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How to Start A Vending Machine Business

Updated: Jun 24


Vending machines are a real go-to for those who are on the move and need something really quick when a grocery store or a gas station seems too much of a hassle. These simple machines may not look like much, but they can generate enough profit for those who are looking to start a small business. The real question is, how do you start?


To get started on this business model, you're going to need to know a few things before you begin.


How Do I Get Started With a Vending Machine?

When thinking about how to start a vending machine business, you will need to consider some basic planning elements.


Here are the fundamentals of what you will need to get started

  • Conduct market research

  • Determine a Location

  • Consider purchasing or renting a vending machine

  • Obtain the necessary licenses & permits

  • Find a wholesale supplier

  • Set up a schedule for services

Some of these fundamentals may sound simple enough to remember, but they are crucial to starting your vending machine business off to a solid start.


The fact of the matter is: like any other small business venture, a vending machine business is an investment that requires time, money, and planning in order to be successful.


Conduct Market Research

It never hurts to plan and develop a solid business model for your new vending machine business.


To begin, you should research how much a vending machine costs to buy brand new. From there, you should narrow down who can supply you with the items for sale. But before that, you should know what people want at the desired location or geographic area that you plan to establish your vending machine business. Researching what people want or would expect at a vending machine compared to a store, will help you better understand the need and, potential success, of your vending machine business.


For example, in some of the busiest areas in Tokyo, there are vending machines that not only sell sodas and snacks, but also hot foods, sake, and even magazines.


Whether you live a big city or small town, researching your surroundings and understanding what people tend to buy most often will aid in a more profitable and successful vending machine business.


Location

Like any other business venture, setting up your vending machine at the right location will be critical to your success. Consider high traffic areas like schools, parks, shopping centers, and hospitals to set up shop. Or when people start walking and suddenly they get hungry or thirsty, a well-placed vending machine can really make their day and yours.


Purchase/Rent a Vending Machine

Now it's time to get yourself a machine and get it set up. There are several ways to get a vending machine at the ready.


Some options include: purchasing an existing machine from a direct seller, rent one through a vending company, or purchase a vending machine for sale directly from a franchise or manufacturer.


If you're wondering how much a vending machine cost, it really all depends on the model and type of machine you are looking for and what kind of items you plan to sell. Basic machines that sell drinks and food are usually fairly inexpensive. However, specialty machines that sell custom items like beauty products or hot foods can be a bit more expensive.


Obtain a License

Technically owning a vending machine is like owning a small business, which requires the right licensing and tax information. Depending on your business needs, you have different options with how to structure and register your business. A good resource is the Small Business Association which explains the different business structures, related fees and how to file. You should also research your state and/or city requirements for setting up a vending machine. Every place is different.


Find a Wholesale Supplier

Now that you got that all out of the way, you will need to stock your machine with supplies. A great and reliable wholesaler option for businesses just starting out is to purchase products from big-box stores like Costco and Sam's Club or from online stores like Amazon. They will provide products in bulk and at a lower cost.


From there, you can can ask local businesses for wholesale referrals or search online directories for local wholesale suppliers, and hopefully find a perfect wholesaler match for your business.



Make a Schedule for Servicing

Vending machines are not just something you can set up and forget about. You have to be willing to spare your time in maintaining and servicing the machine.


Apart from spending money on the investment of the machine and items for sale, you also have to contend with routine maintenance, cash collection, restocking supplies, inventory count, and ensuring an operative machine.


Unless you're willing to do all of that yourself, you are going to have to look into somebody helping you out in those needs.


Pros and Cons of Owning a Vending Machine Business

Like every other business investment, there are risks and rewards to vending machines. Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons in this situation.


Pros

  • Easy to set up

  • Less expensive to start than most businesses

  • Make your own schedule

  • Be your own boss

  • Stock your choice of goods

  • Meet a need

Cons

  • Needs a lot of attention

  • Be insured in case of unforeseen damages

  • Lots of preplanning

To go into detail, let's really dissect what all of this means.


The pros are that they are very easy to establish and obtain, inexpensive to get started, they are simple and easy to maintain, and you can create the schedule for how often you restock and check profits.


However the cons are that they require a lot of your time to be invested as much as your cash, you may have to pay royalties to the businesses that will allow you to have the machine on their property, and have to contend with general wear and tear.


No one business model is perfect, and vending machines are not safe from that department either, but the beauty of that is it's a great starter for those who want to get into a small business.


Get Started with Vending

To summarize everything, a vending machine business is one of the simplest and easiest businesses to get started with. While it might be one that requires patience and regulations, it can be a very rewarding venture.


Once you know where to buy a vending machine for sale, or rent an existing machine, then find your supplier of goods, you've already got a store set up without the need of a building.

If you think you're ready to get started, consider what kind of vending machine you want to start off with, contact us at our page for additional assistance and aid.

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