bamby
    Bamby says:

    Interesting Blog.. Anyway I ran into this site in researching my own ATM dilemma. We’ve had some ATM machines for a few years. And being trusting and naive we failed to force our sites into a hard contract agreement and now we may be forced to pay for our ignorance. We got inadvertently caught in this part of the post above:

    Be prepared to sign a contract as these companies will require commitments of various lengths.

    Note we were forced out of our locations through no fault of out own, because we kept the machines running and well supplied with cold hard cash. What actually happened is an amusement company came in and demanded all or nothing and ultimately pushed us out. We’re now facing a potentially large judgment against us by our clearing house provider.

    As another note or warning to others they’re attempting to levy a judgment far away in excess to the historical usage these machines experienced in actual real usage. So as a note to others choose your provider “Carefully”.

    • ATM Owner
      ATM Owner says:

      Hi Bamby,

      We have a lot of experience helping other Independent ATM Deployer’s with this type of a situation. If you call our offices and want to fax or email us a copy of your agreements we can try to shed some light on your situation. Do you have other locations with the same provider?


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