Franchise Idea: Healthy vending machines
Franchise Business Name: Naturals2go Vending
Franchise Owner: Vernell Shaheed-Levrone
Vernell Shaheed-Levrone’s Story
After thirty years with the Baltimore Police Department, and Commander of the Family Crimes Unit (a unit she created), Vernell Shaheed-Levrone decided it was time to retire and move out of law enforcement. While in her car, Shaheed-Levrone heard a radio ad promoting the opportunity for passive income through ownership of healthy vending machines and immediately thought this might be the perfect business to achieve her goal.
Shaheed-Levrone eventually discovered Naturals2go Vending which offers healthy snacks and drinks utilizing the latest technology in automated retail. Unlike a traditional franchise, there is no franchise fee or royalty payments. But according to the new retiree, it wasn’t zero fees that drew her in: “I fell in love with the technology,” she explains. “The sophisticated technology and the idea that you could be generating income while at your job, just excited me.”
Starting in the vending machine business is relatively straight forward and can be quick. Since Shaheed-Levrone had retired from her job at the Baltimore PD, she was able to leverage her 401k to get the business started.
“We started with seven machines and then purchased two more,” she says. “When we started, it was a bit of struggle to find the right locations. But now they have a location program which makes things much easier”.
In the past year or so, Naturals2go has implemented an On-Site Location Program, where a team-member is dispatched to the owner’s area and works with them to secure the location(s) for the machines.
The Idea Behind Healthy Vending Machines
The technology isn’t simply about being able to provide healthy choices to customers but also flexibility. Between the feedback from users and the technology of the machines, Shaheed-Levrone is able to cater to the needs of a specific location. “If they want more cold drinks than snacks, I can do that. If they want sandwiches and fresh fruit, I can provide that as well.”
The software allows owners to monitor every aspect of the machine’s performance remotely; including which products are selling best.
Shaheed-Levrone shared her secret to success building a vending machine business: “If you want this business to be your primary source of income, you need to have machines in key locations. Places such as high schools have extremely high utilization and could require daily service,” she said.
For now, she is enjoying her full-time job and growing her business. “It’s a nice business to be able to pace.”