How to Start a Vending Machine Business: Vending machines have long been an excellent way to make money by owning your own business, and they’re still as lucrative today as they were when they were first introduced in the 1800s.
How to Start a Vending Machine Business
Today, vending machines are used to sell everything from candy and snacks to coffee and ice cream and even flowers and cars! If you want to know how to start a vending machine business, here’s how to do it step-by-step.
Before You Start
The first thing you’ll need to do is conduct research on your local and state laws. Get in touch with your city government and find out whether there are any laws or regulations that will affect how you set up your machines. You should also learn about local competition so you can capitalize on niches. Ask around, speak with vendors and customers, read some industry publications and check online forums to get a good idea of what’s available in your area, who is operating in it, and what they’re doing right—and wrong.
Note: It helps if you already have vending experience prior to making it a business venture—if not, you will probably want an experienced operator as part of your team. Also, don’t forget to register your business with both your state and county governments. If you decide to franchise your operation, later on, make sure you know what rules govern franchising in your area.
Where Should I Set Up My Machines?
It depends on your product selection and goals. New, used, refurbished? How much are you willing to spend? Just want some extra cash in your pocket or want an additional revenue stream for your store or office? Do you have access to locations for the placement of machines?
How many machines do you think you’ll need? Once you’ve answered these questions, then it’s time to purchase your stock. If machines are out of stock or unavailable, consider alternative products that can be vented. Ideally, each machine will turn over at least one item per day in order for it to be profitable; however, selling one product per day is better than selling nothing at all.
What Kind of Machines Should I Buy?
There are three basic types of machines that you can start with: snacks, soda, and bottled water. If you’re looking for an easier way to get started, think about what people already buy from your company—you may already have snack machines in your office! Here’s more on choosing which machines to purchase, but no matter what type of machines you choose, we can help you get started with our pre-packaged vending bundle.
It includes several machines preloaded with inventory, as well as VMCTM software at a fraction of the cost it would be if you purchased each item separately. You’ll also get free shipping! Learn more here. What kind of location should I look for?: Location is important because it will determine how much money you make per day. If you live in a big city, consider renting space inside an existing store or restaurant instead of trying to find a place outside where foot traffic is minimal. Even better?
Talk to local businesses about purchasing their empty space during off-hours so they don’t lose any customers during prime time. The best locations will be busy all day long; even if your vending machine doesn’t sell out every day, there will always be someone nearby who wants something sweet or salty when they’re thirsty or hungry.
How Much Can I Make?
Although there are many ways of making money with a vending machine, it’s best not to invest in one without having an idea of how much you can make. The first thing you need to do is conduct research. You’ll want to look at two things in particular: profit margins and product prices. Profit margins are what percentage of your sales go towards paying for stock and other costs, leaving you with net profit. For example, if you sell items for $2 and pay $1 for each one, then your profit margin would be 50%.
Product prices are simply how much you can buy an item from suppliers for and still make some sort of profit. If you were to spend $1 on a candy bar and resell it for $2, that would give you a 100% markup. If you spent $10 on ten candy bars and sold them all for $20, that would give you a 200% markup. Obviously, higher profit margins mean more money overall; however, high-profit margins also mean more competition from other sellers looking to make their own profits.
It’s up to you whether or not that extra competition is worth it or not! If after doing your research you find out that people aren’t willing to pay high enough prices for products in order for them to be profitable (or they’re willing but don’t have enough disposable income), then perhaps vending machines aren’t right for your business.
What do I need to get started?
Before you buy anything, make sure you have everything you need. You will need A certain amount of startup capital. At least $2,000. Make sure it’s in cash because many banks won’t give you a loan to start up a business unless it is your full-time job (if they do, they charge high-interest rates). The lower your overhead costs are now, the more likely it is that your company will succeed.
The time needed for permitting and licenses varies depending on where you are located but can be anywhere from three months to never (it’s pretty lenient in some places). We recommend applying for all required permits right away so that you have plenty of time to get them completed before your grand opening.
Manage Yourself. Not Your Machines.
If you’re going to start a vending machine business, you’ll first need to know how many machines will be enough for your business. If you begin with too few machines and don’t meet sales targets, then obviously it will be impossible for you to make money from your investment. At first glance, 100 seems like an overkill number of machines because if all of them are full then there won’t be any room for more sales.
The key is managing yourself because if you can keep track of that many locations at once and deliver products on time then adding in more locations won’t be so difficult. If 100 seems overwhelming, start small and work your way up as sales increase. For example, maybe 10 machines is a good place to start before investing in another batch of 50.
That way you’ll get used to selling products and servicing clients without being overwhelmed by logistics. It also helps build credibility for when you approach other businesses about selling their products through your machines—the idea being that if they see that you can handle having your own product stocked and ready, they should feel confident in trusting you with their brand name.
Vending machines have sensors in them that, if they malfunction, can shut down all of your machines simultaneously. You may need to call a repair person and that’s one more cost you’ll incur when it comes time to make money. If you have several machines at once, it can also become an issue for customers as well who don’t know which ones are still working and which aren’t.
Make sure your equipment is tested regularly by someone who knows what they are doing—or gets smart about where you place your machines so one malfunction doesn’t stop all of them from being used. Vending businesses are highly location-dependent, meaning that where you put your machine is just as important as how well you maintain it.
Get Rid of the Unprofitable Machines
Your first step is figuring out which machines are working for you, and which aren’t. Take time to evaluate your machines and weigh your options carefully. Many small businesses owners have mistaken enthusiasm for revenue and end up with too many or no machines at all.
It’s important to understand that like any other small business venture, starting a vending business is one that requires you to think critically about your products, goals, market value, etc. You may be better off taking some of those old machines and selling them on eBay than renting them out every day for $200+. Be honest with yourself and know when it’s time to let go of certain machines.
Why Did All my Machines Stop Working At Once?
Vending machines are simple mechanical devices, so problems can arise. Here’s how to troubleshoot common issues. If your key doesn’t work: While most vending machines allow you to insert a credit card instead of using a key, others will shut down if they’re not used for an extended period of time. Make sure you check with your company about any lock-out policies or visit our post about preventing vending machine lockout for more info on keeping your inventory stocked.
If your machine is out of order: Before taking it apart yourself, contact your vendor or manufacturer and find out what parts you need to fix it. You might be able to get some replacement parts online (check out eBay) but remember that many vendors use proprietary parts that aren’t available outside their network. Be careful when fixing vending machines yourself – electricity and moving parts don’t mix!
If there’s no product in my machine: First make sure that all settings are correct and then try refilling it manually. Most vending machines have a security code that prevents them from being restocked until they’re empty, so if everything seems right but there’s still nothing inside, double-check with your management team and/or call up customer service for help.
Also Read: How to Start a Business With No Money
While there are some legal and regulatory obstacles that must be overcome in order to start your own vending machine business, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Be sure to consider each step of your plan carefully before jumping in headfirst.
There are risks associated with every move you make, but if you’re willing to take them, you can run your own successful company from home and do what you love for a living. If nothing else put those vending machine repairman posters up around town and see if anyone comes calling!