Vending Machine Businesses

How to Start a Vending Machine Business or Route

Owning and Operating a Vending Machine Business – The Basics
Welcome! Interested in starting a vending machine business? Great decision! According to Forbes Magazine, operating a vending route is one of the easiest businesses to start. And, the best part, this virtually recession-proof business has the potential to earn a return on investment the instant you set up your first vending machine.

Before diving in, thinking through a few basics will help you build a strong foundation for vending business success. Read on for some more tips on what works to get your vending business up and running!

Customers frequently ask us, “What do I need to do to start my own vending business?” If you are just starting out, we hope this resource can answer most of your questions, while providing you with some helpful tips and tricks from industry veterans. We will be adding content on a regular basis, so check back often. We want to hear from you! If there is a topic you would like to see covered, please let us know!

Question to Ask Before Starting a Vending Business

  • What machine should I choose?
  • How do I find a location?
  • What products should I vend?

Below you will find information that will help you as you build your vending route and establish your vending machine business.

Vending Machine Maintenance

Your vending route is only as strong as your machines, so servicing and maintaining the vending machines in your route is essential. There are many different types of vending machines on the market, but the topics covered below should apply to most vending machines.

  • Adjusting or changing your Dispensing Wheel
  • Attaching your Machine to a Stand
  • Replacing a vending machine lock instructions
  • Servicing your Machine
  • Changing a Coin Mechanism
  • Taking your vending Machine Apart (and putting it back together)

Tricks of the Trade Topics

  • Candy Wheel Settings
  • Keeping Mike & Ike’s from Sticking to Each Other
  • One Minute Vending Machine Pitstop
  • Spin Coin Mechanisms

General Guidelines to Starting your Vending Business

Due Diligence

Before setting up your vending machines, determine the cost of business and analyze the location. Some things to consider:

  • Find a reputable supplier of commercial quality vending machines (like Gumballs.com!).
  • How many potential customers might purchase an item from the vending machine? If your vending machine is in a public location, observe the foot traffic. If your vending machine is placed in break room, know the number of employees that will have access to the machine.
  • Determine your cost of business by adding together all the overhead costs, including the cost of the vending equipment, vending supplies, transportation (vehicle and fuel), etc. How much will you need to price your vending items to turn a profit? Remember that vending machines are a one-time cost and that the vending machines will need to be up and running for some time before recognizing a profit.
  • Numbers will fluctuate depending on if you purchase cases of gumballs, bulk candy or toy capsules, etc., in bulk where you might get a discounted rate OR if you decide to sell a product that costs more. The beauty of a vending business is that it can be tweaked along the way to see what works and what doesn’t, while maximizing your profits.

Target Your Customers

Once your locations are secured, place machines and vending products that appeal to the customer.

  • Vending machines that dispense temporary tattoos, stickers or toy capsules filled with items that are currently “hot” with kids and teens are great in areas that attract a young crowd. Gumballs.com offers the latest vending supplies targeted toward the younger population including bouncy balls, toy capsules, tattoos, stickers, gumballs, bulk candy and more.
  • If the location attracts older individuals, a soda and snack machine (just be sure you have access to an electrical outlet) is a great choice, or stock your vending machines with chiclet gum, mints, nuts or energy drinks.
  • If placing your vending machine in a break room, ask your business contact what type of snacks and soft drinks the employees would like.
  • Before setting up any vending machines, be sure that you have adequate space for your machine as well access to an electrical outlet (if needed).
  • Remember that as the owner of your vending machines, you are responsible for keeping them filled and working properly.

Start Small

Once you’ve secured some locations, it’s time to purchase the machines and get them up and running! New to the vending business? Try starting with smaller machines that require a minimal upfront investment, such as gumball machines or triple-head candy machines. Maintenance on these machines is minimal when checked on a regular basis. Plus, no electrical hook-up is required.

Vending Machines are a great business in that you can start with one machine and use the profits to roll back into the business and it will pay for itself as you grow the number of vending locations that you offer.

Frequently asked questions regarding vending machine businesses:

How much will my vending machine business make?
The success of your vending business will be dependent upon location, location, and location. The busier the location, the better your vending machine business will do.

Do I have to offer the store owner a percentage of my vending sales?
This depends on the approach that you take. If you approach the owner as a vending machine business owner strictly interested in expanding your vending route, then it would be proper to offer them a percentage of the sales. Do not forget that offering a percentage is an incentive for the owner to allow you the space in their business. We recommend offering anywhere from 15% to 33%, depending on the location. Another approach that you could take is through charity. There are many charitable organizations that will supply you with stickers to put on your vending machines in exchange for a nominal monthly fee. Most store owners will allow you space in their stores for free when you are associated with a charitable organization.

Should I use a locating service to locate my vending machines?
Keep in mind that a location service charges to place machines, which will cut into your profits.  If you have the time to scout, securing quality locations for your vending machine business yourself will maximize your profit.

What are good locations for vending machines?
In our experience, certain businesses have consistently proven to be successful locations. These include restaurants, bowling alleys, skating rinks, shopping malls, Boys and Girls Clubs, laundromats, movie theaters, academic institutions (high schools, colleges), supermarkets, coffee shops, banks, automotive centers, taverns, and apartment complexes. Always be on the look out for more obscure locations that could prove to be really favorable. Some surprisingly successful locations that we have come across include auction facilities, casinos, bingo halls, horseback riding facilities, and airports. Remember, any place with steady foot traffic is a good location for a vending machine.

Do I need a business license or insurance to operate a vending machine business?
You should consult with your local licensing department to find out the specific rules and regulations pertaining to the vending business in Florida.

Once I place a machine, should I have the location owner sign some sort of contract?
This is up to you, but it’s never a bad idea to have a business agreement in writing.

Is theft and/or vandalism a big issue in the vending business?
Because bulk vending machines are typically placed in high visibility and high traffic locations where there are people or employees at all times, theft and vandalism is uncommon. If you are locating your machine in a questionable location, a simple and cost-effective solution would be to wrap a chain around the base of the machine and chain it to a fixture within the store. This simple solution would prevent any would-be thieves from attempting to steal your equipment. If you are purchasing a change machine, many models can be equipped with an alarm for an upgrade fee.

How often will I need to service my vending machine business and how long does it take to service?
We recommend that you check on your vending machines at least once a month. Servicing a vending machine business, which includes collecting the money and refilling the machine, takes about three minutes per machine. A vending business consisting of 100 machines could take as little as 6 hours a week or two weekends a month to fully service.

Do I need a truck or van to run a vending machine business?
No. Our spiral vending machines, bulk vending machines, and triple-vend machines easily fit within a standard vehicle.

Can I operate my vending machine business from my home?
Absolutely! There is absolutely no need for an expensive office or warehouse.