Generational shift coming in business ownership: Get ready for Gen X

The vending and refreshment services business remains a highly entrepreneurial industry that will witness a widespread change in ownership over the next decade. That’s according to a recent reader survey conducted by Automatic Merchandiser on succession and retirement plans.

About 70 percent of the readership, based on this survey, are 50 years old or older, meaning in the next few decades, a new generation of owners will emerge. The new generation is better educated and technologically savvy.

The survey also indicated that close to a third of today’s owners have 30 or more years in the business.

Automatic Merchandiser sent an email survey about succession and retirement plans that was completed by more than 100 readers. Most of the participants have between two and 11 routes. More than a third of the respondents operate between five and 11 routes, followed by slightly less than a third with one or two routes.

More than 90 percent of the respondents described themselves as vending operators, the balance being coffee service operators.

Exactly who will be replacing today’s owners is unclear. A 64.1 percent majority said they have no family in the business.

Only 21 percent said they will sell the business to a family member. Half said they will sell the business to a non-family member, and nearly one third are uncertain.

Owners with family in the business plan to stay active in the business longer than those who don’t. Half of those with family in the business have no retirement plans, versus 41 percent of all owners.

Among those with family in the business, 70 percent said they will pass the business to a family member versus 21 percent of all owners.

On page 10, Josh Patrick, a retirement planning consultant and a former vending and foodservice operator, offers some advice for vending business owners on succession planning.