How To Start A Vending Machine Business ($10K+/Month)
How much will the global vending machine industry be worth in a few years?
The answer is a whopping $147 billion by 2027.
A vending machine business can be a great way to make extra income and increase your net worth.
In this article, I’ll discuss the steps you need to take to get started in a vending machine business, sharing a few helpful tips and tricks along the way.
Steps To Starting A Vending Machine Business
Here are the other steps to get your vending machine business up and running.
Research the Vending Machine Industry
Knowing what works in the vending machine industry is critical for a business owner.
Your market research should focus on what people are buying and where they’re buying it from.
Being a small business, looking at how vending machine operators are succeeding (or failing) could give you valuable insight into what to do.
Develop a Business Plan
Business owners that don’t have a plan have higher odds of eventually failing.
An effective business plan is essential for setting up a shop and becoming profitable.
Whether you become a franchisor or start your venture from scratch, understanding the risks, costs associated with each option, and potential profits, can help guide your decision-making process.
Your plan should also include goals and strategies for marketing your services and methods for tracking your business’s success.
A successful vending machine business requires a comprehensive plan to achieve results.
Set Up Your Business Legally
Setting up your business should be one of the first steps when starting a new vending machine business.
A limited liability company can help protect your assets from your business liabilities and is often required if you want to get leases or contracts with property owners.
If property owners or anyone else decides to sue your business due to any damage caused by the vending machines, having a legal entity protects you from personal financial implications.
Select the Right Type of Vending Machine
A vending machine business model also involves knowing what you’re selling to customers.
The machine options you could go for vary from having drink machines, a food and beverage machine, a gumball machine, or candy machines.
Think of what type of products your target customers might find valuable and convenient, then look at which machine would best accommodate those needs.
Choose a Location
The next aspect to consider is the location of where you’ll place your machines.
More foot traffic across your vending machine will ensure more product sales.
For example, laundromats get people that often wait around for their clothes to be done, so having a vending machine with snacks or drinks can prove beneficial.
Office buildings have people that come in and out all day and could benefit from having handy snack machines.
Moreover, having more machines in an office space can also mean steady revenue since employees are likely to be on the premises multiple times a week.
Another place to consider is train stations, with people waiting for their transportation looking to buy something while they wait.
As a new vending machine business, researching and finding the locations for your machines can help you increase sales and maximize profits.
Ultimately, high-traffic locations can mean the difference between success and failure.
Purchase or Lease the Machines
Purchasing a machine can be an excellent long-term investment.
However, starting with less expensive options, such as leasing or renting machines, might make more sense.
With financing options available on some of the more costly machines, this could be viable for those just starting.
You can also go with a refurbished vending machine which could cost you significantly less upfront but may require additional repairs later.
Alternatively, you can find a vending machine company that provides custom vending machines that suit your unique needs.
Secure Necessary Licenses and Permits
Depending on your business, consider which types of licenses you need depending on local laws.
In many cases, vending machine businesses don’t necessarily have specific licensing requirements, but knowing what your state dictates ahead of time is essential.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry – so research applicable laws and regulations before proceeding.
You can also check with local authorities to ensure that you comply with regulatory requirements.
Stock Your Machines with Products
Whether you’re selling hot beverages or snacks, toys or electronics, stocking your vending machines should come next in the setup process.
Having machines filled with items people can buy is the essence of a vending machine business.
Without products to sell, there’s no income.
For a new business, this might mean researching suppliers of popular items in your area and stocking accordingly.
Promote Your Business
Advertising your vending machine business can increase awareness and ultimately gain more customers.
Depending on your target market and product, you can use offline promotional materials such as flyers and posters to reach out to potential customers.
On the other hand, getting involved in online marketing campaigns is also a great way to promote your business and build a customer base.
Maintain Your Machines Regularly
While placing vending machines in the right location is a great start, it goes far beyond that.
You’ll need to ensure your machines run smoothly to keep sales going.
If your machines don’t work as they should, customers will become dissatisfied and take their business elsewhere.
While the vending machines’ cost is relatively low compared to other businesses, make sure to factor in maintenance costs when budgeting.
Keep Track of Your Revenue and Make Adjustments as Needed
Once your business is up and running, keeping track of the income generated from your machines is essential.
You can maximize profits by monitoring sales trends to determine which items are selling best and make necessary adjustments.
When you know your numbers, you can consider diversifying your product selection based on customer preferences.
Keeping tabs on your vending machine business performance is critical for ensuring long-term success.
Benefits Of A Vending Machine Business
Now that I’ve looked at the steps needed to get started, here are the main benefits of having your own vending machine business.
Low Startup Costs
While the overhead costs are not negligible, vending machine business owners can start with a single machine and relatively low expenses.
You can also sell items immediately with a vending machine business.
In contrast to other businesses requiring much more startup costs and extended periods to get paid, vending machine owners have a much lower initial cost and can generate profits quickly.
Getting more money in your business bank account is relatively easy once you establish several vending machines in strategic locations.
With high margins between your cost and the price of what you sell, generating profits with a vending machine business is doable.
For example, selling beverages to your target market might mean a 70-80% profit margin.
With established vending machine businesses often seeing profit margins of up to 90%, it’s easy to see why this is such an attractive venture.
Passive Income Stream
The types of products you sell throughout your vending machine locations often require little upkeep or maintenance once they are installed and appropriately stocked.
Once you outsource this, the potential for passive income can be very beneficial in the long run.
Scalability and Growth Potential
Finally, it’s relatively straightforward to scale up your vending machine business with more machines in different locations.
Types of Vending Machines to Choose From
There are also plenty of different types of vending machines available today.
Here are some of the most common ones.
Beverage Vending Machines
Who doesn’t need a cold drink when they’re on the go on a hot day?
A beverage vending machine offers consumers popular drinks such as soda, juice, energy drinks, and much more.
There are also hot beverage vending machines that provide coffee and tea for those who want something warm.
Snack Vending Machines
People get hungry throughout the day, so having snack vending machines filled with chips, candy, and other snacks can be a great way to capitalize on that need.
Specialty Vending Machines
From luxury items like watches and jewelry to everyday necessities such as laundry detergent and toiletries, a specialty vending machine offers a variety of products that people can purchase without ever leaving their homes or offices.
These machines are quickly becoming very popular in many markets around the world.
Frozen Vending Machine
Frozen vending machines provide customers with delicious ice cream treats and other frozen snacks.
These vending machines are great for convenience stores, food courts, movie theaters, and more.
Best Vending Machine Locations
I mentioned the importance of location earlier in this article, but let’s dive deeper into the factors to consider when choosing the site for your vending machines.
Business locations often hosting thousands of people daily in schools, universities, and office buildings can be great places to start.
Other places to consider include those outside grocery stores, convenience stores, and shopping malls.
If you can associate your products with a location that matches its target market well, customers will likely notice and make purchases.
For example, selling healthy snacks outside a gym or fitness center would be great.
Entrepreneurs must also consider customer flow when choosing their vending machine location.
A bad example of this would be putting a vending machine in an area with little foot traffic.
With various potential locations, consider how many people will pass by the machine each day and whether there is enough interest in your products to make it worth setting up shop.
It is also essential to consider other similar businesses around the exact location.
This type of research could mean looking into whether any competitors within proximity offer the same or similar products as you do.
If so, investing in such a location might not be worthwhile as your sales may suffer due to an existing vending machine business.
Vandalism is another factor to think about when setting up a vending machine.
Look for locations with access to CCTV cameras and security guards, as this can help deter vandalism or theft of the machine’s contents.
Also, find a well-lit place so your vending machines are always visible.
Calculating Your Start-Up Costs
Here are some costs to consider when setting up a vending machine business:
Licenses and permits
Depending on your state, a business license may be required to run your vending machine business.
There is also the setup cost to start your business, such as registering your business name and setting up the proper business structure.
With the cost of LLCs in various states varying, be sure to research what you need to do before starting.
Machines generally need to give back change to those who make purchases, so you must have enough money for this.
Consider how much cash to put into each machine, depending on the location and the type of product you sell.
Maintenance and repairs
In the vending industry, maintenance is a big part of keeping your machines in working order and ensuring they stay profitable.
You must factor in any repair costs that may come with vandalism or regular maintenance over time.
If you get a new machine, your warranty will cover some repairs, but it’s always best to set aside some money.
It would help if you got business insurance on your vending equipment to protect yourself in case of theft or malfunction.
Research exactly what type of insurance you need for your business and shop for quotes from different providers to find the best deal.
It is also worth looking into if any discounts are available based on the number of machines you have.
Hiring Help To Grow Your Vending Empire
After you have one (or even a few) vending machines up and running, it will become increasingly difficult to do all the work yourself.
Scaling your business can involve hiring help to manage different aspects of the company.
Here are some possible positions you could consider hiring for.
Truck Drivers for Restocking Machines
One of the most frequently asked questions in this respect in terms of logistics is, ‘how often should I restock my machine?’
The answer depends on various factors such as location, type of products offered, and demand. It’s best to start with short-term restocking and gradually increase the frequency depending on how quickly you sell your stock.
You also don’t want to keep moving around stocking your machines yourself – it’s time-consuming and inefficient.
While this is doable if you have a few vending machines, you’ll need extra hands for restocking when demand increases.
Maintenance Technicians to Keep Machines in Good Condition
From ensuring the touch screens on your machine work properly to fixing any mechanical issues that may arise, maintenance technicians can help keep your vending equipment up and running at all times.
Technicians are vital to maintaining your machines – they can help diagnose problems faster, suggest new features or upgrades, do regular checkups, and more.
Sales Reps to Make New Deals with Potential Clients
Part of scaling also involves getting more machines up in better locations.
A full-time sales rep (or more as needed) can help strike profitable deals with potential clients and negotiate the best terms for placing your vending machines in different locations.
Considering potential local partnerships that make sense for your business is critical to scale.
Here are some possible options you could consider:
- Local Businesses
- Community Centers and Churches
- Cafeterias or Restaurants
- Events or Fairs
- Malls and Stores.
These partnerships can be highly beneficial for your business and the partners.
How To Price Your Products And Make A Profit
Your profit margins play a massive role in the success of your vending business, so you’ll need to establish prices that allow you to make a decent profit.
These factors go into choosing the right pricing strategy.
Analyze Pricing in the Area Where You Will Operate
With bulk vending machines, being able to have pricing that reflects current market trends is vital.
Part of the initial hustle of setting up your business should include researching what other vendors are charging for similar items to yours.
Then, you’ll have to find an appropriate price point that allows you to remain competitive without sacrificing profits.
Establish a Competitive Price for Your Products
While this depends on the type of product you offer, typically, it’s best to focus on providing slightly higher-priced but high-quality items.
Various payment options and digital displays can help your customer experience become more seamless and efficient.
From card readers that allow payments by credit card or debit card to using QR codes for easier access, staying current with the latest technologies is essential to remain competitive.
A successful vending business involves more than just stocking machines with snacks and sodas.
It requires forward thinking, planning, and dedication to ensure that you are creating a profitable business.
Make sure to keep up with trends in the vending industry and stay organized when it comes to ordering supplies, servicing machines, and collecting payments.
Further reading on AdamEnfroy.com: If you don’t want to start a business from scratch, business brokers can help connect you with a franchise opportunity.
In addition, business plan tools can help you structure your thoughts and create a killer business plan.
Finally, check out this guide on starting a business with no money if you want to get more business ideas.