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How to Start a Vending Machine Business

January 9, 2023

A business venture that has recently grown in popularity is managing a vending machine. It's fun, convenient, and relatively easy to monitor. However, just like any business, it requires research and a plan. 

Location, location, location… What type of vending machine and where?

As with any business, you must first ask yourself who your target audience is. A vending machine can answer this by considering where you will place your small business venture. For example, many profitable areas for vending machines include near other businesses, outdoor shopping malls and plazas, apartment communities, school campuses, beaches, and inside workplaces. Get creative and consider which audience you would like to target for your sales. It also depends on the type of group you wish to serve. For example, to target hungry and thirsty vacationers enjoying the time while out and about, consider finding a location near a beach or shopping mall. Alternatively, if you play to focus on nourishing working minds throughout a busy day, consider finding a place inside a workplace or school campus.

Depending on your chosen location, a varying amount of work is involved in securing the spot. Some sites require permission from the local township, and others require the go-ahead from a business owner. Do your research to see who owns the area you are looking into, and reach out accordingly. Additionally, analyzing trends in the area you are considering is essential. If you were to open a brick-and-mortar business, you would first research the location to see if your business was needed and would thrive. A similar consideration must be made for a vending machine business.

Once you have considered where you would like to set up shop and which audience you are targeting, you can determine the vending machine's offerings. 

Ideas and examples include:

School or colleges - Typical snacks or drinks

Workplace - Pre-packaged lunch options or coffee

Outdoor shopping malls - Helpful single-use items such as sunscreen, pain relievers, flip-flops

Airports or hotels - Gift items such as skincare products, flowers, or stuffed animals

Pet stores - Pet treats, leashes, and toys

Gyms - Earphones, towels, gloves, and drinks

Zoos and children's centers - Diapers, wipes, and easy snacks 

 

Vending machines can be more than a pack of chips and a soda — if that's what you want! Let your creativity shine.

 

Do the estimated startup costs make sense for you? 

The investment in starting a vending machine business can vary greatly depending on the type of machine. The following is a typical breakdown of costs:

  • The machine itself — used or new. Brand new machines can cost as low as $2,000 or upwards of $10,000, whereas used machines are typically much less, around $1,000 to $4,000. Additionally, vending machine franchises, including Naturals2Go, Fresh Healthy Vending, Xpresso Delight, and more, have outlined costs for investing. Typically, this includes an initial investment fee and monthly maintenance fees.
  • Rent and utilities for the location placement. This cost varies depending on the location and whether it is public or private property.
  • Stocking inventory. Depending on the items, you can spend anywhere from $500-$2,000+ filling your vending machine with items.

Ultimately, you can start a vending machine business with limited initial capital compared to many other business ventures. Still, it is an investment and should be considered as such — the more you put in, the more you'll get back if you have done your research on the location and offerings correctly.

Additionally, initial marketing costs include branding and designing the machine upfront. For example, if it is an older machine, you may need to install a card reader. Some owners of vending machines install security cameras nearby to monitor for potential theft. You will also need to account for the costs involved in regularly checking on your location, restocking the items, and cleaning the area around the machine (pressure washing, recycling, sanitizing). If used often, it may require maintenance and repairs as well.

Any business requires startup costs, inventory investments, and maintenance fees. Ensure you are aware of the short and long-term expenses for your specific type of vending machine and location.

Thankfully, there are options if you are short on initial funding and unable (or not wanting) to obtain a business loan. At Fund&Grow, we offer an alternative solution. We aid in lucrative ventures with our lending program that secures up to $250,000 of unsecured business credit with introductory interest rates of 0%. This is a perfect option for individuals seeking to start a vending machine business because you can use this type of funding for both initial costs and regular maintenance – without paying a penny of interest.

A vending machine business can be an extremely successful venture; however, it requires an informed plan and much research to ensure you make the right decisions to target your audience. Outline your strategy, determine the costs, and enjoy a fun and exciting startup venture. If successful, many individuals even open more locations and reap the benefits.

I take tremendous pride in building positive and lasting relationships in my businesses and personal life. Every member of my team is committed to helping our clients get the maximum amount of funding possible and achieve their highest growth potential.

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