How To Start A Vending Machine Business: Everything You Need To Know (2024)

Step 1: Consider Your Possible Products

Food vending machines are popular and simple, but there are also options for vending machines that vend items in bulk or vending machines that provide specialty products.

If you’re starting food vending machines, you can choose a theme for your machines. Providing healthy snacks in schools could be a good road to go down because schools want to provide students with good nutrition. In general, you can tailor your offerings to the market space you want to break into.

Step 2: Find the Right Location

Depending on what kinds of machines you have, you can start to find space in commercial businesses and craft a route. Since it will be you or an employee refilling and repairing the machines, you’ll probably want them to be not too far away to start. As you expand your business and bring on more employees, you can start to cover more territory.

Placing vending machines in local businesses means you’ll want to start making connections with local business owners and talking up your services. If you’re looking for a contract with a school district or a business that has several locations, you’ll want to get in touch with a regional manager or whoever does larger-scale location management projects.

Step 3: Choose the Right Type of Machine for Your Business

There are three types of machines: bulk, electronic and mechanical. Bulk machines hold a single product in bulk and dispense a certain amount for a quarter or a dollar. You often see this in restrooms, dispensing sanitary products for example. These can cost $50 to $200 to start.

Mechanical machines are the classic break room vending machines. They provide multiple products and cost about $2,000 initially. However, they do have higher profits than bulk machines.

Finally, the most sophisticated version is an electronic vending machine. These cost at least $3,000 per machine, often have touch screens and can take credit card payments easily. The more drinks and food offered, the higher the cost of the machine. They are incredibly reliable and intuitive, and the ability to use a credit card often means they receive a lot of business as fewer people carry cash and coins—just make sure you choose a payment gateway that doesn’t charge exorbitant fees.

Step 4: Find the Right Market

Your vending machine should be in an optimal place for the kinds of customers you want to serve. For example, vending machines with microwavable foods and other meal-like offerings do well in places where people are spending a lot of time and don’t have the ability to cook, like offices, hospitals and universities.

Snack vending machines are also great for offices. However, vending machines that dispense novelty trinkets or small candies can do well in specialty small businesses, if you are interested in making those connections.

Finally, vending machines that dispense medicine or electronics are great to place in airports, highway rest stops or train stations. These are necessities for travelers and these machines could therefore have a high profit margin.

Step 5: Stocking Products

For food vending machines, some states mandate a certain percentage of healthy options to be included. Be sure to have sources for healthy snacks if this is the case for your region.

When looking into food stocking in general, you should make connections with wholesale suppliers so you can get the lowest cost per unit. Saving money on the upfront costs of food will help you get more profit from your vending machines in the long run.

How To Start A Vending Machine Business: Everything You Need To Know (2024)


How To Start A Vending Machine Business: Everything You Need To Know? ›

Startup Costs

On average, you'll spend $2,000-$3,000 on a mechanical machine and $3,000 or more on an electronic type. Other notable startup costs include: Stock – For your vending machine to be operational, you must stock it. At least, you need to budget for the opening stock.

What all do you need to start vending machine business? ›

  1. Step 1: Start an LLC. ...
  2. Step 2: Find a Business Location to Place Your Machine. ...
  3. Step 3: Buy a Vending Machine. ...
  4. Step 4: Placing Your Vending Machines At A Location. ...
  5. Step 5: Buying Stock For Your Vending Machine Business. ...
  6. Step 6: Set Vending Product Prices. ...
  7. Step 7: Restocking Your Vending Machines.
Jan 24, 2024

How much money do I need to invest in a vending machine? ›

Startup Costs

On average, you'll spend $2,000-$3,000 on a mechanical machine and $3,000 or more on an electronic type. Other notable startup costs include: Stock – For your vending machine to be operational, you must stock it. At least, you need to budget for the opening stock.

What do you need to know before buying a vending machine? ›

Factors to consider when buying a vending machine
  • Types of vending machines. There are a variety of vending machines serving products such as hot beverages, sweets, snacks, can and in cup. ...
  • Location. ...
  • Easy to use. ...
  • Safety. ...
  • Size. ...
  • Cost of vending machines. ...
  • Stock and maintenance. ...
  • Starting a Vending Machine business.

What is the average monthly profit for a vending machine? ›

Most vending machines have 20% to 25% profit margins and earn $5 to $50 or more each day in sales. A vending machine in a respectable location making $1,500 a month will make about $375.

How much does it cost to fill a vending machine? ›

The average cost to fill up an empty vending machine is around $200 per month. However, this price is dependent on what products you are using to fill the machine.

Is it hard to start a vending business? ›

You don't need a college degree or previous work experience to run a successful vending machine business. The beauty of it lies in its simplicity; you can be up and running with one or two machines. Moreover, it isn't difficult to change products and locations to better suit your market.

How much does 1 vending machine make a year? ›

The average vending machine makes around $5k – $6k of profit per year (excluding labour). A machine costs about the same to buy brand new. Some landlords require you to pay rent for you to place a machine at their site – a commission of 10 cents per sale.

Can you make money with 1 vending machine? ›

The average vending machine earns $35 a week, but your profitability depends on the location of your machine and the kind of goods sold. Operators purchase goods in bulk and sell them for a premium in their machines, making margins as high as 86% on items such as water.

Do vending machine owners pay rent? ›

You can either rent space for your vending machine monthly or pay the property owner through sales commissions. You can start a vending machine business without physical office space or a website.

What are the cons of vending machines? ›

Vending machines are not as cheap to purchase and operate as they may appear. The cost of a machine can set you back up to $10,000 and on top of that are the running and maintenance costs. The cost of stocking the machine with products and throwing away and replacing expired products can be a costly ongoing endeavor.

How much would it cost to start a vending machine? ›

You'll also need to pay a fee to register your business, and additional but optional costs can include purchasing a website and buying marketing materials. These expenses can range between $50 and $100. In total, the startup costs to start a vending machine business can be between $1,500 and $3,000.

How should I price items in a vending machine? ›

Average wholesale cost for snack items can range from $0.15-$0.75 and drink items can range from $0.25-$1.00. Basically, you want to take the price you pay for your item, and multiply by 2. Usually, that equates to a fair price to operate your business and provide your services for that location.

Which vending machine is most profitable? ›

Bulk vending machines have the highest earning potential of any other vending machine type out there. This is because they don't rely on electricity or battery power; instead, they are simple mechanical devices that come with minimal maintenance and no utility costs. Bulk vending machines cost on average $500 to buy.

How to get vending machine location? ›

I have found locations by making cold phone calls as well as just walking into the business and talking to the manager in person. Both ways can be effective. If you are a regular customer of that business and they know that, then your chances of getting in will increase 10-fold.

Is vending machine passive income? ›

Are you looking for a side hustle that doesn't require a lot of time and effort but still has the potential to generate passive income? Then, owning a vending machine business may be the perfect fit for you. Here's all you need to know about starting your own vending machine business.

How to find a location for a vending machine? ›

If a business has a break area, be sure to consider this as a location for your vending machine. Snack areas are a particularly great location if there is little nearby competition. Think about picnic areas, playgrounds, cafeterias, and other places where people normally take a break and eat at a business.

Is a vending machine passive income? ›

Like any business venture, profitability depends on various factors, such as the location of your machines and the types of products you sell. However, with the right strategy and placement, a vending machine business can generate a steady stream of passive income.

How much do vending machine business owners make? ›

Vending Machine Business Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$40,000$3,333
75th Percentile$38,500$3,208
25th Percentile$31,500$2,625

Do you need a business plan for a vending machine business? ›

If you're looking to start a vending machine business or grow your existing vending machine company you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your vending machine business in order to improve your chances of success.

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