Vending Machine Business Plan

The preparation of your vending machine business plan will be the most important thing that you do prior to launching your new venture.

A business plan will be a crucial resource that will help guide your business in the right direction. A business plan sets out what has to happen in order for you to reach your goals, outlines how you will do it and sets out alternative plans in case things change further down the line. It forces you to do the research that is necessary in order to find out if there really is a market for the vending machines and locations that you have in mind.

It may be necessary to have a plan written in a formal, professional style if your aim is to use it to convince bankers or investors to support your idea. However, even if you don’t have anything to prove to anyone, your business plan will help to confirm the viability of your ideas in your own mind.

Keep a copy of your plan on your PC as well as in a file or binder in case of emergency. Don’t forget about your business plan once you have opened your doors for business. Refer to it regularly to make sure that you are on track to meet targets. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the plan where necessary.

Every entrepreneur or business consultant will have different ideas about how a business plan should be structured. There are many different templates available online and some sites even have samples relating directly to the vending machine industry. Below we offer an example of a suitable outline with section titles that you might consider including in your own vending machine business plan.

Cover and Contents Page

Start off with a cover page with a heading to let people know what the report is about, who the author is and when it was written. If you will be presenting the report to many different people then you may consider including a personalized cover letter with each copy of the plan. Start out with a table of contents so that readers can easily find their way around the report.

Executive Summary

Summarize the other sections of your business plan. Present some brief information on the opportunities that you see in the market and summarize what it is that you intend to do with your business to capitalize on these opportunities. Try to entice readers into reading the whole report.

Background

Offer the reader some background information on yourself and your reasons for starting a vending machine business. Provide details of any relevant experience or competitive advantages that you have.

You can also include a vending industry background showing national industry data as well as information about the local industry that you plan on entering.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is usually a phrase or a couple of short sentences that summarises what your business is all about, what it does and how well it does it. It is a good way to remember the basic goals or philosophy of your company aside from the profit motive. A good mission statement could mention something about the standard of your machines and products or how you strive to be better than your competitors.

Goals and Objectives

State the goals that you wish to achieve in the short and medium terms. Goals could include placing a certain number a vending machines or reaching a certain income level per machine.

Startup Requirements

Set out a list of startup costs and calculate the total amount of capital that will be needed for the company to get started. Report on some of the funding options that are available to the owners.

In this section of the report you can also mention some of the other things that must happen in order for the business to commence trading legally and professionally. Mention the processes and the fees involved with applying for licenses, permits and other paperwork under the laws of the region where the business will be operating.

Ownership and Management Structure

Note who the founders of the company are and the particular ownership interest that each has in the business. For those who will be active in the management of the business it is important to outline what role they will play and their responsibilities. Will the business be registered as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation?

Business Operations

This section of a business plan should outline the details of how you plan on running the vending machine business. Include information on where your business will be based, administration, any plans that you have to hire employees and how your business will run on a day to day basis.

Include details on vending machines, maintenance, products, distributors, route planning and how you will record and manage sales data. What systems will you put in place to maximize productivity and efficiency?

Try to come up with solid reasons why you are choosing a certain vending machine, product line or system. Wherever possible include some supporting evidence from research that you have done.

Market Analysis

Using data from your market research you can report on the current state of your target market and identify some of the opportunities. Here you can include demographic data as well as information that you have gathered from surveys and other investigations.

Provide information on the competition in your target area and examine their strengths and weaknesses. Look at ways of delivering products and services via your machines that are distinctly different from what your competitors are offering. Get ideas from them about what is working well and what isn’t. Look for a competitive edge. Don’t forget to also mention indirect competitors such as convenience stores, in-house cafeterias or food vans.

Marketing Plan

Outline a strategy for creating a vending brand that will meet market needs. Based on the market opportunities that you see, set out a strategy for meeting customer needs in terms of locations, vending machines, product lines and pricing.

Provide details on how you plan on getting new machine locations, arranging appointments with ‘decision makers’ and selling your services to them. Your marketing could mostly be done by approaching decision makers directly or you could rely on advertising to generate some enquiries.

Also outline your plan for marketing directly to your customers or end users. These could include ‘point of sale’ promotions on the machine front or how you or your staff will build relationships with customers when you visit the premises where your machines are located.

You should also mention how you plan on maintaining vending accounts and customer satisfaction in the long term. Customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition.

Financial Planning

Use a spreadsheet program to set out forecasts of cash flows in and out of your vending machine business over a hypothetical two year time period. If you have done your research you should be able to anticipate monthly income and expenses going forward. You will thus be able to determine future levels of profitability and a break even point.

Run a variety of different scenarios that consider a conservative growth rate, an expected growth rate and an optimistic growth rate. Things don’t always happen like you expect so it is important that you plan for a variety of outcomes.

Time For Business Planning!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..”

Ah yes…..the annual business planning cycle is upon us.

The time of the year to huddle all of your business colleagues in a room to hash out the key initiatives for the upcoming year. The time to throw everything up on the wall and try to get everything done in the first quarter. “This will be the year that all plans will be met” is the battle cry! Every vision, idea and strategy gets bantered about – shouts of “there are no bad ideas!” fill the air. The room is electric with visionaries exchanging ideas on how their idea solves all issues, yet year after year, it seems that plans never actually come to fruition.

Why is that? The intent was there; the energy was present; and ideas were flowing. That’s the easy part – coming up with the ideas. The success of your planning doesn’t rest on the ideas, but rather, implementing those ideas. It’s true, companies need to foster innovation in their business planning, but more importantly, they need to create a business environment that enables team members to execute these ideas with an “on-time, on-budget” mindset. That is where the work begins.

I have been putting together business plans for over 25 years and it is clear to me that the strength of its core rests solely on being able to execute the plan. Each year I approach business planning as an opportunity, rather than a burden. I would rather invest the time up front in mapping out the upcoming year, than leaving it to chance to dictate my strategy. While this may force me to think strategically as well as tactically, preparing a detailed business plan in advance enables me to identify the challenges in advance of actually facing them.

So, why is business planning so crucial? In a word, it provides “clarity”. Investing time to develop a plan provides precise clarification of the company vision to both employees and customers. In addition, it provides a mechanism to gauge the results of the business and provides the foundation for future growth plans. In the long haul, it enhances the company valuation through fiscal responsibility, which provides the story of opportunity to any future investor or employee. In short, the benefits of planning allow the company to articulate a common vision to align resources and make an efficient use of investment dollars. A company that is perceived to be a “well-oiled machine” is attractive on many fronts – both externally with investors and internally with employees through job satisfaction and increased tenure.

Strategic Planning & Goals: The first step is to identify the key company goals which will be the over-arching direction of the plan. These goals should be focused on three areas: financial, growth initiatives and alignment to the company’s vision/mission. This provides the overall direction of the company by establishing high-level goals that will be achieved by tactical initiatives. The overall plan should be 1 to 3 years with measurement mileposts monthly, quarterly and annually. While the plan is put in place at the onset of the year, it should be constantly re-forecast with actual results throughout the year.

Developing Planning Modules: Compartmentalizing your plan by developing planning modules or “chunks” allows you to attack the plan in parts, yet still maintain a cohesive plan. I have found that developing an annual plan made up of quarterly targets – thus becoming a rolling quarterly forecast financial model – allows for a cohesive structure along with the nimbleness to react to market conditions. At the end of each quarter, a true-up process to align results to annual targets needs to be re-forecast and adjustments made.

Develop Non-Capital Initiatives: Each project initiative should have a corresponding project plan that monitors whether it will be completed on-time and on-budget. The importance of the detailed project plan is to accomplish the following: a) identify all the steps to be completed; b) establish a realistic timeline for each step; c) identify and allocate the necessary resources for accomplishing the initiative; d) ensure that the initiative has been vetted for departmental inter-dependencies and potential conflicts; and e) ensure that the initiative is in alignment with the overall strategic plan.

Create A Capital Plan: Next, I would develop a capital plan identifying dollars to be spent on the business to increase its overall value. While all capital dollars may not entirely be discretionary – i.e., investing dollars for anticipated return from growth – it is necessary to determine how capital dollars will be allocated whether for discretionary purposes or general maintenance. Projects that require capital are critical for the company growth and must be managed to their desired return, avoiding shortfalls in ROI or issues involving “capital creep”. If you haven’t already, setting up a capital committee to review expenditures in advance of the start of the project provides some assurance that the projects have been vetted against return on investment. Lastly, developing a post-audit process enables the team to review and monitor the progress of ongoing investments.

Business Plan Analytics Through Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s): Identifying key performance indicators for your business to use as benchmarks throughout the year is perhaps the most critical step you can make with regard to business analytics. Not only will KPI’s help identify key shortfalls in the plan, but will help narrow your focus in addressing the shortfalls. For instance, recognizing that you have an issue in labor isn’t merely enough when you consider the following possibilities: a) labor rates may be too high; b) overtime has exceeded its budget; c) the issue is regionally-based, not across the board; d) man hours may have exceeded its allocated budget, etc. It could be a myriad of triggers that caused labor to exceed its budget and KPI’s enable you to drill down to the cause. KPI management requires a disciplined review process established monthly that fosters a blended analysis throughout the year that compares actual results against both budgets and forecasts.

Fundamentals, Cycles & Trends (FC & T’s): Your plan, if done in advance and thoroughly, should provide and excellent foundation from which to work. Even the best plan still has to react to outside forces that will influence your best intentions. Identifying certain fundamentals, cycles and trends that may impact your company is a prudent way to being able to develop a contingency “plan B” in the event an outside force rears its head. A series of key FC & T’s should be monitored throughout the year so that if required, your plan can react. Certain FC & T’s may include wholesale pricing, weather, commodity markets or labor market impacts that are out of your control. In my opinion, developing contingency plans in advance for these outside forces at least gives you a fighting chance to react favorably.

Strategic Review of Plans/Goals at Year-End: At the end of the year, a thorough review of the plan and its process should be discussed with the team in order to make the next planning cycle more effective and efficient. Take a look at all of the successful initiatives and the ones that fell short in order to identify where the “broken pipes” occurred in the process. Remember not to double-dip on the capital projects EBIDTA contribution for the upcoming year – your budgetary baselines should move in concert with these investments. All projects that straddle the budgetary year, should be rolled over into the new plan. Business planning is the road map that identifies where you are headed in advance. As importantly, it also identifies road blocks – in advance. Your business plan should provide a common vision supported by tactical initiatives that, ultimately, creates greater value for your company. It may seem daunting, but by knowing your vision and its corresponding financial targets, you will have a better chance at executing how to get there and avoiding traps in advance.

Why You Can’t Afford To Let Your Business Plan

If you’re sitting in your office reading this: stand up, go to your bookshelf, and get down your current business plan… not on your bookshelf? Oh, that’s OK, try the filing cabinet… not there either? Can’t remember? Maybe it’s in one of those musty old boxes you packed up years ago with all the “non-essential” stuff?

OK, let’s try this. Remember when you bought that brand new photocopier? Wasn’t it great getting everything out of the box and grabbing the manual so you could put it all together and learn how it works?…and what about that great new feature (which you hardly ever use) that allows you to scan a document, then save it as a PDF and retrieve it later for editing and re-printing. Can’t remember how to do it? No problem – I’ll bet you know where the manual is! Carefully filed away for just such a time as this, when you need to refer back to it to keep things running smoothly, right?

So, how come you can find the photocopier manual that guides you through the process of running the photocopier smoothly, but you can’t find the business plan that helps you to run the business smoothly?

Now don’t feel too badly here, because you’re not alone. In fact, if you’re like many remote and regional businesses, you probably don’t even have a business plan – no wonder you can’t find the bl**** thing!

Seriously though, can you imagine setting out on a trip without any idea about where you want to go, no planning, no road map and no itinerary? No contingency plan to deal with the possibility of something going wrong? Sure, if you’re driving on the freeway, some of these things are not so important, but what about if you want to explore off the beaten track a bit? Strangely enough, there are some businesses that set out on the journey of running a business without any plan or direction or contingency plans for when things get rough.

But worse than this, there are businesses out there that started out right – did all the right things, got their business and marketing plans in order and did some contingency planning – then put the plan in the bottom drawer, never to be seen again. This is an interesting behaviour; you don’t throw your maps out the window once you’ve started your road trip do you?

Let’s assume for a moment that you’re starting from scratch and building your business from the ground up: what are some of the things you need to keep in mind regarding your planning:

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

As CEO of a remote Indigenous community in the middle of the desert, I was acutely aware that attempting to leave the community, for even a short trip, without adequate planning could literally end in death. It’s no different for business – failing to plan can be fatal;

Your business plan is not an optional extra, it’s an absolute essential

In the same way that your tour map or your SatNav guides you to where you want to go, your business plan gives the business direction and purpose. Without a business plan, businesses tend to operate in what I term “reaction mode”, lurching from crisis to crisis. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to run a business ‘successfully’ like this, it’s just not very efficient, that’s all;

Your business plan should reflect not just what you do, but who you are.

Businesses that lose their “why”, tend to struggle to perform at their peak. Two prime examples of this phenomenon are Starbucks and Apple;

Make sure your business plan paints a complete picture of the business from its foundation to its possible wind-up.

If you have a long-term view for your business or company, having a documented pathway will be a valuable archive one day;

Have clearly defined long-term goals in your business plan, along with shorter “stepping stones” that lead you there.

Make sure these are time-lined with built-in measures so you can track progress along the way;

Store your business plan in an accessible place where you can get to it easily.

It should be a living document that you re-visit at regular intervals for review and updating.

A business plan should be a living document that guides your decisions, keeps you on track and changes with the ever-changing face of your growing business. Look at it frequently, breathe new life into it and don’t bury it in an old musty coffin, hoping it will rest in peace.

Business With a Growth Business Plan

bp1

Are you at a point with your business where you just don’t know what to do next?
Do you have a business plan?
How about a growth business plan?

Have you looked at a lot of different ways to grow your business and nothing seems to work?

The right growth business plan could be your answer. If a growth business plan is done the right way it may open up some opportunities you have never thought about before. A growth business plan can be developed many different ways but I would like to discuss a growth business plan to business  that you may have never thought about.

Here is the way I would encourage you to set up a growth business plan:

• Do some dreaming about what you would like your lifestyle to be
• By dreaming decide on an average income you would like to have over the next few years
• Decide how many years out you would like your plan to cover
• Decide how much profit you would like for your business to generate above the income you want for yourself.
• Set up a profit and loss statement of your existing business or your proposed business
• With the right business knowledge and a profit and loss statement you can actually use that data to see what your business would need to do for you to give you that income and profit
• Even better you can determine what size market you would need and even determine whether your market would support your business presently and in the future.

To me a small business is one of the best things you can have if you enjoy operating a business; however, it does require a lot more than just enjoying ownership and running a business. Especially if you are starting a small business and even if you have had a business for many years, you should know what you want for your future. Never guess about your business. You see, without a plan, you are just guessing. We business people work hard and we always continue to hope for the best but when we guess, we’re taking a lot of risks. You’ve probably heard the old saying from an unknown author that says, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.”

As a matter of fact, did you know that the Small Business Administration says that 50% of small business owners will fail sometime during their first 5 years? There are lots of reasons but one big one is that owners don’t have a plan. Another is they have picked a product or service that doesn’t have a big enough market to sustain their business and sometime during their future they will run out of customers.

Now as I said, there are many other reasons too.

After graduating from college, I started out in manufacturing as an engineer in a pretty large company and now, 45 years later, retiring as a of Director of Manufacturing, I have discovered an awful lot about business. Not only did I learn and teach a lot about business, I worked with small business owners as well. I’ve learned that it comes down to this. Too many owners work hard in their business but less on their business.

Do you work on your business as much as you work in your business? Do you ever dream about having a good lifestyle but just haven’t quite figured out what to do about it. Have you ever thought about seeing what your business would need to do to give you those dreams? Developing a growth business plan could be the answer.

So, why should you make a growth business plan? Well in simple terms you need to know where you’re going and how and when you’re going to get there.

Some of the questions a growth business plan might ask you are:

– Are you comfortable that the market wants and is willing to buy your product or service?
– Is your product or service priced so it is competitive in your market?
– What’s different about your product or service? Why would a customer purchase it over someone else’s?
– Is your market big enough to support your business? What about 15 years into the future?
– If you wanted a better lifestyle, what would your business need to do to give you that lifestyle?
– How much sales would your business need to generate to give you that income?
– How much sales would your business need to generate to give you the income you want 15 years into the future?
– What will be the cost of your labor and material?
– What will your expenses run?
– How much will it cost to overcome the capacity constraints that will occur as your business grows to meet your income requirements?
– Will your profit give you the income you want in the future and at the same time maintain a healthy business for you as well?

If you develop a good Profit & Loss Statement for your existing business for the current year or for the first year of your proposed business, you can use this data to actually project how much sales you would need to yield the income you want and the profit margin you want. You can plan ahead as far as you want. Sound impossible? It’s actually pretty simple and can be pretty accurate plan.

A plan like this would show you how much sales your business would need to do, what your fixed and variable expenses would be, what your material cost, labor cost and profit would need to be to provide the income and profit margin you want. You can see pretty quickly if it’s possible for you to get your business to that level. I don’t know of any better way than to have your business give you the income and profit you want. What’s neat is you can determine what you want your income to be and your profit to be over the next few years and develop a plan that can show you exactly what your business would need to do to give you that income and profit.

And with just a little more data you can actually determine how many customers you would need for each year you plan for and how many leads you would need. From that you can actually determine what size market you would need and whether your market is big enough to supply those leads that could be converted into customers.