You’ll find hundreds of resources related to starting and running a vending machine business in this post. The resources are written by various authors, which gives you a broad overview of the topic.
Before getting to the resource section, let’s take a few minutes to go over a few considerations and questions for you to review.
Background About This Type of Business
This type of operation is one of those businesses that, once set up, the business mostly runs itself.
Once the machines are set up at their location, you don’t have to be there to generate revenue.
Your main concerns are as follows; keeping the machine stocked with products. Making sure the machines are maintained and in good working order. Finally, if your machines collect cash, you need to collect the cash generated.
Depending on how busy the location is will determine how many times per week you need to make your rounds.
Pros and Cons
All businesses have pros and cons. Below are a few for this business model.
This is a semi-automated business. Once you setup your machines, your main task is to monitor and restock your machines.
- You can run this as a part-time business and operate out of your home.
- You can set your own hours.
- You can be flexible regarding restocking your machines.
- The business is expandable.
- Some of the cons include your machines being abused and vandalized, and when they break down, you need to get it fixed as soon as possible.
- Repairs can be expensive, especially with machines that have a cooling compressor.
- You may have a great location, and the owner can take it away unless you have a contract.
- You may get calls from people that have lost their money in the machine, and you need to deal with these claims. You can do this by having them go through Paypal. Or you could have the item there for them the next time you visit. This may work well if your machines are located, for example, at a manufacturing plant and your customers are regulars.
- Coin jams can happen, and then your machine is down, and you need to get to the location and fix it as soon as possible.
- Products can also get jammed, and you need to take care of it asap.
What Type of Person is Suited for This Business Model
This type of business may be engaging to people attracted to semi-automated businesses and like to have multiple things going on at once.
For example, someone running multiple businesses can run this as a side business. Someone with a full-time job may also be attracted to this business model and run it after work.
Your startup cost will depend on how you plan to get started. If you start with a couple of machines, your startup cost will be low compared to purchasing 50 machines, a tuck to move your machines, and staff to help operate the business.
The best way to determine your startup cost is to create your business plan. Once you have your plan in place, you can start to research your costs. For more on startup costs, see, Estimating Startup Costs – Are You Missing Anything?
When it comes to the machines, you’ll want to do your research. You want machines that are reliable and will hold the most product.
For example, if you have a machine that holds a small amount of product, you will have to make more trips to refill it than a machine that holds more and may only need refilling once or twice a week.
If you buy a machine that breaks down a lot, you’ll have many extra expenses. You’ll lose customers and sales, and the location owner may tell you to remove the machine because there are too many complaints.
Location owners don’t want any problems. They have enough headaches to deal with, with their own business. To have a long-lasting relationship with the location owner, you need to make sure your machine makes them money without any effort or headaches.
Questions Regarding This Business
Will You Locate From Home or a Commercial Location
Will you locate your business from home, or do you plan on having a commercial location? The benefits of running from home would be a significant saving in your monthly expenses.
The benefits of owning a commercial location include your business being perceived by location owners as a reliable operation.
Another advantage of having a commercial location is creating a showroom where location owners can view the machines you have available for their location. If you have a variety, they could choose the machines they want to display.
How Will You Move Your Machines?
Have you considered how you will move your machines? Depending on how many machines you plan to own, you may need an appropriate vehicle to move them. Consider having 50 machines. The cost to hire someone to move them may cost you a good portion of a used truck’s price.
When starting out, you could hire someone to move your machines, and when you find you’re having success, you could buy a vehicle.
What Type of Company Structure Will You Setup?
When requesting to place your machine at a location, you may want to register your business as a corporation, LLC, or similar to make your business more credible.
A sole proprietorship means you and the business are one, and you are personally liable and can be sued personally. As an LLC, Partnership, or corporation, the business is separate, and it’s a legal entity. Therefore liability is on the company, and a lawsuit would be against the company.
From a location owner’s point of view, dealing with a company is perceived as having less risk than dealing with someone with a couple of machines. Keep in mind location owners don’t want headaches and problems.
How Will You Pitch Your Opportunity to Location Owner’s Business?
You must have good people skills to negotiate locations and deal with any problems that arise. I can see the main points of resistance would be around the following:
Liability: The business owner doesn’t want anything that can make them liable for any problems. For example, if a child chokes on a toy from your machine, the location owner doesn’t want to be liable.
Compatibility: The location owner wants something that accents their business, not something that makes their business look bad.
Here’s an example. Imagine walking into a high-end jewelry store and seeing vending machines? This would make the customer walk out the door because the vending machines are out of place.
The customer thinks, what kind of business is this? The location owner has lost all credibility. This exaggerated and unlikely example highlights the importance of targeting appropriate locations.
Competition: Another question to ask, is will the vending machine compete with the business? Would you put a soft drink vending machine in a convenience store? The soft drinks are in direct competition with the vending machine.
Appearance: Machines that are beat-up and show wear and tear will hold you back. No Business owner will allow you to put an eyesore at their location. The machines should accent the business, and looks are a major selling point.
Products: The products you carry must accent the location. Placing products like chocolate and chips in a fitness center wouldn’t’ make sense. But placing vending machines with healthy snacks and drinks would.
You also want to keep an eye out for expiry dates. Product close to expiry dates doesn’t leave a good impression.
Below is a list of some of the business types you can target for your vending machines:
- Movie theaters
- Coffer Shops
- Bus Stops
- Apartment complexes
- More in the resources
You Want Your Location Owners to Be at Ease
To get your machines in prime locations, you want the owners to be at ease. You need to address any concerns the owner has. You can offer to place the machines on a trial basis, and if they are not happy with any part of the arrangement, you will remove the machines immediately.
You need to focus on the benefit of placing the machines at the owner’s location. You may want to focus on how the machines will benefit their existing customers. The main benefit is convenience. The next may be the financial gain with no effort from the location owner.
For each business, try and come up with benefits specific to their business.
How Will You Get the Word Out?
Customers will see you’re machines and make a purchase based on convenience. If you advertise your vending machines to potential customers, you’ll probably waste your time and money.
I can see taking out google ads based on the user’s location. But I don’t see a lot of traction from this method. I would use tasteful slogans on the machine it’s self to get more people to use it, for example, “How About a Cold Drink? or something like, “Try our new tasty Chips for $1.00 Press G7”.
As for advertising for this type of business, I would focus my advertising on getting more locations. So you are going to be targeting other businesses.
You can do this through Google Ads and Facebook. Setting the location
you’re targeting allows you to work on campaigns for small areas, which can be cost-effective because you are not advertising nationwide.
You can also use your local newspaper and radio to get the word about your business opportunity to local businesses.
Another point to make is if you plan a campaign on the radio for a week or two, it might make your cold calling technique easier because the business owner has heard your ad on the radio, and when you visit them, they have already heard about you.
Next, Come the Resources
Now it’s time for the resources. You’ll find hundreds of ideas and tips brought to you by various authors in the sections to follow. I suggest you take time to go through those articles that sand out for you. Spending a few hours on these resources will give you a broad understanding of the industry and allow you to find vending machines, supplies, and the details related to this business. The video section from people in the industry will also give you some insights.
A Collection of Resources Related to Starting a Vending Machine Business
How to Start a Vending Machine Business
What to Consider Before You Start
Steps and Considerations
Getting Inside Information
A Simple Guide To Starting A Business
How to Finance Your Business
How To Register a Business
Vending Machine Business Name Ideas
Trends and Statistics
Profitability and Revenue
Startup and Operating Costs
Equipment and Suppliers
Vending Machine Security
Vending Machine Parts and Repairs
Repair Tips and Maintenance