How Does a Vending Machine Business Work?
by Arina Smith Business 02 February 2021
As a vending machine business owner and operator, you’ll help keep bellies satisfied and customers happy by offering convenient access to snacks, drinks, and other on-the-go products in gyms, schools, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, office complexes, and other locations.
You have the option of taking charge of the day-to-day operations yourself (such as restocking, cleaning, and maintaining your vending machines, as well as collecting money) or hiring employees to do the leg work for you. Some people even find success in the vending industry as an absentee owner or silent partner.
If you’re new to the industry, you may choose to work with a vending business partner for help securing quality equipment, sourcing the most profitable products, and finding locations to place your machines.
If you choose to go it alone, you’ll need to research the different types of machines, then locate and purchase them yourself. A word of caution: be wary of secondhand or inexpensive machines—they often don’t include modern payment systems or other technologies that can enhance profitability. For example, newer vending machines come with remote monitoring systems that allow you to see the best-selling products in each machine and know which snacks, drinks, or other items need to be restocked—even before you leave to service your route. Plus, old or budget machines may not be the most reliable and can end up costing you more in service, repairs, and lost sales than opting for newer, reliable equipment.
After purchasing machines, unless you’re working with a vending business partner, you’ll need to approach locations you think may have enough foot traffic for profitable sales. Then, of course, you’ll need to develop an agreement with those willing building owners. On occasion, these contracts may require a percentage of your profits to go to the property owner in exchange for permission to operate your machine(s) on the premise. Be prepared to negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement with each property.
After delivering and preparing your machines, you’re off and running. Be sure to keep your equipment serviced and well maintained—and it never hurts to interact professionally with your locations and customers every so often. These types of impromptu meetings can actually provide valuable insight into which types of products your customers prefer and, thus, may sell best. Understand that, as consumer preferences shift to healthy eating, wholesome on-the-go products are increasingly preferred over the “junk food” traditionally offered in vending machines.
Plus, professional interaction with the owners or managers of your vending machine locations can help ease any worries they may have about your availability to respond to customer complaints. And developing positive relationships with property owners can open the door to additional locations. You’ll just need to make sure to analyze each location for its profitability potential.
Now, you may be asking yourself . . .
Are Vending Machines Profitable?
Owning and operating vending machines can, indeed, open the door to unique business success. Vending is more flexible, scalable, and simple than many other business opportunities.
The vending industry provides nearly unmatched potential for business growth and opportunity. You can operate three machines . . . or 30. The size of your vending business is almost completely up to you. And profitability can mirror growth.
But before jumping into the vending industry, determine if it matches your business goals and ambitions. Some consider vending income easy to come by but don’t take into account that the machines require regular cleaning, stocking, and maintenance. It’s not as time- and capital-intensive as, say, a food truck or eCommerce business, but it still requires a reasonable amount of work and business savvy to be successful.
Vending can be a profitable, rewarding and scalable business opportunity for many. Determine if vending is right for you and, if so, get started living your own American Dream today!