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Exact Change

A business opportunity you see everyday

Remember the last time you bought a bag of chips or a can of soda from the vending machine in your office? Without realizing it, you've seen a business opportunity capable of producing financial rewards . . . and we don't mean small change.

Vending machine manufacturer U-Turn/Vend It All has succeeded in distributing its success to others. The company manufactures and sells four- and eight-compartment machines to individuals who, in turn, profit from the sales of the quarter-eating devices. Rob Betz, national sales manager for U-Turn, explains, "[The machine owners] take the machines, put them on location, fill them with products and service them." While customers can buy one machine at a time, the average U-Turn client initially buys 24 to 36 machines, with average start-up costs ranging from $10,000 to $12,000. "It's a business where the more machines you have, the more money you're going to make," says Betz. "And we'd like people to see a little bigger picture than just one machine." The company itself is thinking big: It's expanding into South America and has already shipped machines to other regions around the world.

And if you're not sure about risking all you have on a nickel-and-dime venture, you don't have to. Betz claims many machine owners still have other jobs, since each machine requires only five to 10 minutes of maintenance per month.

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This article was originally published in the August 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Exact Change.

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