Money Bags

By Vito | June 14, 2010

Upon learning that I owned and operated ATM’s, one of the most popular questions people asked me when getting to know me was, “How do you carry all that money around?”  Well, very simply, in a bag, like one would carry around anything else.  Ok, well not exactly.

How to transport cash is certainly a crucial logistic when operating an ATM route.  As one might suspect, the most important aspect of remaining safe while transporting large sums of cash for your ATM’s is to remain inconspicuous.  Many people associate transporting of cash with armored couriers, those guys that drive around in tank type vehicles that are built with dangerous thieves in mind.  Armored couriers perform a dangerous job and undoubtedly stake their lives on the kind of protective measures they routinely take to preserve their safety.

But there’s a bit of a catch.  While armored couriers somewhat advertise to the world (and bad guys) that they’re heavily armed, they also convey the obvious, which is that they’re in possession of some serious goods.  Also, they spend their entire days transporting valuables, therefore they are constantly exposed to threats.  If you don’t have the luxury of being able to load machines with a partner, and are not able to possess a firearm, the best approach to loading your ATM’s is simply not sticking out of the crowd.

Now sooner or later people are going to see you loading ATM’s and are going to figure out what you’re doing.  But, if you play down your entire demeanor and keep focused 95% of people don’t even have to notice you have money with you.  For instance, I could stuff nearly $30,000 in $20 notes into a small toiletry kit.  Yep, a simple black one, and I can’t remember a single time somebody stopped to look at me in public while I was carrying it and suspected i was in possession of a lot of cash.  I’ve seen other operators carry backpacks, and if you are carrying more cash than I did, this is not a bad idea.  But I found it best to keep my cash in a carrying case that was as small and simple as possible.

You may or may not find this to be comfortable strategy for yourself, and if you don’t, by all means you should operate in a manner with which you’re most comfortable.  But, after years of traveling around with large amounts of cash, me and my ugly black toiletry kit never came close to being robbed even once.

Topics: Cash | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Money Bags”

  1. Joe Breig
    11:44 pm on October 26th, 2010

    I’m a new ATM business owner who has just landed a few solid contracts with big malls. However, the rent is very high and after paid for accounts for well over 50% of my profits. The negotiating on my part was not as successfull as I would had intended it to be due to the fact I studied the existing transaction history with former tenants and assumed an 85% succesfull transaction rate. The avg surcharge transaction is closer to 60% Is this a normal rate that one should expect when analyzing if it would be a successful takover? Also, I am interested in knowing what your definition of profit per machine is, or what you would like it to be. ie. how much you believe in profit would be sucessful for a given amount of capital. What questions do you ask yourself and what answers are you looking for to determine if this is an intelligent location and/or price for a given atm placement.

  2. Vito
    9:36 am on October 27th, 2010

    Hello Joe. I will try to answer your questions now point by point:

    The avg surcharge transaction is closer to 60% Is this a normal rate that one should expect when analyzing if it would be a successful takover?

    I am not entirely sure what you mean by a “sucessful transaction rate”. Nonetheless, what IS of importance is quantity of surcharged transactions. The percentage is insignificant, the successful QUANTITY of surcharged transactions is the only thing that matters. For instance, would you rather own a machine with 100% success rate of transactions, but it only conducts 5 transactions per month? Or would you rather own a machine with a 75% successful transaction rate which experiences 1,000 transactions per month (i.e. 750 SUCCESSFUL SURCHARGED transactions per momth). I hope that makes things clear: successfully surcharged transactions represent your bottom line, this is all that matters.

    Also, I am interested in knowing what your definition of profit per machine is, or what you would like it to be. ie. how much you believe in profit would be sucessful for a given amount of capital.

    I generally like to see 100% of my equipment costs earned back within the first year, hopefully less. The break point for my price structures often hovered around 125 transactions/month on a newly installed ATM to achieve this, but you may consider other factors such as interest on money and gas and time as part of your costs. Also, many of my contracts were only 1 – 2 years autorenew, meaning worse case scenario if I made my money back in a year and by chance they wanted to terminate the contract (it never happened to me once) then at very least i made my money back and I had a machine ready to install into another location that was already paid off. If you are signing 5 year contracts, which many do, then perhaps you can be a bit more patient to see your return on equipment and be satisified on a 2 year return. This depends on you, but now you know what my expectations were.

    What questions do you ask yourself and what answers are you looking for to determine if this is an intelligent location and/or price for a given atm placement.

    -The first factor was the above mentioned, did I think I would earn back the price of the equipment within a year’s time. This can be tough, but over time you develop an eye for what you think is going to be a good location and which locations aren’t going to work.
    -Another factor was how close to other locations was the new potential location. If it was close to an existing route of machines I had I was much more willing to take a chance on the site. If it was 100 miles away, it had better be a good location, otherwise I would encourage the owner to buy and operate the equipment himself.

    There were other factors, but these were two of the main ones. Of the 75 machines I had in my portfolio, I only owned and operated 25. I was happy to slowly add interchange income to my portfolio and would push locations that didn’t suit my requirements to buy the equipment and operate it themselves. After all, they could use much less money to stock the machine (they could load every day, while an outside operator needs enough cash to load for a week at a time) and they don’t have to share the surcharge profit (I offered 100% surcharge to locations that owned their own machines).

    Hope this answers your questions.

  3. Joe Breig
    11:31 pm on December 1st, 2010


    If you were able to offer 100% surcharge to locations that owned their own machines, how did you make any money? It appears that there is more money to be made. How can I obtain that extra cashflow. Three machines for my company are at around 1200,950,500 transactions per month within the mall but only 58% are surcharged. The other 52% are balance inquiries or errrors. I bet that my company would benefit dramatically if I could earn from balance inquiries.

  4. Vito
    6:26 pm on December 6th, 2010


    Indeed there is what is called the “interchange” fee, of which you should be making at least a portion. Who do you process with? With whomever you are processing, you should be set up as a distributor. Consequently, the going rate for guys entering the business days is typically around $.25/transaction.

    Each transaction is different, depending on the network, but the whole sum of the interchange fee is around $.50/transaction. This number can be greater at times (i.e. with foreign transactions), and of that interchange you should be receiving a portion, typically at a buyout rate starting with $.25/transaction (meaning your processor “buys you out” at $.25/transaction to keep for themselves, while you retain the remainder).

    If you are not receiving this you are missing out on huge profits. Hopefully you do not have a contract with your current processor. If indeed you do, see if there is any way to get out of it. At very least, with any new machines you add start processing with a company that lets you keep a piece of the interchange, this is vital to your profits.

    Please feel free to download the Free Report I have created if you have not already… Point 10 discusses choosing the best processor. After contacting some processors, if you still need help, feel free to email me.

  5. Joe Breig
    11:36 pm on December 1st, 2010

    How did you obtain the cash from the bank? Easy question just go to the teller I guess….well, it is a little uneasy for me to request large sums of cash at the teller line in 20’s where everyone in line watches me load stacks into my lunchbox. Is there any way to avoid this? If you did, please let me know the name of that bank.

  6. Vito
    6:30 pm on December 6th, 2010

    Unfortunately Joe, there is no other way. I simply had my black “travel kit” type bag and there was no shortage of patrons that saw me stack the money in. However, a bank is not the typical place for the “opportunistic” bad guy to hang out, therefore you need only be careful getting to your car.

    Do be sure to use the merchant teller, if your bank has one. Not only will you get quicker service but you will be in line with other merchants, some of which will also be handling large sums of money. This might make you feel more comfortable.

  7. Joe Breig
    10:49 pm on December 6th, 2010

    My processor is columbus data. I have signed a contract with them and will review the terms. Thank you for the valuable information. I understand that .25 is “going rate” per transaction…what number is pushing the envelope but still realstic b/c I would like to make up for the missed opportunity and let the processor know that they did a naive new person entering the business wrong, and will lose future business if they do not comprimise.

  8. Vito
    6:20 pm on December 7th, 2010

    Try for getting a buyout rate of $.20, especially since it sounds as though you are doing a significant amount of transactions. Also, when you’ve reached a certain tier you should be making between $.05 and $.15 per balance inquiry. Good luck Joe.


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