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How to Start a Vending Machine Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Vending Machine Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$1,357 - $3,950

Revenue potential

$48,000 - $148,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 - 3 months

Profit potential

$10,000 - $30,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

We see them everywhere, but have you ever considered what owning a business of vending machines would be like? Vending machines help people in a pinch, providing tasty treats and refreshing beverages at school, the office, and in public places of all kinds.

There are millions of vending machines out there in the world. Starting your own vending machine business is an opportunity to get in on the action. They can be a lucrative source of passive income and, depending on how many you are willing to operate, may not require a ton of upkeep for you as an entrepreneur.

But as with any business, getting started and making good money takes hard work. The best way to ensure success is moving patiently through the business development and launch process, as detailed in this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Every business has its advantages and disadvantages, which you should weigh to decide if starting a vending machine business is your best choice.

Pros

  • Low startup costs Main costs are the vending machines, which can be financed, and a large vehicle and related equipment.
  • Flexible schedule Collect money and restock the machines when you want.
  • Grow at your own pace You decide when to add more machines, and how many.
  • Simple business model Secure contracts with the businesses that host your machines, maintain and keep records — that’s about it.

Cons

  • Need to scale up Each machine’s profits can be small; making good money will likely require scaling the business with additional capital.
  • Competition for prime locations There’ll be fierce competition for high-traffic spots; you’ll need to be savvy to get your machines in prime territory.
  • Added expenses Getting top spots may require additional payment, such as rent, while new laws may tax the sale of sugary snacks and drinks.

Vending machine industry trends

Industry size and growth

vending machine industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Key trends in the vending machine market include:

  • Internet of things functionality – Manufacturers are now developing vending machines that can utilize the internet of things (IoT) to gather real-time data on consumer demand and improve the machine’s offerings.
  • Junk food regulations – New laws aim to curb the sale of unhealthy, high sugar products. Many places now use taxes or bans to curb the sale of such “junk” foods, especially in schools.
  • Specialty machines – Many retail outlets now offer specialty vending machines selling electronics, clothes, or accessories.

Challenges in the vending machine industry include:

  • Pandemic supply chain issues – The pandemic hurt logistics for many industries and could lead to continued shortages and other supply chain issues.
  • Rising demand for healthy food
vending machine industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work in vending machines?

vending machine industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a vending machine business?

The startup costs for a vending machine business can range from around $1,400 to $4,000, according to Step By Step Research. The biggest expense is of course your vending machine or machines. The cost varies, depending on whether you purchase used or refurbished ones, or lease your machines on a monthly basis.

The other main startup costs include the required licenses and permits, as well as insurance, rent, and taxes. These costs vary widely based on your state and the business owners with whom you work.

You really only need one item to launch a vending machine business, but you might consider some additional equipment to help you get off the ground such as a truck and moving equipment. Keep in mind that additional costs will arise as you expand your business.

Here’s a sample computation, assuming you start with a refurbished vending machine. The cost would be much less if you just lease a machine, and higher if you get a new machine.

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Vending machine$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Licenses $200 - $300$250
Insurance $100 - $500$300
Inventory restock$30 - $50$40
Rent (% of sales to property) per machine$15 - $80$48
Taxes (% of sales based on state) per machine$12 - $20$16
Total$1,357 - $3,950$2,654

How much can you earn from a vending machine business?

For your vending machine business, profitability depends on location and scale. How many vending machines are you operating, and where they are located?

The average monthly revenue for a vending machine is $300 to $400, and with profit margins ranging from 16-25%, you’ll net about $50 to $100 from each machine every month. According to a survey by the entrepreneurial news site The Hustle, US vending machine operators oversee 13 machines on average and gross $309 per machine each month, bringing in $48,000 in annual revenue and $10,000 in profit (20.5% margin).

With a vending machine business, your annual revenue and profit will depend on the scale of your operation. The more machines, the more money you’ll make. To leverage economies of scale in key overhead costs — purchase/lease, installation, and maintenance — an entrepreneur would need to oversee at least 40 vending machines to generate $148,000 in annual revenue and make a livable salary of around $30,000.

vending machine business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

  • Restrictions – Food and drink vending machines are regulated and taxed, depending on the products offered. They may also be constrained by property owners, who could require a certain # of users or profit.
  • Time commitment – You’ll need to make the rounds of your vending machine locations to stock, service, and collect money.
  • Determining prices and payment options – Many potential customers claim vending machines are too expensive. Some older vending machines do not accept credit cards.
  • Few healthy options – People today want healthier food and drinks, but many of the available vending machine choices are less than healthy.
  • Securing prime locations – Finding and securing space at the highest-traffic locations can be a challenge.

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How to Start a Vending Machine Business

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a vending machine business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Assuming you’re new to the vending machine industry, the first thing you should do is research. Find the most popular locations for machines in your city or town. Look into the types of vending machines – Drinks? Chips? Candy? – that are most profitable in your area and across the industry. Check nearby offices, hotels, hospitals, and other public spaces to see which items sell best — if it’s often out of stock, it must be in high demand!

Research the prices for local vending machines for sale, new or used, and check in on the leasing rates for machines available for lease.

As this is the primary startup cost to getting going in this business, it is best to spend considerable time finding the right choices for the beginning of your vending machine empire.

What? Determine vending machine products

When it comes to product choice, the possibilities are broader than you might think.

Vending machines can offer food or drink, or both. They can feature tobacco products, which require a special license, or medical products, such as tests for pregnancy or COVID-19. Non-food vending machines sell items as wide-ranging as laundry detergent, iPhone accessories, and makeup. A new vending machine in Rome pumps out piping hot pizzas! Depending on the demand in your area, you might consider healthy vending machine options, which have gained popularity in recent years.

Payment options and food selection technology vary based on the machine. Some older models accept only cash and coin, while many newer vending machines only provide electronic payment and card options. The latest smart vending machines go even further, offering touchscreens as well as touch-free transactions via mobile payment.

Depending on your level of financing and personal preferences, it’s a good idea to examine all of your options.

Here are some of the most popular snacks for vending machines:

  1. Chips: Brands like Lay’s, Pringles, and Doritos are common choices. Flavors like original, barbecue, and sour cream & onion are often popular.
  2. Chocolate Bars: Snickers, Kit Kat, Twix, Milky Way, and Hershey’s bars are frequent picks.
  3. Candy: Skittles, M&M’s, Starburst, and gummy candies like Haribo are usual finds.
  4. Nuts and Trail Mix: These offer a healthier alternative to chips and candy. Planters is a common brand.
  5. Granola Bars / Protein Bars: Items like Nature Valley granola bars, Clif Bars, or Kind Bars are also popular.
  6. Crackers and Cookies: Brands like Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Ritz crackers are often stocked.
  7. Gum and Mints: Brands like Orbit, Trident, and Altoids.

Here are some of the most popular drinks for vending machines:

  1. Carbonated Soft Drinks: Brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and Mountain Dew are popular.
  2. Water: Bottled water is a must-have. Brands often include Dasani, Aquafina, or local brands.
  3. Sports and Energy Drinks: Gatorade, Powerade, Red Bull, and Monster Energy drinks are commonly found.
  4. Juices: Brands like Minute Maid, Tropicana, and Capri Sun are often available.
  5. Tea and Coffee: Ready-to-drink iced teas (like Lipton or Snapple) and cold coffees (like Starbucks Frappuccino) are popular.
  6. Diet or Zero-Sugar Drinks: Brands like Diet Coke or Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Zero Sugar are often stocked.

How much should you charge for vending machine products?

The average food or drink item in a vending machine typically costs $0.50 to $2.00. But this will of course be higher if you decide to offer premium products. Either way, your prices should be competitive with machines offering similar products in your market.

A good approach is to initially offer all items in a specific category, such as candy bars or sodas, at the same price. From there, you see how sales go and experiment to find the right pricing for your location and product offerings.

Prices are of course based on the cost of the item, plus your target profit margin of around 20%. 

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

The key market segments for vending machines include corporate offices, industrial workplaces, hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and public spaces.

Manufacturing centers such as factories are often prime locations, mainly because blue-collar workers buy twice as many vending machine products as other groups.

You will want to position your vending machines in locations with a lot of foot traffic, preferably by people who are regularly gripped by pangs of hunger or thirst!

Where? Choose a vending machine location

Choosing the right location for a vending machine can greatly affect its profitability. The best location can depend on the type of products you plan to sell, but generally, it should be a place with high foot traffic and suitable for the product category. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Foot Traffic: The number of people who pass by the vending machine is crucial. More foot traffic typically translates to more sales. High traffic areas might include shopping malls, busy streets, office buildings, schools, hospitals, airports, train stations, gyms, etc.
  2. Target Audience: Consider the demographics of the people who frequent the area. For example, a vending machine selling healthy snacks might do well in a gym, while a machine selling toys or novelty items might do better near a playground or family entertainment center.
  3. Availability of Similar Products: If similar products are readily available nearby, it might affect your sales. For instance, if there’s a coffee shop next to your coffee vending machine, it might not perform well.
  4. Safety and Security: The safety of the location is another factor to consider. A location with good security or surveillance can help mitigate these risks.
  5. Visibility: The vending machine should be clearly visible and not hidden away in a corner.
  6. Accessibility: The location should be easily accessible 24/7.
  7. Competition: Check if there are other vending machines in the area. If the competition is too high, it might affect your sales.
  8. Lease and Utility Costs: Consider the cost of renting the space (if applicable), as well as utility costs such as electricity.
  9. Regulations: Some places may have restrictions or regulations regarding vending machines. Make sure to check this beforehand.
  10. Ease of Restocking: Consider how easy it will be to restock the machine. If the location is too remote or difficult to access, it might not be practical.

One of the best things about running a vending machine business is that you can operate out of your home. Your main job will be scouting out locations and then maintaining, restocking, and retrieving your money from the machines over time. Depending on the size of your operation, you may even be able to use your personal vehicle for these tasks.

As your business grows and operations intensify, you may need to hire workers for various job roles. You may also need to lease or buy a truck to better service your machines. If you do end up needing an office, you can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

vending machine business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Vending Machine Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “vending machine” or “food”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “The Smart Vendors” over “Snack Attack Vending” or “Coffee Vending Group”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Vending Machine Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Outline your vending machine business’s goal to provide convenient, on-the-go snacks and beverages through strategically placed vending machines in high-traffic areas.
  • Business Overview: Describe the operation of placing and stocking vending machines with a variety of products, such as snacks, drinks, and potentially non-food items, in various locations.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of products offered in your vending machines, including traditional snacks, healthy alternatives, beverages, and potentially niche products like tech accessories.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for vending machines in your target locations, such as office buildings, schools, or transportation hubs.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your vending services to other vending companies or alternative snack options, focusing on your unique offerings like product variety or machine technology.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for securing prime locations for your vending machines and attracting end-users, possibly through promotional deals or partnerships with location owners.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and qualifications of your team, particularly in areas like logistics, retail, and maintenance.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the day-to-day operations, including machine maintenance, restocking, and managing cash or electronic payments.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including start-up costs for purchasing machines, operational expenses, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as contracts for location placements, machine purchase agreements, or detailed market research data to support your business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — a prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a business bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official! Once it’s done, you have your own business.

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to vending machine operations. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Businesses come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your vending machine business shapes your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a vending machine business. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Vending Machine Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a vending machine business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting a vending machine business may include doing business as (DBA), health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.

Any vending machine that takes money in exchange for products requires its operator to get a state-based business license. You may also need a business license and local county or city-based health and food-handling licenses and permits. Additional beverage or food licenses may be required based on what your vending machines carry. If you plan to offer tobacco products or alcohol, you will need additional licenses. Additionally, your vending machines may need to be inspected to complete the application process, according to business launch adviser Corpnet.

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your vending machine business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some of the different types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a number of excellent software programs and digital tools can help you with many business tasks. 

You may want to use a vending managing system to help manage your vending machines, with prices ranging from about $20 per month to $100 per month. But depending on the level of technology in your chosen machines, they may come pre-programmed with software that tracks inventory and revenue.

Some popular VMS websites are:

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  • If you are unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Location is Key: Identify high-traffic locations with a target audience for your products, such as offices, schools, gyms, and waiting areas, to increase the visibility and accessibility of your vending machines.
  2. Strategic Product Selection: Tailor your product selection to match the preferences and needs of your target audience, ensuring a mix of popular snacks, beverages, and healthier options to appeal to a broad customer base.
  3. Dynamic Pricing and Promotions: Implement dynamic pricing strategies, offering promotions, discounts, or bundle deals during peak hours or specific seasons to encourage more sales and create a sense of urgency among customers.
  4. Regular Machine Maintenance: Keep your machines well-maintained, ensuring they are clean, fully stocked, and in good working condition to enhance customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.
  5. Branding and Eye-Catching Design: Utilize eye-catching and cohesive branding on your vending machines to make them stand out and create a memorable impression, increasing the likelihood of attracting and retaining customers.
  6. Loyalty Programs: Introduce loyalty programs or rewards for repeat customers, encouraging customer retention and building a loyal customer base over time.
  7. Social Media Engagement: Leverage social media platforms to showcase your vending machine offerings, share promotions, and engage with your audience to build brand awareness and foster a sense of community.
  8. Customer Feedback Integration: Actively seek and incorporate customer feedback to improve your product selection and customer experience, demonstrating responsiveness and a commitment to meeting customer preferences.
  9. Community Partnerships: Explore partnerships with local businesses or community organizations to expand your vending machine network, tapping into new customer bases and increasing the visibility of your brand.
  10. Mobile Payments and Technology Integration: Stay current with technology trends by offering mobile payment options, interactive touchscreens, or other technological conveniences to enhance the customer experience and attract tech-savvy consumers.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your vending machine meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your vending machine business could be:

  • Make products easily accessible using selection and payment options
  • Keep machines clean and well serviced
  • Secure prime locations
  • Embrace appealing branding design
  • Offer unique products, such as electronics or health-related items
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a vending machine business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working as a vending machine operator for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in vending machines. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

You may not need to hire any employees if you are starting as a small business run out of your home. But as your business grows, you will likely need full-time employees to fill various job roles, such as:

  • Truck Driver
  • Installation Lead
  • Maintenance Supervisor
  • Inventory Manager

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Vending Machine Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

You’re now ready to take the first step in your entrepreneurial journey. This may be one of the best passive income ideas, assuming what you have are brand new vending machines that don’t require much repair and maintenance services. 

It’s not without risks, though. For example, not a few movies show a character kicking a vending machine when it fails to dispense or simply for free food or beverage. Well, the good news is that the latest technologies prevent misvends and other mishaps while improving customer experience. 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there, deploy your machines, and start vending!

Vending Machine Business FAQs

How profitable are vending machines?

Vending machines can be quite profitable. Any given machine’s profitability will depend upon its location and overall pricing. Different food, drink, and product options have their own margins based, and a savvy owner will leverage the best ones. A well-placed and well-serviced vending machine can earn up to $400 in monthly revenue and $100 in profit.

Do vending machine owners pay rent?

Yes, vending machine owners generally pay 5-20% of sales revenue to the owners of the building or business where their machines have been installed.

Are vending machines taxed?

Yes, vending machines are charged sales tax on the revenue they generate, which varies based on state.

Where can you place vending machines?

The vast majority of vending machines are in commercial spaces such as offices, hotels, factories, entertainment spaces, and so on. You will likely need to sign a contract with the owner before installing your machines. For public places, you will need to reach out to the local government to find out what you need to do.

Can I operate a vending machine business part-time?

Yes, it is possible to operate a vending machine business part-time. You can start small by placing machines in a few locations and gradually expand as your business grows.

How can I stand out from competitors in the vending machine industry?

To stand out from competitors in the vending machine industry, consider offering unique products that cannot be found in typical vending machines, such as healthy snacks or artisanal drinks. You can also provide personalized and efficient service by keeping your machines well-maintained, restocking them regularly, and responding to customer feedback. Building relationships with business owners who host your machines can also help you differentiate yourself from other vending machine operators.

Can I operate a vending machine business part-time?

Operating a vending machine business part-time is indeed possible. Many vending machine business owners start part-time and gradually expand as their business grows. It allows for flexibility and can be a great way to generate additional income. 

How can I stand out from competitors in the vending machine industry?

Offer a variety of products that cater to specific customer preferences or niche markets. Consider including healthier snack options, specialty beverages, or unique and regional snacks that are not readily available in other vending machines.

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