The Breathalyzer Business Forum
Bringing you Tools, Tips, and Techniques for your Breathalyzer Business and Beyond
Feel free to submit your questions, comments, or concerns
What are the best locations in your opinion to place a machine?
Jeorge, to answer your question, we feel the very best spot is located next to the bathrooms. People usually hover and are waiting in lines next to your machine causing them to be bored and curious. The next best spot is any location where groups might get together to mingle or play games. We have found that doorways don’t do as well as people come in, they don’t see it and when they are leaving they are done and walk right by it.
Great article, hey I stumbled on to this story while surfing for rock lyrics. Thanks for sharing I’ll tell my friends about this too.
Thanks “rihanna rude boy”!! Let us know if you have any questions you need us to answer!!
Anyone use breathalyer machines besides AlcoBuddy/AlcoCheckpoint and Impair Aware? If so, why did you choose them and who do you use?
We tried the Impair Aware and were not big fans of it. It is very slow and kind of expensive.
How many machines do you guys have in Minneapolis? Are they all in downtown? I travel their often from cali but never seen one up at any of the clubs so just wondering.. on an average week how much is earned per machine? Good site btw.
Thanks for your comment, a.s., it is appreciated. We have about 4 placed around the twin cities, with most of them being in St. Paul. We have kind of limited our concentration in the Twin Cities, because we find that we want to empty and calibrate the machines ourselves if they are that close. Even though this does not take too much time, this does not go with our company strategy of totally passive income streams. So, we have concentrated on the Fargo area (where we hire someone to do the work), Duluth area, and a few in Wisconsin.
As far as the money that the machines bring in, you might want to check out the ebook. On average, each machine brings in about $30-$40 a week. We do have a wide range, though (one machine brings in $100/week while another brings in $15/week).
I hope this helps, let us know the next time you’re in town and we can talk over a brewski.–Travis
You are definitely quick to get back to people. That alone is a good reason to work with you. I travel back and forth a lot and I like the idea of having a business in both places, specifically passive, so to get a tax break on this travel if anything. I’m in Minnesota till august with family, it would be really cool to have a machine placed and start earning right offs and maybe a few dollars a week. Of course I got to learn a lot more about this before I jump into it and if you are willing to be a mentor, that alone says a lot about your teams’ integrity. Thanks so much and I will be buying that book today!
Anytime, a.s. Thanks for the comments and questions (and for purchasing an ebook). Read through it and then give me a call or email–we like to get feedback. Then lets plan on meeting and we can help get your business up and running. I’ll get the first round at happy hour –Travis
a.s. I am Travis’ business partner and understand the benefits of having a machine in locations you will be traveling. As Travis mentioned in the blog we both travel 2.5 hours up North to go visit family and enjoy writing that whole trip off!! I am also game in meeting up and sharing some ideas. Maybe we can help you place a machine in a bar with you. We would even be able to calibrate it for you if need be.
Keep in touch and have a great weekend!!
Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. http://www.finance-insurance-loans.com/ q3
Thanks Shanon, we appreciate the comment. Let us know if you want us to focus on anything. -Travis
Great Webpage. Really liked reading through it. Bookmarked to your site so keep those updates coming.
Fascinating Web site, really got to the point for what i was looking for. Subscribed, so hope to see some new posts like this one.
Loved your website and had to let you know I bookmarked it. Also is this wordpress? I really like the way its set up. Thanks and keep the updates coming!
I’ve bookmarked this because I found it interesting. I would be very interested to hear more news on this. Thanks!
Thank you for all the positive responses above, we really pride ourselves in helping anyone getting started. If you have not bought an eBook, at least subscribe to our free newsletter as it will have some very interesting information!!
As always let us know if we can be of assistance to anyone!!!
I find this business model very compelling, but can’t come up with a good answer as to why I have never, ever seen an installed breathalyzer machine, nor has my wife. I would have tried it! The machines have been on the market since at least 1995. If the machines sell themselves to bar owners and bring in great return on investment, how come large groups of people haven’t jumped on installing them everywhere in 25 years? Snack, soda, condom, video game, sticker, and prize machines are easy to run across and (I’m guessing) are also operated in large proportions by independent entrepreneurs like yourselves.
On the upside: Your book looks like an excellent place to start if I do decided to venture in to this business. Thanks!
Thanks for the feedback and question, I hope that we can help. Personally, I think the industry is about to take off here in the US, and you will see them everywhere. The main difference between the vending machines that you mentioned and the Breathalyzer Machines is the perceived liability. For example, if a snack machine screws up and gives someone a wrong snack–you (as the business owner) probably won’t even here about it. The Breathalyzer Machine could have bigger consequences, though. That’s why we recommend getting the disclosure reviewed by a lawyer in your area (ours found no liability for us or the bar owner), and frequent calibration (we do it every 2 or 3 weeks). I hope this helps, let me know if you more information.
I’ve been researching this avenue of passive income for a little while now and have a couple questions. 1.) Is there a written agreement between the bar owner and machine owner for a percentage of the income with a receipt or is it purely a verbal agreement? If written, do you have a copy of one to use as a template to draw off of? 2.) I would like to expand to areas that would require more driving than I would like. How do you come about having someone work/calibrate the machine for you? Could you interest the bar owner in a larger cut to handle those operations and have them send a receipt and check monthly to you? 3.) How to go about using space on the machine to advertise? 4.) Which system is the best? Alco-Checkpoint or Alco-Buddy? Why? Impair Aware just doesn’t have that appeal to it. THANK YOU AGAIN.
Thanks for the questions; I hope we can help get you some information for your decision:
1) We usually get an agreement with the bar owner, and our contracts do spell out the percentage of income that the bar owner receives. If you are looking for contracts that have been reviewed by our lawyer, I would check out the ebook.
2) We do have areas where we have hired workers to calibrate the machine for us. We usually pay them hourly (we figure out how long the routes should take so that they do not take advantage of us) and make sure that we get the count (# of times the machine was used) of the machine every time. We have never had a problem with someone stealing from us or neglecting the machines (knock on wood).
I would be a little nervous about letting the bar do the work for you, mainly because that is your only bargaining chip for bringing in most of the money. Otherwise, you would be there just for the initial investment, and I believe that most bars could probably muster up the money to bypass you.
3) Check out the ebook–Taxi companies, DUI/DWI lawyers, breweries, etc. are good to approach. They all cater to the market that the machine is around.
4) I am a fan of Alco-Buddy (mainly because they have been the best to work with as we got off the ground and as we have tried to provide education), Alco-Checkpoint is ok, I would run from Impair Aware (we tried one out, and it is now sitting in our attic collecting dust).
Let me know if you need any more info or clarification Feel free to sign up for our newsletter for more.
Gday team l am in the process of setting up my own breathalyser business in Australia. Us assies are known for our beer drinking so l think l am in a great country for this business, and like your country they are non existant here. l have already purchased your ebook and found it very helpful in helping me setting up, the laws are a bit different here but have a good lawyer working on lease agreements and a disclaimer for me. l look forward to staying in touch with you all and supporting each other
Great to hear, Mat. Let us know if you need help with anything. –Travis
Quick question guys – How often do the machines break down and are they fairly reliable? I understand that there are repairs that will need to happen, but are the alco-buddy’s pretty well made? Thanks.
First of all, Thanks for the question!
Yes there are some instances where the machine will have a malfunction/breakdown. This is usually in 1 or 2 areas: 1) the sensor gets toasted or 2) the dollar bill acceptor breaks. Let’s start with #1: We believe that the sensor on the machine will go bad before the manufactures standards if people actually blow their booze into the machine, hoping to elevate the reading. To state the obvious, this happens more often at college bars. The fix is simple: you just have to change up the sensor and let the affected one dry out. I am trying to come up with a good way to represent how much we have had this problem, and I have came up with this for now: ((number of months working x number of machines)/ number of times this has happened)). If we put our numbers through this, we get right around 27. So, that means if you have one machine, (going by our experience) you will have this happen once every 27 months. If you have 27 machines running, then you will have it happen to one of your machines every month.
#2) this is also an easy fix, if you buy from Alco-Buddy. They have a warranty on their dollar bill acceptors, so all you have to do is send the acceptor back and they will get you a new one. We have had one machine that has given us problems with this, but have come to find out that the area is dealing with a lot of counterfeit money. If we put this problem through the same equation, we almost get the exact same number as problem #1.
Clear as mud, right? I hope that this has helped you—Let me know if I need to be clearer, or if you have a suggestion on how I can relate this better.
Thanks for clearing that up. It helped out a lot. Do you guys buy insurance on your machines? And how much is it per machine if you do?
We haven’t had much problem with the machines being vandalized or being torn off the wall, so we have chosen not to have insurance on the machines. We are very careful about where we install the machines (wall mounted into stud) to make sure that this is not a problem. That’s just our viewpoint on the topic though, and I know others have acquired insurance for their machines.
Hope that helps,
Do you have to be authorized by dot or fda?
Thank you for the question. As far as we know, you do not have to be authorized by dot or fda. The machine clearly states “for entertainment only,” so I believe that it would not have to stand up to their standards. We will run this by our lawyer to verify (as you should too), but that is our position as of now.
Hope all is well. Just found your website. I will be buying my 1st Alco-buddy machine this month. I’m from NC and will be buying your book as well. I’m still kinda nervous but ready to do this. I have been driving around looking at bars on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. My reason just looking at how many people go in and out of bar. Thanks for your time. I will be emailing back soon.
Great to hear, Brendon. Please let us know if you need anything or are looking for more information.
hey, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work
I’m buying the Alco-Buddy machine. What are your thoughts on the Alco-Buddy?
It’s really a very good read about
We have had great success with the Alco-buddy breathalyzer machines and would recommend them to anyone. If you have any specific questions, please email me or give me a call.
I have been working on getting all the paperwork ready for getting my business up and running, but so far the State of Texas doesn’t know where to put this type of vending? what is the NAICS code for the breathalyzer?
Instead of formal letters from the state every new person I talk to gives me their opinion. Nobody really know how to treat this type of business.
Your cruising along–nice work. I believe that we used the NAICS code for Entertainment-Amusement-Coin operated arcade (713120), or something close. I will check into it, but the breathalyzer machines are vending machines that are for entertainment/amusement.
Hope that helps,
These machines aren’t cheap, around $2000.00 each. Generally, how long before some one who invests their hard-earned money breaks even? And if the sensors only last 800 -1100 uses, how often are you changing them out? I’ve read as much info online as I can find, but I still have a hard time getting my head around the concept. Basically, what I’m asking is; Can some one really make a living doing this?
Thanks for the question. I believe that this business is like any other–if you concentrate on it you can make some money. Personally, we were looking for some side cash. After the initial work placing the machines, we have been able to maintain them and just take in money while putting in about 3-4 hours of work every 3 weeks. Not bad. As far as the payback period—it took about a year for us to pay off the machines (but we did buy the machines for $1000 each), just on revenues alone. One of your keys to success will be setting up advertising on the machines–that is where you can make a good deal of money (and possibly a living).
I have been considering the purchase of a breathaylzer machine in Texas. Seems like to me its a concept that can go over or not real easy. would it be better to buy the ebook and then go searching for places to put them. If you get interest then do a contract and buy a machine an install soon it arrives. How it goes over well in your area how do you protect your region from someone else stealing your plan. To me you must put the time in hard and fast. What are your thoughts?
Hi Kenneth, thanks for the questions–hopefully I can help you out.
We found that having a machine around during the selling process helped us out dramatically (see the ebook), so we recommend buying one for the selling process (rather than buying one after you get a contract signed).
The only protection you have on your region will be the advantage you get by placing the first machines. You will have contracts with the bars that protect your current locations, and people will know that you are the go-to person around for this service.
Hi, I was just wondering how much can you charge per customer and what percentage you are giving the bar owners of your revenue
Hi Chris, thanks for the question.
If you haven’t checked out the ebook, you should. We usually charge $2 a use, unless the bar is a college bar or relies heavily on discounts to attract people in. If you a questioning the value when you are installing the machine, you should keep it at $2. You would always have the option of dropping it down–but it is a lot harder to bring it up.
We negotiate with every bar that we install a machine it, and the range is from 15-25%. This is one of your biggest costs, so be sure to work hard at keeping this down.
I hope that helps,
I have three machines and have had them placed for about 4 months now. Looking to get another 9 placed this year. Here are some things my business partner and I have gone through.
1) Bar owners either seem open about it or closed off. One bar owner will flat out say “I am not interested” and the next one will say “Yeah that is fine. Sounds like a good idea”. So don’t get discouraged.
2) We use Alco-Checkpoint. I think the Alco-buddy machines are extremely similar, if not exactly the same. The only issue we have had as far as the machine goes is the dollar bill acceptor. I think we have figured out the problem however. Everything else has worked fine.
3) Only other issue that has nothing to do with the machine is the accuracy. They are extremely accurate but do to human error you can get weird readings. Talking with the owner, to be very accurate the user has to wait 10 minutes after last drink or cigarette. We put an extra sign on our machine that says “please wait at least 5 minutes after last drink or cigarette.”
4) We charge $2. We did have one of our machines at $1 but brought it up to $2 and seems to be doing better.
5) Location in the bar is very very key and also what bar they are placed in obviously. We moved one machine that was averaging $15 a week and now are getting about $45 a week.
Anyway just wanted to share some things to spawn discussion. Have you guys thought about adjusting the calibration? It seems that bar patrons don’t wait the required time and thus blow a lot higher. During calibration if you set the level higher it could adjust for that. Thoughts??
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Hi Daren–excellent input. Thanks for the information, I agree with all that was stated here. We have thought about calibrating the machines so that it gives a lower reading (for the people who don’t wait the full time before taking a test), but went against it. If you did do that, you would knock down the readings on those who do wait the required time, which is not something that we wanted to do. Sounds like the business is going good—keep it up.
We just got started and we have two machines placed. We started off both machines off at a $1 and one of our locations is doing really well. The machine brought in 160 in the first 2 weeks. We are thinking about changing the price to $2 (at least for a month or two) What do you think about that approach?
Also, how long was it before you were able to get a company to advertise on your machines?
Thanks for the questions. Sounds like you have a great start to your business–good work. As always, I suggest that you keep that price at $2 where you think it will work—although it might be hard to do that when you have already started them out at $1. Maybe do a 2 week trial period and see what kind of reaction you get. When you do place your next machines, I would suggest that you start the machine out at $2 to take advantage of the “novelty period”(see book).
We had advertising right out of the gate–due to some connections that Jeremy had. If you haven’t had any luck yet, keep trying—Your pitch will get smoother and you will be more prepared.
I have eleven machines, but I have not placed them yet. The subject of liability came up on my first attempt at selling the idea..and is seemingly a serious concern for some of the bar owners in my area. One bar owner actually presented me with a “what if” someone captured on video/cell phone a person taking a test and their results documented… and then leave and get in an accident. I know that the breathalyzers are for “entertainment purposes only” but the idea of having a breathalyzer on premise is scary for some owners. It’s the unknown I think. The market for these machines hasn’t really hit here yet. I can tell these guys that there is no liability associated with having a breathalyzer on premise , but I think they need more convincing. Any advice?
Thanks for the questions/info—I would look at the ebook if you haven’t already. We ran into similar walls as we started our business, and went to see a lawyer. After he had reviewed the business, we paid him to create a letter that we can present to bars (addressed from him) who show concern. He was even open to taking questions from them.
Hope that helps, good luck
I ordered the ebook and was reviewing the financial statements you provided in the end of the book. Is there a seasonality affect in this business. In your opinion do the machines perform better in the warmer months (April – Sept) compared to late fall and winter? Have you guys noticed?
Thanks for buying the ebook, I hope it has given you some good ideas. Please let us know your feedback and opinions. As for your question, our machines have actually been doing better in the winter months. We have a couple of college campuses, where students use the machines when they are in school. The holidays is a very good time for drinkers/machine users too.
Keep the questions coming,
I have been considering getting into the business and the information on this site has been extremely helpful. You mention setting up advertising on the machine, which is a great means of additional income. How can you do this with the Alco Buddy? Do you think bar owners ever object to advertisements in their establishment or is this something that is spelled out in the contract?
What do you think of the Boozelator 3001 offered by Blo Dad? It seems like the option of selling ads is setup well with this machine. Something that I have noticed is that it seems like none of the available coin operated breathalyzers go to the thousandth digit. If the machine reads .07 it would be nice to know if you’re a .071 or a .079.
Thanks for the feedback and questions–we appreciate it. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read the book, I would take a look at it. It provides a template for the advertising. We have the old style of Alco buddy machines, so we create (4) 3″ x 3″ stickers for our advertisers. This gives us 4 spaces on the machine to advertise (and bring in extra income). We have never had a bar object to the advertisements, but it is something that would be recommended to include in the contracts (just in case).
The lcd screens on some of the machines are great—and something you may want to look into. If you are going this route, though, you will probably want to devote a good amount of resources finding advertisers. This will help you bring down your payback period–one of the criteria that you should look at when you are deciding on a machine to invest in.
Again, thanks Jeff,
I am thinking about purchasing machines and I have a question. Has anyone ran into a probem with a city about having to get permits to wall mount the machines? Any comments on B.A.C. Tester from Sues Sweet Vending Machine?
I have never heard of a city requiring a permit to wall mount a machine. Is that the case for you? Never tried Sues Sweet Vending Machine, but I’ll ask around and see if I can get any feedback.
Love your site. It has been a big help searching for the proper breathalyzer vending machine.
I purchased an Alco-buddy and am having some issues with it. After fixing the LCD screen it is not calibrating correctly. It says the user is blowing a .02-.04 when they are not even drinking. More information was sent to your email.
If you can please help with this topic it can help many people down the line. The idea of a breathalyzer vending machine is genius and will save many lives!
Thanks for the comments–I’m glad we have been able to help you start making money. As for the inaccurate results, I am guessing that it is one of two things. 1) Usually the biggest problem that new people owners run into when calibrating the machines is creating a good calibration mix. The trouble is, the Alco-buddy manual does not directly specify that you use distilled water for your mix. This is crucial, though, because regular tap water has chemicals in it that will throw the machine off. I would try this switch first. 2) Though rare, we have been sent a bad sensor before. If you think this is the case, I would give alco-buddy a call and see if you can switch it out. Before you do this, though, I would take it out of the machine and let it dry out for a couple days. If you have been testing it, you may have actually spit some alcohol in the machine—letting the sensor dry out might do the trick for you. I hope that helps,
I have three Alco-Checkpoint machines. The main issue I run into and is curving me away form buying more machines is the sensor calibration. Here is my process: I make a mixture of 300mL tap water (room temp) and 3mL of Jack Daniels. I blow thru the calibrator to mix it up. I put the money in and blow thru the machine to see where it reads. If it reads .05-.08 I do not calibrate; however, it has been every two weeks or less the machine reads 1.8-2.2 and so I calibrate. After switching the switches into calibrate mode the machine counts down and I blow moderately. The range of the readings will be between 1.1 and 4.99. No matter how much I turn the screw left or right or by one turn or 1/4 turn at a time it will not get down to the right range and calibrate. I replaced these sensors two weeks ago because I was having the same problem and now it is happening again. Since I had one sensior that was a bad one from the first time I had this problem sitting in my car, I installed it and the machine calibrated in two turns. (Wierd it was not a warmed up sensior). I then went to my next one and again the same readings that would not calibrate so I took the (bad)sensior I just removed over an hour ago from the previous machine and installed it. To my surprise it calibrated in 5 turns. On my last machine it would not calibrate at all and had the same 1.4-4.99 readings in calibration mode. How can this be???????
Thanks for the question. We have run into similar situations in college bars. I’m guessing that the students would like to see who can get the drunkest, and some of them like to actually spit liquor into the machine to inflate the reading. If we find a sensor that will not calibrate (no matter how many turns), we will take it out and replace it. Then we will let it dry out for a bit and install it in another location. Usually this does the trick. This is a good reason to calibrate your machines often, and to always have an extra sensor on hand. A couple of other things: you should follow the Alco-buddy manual to the “T” when you are calibrating–switching the mode to calibration and BRAC, using distilled water, and heating the solution to the right temperation.
I am about to base ball bat my alco buddies. I just got my first two boozelator 3001s in 3 weeks ago and I cannot believe I didn’t buy them before the alco buddys. I spent thousands on 10 machines almost a year ago and they work like crap. Their customer services says someone must be blowing liquid in the sensor and they sell me more sensors. Come to find out that semi conductor sensors do not function in smokey bars or busy bars with alot of cocktails floating aroud. Baiscally, anywhere worth placing a machine is not going to work. the blo dad company educated me on exactly how breathalyzers work and what to expect. It all made since which no other company has explained to me. After seeing the boozelator on their website compared to a police unit on the news, I suddenly had faith in this business again. I purchased two samples in order to save $100 each and I cannot tell you how happy I am. If only I can sell the alco craps and get some of my money back so I can by more boozelators I think I can actually have a good business going here.
Hi Jake–Thanks for the input! We love to see other peoples experiances and opinions. We have not tried out the boozelators yet, so we can’t make any statements for or against them. Let us know if you have more info.
thx travis, i mentioned this site to the bd guys, maybe they can be helpful. i did order a professional simulator to calibrate when needed. the water bottle that alco had me using is not a practical method or is using liquer to make a solution. the blo dads are going to walk me through the calibration steps when my calibrator arrives so i will let you know. if anyone wants some crapobuddies, i will sell them for cheap! lol
I am planning on buying your ebook, but I had a quick question about the business as a whole. I am heavily considering buying my 1st machine (Alco-buddy) to start up. Do I need to create an actual business and/or get a vending license? Or can I just buy one of these machines and ‘throw it’ in a bar and be good?
I saw that you purchased the ebook–Thank you. Feel free to give us some feedback, or let us know if you have any questions. As for you question: The legally correct answer: you should create an llc and go through the appropriate steps to get your business created before you install your first machine. This will protect your personal assets from anything that might occur. That being said, I am a realist and know that you would probably like to try out the machines before you go in full tilt (doing the extra steps to create the business). And honestly, we tried out a couple machines before we created our business, so you can do this. Just keep in mind that you are opening yourself to some risk–and you should create the llc soon after you decide to pursue the business.
[...] the Breathalyzer Secrets Forum, Friday, 22 April 2011, Kevin Melanson wrote: …I purchased an Alco-buddy and am having some [...]
I ran across this thread while writing a series of posts on vending business opportunities, including Alco-Buddy. Thanks for openly sharing such great information on this thread. After researching the breathalyzer vending opportunity, I’m recommending your eBook as a great bargain to anyone considering it.
I linked to your site in my post http://www.unhappyfranchisee.com/alco-buddy-vending-complaints/
, and, with your permission, I’d like to invite you and your readers to share a comment or two on Alco-Buddy or any of the other vending opps we’re covering (U-Turn, 1-800-Vending, Revive Energy Mint, Knockout Vending). While AB seems legit some of the others seem suspect.
Thanks again for a great site and valuable info.
Thank you— we strive to be as unbiased as possible. Just got off your site–it is very nice. Do you have pages for any other machines?
Quick question, do you guys used wrapped or unwrapped straws in your machines? And why
We use unwrapped straws–mainly to limit the cost of the straws, and to limit the amount of garbage that will build up around the machine. Bar owners are not going to like the machine if it turns the bar into a mess. We have yet to hear anyone say that they will not use the machine because the straws are not wrapped.