Inspiration And Challenges
Our eye-opening travels to Japan – the land of vending machines – deeply inspired us and that’s how this business was born!
The biggest challenge was in finding someone in Singapore who was willing to teach us the ropes of this business. All the companies we visited had the attitude of “If you want to buy a machine, here it is. Otherwise, the door’s right there! *points*”
So we made a ton of mistakes, and learnt from all of them, or else the company would have already died in its infancy. These days, we are the ones teaching newbies. Give us half a day with you, for one-to-one coaching, and follow us to purchase stock and top up an actual machine that’s currently in operation! There’s nothing quite like a hands-on experience, and shadowing experienced vendors. What we share cannot be found in videos online.
The Evolution Of Avatar Tech Vending Machine Operator And Its Key Milestones And Turning Points
We started out wanting to do it all ourselves, placing machines everywhere, believing that this business offers PASSIVE INCOME (which is the BIGGEST misconception). These days, we manage only a handful of machines/locations ourselves, and we rent and sell machines to everyone else, and spend time coaching everyone who wants to enter this industry – whether they are 17 or 70 years old!
Avatar Tech’s Memorable Vending Machine Experiences and Creative Client Installations
One thing we did not expect was how young some of our customers are. At a condominium, we’ve witnessed little children (maybe 4 years old?) coming to our machine holding onto their piggy banks. They then made their selections and inserted the coins as they obviously don’t have credit cards and aren’t given their parents’ cards to use. Too cute! (Also: the importance of having multiple modes of payment!)
We’ve had clients sell slippers, detergent, car detailing products, camera film and accessories, baby products, etc., via our vending machines.
An Overview Of The Process Of Leasing Or Purchasing A Vending Machine From Avatar Tech
Leasing is really simple. Once you have a location secured to place a machine, we can deliver a rental unit you’ve picked right away. Just drop us an email at email@example.com for more details. As machine faults are all covered during the rental period (a very short 2-month minimum contract!), most renters don’t even meet us until the day the machine is sent to them! Rental starts at an affordable $300/month!
Often, our renters love the machines so much that they end up purchasing them. So, we give them 2 months rental rebate (the rent you’ve paid is deducted from the purchase price so essentially, you had 2 months to try the machine for free before buying!).
For newbies, we also provide on-site training on how to use the machine, how to DIY servicing, and how to troubleshoot, AND we also help them stock the machine with their products that very first time. All these additional services are FREE OF CHARGE! It really takes up a lot of our time, but we want to help our customers succeed.
Avatar Tech’s Approach to Choosing the Right Products for Clients
We typically stock snacks and drinks as that’s what customers love, whether they work in an office or live in a condominium.
Oh, trust me! Our clients DEFINITELY have an opinion on what they want to see in the vending machine, and what they absolutely do not want. So it’s easy. We take ourselves out of the equation and simply deliver what they desire.
The Expertise And Care That Goes Into Avatar Tech’s Vending Machine Maintenance And Support
Any time we see a machine that needs a bit of cleaning up, we do it right away instead of waiting for a scheduled cleaning in a month’s time (or more).
There are usually very few technical issues and malfunctions for the machines we’ve selected. We avoid vending machines with elevator arms, and those with touchscreens, and save ourselves A LOT of trouble.
We check things like temperature, the various functions, etc., at each top-up session, so we can spot any issues quickly. All our customers are given training (free of charge) and also instruction sheets for how to troubleshoot and resolve any issues that may arise.
Adapting To The Challenges: Avatar Tech’s Success Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
We actually did BETTER during the pandemic. Especially when there was a “lockdown” and people stayed home. Sales at our vending machines in condominiums were really healthy as people did not go to the office or school, and couldn’t travel either. We sold everything from masks to toys! We saw what people needed, what would make their lives better and happier, and we did our best to put smiles on their faces.
What Makes Avatar Tech Stand Out and Earn High Praise from Customers
We’re madly passionate about the work we do. So it could be Day One of the Chinese New Year holiday, and you’ll expect us to be home or out visiting relatives, but we’re actually topping up our vending machines. Safe to say that we do not meet people from other companies doing the same.
Likewise, for our renters, we go the extra mile. I remember vividly the year we first started renting out machines. During the Good Friday holiday, we were in church when I received a message from a renter, Mr. J. He said he’d accidentally placed the vending machine key INSIDE the machine’s storage compartment and LOCKED the machine. So now he doesn’t have a key to open up the machine. We immediately headed over to Mr J’s location, opened up the machine for him, did not find any key(s) and then he sheepishly told us the key was actually in his (new) bag’s hidden compartment and he was mistaken. You’d expect us to charge him for this (wasted) trip, but we didn’t.
I believe our favorite customer testimonial thus far has to be what a mother told us when she saw us topping up a machine at her daughter’s school. She said “I just have to tell you – this is my girl’s FAVOURITE machine! Keep up the good work!” That kept us going for such a long time!
How Avatar Tech Improves Customer Experience Through Efficient Internal Processes And Quick Issue Resolution
Let’s just say that no one contacts us just to praise us. There’s definitely an issue they want to resolve. We have our employee Guidebook for issues such as “wrong change given” or “bought too many products at once and now they’re all stuck behind the door and I can’t get it open!”, etc.
Many other companies require customers to write-in to them and they might take anything between 7 to 30 days to process a refund if deemed warranted. For us, this is too long. You’ll get your refund within 2 working days.
Also, we try to make every customer happy. We don’t claim to succeed every time, but we make the effort to. For example, a lady called and said she’d selected the wrong item (pressed the wrong numbers on the keypad) and gotten a snack instead of the instant noodles she wanted, and could we give her a refund? Typically, most customers would just make a second purchase and get it right the next time, without calling us. But since she did, we allowed her to return the product and get a refund so she can purchase the noodles.
The Future Of Vending Machines In Singapore: Insights And Strategies From Avatar Tech
Thirty years ago, I was buying drinks from the vending machines in the church I worship at. Today, people are buying drinks from our vending machines. Likewise, I believe people will continue to get their preferred beverages from vending machines in 10, 20, 30 years’ time. The weather in Singapore is terribly warm at times (like now!), so this is an evergreen business.
I don’t expect things to evolve too much. Sure, there are currently machines selling candy floss (made on the spot!), flowers, frozen salmon, etc., but how many will still be around next year? I know of wagyu beef machines and nasi lemak machines, which seem to have disappeared already.
We are watching developments closely, separating fads from general trends, and looking out for good opportunities while keeping our core businesses going strong.
Advice For Aspiring Entrepreneurs Looking To Start A Business In The Vending Machine Industry
Be humble and willing to learn. You will avoid making very costly mistakes if you’d just ask for advice or help instead of pretending you know what you’re doing after watching a few YouTube videos about vending machines in AMERICA (not Singapore)!
For instance, someone contacted us and simply wanted to purchase a machine. He did not need advice, even as a newbie. He seemed to know EXACTLY what he wanted. So we delivered the machine to a location he’d found himself. We were a bit surprised he’d chosen that location, but we did not want to seem nosy. In any case, after a month, I couldn’t contain my curiosity anymore and asked him how much revenue he’d gotten. Let’s just say it was about 20 times LESS than what an average machine makes. If only he’d asked, and been willing to learn, he would not have made very costly mistakes we could have advised him about right from the start.
If you’re keen on starting a vending machine business, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it – e.g. how to find a great location to place the machine, what sort of machine would be good for that location, which products are most likely to sell well, whether a license is necessary, how to prepare a contract for the landlord to sign, how to price the products, etc., go ahead and drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You would have to spend at least half a day with us in order to learn all the ropes. We’d rather you come in with eyes wide open, see how much effort is required (no passive income here!) and then decide whether this business is really for you or not, before splashing thousands of dollars on a vending machine purchase.
Visit Avatar Tech’s website here.