Whether you are a seasoned bulk candy vending veteran or just starting out, the setting of your candy wheel dispenser is critical to striking a balance between providing value to your customers while also running a profitable business. Adjusting the candy wheel on your machine to the highest setting might provide maximum product for your customers, but you also will be cutting into your bottom line. If you adjust the setting too small, your customers will not get a good value for their money.
So, how do you know what setting to choose? Since candy comes in different shapes and sizes and candy machines can vary slightly by manufacturer, the only way to figure out what will work best for you and your business goals is to test your machine. Before filling your machine, choose the candy wheel setting you’d like to test and put a very small quantity of the candy you’d like to vend in the machine. Run a quarter through the machine. Based on how little or how much comes out and your business goals, you may want to adjust your candy wheel setting to be larger or smaller and test it again until you find what setting works.
Many vending operators want to know how many pieces of candy are in a pound so they can figure out profit by the pound. While there is no exact answer, following are some pieces per pound estimates of some of the best selling candies that can be used to help figure out profitability:
M&Ms (plain) – 500 pieces/lb.
M&Ms (peanut) – 180 pieces/lb.
Reece’s Pieces – 566 pieces/lb.
Skittles – 400 pieces/lb.
Runts – 400 pieces/lb.
Mike & Ike’s – 225 pieces/lb.
Hot Tamales – 225 pieces/lb.
Chewy Spree – 248 pieces/lb.
Chiclets – 396 pieces/lb.
Polar Mints – 330 pieces/lb.
Boston Baked Beans – 400 pieces/lb.
Good & Plenty’s – 390 pieces/lb.
Pucker Ups – 540 pieces/lb.
So, for example, if you know your machine dispenses 8 peanut M&Ms per quarter, you know it will take approximately 23 quarters to go through one pound, which would yield $5.75. If you purchase a 15.75 pound case of peanut M&Ms, it will take approximately 362 quarters until the case is gone. 362 quarters = $90.50. If you purchased the case of M&M’s for $64.99, your profit will be approximately $25.51, or 28%. You can use this same formula to figure out profitability for other candies once you know how many dispense per vend and the approximate per pound piece count.
One more thing to consider. Be sure to check on your candy machines on a regular basis! Bulk candy vendors that are empty or have old looking product are a sure fire way to not make any money. The best way to attract people to your machine is to ensure the machine is operational and the candy looks and tastes fresh!
Congratulations to Beth Morris and Michael Orwig, the two winners of our Nerds Gumballs giveaway sweepstakes! We would also like to thank all of our Facebook fans and loyal customers for making this a fun and exciting event.
We had a large number of entries to this sweepstakes and we are excited to carry this momentum into our next promotion that will be launching in the coming weeks.
NERDS filled gumballs are a year round perennial favorite at Gumballs.com. The fruity gumball outside surrounds delicious, tangy Nerds candy pieces inside, for a burst of flavor on the taste buds! Gumballs.com is giving away one case of Nerds Filled Gumballs to each of two lucky winners of our latest sweepstakes.
Visit Gumballs.com on Facebook, “like” us and you’ll be able to enter for your chance to win! The sweepstakes runs from April 5th through April 15th, 2013. One entry per Facebook account. The winners will be announced on our blog and the product will be shipped on or around April 15th. Good luck!
Bulk vending machines usually vend a 1″ item like a gumball OR smaller bulk candy items like M&M’s, Skittles, chiclet gum, nuts, smaller gumballs, etc. What you vend from your candy and gumball machine depends on the type of dispensing wheel inside the machine (see “Dispensing Wheel Basics.”) The good news is, if you start vending a 1″ item and decide later that you’d like to switch to vending bulk candy (or vice versa), you easily can without purchasing a new machine. All you need to do is swap one dispensing wheel for the other!
Changing the dispensing wheel in a bulk vending machine is easy. First, remove the lock and lid from the machine. Next, remove the globe from the hopper by taking out whatever screws are holding it down (usually two longer side screws, or four screws in each corner at the bottom of the globe.) Once the globe is removed, you should be able to lift the dispensing wheel up off the center rod of the machine. In some machines, you might have to remove two screws on either side of the dispensing wheel assembly to lift it out of the machine. After you have removed the dispensing wheel, you can now slide the new dispensing wheel down the center rod of the machine. If your dispensing wheel assembly has the word “front” on it, be sure to align the front part of the wheel with the front of the candy or gumball machine. Finally, replace the necessary screws, globe, lid and lock and you are set to vend!
When setting up your first bulk vending machine, you will need to equip the machine with the proper dispensing wheel. The type of dispensing wheel you will need is determined by what you plan to vend. You will need a gumball dispensing wheel for 1″ gumballs, 1″ ROUND toy capsules or 27mm bouncy balls. A candy dispensing wheel is required for smaller candies like M&M’s, Skittles, Mike & Ike’s, chiclet gum, nuts, smaller gumballs, etc. Some machines might also have an acorn toy capsule option. One cool feature of a bulk vendor set with a candy dispensing wheel is that the openings on the wheel that the candy passes through can be adjusted to dispense more or less candy. Before filling your candy machine to the brim, you might want to experiment with the different dispensing wheel settings to find the one that works best for you and your business. Remember that candy comes in different shapes and sizes. A setting that works for one candy might not be the best for another.
Following are simple instructions on how to adjust the openings of your candy dispensing wheel:
- Remove the lock, key and lid of your machine.
- Using a Phillips head screwdriver, remove the screws are that are holding the globe down on the machine. In some cases, the candy machine might have two long hold down rods that are at the top of the machine’s globe, or there might be four screws on the inside the globe in each of the bottom four corners. Once the screws are removed, lift the globe off the machine’s hopper. You now have access to the candy wheel assembly, which consists of a brush plate and the dispensing wheel.
- To get to the dispensing wheel, remove the brush plate (usually a plastic piece with vertical springs.) DO NOT loosen the screws that hold the springs onto the brush plate.
- Once the brush plate is out of the machine, you can access the candy dispensing wheel. Some machines have a metal wing screwed into the dispensing wheel. To adjust the openings, remove the screws that hold the metal wing onto the dispensing wheel. Quantities are adjusted by lifting and removing the metal wing out of the candy wheel and replacing it using one of the other settings that is visible inside the candy wheel. Some candy machines have a plastic wing that can be lifted off the wheel without loosening any screws. Plastic wings have tabs on them that fit into grooves on the edges of the dispensing wheel to create the different settings. You can lift the wing up and rotate it slightly, lining up the tabs with the grooves to make the dispensing wheel openings larger or smaller.
- Once you have the desired setting, replace the screws that hold the metal wing onto the dispensing wheel and then place the adjustable wheel back in the machine’s hopper, centering one of the three holes over the hopper opening.
- Next, replace the brush plate on top of the adjustable candy wheel. The brush plate is usually marked with the word “front” to make sure that you line up the springs so they cover the opening over the hopper.
- Replace the globe, lid, lock and key and you are ready to vend!
You’ve ordered a gumball or candy vending machine on a stand and the boxes with the different components have arrived. Boxes? Yes. Your machine and stand will arrive in separate boxes and you will need to attach the machine to the stand. The good news? It’s very simple! Here’s how…
After removing the parts from the boxes, the first thing you will need to do is build the stand. For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s assume we are attaching two machines to one stand. The stand unit consists of a double bracket (the piece that sits on top of the stand and will hold the machines), a flange (a circular piece that sits between the double bracket and the pipe), a threaded pipe, and the base. First, screw the threaded pipe into the base. It should not matter which end, but one end might fit better than the other so play with it and see what works best. Once the pipe is screwed into the base, you can then attach the flange onto the other end of the threaded pipe simply by screwing the hole in the middle of the flange onto the other threaded end of the pipe. Next, attach the double bracket to the flange, lining up the holes in the center of the bracket, using the bolts provided. Most double brackets attach to the flange using two bolts that go through the top of the bracket into threaded holes on the flange. If you are attaching just one machine to a stand, there is no bracket, the machine attaches directly to the flange.
Now that your stand is complete, the next step is mounting your machines onto the bracket. This is where a lot of our customers get confused because the way bulk vending machines attach to a stand is somewhat counter intuitive! The gumball or candy machine attaches to the bracket through the top of the base plate of the machine. So, start by removing the lock of your bulk vending machine. Once the lock is removed, the entire machine should lift off its base plate by sliding it up and off the center rod. Once the bulk vendor is removed, all you should see is the base plate and the center rod. Next, place the metal base of the bulk vendor on either side of the double bracket and use the bolts provided (usually it’s two per machine) to screw the center holes of the bulk vendor base plate into threaded holes in the bracket. Do not over tighten! Once both base plates are securely attached, slide the gumball or candy machines back down the center rod and into the base, replace the locks and you are ready to roll!
Thank you to all of our Facebook fans for participating in our promotion to win one of three King Carousel Gumball Machines filled with Red Candy Hearts! The winners were selected at random this morning.
The lucky winners are Khoi Tran, Heidi Streadbeck, and Tenielle Stanbrough. Congratulations!
We will be contacting the winners by email to verify their shipping address and then will send them their prizes via UPS.
Congratulations again to our winners. Be sure to keep an eye out for our next promotion and your chance to win a case of Nerds filled gumballs!
We get this question a lot. “I’ve lost the keys to my gumball machine…what do I do?” Fortunately, in most cases this is an easy fix…simply drill out the tubular or barrel lock and replace it with a new one. What? Drill out a lock? Don’t you need a locksmith to do that?
The answer is no! All you need is five to ten minutes and some tools that you likely already have around the house, including:
- Drill and drill bits (1/4″ and 1/8″ or smaller)
- Masking tape (optional)
- Ruler (optional)
- Large screw driver (optional)
- Needle nose pliers or vice grips (optional)
Step # 1 – First, ensure that the gumball/candy machine is on a stable surface so the machine doesn’t tip over as you start to drill.
Step #2 – You will need to drill a hole down the center of the lock that is approximately 1/4″ deep. If you are not comfortable guesstimating, use a ruler to measure 1/4″ on the drill bit and mark it off with masking tape. The tape will serve as a depth guide to make sure you don’t drill too deep into the lock and cause more damage to your machine.
Step # 3 – Start with the smaller drill bit (1/8″ or smaller) and using gentle pressure, drill a starter hole into the center of the lock. Drill approximately 1/4″ deep or stop drilling once you’ve reached the masking tape.
Step # 4 – Using the larger drill bit (1/4″), drill a second hole through the initial starter hole. This will destroy the internal parts of the lock and will free it for easy removal. Usually drilling approximately 1/4″ deep will free the lock, but for more stubborn locks, you may have to drill slightly deeper to reach the pin that holds the lock to the nut. You may need to insert a screwdriver into the drilled out lock and twist to remove the housing. Needle nose pliers can also help.
Step # 5 – Now that your lock is removed, simply replace with your new lock and you are ready to go!
Like any small business, vending routes are subject to state and local laws, as well as taxes. To help you understand the requirements in your home state, please find your state below and click on the link (if applicable), which will provide some additional resources and information. In most cases, vending operators are required to get a business permit and are subject to state taxes. In addition to checking with your state’s regulations, Gumballs.com recommends that you also check with your local legislature on any rules and regulations. The below does not replace the need for competent legal counsel in your area, but hopefully is a great resource as you get started.
Please note, most states have strict laws about vending cigarette and tobacco products as well as vending in schools. Please check with your local jurisdiction for more information in these specific areas.
Identifying and securing the right locations for your vending machines is KEY to building a successful vending business. Following are some tips on identifying new locations, places to look and approaching business owners/managers.
This may be obvious, but the most successful vending machines are located in high traffic locations. Areas with a lot of foot traffic will likely generate the most sales (and profit!) for your vending machines. Great locations include (but are not limited to):
- Shopping Centers/Malls
- Movie Theaters
- Car dealerships/Repair Shops
- Community Centers
- Hotel and Bank Lobbies
- Hospitals/Medical Centers
- Office complex/Manufacturing Facilities (break rooms and common areas)
- Public Farms/Petting Zoos; gumball machines set with a candy wheel can dispense animal feed
- Schools (particularly if you vend healthier items)
Remember…be creative! Seek out new venue opportunities while carrying on with other daily activities. Do you notice locations with heavy foot traffic with no vending machines?
Network. Create a list of people you know with access to new locations and gauge their interest in placing a vending machine. People to try could include:
- Business owners or managers
- Groups or organizations you are affiliated with, charities, etc.
- Family and friends
Once you have identified a promising location for a vending machine, approach the manager to ask about placing your machine. Be prepared to offer a commission and create a written document that outlines your agreement with the location. Or, you could offer a percentage of proceeds to a charity that is supported by the business. Offer the location manager a percentage of earnings from the vending machine versus a flat fee. You do not know how much money your machine will generate until it is operational. Offering a percentage will avoid giving all your earnings to the location manager should your machine not perform.
Finally, there are vending machine location services available, and if you are short on time or having trouble identifying locations on your own, you might consider working with one. Keep in mind that these services do charge a premium for their service, which will cut into your bottom line. We have found that one of the most effective ways to identify a location is to take notice of where you DON’T see vending machines as you are carrying out the business of your day. Would adding a vending machine make sense? What is the foot traffic like? Good luck!