From new products to strategies to increase sales leads, business owners should always be on the lookout for ways to make more money. Some businesses owners look to ATMs (automated teller machine) to increase passive income.
Brick-and-mortar businesses, such as restaurants, gas stations or nail salons, may benefit from having an ATM. It can attract more customers and make money for your business. But how profitable is an ATM?
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How to make money with an ATM machine
When people use an ATM machine, they typically pay a small fee between $2 and $3. That fee is how businesses make most of their money through an ATM machine.
"When a business allows an ATM to be placed at their location, they have the opportunity to earn a commission," said Paul Carriere, attorney at Favret Carriere Cronvich. "The simplest way to conceptualize earning a commission is when a person uses an ATM, there is a 'surcharge,' a fee for using the ATM."
However, business owners typically don't receive the whole fee. If you rent the ATM, the business that maintains the machine (fills it with cash, repairs it, etc.) receives some of the money.
"There are a number of variations on the split, but the business earns money based on the surcharge transactions," Carriere added.
While businesses can make money through the fees, some business owners look for other ways to use ATMs to make money. One of the most common methods is by placing advertisements on the ATM machine.
"Companies are placing screens on top of ATMs and selling ads to run on those machines," Carriere said. "This can increase revenue for ATM operators and locations."
Benefits of an ATM machine
If you're considering installing an ATM at your place of business, there are several benefits you can expect. Chiefly, if you are a cash-only business, having an ATM machine onsite allows your customers to withdraw cash so they can pay you for goods or services. Additionally, you reap the benefit of an extra commission.
Other benefits include:
- Increased revenue: Revenue could increase because of the commission you earn on each transaction as well as from new customers who are entering your establishment to use the ATM.
- Reduced credit card processing fees: Businesses with ATM machines located inside their shop receive more cash payments compared to businesses that do not. By putting an ATM machine inside your store, you can drive down credit card processing fees.
- Convenience: Providing your customers with an easy cash option inside your business means you're providing them with a convenience.
- Flexible plans: ATM machine companies often help with marketing and will allow you to buy or lease your machine, depending on what works best for your business. There are short-term contract and cancel-anytime options, and some companies help you with marketing the ATM.
Types of ATM machines
If you're considering adding an ATM machine to your business, it's important to understand what types of ATM machines are available and how each can help your business. There are several companies that can provide expert advice about which ATM machine makes the most sense for your business.
Here are three ATM machines we found that make sense for small businesses:
- Hyosung Monimax 5000: This is your typical stand-alone ATM machine that provides easy access to cash in many retail stores. It includes a sign topper to help your customers locate it, and it has a small footprint.
- Genmega G2500: This model is a very basic ATM machine. It doesn't have as many features as some machines, but it is small and freestanding, making it ideal for smaller companies.
- Genmega GT3000: This is an example of a "through-the-wall" ATM machine. This means it is not a standalone unit, but rather one that builds into a wall within your business. This can be a good option for businesses looking to provide outdoor ATM machine access in a safe, efficient manner.
Expenses associated with ATM machines
It's not free to operate or own an ATM – you can rent or buy one. While it's more expensive to buy an ATM, you receive a higher commission per surcharge transaction.
Buying an ATM machine
ATMs cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on if you buy a used or new machine. While buying a used machine is cheaper, they're usually slower and look older, and because of that, many people might not use it.
When purchasing an ATM, there are different types to consider, such as a countertop or freestanding model. The type also affects the price.
Another consideration with buying an ATM is that you're responsible for maintaining it, including keeping it loaded with cash and making sure it's working properly. "Someone can buy the ATM outright … and place [it] in a location they own," said Brad Daniel, chief executive officer of America's ATM. "They can load money from their business into the ATM, cutting out a third party, which reduces costs."
Daniel said self-service or buying your own ATM is very profitable, and between 15 and 30 transactions a month yield a high return. "[It's] a great secondary source of income that could equal between anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 extra per year," he said.
Full-service ATM machine programs
If you don't want to buy an ATM or worry about maintaining it, you can participate in a full-service program where a retailer maintains it, but this costs money.
"The ATM is put in a retail location, then cash is loaded," Daniel said. "The largest cost associated with this is rent to the retailer. The rent is usually a percentage of the service charge. That is the retailer's 'rate' or 'commission.'"
How to start an ATM business
Many small business owners may want to add an ATM machine to one or all of their locations; if you're looking to start a business that buys and sells ATM machines to small businesses, there are some considerations you should be aware of.
First, just as you would before considering any business endeavor, do your research on the market, including how big the market is, who the major players are and how you would fund your business.
In addition to the above considerations, here's a list of general steps to follow as you begin your ATM machine business journey:
- Consider the startup costs. This includes office space, ATM machine purchases, legal or business creating fees and staff fees.
- Make a list of retail locations well suited for an ATM. This includes places like gas stations, bars and convenience stores. These locations are your target customers.
- Sell or lease ATM machines to interested business owners. As you talk to retailers and small business owners, negotiate the best deal possible, and keep in mind your costs, especially if you are providing a full-service arrangement.
- Install the ATM machine. Once the machine is installed, load cash in machines and start collecting your fees. If you are using a full-service model, you'll need to regularly service the ATM machine to ensure it is fully operable.
- Grow your business. Expand your business by finding new locations and providing them with ATM machines. As your clientele grows, so, too, will your workforce, as well as your inventory of ATM machines.
Saige Driver contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.