NOTE: This is not a paid review. No one paid me in any way for this review. I have, however, paid a crap load to start a new business with Natural 2 Goâ€™s machines and their business model. I do not receive commission or anything like that, nor do I have a vested interest in anyone elseâ€™s success. This just my opinion because I want to post it for posterity.
If you have not read my previous article on how we got to this point then you may want to peruse it here: A New Beginning A New Franchise (N2Go).
So, it is Monday – 2 days after returning from training in Richmond. Tanya was not able to make it due to our babysitting arrangements falling through, but I was still able to go. =( Hopefully, she will be able to go in April or May. We will see how it goes.
With this post I want to give a post-op following the 2.5 days of training to give my view of N2Go and the training experience for others who are considering N2Go (or anyone else who is silly enough to want know what is happening in my life). =)
Where did it leave me? Am I regretting it and wanting to run away screaming? Have I already made a million dollars? Do butterflies still drink turtle tears?
Well, letâ€™s find out:
My expectations for the training were many. I already run a few small businesses – yoga studio (10 yrs), my wifeâ€™s art (2+ years), and a super-small web hosting company (1+ years), but starting a business like this involves many things that are very different from anything that I currently do:
- buying products
- selling products
- storing products
- pricing products for sale
- locating places to place machines
- meetings to arrange machine placement
- stocking machines
- maintaining the machines
- managing client relations
- ways to grow the business
- tax free vendor
- and so much more.
I was definitely going to need to learn how to do all of those things and more to have a clue what I am doing and to have a chance at being successful.
My flight left a bit after lunch time, so I arrived at the airport in the late morning and had to wait around for a few hours until my flight left because Tanya needed the car and needed to be in the area for other important things like picking up the child from school and so on. The flight there was uneventful. I listened to music on my phone pretty much the whole time, although for one little stint I did some reading on my tablet (The Expanse: Calibanâ€™s War).
Flight and Arrival
Just like their email said, once I got there, a hotel shuttle could pick me up and that is what happened. So, what came next was the first test: Was this all real? Did my money just vanish to fly-by-night organization? Was I naive and bilked of a small fortune left to drown in my own sorrow-drenched tears?
After arriving at the hotel, my reservation and confirmation that I was apart of the VTI (Vend Tech International) group was confirmed. They even gave me a gift bag with various snacks in it that may be put in our machines, as well as the training schedule.This boded well. =)
I went up to my room. It was a hotel room. Nothing specialâ€¦ just a clean hotel room. I just needed a place to shower and sleep and that is it, and this would do nicely while I was trying to fill my brain with vending machine knowledge.
After I settled in, I went to see what other amenities there were. They had a restaurant/bar, a small pool, and a small workout area too. The pool floor was dirty and the water was a bit too cold for me (I do not like cold water) so I decided against that. I did, however, go ahead and did some cardio and a little bit of the free weights to get my stay started right.
This part will be shorter than I would like, because I did not have a laptop and was not keen on taking notes on a tablet, but I will give you the important information to help you evaluate it.
The training, conveniently, was being held on the first floor of the hotel we were staying which was great!
The first morning I went down and right there, vending m
achines were already stationed and opened for us to take a look at. This was another moment to validate that this was real and was a good investment. I took pictures and sent them to my wife to let her know they existed. I breathed a bit easier after that!
We also had assigned seats with our training materials already laid out for us too. I was put at the front of the class, of course, because I can be quite the troublemaker! =O =)
Trainers are Owners/Operators Too
For me, I think this is important. All of the trainers had their own vending machines and vending businesses too, so these were not just people that were towing the corporate line to pull in some Benjamins. They were speaking from their experience and also the valuable lessons from those who have made mistakes before them. They were not just dropping theoretical ideas on us. They were telling us what really works and were able to give us examples and anecdotes from their own experience.
There were 4 trainers:
|Kevin Wright||The Godfather – the lead trainer|
|Shaun Thomas||The Shipper – the machine shipping dude|
|Gary Hawke||The Fixer – the vending machine technician or orderer|
|Rob Pastor||The Smooth Operator – a successful operator|
The CEO is also an Owner/Operator
Now, this part is also kinda crazy. He owns and operates machines too. Now, if the CEO is doing it, then he really believes it. I was actually quite amazed with this.
I even had a chance to talk with him a little bit on the phone one morning when I arrived super early because woke up at like 3:30am and could not get back to sleep. This gave me ample time to do a quick workout and then go on up for breakfast.
Quality of Training
The training seemed to cover everything that I would expect and they gave great practical advice. We were able to get into the machines and see how they work and how to fill the machine, which will take some practice, especially the drinks. Pretty much all of my expectations were met.
They covered all of the needed topics, although, there is only so much you can learn in the classroom. With something like this, there is no greater teacher than actually going out and doing it. I think, at least with where I am at and with my experience, that it worked for me. I feel as prepared as I can be and I just need to go out there and do it. The training did, however, help to impart how much work there really was to this and there is a lot to running a business like this. The work was truly just beginning!! =O
Honestly, this may be the most important part of what you may want to evaluate – the support they give to their operators in running their business. It is significant and important not only to us as operators, but also to the company itself, because how well we do will affect how they make money – but not in a pyramid scheme sort of way.
With their franchise model they only make money off the sales of the machines, so it is in their best interest to help their operators to be as successful as they can so they can grow and buy more machines. They have a respectable business model that focuses on trying to have everybody win. If you succeed then they succeed too.
Here is a list of the things they do to support their operators and all of these are included in the purchase of your machines with no extra cost (unless otherwise noted):
- Pre-Business Support
- Locating service: There are 3 choices here to help you find places for your machines:
- self location (gives a discount)
- placement assistance (a core part of base package) -data is pulled from surveys, etc; cold calls are made for you and a meeting for placement is arranged; all you have to do is close the deal
- placement agent (extra charge – a person comes down and arranges the machine placement for you; you may also ride along to observe and learn the process from an expert)
- Shipping Service:
- Self Placement:They can ship them to you and you can install the machines
- White Glove: You can (for an extra charge) have the machines shipped to the location and installed for you. Although you still have to setup the machines yourself. They canâ€™t run your business for you. =)
- Training: Training, of course, is a big one.
- Locating service: There are 3 choices here to help you find places for your machines:
- Business Operation Support
- Business Materials: business cards, flyers, business forms
- Business Website: Domain and email setup. An easy to setup website with content already added. All you have to do is select a template, enter your business information and you are really to go. You will want to change the about page, though. (1st year is free; $15/month after)
- Coaching and Mentoring: Following the training you are assigned a coach to help you and guide you along the process so you can be successful. This is great.
- Facebook support Group: This will be great to get feedback and advice from other operators. There is no substitute for experience.
- Insurance:1 year of fire and theft Insurance on machines.
- Operator Site: They have a site which posts articles and training videos too that we can use to learn
- Support Numbers: We are given the support numbers for the machine manufacturers, software support, and the various N2Go people we may need to ask questions of.
Prior to the training I felt I was a bit more prepared than most that were there, because I had 10 years of business experience already, and I am a web and technology person. But, even with that there was still a lot to learn, and still much more to learn. However, the training made me feel much more prepared and helped to to adjust and set my expectations appropriately.
Is it a get rich quick scheme? Definitely not.
Will money rain from the sky? Not unless you are super lucky and hard-working, and the vending machine gods smile upon you.
As Advertised on the Box?
So far, Naturals 2 go has been as it is advertised on the box (videos, website, and sales reps).
They all want you to succeed and they give all they can to help you along that path.
The return flights were slightly eventful. My first flight arrived late due to a technical issue that needed to be fixed – an overhead bin was not closing. So that was late enough for me to be concerned about reaching my connecting flight. Fortunately, I got there in time to board properly.
Significant Credit Score Drop
Now, with the way we are paying for everything – new credit cards with a 12 months+ interest free period, this has affected my credit rating considerably. My credit rating has dropped over 150 pts over the last month – from 797 to 636. This is considerable and I will be curious to see how this will change as I pay them off over the next 2 or so years. Hopefully, we will not need to apply for any credit over the next year or three. =o
What we Accomplished on Sunday (Yesterday)
Here is the list of things we accomplished on Sunday:
- went shopping for some warehouse supplies
- rented a climate controlled storage unit (10×15) out of which to work from
- bought a used corporate class printer from a friend and â€‹also â€‹purchased toner Â for it
- got GMail to be able to send and receive email from my business email address (this was a feat to accomplish)
- emailed all of the members of my training class with the N2Go Facebook operators group and a link to my previous N2Go blog post
Our Next Steps
Next we need to:
- check out potential suppliers and start figuring which products we want to start with and where to get them.
- plan out which products will go in which slots
- figure out how much to sell them for too
- prepare for our coach call next Monday
- setup our warehouse
- prepare for the work in placing our machines
Wish us luck!