People who have been in the coin-operated vending business for a while or even people who want to start off in a different area than others might want to consider investing in interactive vending machines, such as crane-operated vending machines, also called claw vending machines, since you use a claw to retrieve a prize.
While the initial investment on a crane machine may seem a hefty price at anywhere from $1000 to $3000 and up, your total revenues can multiply in the first week you have one machine in there. Some people report averages of $600 a month, which will more than double your initial investment over the course of a year.
The best way to ensure you’re going to have a successful crane machine is to service it regularly! The moving parts are more likely to break faster than gumball machines simply because they’re used more, and unlike a gumball machine or candy machine, people aren’t guaranteed to win something, so the attractiveness of the machine and fresh prizes are needed to get customers. While you may be used to servicing your current vending machines about once a month, expect to service your crane machine once a week, minimum, if you want it to be attractive and show you care about your machines.
The next way to ensure its success is location. As with any vending machine, location is a huge part of how well the machine will do. What many vending operators do is pick a spot that they already have a successful machine in that could accommodate a crane and either add the crane, or replace the first machine with it, depending on the space and any requests by the owner. Make sure the area is frequented by kids if you’re offering plush toys, and by teenagers/adults if you’re offering jewelry or other grown-up merchandise.
When it comes to the type of toy or prize to offer, remember it’s all about eye-appeal and whether it can draw someone in. You also have to choose between offering licensed plush stuff animals or unlicensed, generic ones. If you use unlicensed toys, you should make sure they’re brightly colored and rich-looking. If they’re licensed, make sure your profit margin won’t suffer too much! Some companies that sell these in bulk will also offer combinations of licensed and generic toys, which can be a good way of experimenting to see what does best in your location.
Are cranes worth it? If you’re talking about is it worth the price you pay? Most people will agree it is. You can’t just plop a machine in and leave it for a month before you see it again though. Cranes aren’t for everyone. Those who want a strictly passive income that they can service once in a while should probably not consider a crane. Those who don’t mind taking extra time for servicing and want the extra cash would probably do well with a crane on the books.