How I built a successful vending business

By Tim Sanchez

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An entrepreneur is a businessperson who has vision and can see an opportunity and grab it. You must be observant and have an understanding about where there is a need that can be filled with a business and then capitalize on that need. There are so many small business opportunities out there already available and many more that can be invented. This is the first in a series of blogs that will overview various business opportunities and interview entrepreneurs who who successfully built their own business.

The first installment is vending business and I will relate how I started mine and what made it successful. I started, operated and sold my vending business many years ago. The vending industry has changed since I was in it, but the concept of how to go about fueling your entrepreneurial drive still works for whatever opportunity you want to pursue.

First off, when you want to build a successful business you will do the best when you do something that you love. If you love to do it you will naturally have the knowledge and skills to do it, or at least you will have the motivation and interest to develop the necessary skills.

My career choices early on were everything to do with driving delivery vehicles that went from place to place providing services, making sales and deliveries. I was working in a grocery store when I was 20, stocking shelves. Whenever any deliver person came into the store I was compelled to talk to them and ask them about their job and what it is like. One day I was talking to the bread guy and he said he was looking for a helper, so I started working for him delivering bread to stores and restaurants. This was my entry into the route sales business. After that I worked for bottled water delivery, coffee service, courier routes, newspaper route, Sysco foods and UPS. In the middle of all that I decided to start my own vending company.

I was 30, I was managing a bottled water company and doing well. Whenever I was making deliveries to businesses I would always see people getting things from the vending machines, I learned that having vending machines was an important part of a business for a fast and easy way for workers to grab a snack and a drink during their breaks. I was fascinated with this. I also observed, however, a lot of frustration over vending services. Machines were often empty, out of order or not stocked with the things people want. I would often see post-it notes on the machine begging the vendor to put a certain item in the machine. I overheard on many occasions people complaining about the vending machines always being out of the things people want. It was clear, many vending machine companies were not taking customer service seriously. I became passionate about wanting to provide vending machines along with excellent customer service and I would destroy my competition.

That was the motivating factor for me to start my vending machine business. I did not know much about vending other than the fact that somebody goes and fills the machine with stuff and takes out the money. So this is the key to starting any business; I researched and researched. One of the things I did was I went up to vendors when I saw them and asked questions about the business. I would ask questions like where do you get merchandise for the machines, where do you get machines, how do you get businesses to let you put a machine in their place? Many were not willing to answer those questions so I had to ask a lot of people to get a few nuggets of information. I took good notes and continued my research. I followed up on information by finding the places where vendors say they get supplies and I went there and asked more questions telling the suppliers that I am starting a vending business. They wanted another customer so they were more willing to fill me in. No matter what business you want to build, Once you are able to find suppliers who are willing to work with you; you will be on your way.

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I bought a load of brand new bulk candy machines from one vender and went around to retail shops and placed candy machines in hair salons, dry cleaners, offices and bars. These are the machines where you put a quarter in, turn a dial and a handful of bulk candy comes out. It turns out bars were my biggest selling locations especially with Red Hots and Peanut M & M’s. I also found a vending machine repair service who refurbishes soda and snack vending machines and sells them. He also delivers the machines which is helpful because they are big and heavy. I bought a bunch of machines and I negotiated a discount because I bought several machines at a time. Once I had the machines I went to office buildings and factories and warehouses and simply asked the managers if they are happy with their vending service. Many of them were not. So I sold myself describing my many years of excellent customer service in various route sales jobs and promised I would do all of the things that their current vendor is not doing. It was surprisingly easy because vending machine operators in that area were really bad at that time. I know customer service and I convinced the customers that I would do better and they were sold. I convinced them to cancel their vending service and get their vendor to pick up the machines and as soon as they did, I put my machines in.

I bought my product from warehouse stores like Costco, Smart and Final, and others. Wherever I got the best prices or wherever there was a good sale on cases of product. I bought a used cargo van from a clearance dealership who sells fleets of vehicles to large companies. They had a fleet of cargo vans that had been traded in for a new fleet. They refurbished the trade ins and sold them cheap, the one I got was very reliable. I named my business The Snack Specialist. I specialized in providing snacks in businesses. I learned how to repair or replace the components of the machines. I stocked parts so I Could make repairs quickly.

It was a successful business, I built it from scratch and had to sell it due to family issues, but I made a big profit on the sale. I split the business into three routes and sold it to three individuals who were looking to get into the business.

That is my experience with the vending business. I am sharing this because I hope that if you have the entrepreneurial drive and want to start any business weather it be vending or something else, you can apply these principles to create your success.  In a future blog I will relate what it was actually like running my vending business in more detail. Spoiler alert, it was great! I had all the freedom and flexibility to do many other things like pursue my Scuba Diving hobby. And I made some good money that set me up for another successful business endeavor that I will also write about soon.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

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Timothy Sanchez
I am an entrepreneur who is building a sustainable remote income through entrepreneurship for my wife Laurie and I that does not restrict us to a specific geographic location. Future telecommuting and virtual working road warriors free to roam while living and working in a motor home.

Cruise America RV Rentals – review

By Tim Sanchez

My wife Laurie and I had never traveled nor stayed in a motor home before we decided to take a long RV vacation. We are nearing retirement age and have been tossing around the idea of buying a motor home and traveling all around the country while working remotely on the road. Our first step in the decision making process for our dream adventure is to determine if we even like being in a Motor Home.

We got two weeks off work and planned to rent a motor home. I checked out the rvshare.com site. That is sort of an air B and B for privately owned RV’s. I looked at a few models and read the descriptions and restrictions and looked at the photos and I saved a few possibilities. Then I saw a link for Cruise America RV Rentals And Sales. I consumed their entire website and I was sold. Everything about their operation was professional and very well thought out and to me prices seemed very reasonable. I booked their largest motor home, 30 feet long powered by a Ford E 450. For a small additional fee we rented kitchen supplies and cookware, linens and towels. It was worth it since everything we bring has to be barged over and back to and from our home on Catalina Island.

When we arrived at Cruise America the day of pick up, we were met with very personable and friendly staff who helped us through the rental process very quickly and efficiently. We loaded up and were on our way in less than 2 hours.

Everything in our RV worked perfectly, we had no problems whatsoever. If we did have a problem we were supplied with all of the information we need to resolve it. They allow us to make minor repairs on our own if needed and they will reimburse us for what we fix.

We drove a route through the national parks of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. We stayed at 8 different RV Parks in two weeks. Moving the motor home, set up and take town was easy and problem free.

At the end of our trip the check In Process was a little hectic since many people return on Mondays. Although hectic it was well organized and efficient. They were patient while we unloaded our personal belongings of which we brought more than was necessary. I am a chronic over-packer. We thoroughly cleaned the inside of the motor home because that is how we do, we like to show respect for other people’s property. We emptied the grey and black tanks and filled the gas and propane tanks, therefore our full deposit was returned. Their inspection took only a few minutes, I signed the final receipt and we were on our way.

We rented the largest motor home they have, 30 feet. It was roomy for 2 people so we felt right at home. It sleeps 7 but I personally would feel confined if there were more than 4 people unless everyone could spend a lot of time outside. Our trip was in the fall and it was cold outside so if 7 people were huddled in there to stay out of the cold it might be a little cramped. The refrigerator was a really good size and we were able to eat almost all of our meals in the motor home.

In summery our two week rental of the RV from Cruise America was a very good experience. The cost was reasonable, the rental ended up averaging about $100.00 per day. We traveled 1400 miles and spent about $480.00 in gas. We stayed in nice full hookup RV Parks every night at an average of $50 per night. It would be easy to boondock camp, (without hook ups) 2 out of 3 nights or so and save rv space fees as long as you manage your holding tanks and water supply. Many regional parks, state parks and some national parks allow RV’s to camp with no hook ups, and they have restrooms, showers and water available for use. So boondocking is totally doable. You may, however need to use the generator in the RV and that costs $3.50 per hour plus the gas you use from the motor homes gas tank.

I strongly recommend Cruise America and rental motor home vacationing. If you think you would enjoy motor home travel then just do it, you will love it.

FIRE or PE? What does freedom look like for you?

In my research about how to become independent from employment slavery, I frequently come across articles about FIRE. I was told that if I have not heard of FIRE I must be living under a rock. I actually live on a rock but that is a whole other story. Apparently FIRE is all the rage now it stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early. At first glance I thought, yes that is what I am looking for. But is it really? Looking at Financial Independence literally it means having all the money you need without doing anything more to get it. For example, retiring with a big pension, being the beneficiary of a trust fund, saving and investing boatloads of money or winning the lottery.
This is the dream of many, retire early and start living the good life. For many people in my age group, living in the fourth quarter, if you don’t already have at least a couple million dollars in the bank it’s probably too late to save for true lasting financial independence and early retirement. To be realistic in my personal plans, I am working towards an independent lifestyle where I can earn enough through entrepreneurial endeavors to live comfortably and be able to enjoy a retirement like lifestyle while I am young and healthy enough to enjoy it. Rather than retiring from working; I am working toward breaking away from confining clock in and clock out employment and going independent, working on my own terms through entrepreneurial pursuits. That is what I call PE or perpetual entrepreneurship ; the idea is to develop the independent income streams through entrepreneurial endeavors to the point where they are generating steady income while personal involvement to work at it lessens with time. Ideally to have a business that can be run by employees while you take a cut of the profit to live off of. Or build it up to the point to where it is marketable to sell the business at a good price and live off the proceeds.
Currently I have an e-commerce business and I am expanding my business to meet a need that I see in my community. The very notion of entrepreneurship is finding a need and building a business that fills that need. Catalina island is a resort island off the coast of Southern California. The only town or city is Avalon; 2.9 square miles with a population of approximately 4000. Avalon is a beautiful hamlet that is well marketed as a weekend escape vacation destination therefore the primary revenue to the island is through tourism. During the busy summer season there will be hundreds of temporary workers that will move in and work for 4 to 6 months. One of the challenges for temporary residents on an isolated island is getting mail and packages. Avalon has no mail delivery, the only way to get mail is through a USPS provided PO Box and only full time year around residents are allowed to have one. Temporary residents can receive mail addressed to their name , General delivery, Avalon, CA. 90704. Then they can pick up mail at the window. That works to a point, but they can not order things online because most online retailers will not send product to a general delivery address. Plus some online retailers ship via UPS or Fed Ex. In Avalon a local company delivers parcels from those major carriers but temporary workers often live in bunkhouse type of workforce housing complexes and that creates challenges for receiving their parcels. Therefore I am working on opening a mailbox rental company similar to mailboxes etc. or the UPS store. Anybody, year around residents and temporary residents will be able to rent a mailbox and receive their mail and parcels securely and reliably at Avalon PASS. I looked into buying a franchise but they are very expensive and I would have to pay for services that the franchise requires that is not necessary  in our small community like big advertising and marketing campaigns. If you live an a large town or city on the mainland a franchise may be a good option for this type of business.
Avalon Packaging and Shipping services aka Avalon PASS is being modeled after a UPS store or mailboxes etc., but I am building it from scratch. Avalon PASS will fill another need in our community; packaging and shipping. Often visitors overpack or over shop and end up with too much stuff to carry home with them, so we can ship it for them. Hotels, restaurants and tour operators find items that guests leave behind. Most will be happy to send the lost item to its rightful owner but that is time consuming so Avalon PASS takes care of packaging and shipping items or merchandise for them. We have all the packaging materials and facilities to pack and ship easily and efficiently as I am already operating an e-commerce business and I ship product daily. There are many other income streams that will be included in the business including various business services for local businesses and travelers alike. I have been operating the business on a small scale with only a few clients for over a year now and I am gearing up to launch it full scale by the beginning of 2019.
I will make regular blog posts to document the progress. I hope my readers will find it informative and encouraging to anyone who has an entrepreneurial drive to start a business. Perhaps following my development of the business will be useful to anyone who dreams of starting any business weather it be pack and ship or something else. Years ago I built a successful vending business from scratch so this isn’t my first rodeo. Look for my blog about starting a vending business coming soon. Please follow my blog and feel free to comment, ask questions and share.

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Tim and Lauries RV Experiment Wrap up

Tuesday November 6, 2018

Winding down our vacation we hightailed it from freezing at the Grand Canyon to Palm Springs on Friday morning , November 2 for a taste of warmth for a couple of nights. We spent Saturday playing tourist sort of, we rode the famous tram up to the top of Mount San Jacinto and enjoyed the views for a couple hours. Then we went down and caught the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie at an IMAX theatre. I have always loved the music of the band Queen. It was a great movie, the actors did a great job of emulating the band members especially Freddie Mercury and Brian May.

Since we did not have any other transportation except for the motor home, we used Uber to get around Palm Springs. When we buy our motor home we will make sure it has the towing capacity to pull our Toyota 4Runner behind it so we can get around more easily from our camp sights. Either that or we will buy a smaller car to tow, but either way you have to have a tow car if you do the Motor Home thing otherwise you will be stuck at the campground or will need to pay for a lot of taxi and Uber rides.

Sunday morning we moved to Featherly Wilderness Preserve in Anaheim. We stayed at Canyon RV park backed up to the edge of the Santa Ana river. Epic site! Canyon park is a hidden jewel next to Green River Golf course it gets two thumbs up from me. The only drawbacks are it is expensive, $75 per night, you can hear ambient freeway noise even though there is a massive sound wall and they don’t have WiFi. It is still worth the visit.

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We spent some time organizing and cleaning the RV Sunday night because we planned to return it as early as possible Monday morning. We drove it back to Carson and got there around 10:00. We learned that it is pretty hectic on a Monday morning with many people returning at the same time. We were not as ready as we would have liked to have been. They were very kind and patient while we packed up. Next time we will stop somewhere and pack everything up and transfer it to our car before we pull into the Cruise America lot. We returned the motor home clean and full of gas, propane and the holding tanks were empty. Our full deposit plus a little extra was refunded to us because we filled up what should be full and emptied what should be empty, our refund was $578.00. The total cost of a 15 day rental ended up being $1500.00 or $100.00 per day plus our fuel and campground fees. It was totally worth it. Our trip was unforgettable and so enjoyable we would recommend it and we would definitely do it again except I think we will buy our own motor home now.

Our assessment is without a doubt, RV life is for us. This is what we want to do long term someday.

Now we are home and it is time to get back to building my business.

Please continue to follow my blog by clicking the link ; keep up with the progress of my entrepreneurial pursuits on the road to becoming independent and free from employment.

Day 12 travel day to Palm Springs

Friday November 2 2018

With about a seven hour drive ahead of us, we battened down the hatches once again and tore out of the Grand Canyon like a herd of turtles. We stopped in Williams Arizona and had breakfast in a classic Route 66 diner then drove pretty much solid until we reached our campsite in Palm Springs. Laurie read a book to me the whole way as we like to do. She is reading a great book “ The life and legacy if D. M. Renton.” He was an amazing entrepreneur that built many homes in Pasadena and then built much of the city of Avalon between 1919 and 1936. He was the kind of forward thinking and resilient kind of business man that sets the standard for successful entrepreneurship .

It’s not much of an RV site but at least we finally can enjoy a warm night! We sat outside until 10:00 pm talking and sipping scotch, it so pleasant. Tomorrow is really our last day of real vacationing then we have to start getting ready to return the rental motor home on Monday.

what kind of adventure can we find in Palm Springs? We shall see.

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Find more photos and stories on:

Lauries Instagram at Laurelavalon and Lauries Facebook

Tim’s Instagram at Timothysanchez7528 and Tim’s Facebook

 

RV adventure day 11, Grand Canyon

Day 11 Thursday November 1, 2018.

Overnight temperatures were around 25 degrees. We have been hunkered down in our motor home for much of the second week of our trip. It was very cold at Bryce Canyon, rainy at Powell and really cold at Grand Canyon. Note to self, perhaps we should plan on early to mid October for this trip rather than late October. The first week was perfect weather and Zion National Park is hands down our favorite spot on this trip.

In spite of the cold, the Grand Canyon is spectacular. I’ve seen the photos but they don’t compare to seeing it in real life. We went to the visitors center and looked at the displays about the history and geological make up of the canyon and we watched a couple of great informational movies in the theatre there. Then we set out on a 3 mile hike along the rim from the visitors center to the village. The trails into the canyon are extreme and after the hike we did in Fairyland at Bryce Canyon I did not feel up to punishing my body again on this trip so we stayed on the rim which is pretty level. We will plan another longer trip to the Grand Canyon in the future to take the burrow rides through the canyon, or take 5 days to hike and camp. We saw an advertisement for river rafting trips through the canyon that look pretty good too.

At the end of our hike we stopped at a really cool art studio with some great lookout spots. About that time I hit the wall. I did not sleep well the night before and for some reason I was overcome with exhaustion. I have been doing a lot of hiking and walking and physical activity for an old fat man. I repeat , I have to lose 50 lbs and get into shape again, what good is working out a great retirement plan if you are too unhealthy to enjoy it. I am committed to the idea that the number one investment to make for the fourth quarter of your life is investment into your health and well being. That being said, we had pizza and beer for dinner! LOL……. Well we are on vacation and we have been eating really healthy for most of it. My extreme fatigue got the best of me, I weakened and had pizza; it didn’t help me fell better either. Lesson learned.

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We got prepared for another sub freezing night, I unhooked the water lines and put them away. We could not sit outside to enjoy the evening so we stayed indoors again, watched TV for a bit and went to bed at 8:00 pm. We realized that we are tired of being cold. We are supposed to stay one more night at Grand Canyon but we decided to bug out early and go somewhere warm; Palm Springs.

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Find more photos and stories on:

Lauries Instagram at Laurelavalon and Lauries Facebook

Tim’s Instagram at Timothysanchez7528 and Tim’s Facebook