How to Start a Vending Machine Business and What’s the Cost?
Tired of the nine-to-five grind? Looking for opportunities to truly live the American Dream? Starting a vending machine business may be just the fit.
Launching any business can be intimidating, but following these steps will help you succeed in the exciting vending industry.
Decide if a Vending Business is Right
Start your company with a strong foundation of ‘why,’ and be prepared to be a business! This sounds obvious, but, as easy as vending may seem, it’s still an opportunity that requires hard work and business savvy. Next, outline your long-term goals and ask yourself if a vending machine business fits within your ambitions. Do you want more control over your financial future? More flexibility in your schedule? Or do you just want to make a little extra money? Setting goals will help to keep things on track as you navigate your new business.
Next, there are some essential operational questions that need answering: Is this going to be a full-time undertaking or a side hustle? How much time do you have available for this venture? How will you fund it? How much can you invest? Do you want investors involved? Realistically, there are a myriad of important questions to answer before starting any business. And vending is no exception.
Determine Your Startup Budget and Carefully Select Equipment
How much does it cost to start a vending machine business? That largely depends on your “why.” Do you just want to make a little extra money, or are you looking at replacing your nine-to-five? Starting a business that can offer a living wage will require more fronting than one that’s just meant to shell out some extra cash.
In reality, starting a vending business can be as inexpensive as buying a few coin-operated, bulk machines and stocking them with gumballs or loose candy. These can go from $50, upwards to $500 each—depending on features and quality. Like most things in life, the more you spend on a product, the fewer problems you should expect. And ultimately, in the vending machine business, that means the more profit you can expect.
But coin-operated machines, regardless of how many you’re able to operate, aren’t going to cut it if your goal is to replace an income. For that, you’ll need to up your “vending machine game.”
So, how much should you invest in a vending machine business that can truly turn you into your own boss? Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts in your new business and choose cut-rate or secondhand machines found online or elsewhere. Few of these will include a warranty or any guarantee for support. Used machines will actually cost you more in the end. And, since cash is going the way of the dodo, modern vending machines with credit card and smartphone payment options are a must to maximize your revenue potential.
Plus, as consumers increasingly look for more wholesome options to support healthy lifestyles, it’s a good idea to look for vending machines that have the ability to vend healthier packaged products. Older machines are simply not optimized to offer these types of products. And even many newer machines have limited capacity to vend the variety of unique shapes and sizes of healthy drinks and snacks—not to mention that many of them simply can’t support packaged entrées and side dishes.
Unless you have experience running a vending machine business, it’s a good idea to look for a partner who’s experienced in the industry. Access to ongoing support and unmatched training can be an indispensable advantage and, ultimately, determine if your new vending machine business sinks or swims.
Healthy YOU Vending offers a full suite of business support—similar to a franchise—and a set of quality, modern vending machines. Simply put, we offer all the support of a franchise without the ongoing royalties and restrictions. And it all comes for much less than a typical franchise.
Choose the Right Products
After choosing equipment that will support your business goals, it’s time to identify what products you want to sell (specific offerings will vary between locations; more on that later). As mentioned, the standard vending machine fare—sugary drinks, candy and greasy chips—are being left behind for healthier options. But, more than that, the vending landscape itself has expanded. Now, consumers find themselves purchasing things such as entrées, personal hygiene essentials and wellness products from vending machines.
Non-food products, such as over-the-counter medicines, hand sanitizers, face masks, lotions and more are flying out of vending machines. And it’s a trend that’s going to continue to grow, as busy lifestyles demand convenience and accessibility. And, of course, you’ll need a machine that can support this product mix. Be sure to research local trends and demographics to identify what products might be most profitable for a given location. Healthy YOU Vending machines even come with our eManage inventory-management software, which allows you to see which products sell best at each location.
Secure Profitable Locations
Securing locations can be intimidating. Before leaving home to approach businesses, make sure to consider only qualified locations. The more foot traffic a building receives, the higher the earning potential. It’s probably not a good idea to place a machine in a setting with few employees or visitors.
Have a contract prepared for both you and the building owner to sign. The agreement should include all the terms and conditions of both parties. If the building owner objects to any of the contract’s terms, be ready and willing to negotiate until you reach an agreement.
In lieu of finding locations for your vending machines, Healthy YOU Vending can provide professional location finding services, if you prefer. To date, the majority of locations we’ve helped our operators secure don’t require any commissions. But, if approaching businesses yourself, be prepared to establish early on that your business is non-commission based, or build the commission into the product pricing.
Customize Your Offering
Determining a product mix is essential to the success of your business—and should vary based on each individual location. Selling sour worms and gummy bears might not be the best option for a machine placed in a gym. The success of your vending machine business largely depends on finding a product mix that meets the needs of each location.
As consumer interest in a healthy lifestyle increases, so does the demand for healthier options in vending machines. As a result, healthy vending is a growing category and a serious option to consider if you want your business to be around for the long haul.
Whatever you decide about your product mix, make sure your offerings taste great, have some nutritional value, are relatively affordable and come from easily-recognizable brands. Pro tip: Offer some novel products to avoid the predictability of standard vending options and pique consumer interest.
Regularly Service Your Machines
It’s obvious, but machines need to be stocked and in good working condition in order to make sales. But keeping your machines stocked does more than allow people to buy products. Consumers are more likely to buy from a clean, inviting, well-stocked machine than a grimy one. Regularly servicing and restocking your machines gives you the opportunity to clean the glass and controls and, ultimately, sell more items.
Vending: The Perfect Fit?
Whether you want to earn some passive income with a side hustle or are ready to leave your full-time job behind to be your own boss, operating a vending machine business may be just the opportunity you’ve been searching for. Just make sure to define your objectives, secure high-quality equipment and products, choose prime locations, tailor the product mix to each location and service your machines regularly.
Healthy YOU Vending helps individuals operate successful vending machine businesses by providing industry-leading machines, access to thousands of products, lifetime coaching, a community of online support and location procurement. We offer the support of a franchise without the associated fees and royalties. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you live the American dream.