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How to Start a Vending Machine Business

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If you've always dreamt of being a successful small business owner, then you should consider owning a vending machine business. 

For some, a vending machine business only started as a side hustle which eventually turned into a full blown business that makes a thousand dollars per month. 

But before we plunge right into how to start a vending machine business, it is best to first look at reasons why you should pour the effort in the first place.

Why Own a Vending Machine Business?

A Vending Machine Business is Straightforward

For starters, starting a vending machine business is relatively easy. Special training is not required. All you need is a business license, the right insurance coverage, and a routine inspection, and you are all set to start. 


It Can Make Money 24/7

Vending machines can work 24/7. These are fully automated devices designed to keep working unless defects or vandalism happens. That said, vending machine businesses aren't limited by any hours of the day and can generate steady revenue. 


Doesn’t Require a Hefty Investment on Payroll

Running a vending machine business requires little to no investment in employee payroll. 

A starting vending machine business doesn’t require a lot of people. You only need the vending machines to sell products and collect money. Stocking the vending machines is easy and you can do this on your own as long as there aren’t too many. And so, what you’ll only need are technicians. 

The thing is, vending machines don’t get broken easily and so you’ll hire technicians as independent contractors only. Heck, there’s even no need for them  if you know how to maintain and fix the vending machines yourself.


Popularity is another reason why you should learn how to run a vending machine business. Vending machines aren’t only numerous in cities. You will also see them in the convenience stores in the countryside. That said, this venture has potential regardless of the location. 


How to Get into a Vending Machine Business?

So how to get into vendine machine business? You can start by investing in a franchise, buying a vending machine company, or starting from scratch. Let’s quickly discuss each option. 


Invest on a Vending Machine Franchise

A vending machine franchise is a great way of staring without stressing yourself. You only need to have enough money for the investment and pass financial evaluations. The franchising company will then give you the equipment to use and products to sell. 

Take a look at the table below to see which vending machine franchise to work with and how much you need to invest. 


What You’ll Need To Pay ForRoyal feeRequirements
Pharmabox $36,000 franchise fee
$195,000-$216,800 initial investment fee

6%$350,000 net worth requirement
$100,000 cash requirement
Fresh Healthy Vending $60,000 investment 
None$70,000 liquid capital 
Healthy YOU Vending $158,995-$199,815 initial investment fee
$40,000 franchise fee

None $55,000-$225,000 liquid capital 
HUMAN$71,495-$108,995 initial investment fee

$39,900 franchise fee


None $50,000 liquid capital 
Naturals2Go$50,000-$250,000 initial investment fee
$26,000 franchise fee
None $50,0000 liquid capital


Buy a Vending Machine Business

Buying a vending machine business is a good option if you want to start by already having the business structure, equipment, and workforce in place. The catch is no person would sell a vending machine business unless there’s no problem. And so, you have to scrutinize financial records, legal liabilities, overall picture of operations, and the resources available. 

What to remember is that if you can solve the issues that the original owner of the vending machine business can’t, then go for it. However, if you don’t have the solution, it’s best to start your own. 

So how much does it cost to buy a vending machine business? Existing vending machine business will cost $50,000-$130,000. 


Start Your Own Vending Machine Business From Scratch

The final option is to start your own vending machine business from scratch. This doesn’t require a lot of money as compared to buying a franchise or buying an existing vending machine business. The catch is, you’ll need to invest a lot of time. So how do I start a vending machine business from scratch? The next section will answer this question of yours. 

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How to Start Your Own Vending Machine Business?

Below are the practical steps you’ll take to start a vending machine business. 


Think about Where to Put Your Vending Machine and Which Products to Sell

Where do I put my vending machine and what products should I sell there? Don’t even think of proceeding to buy your vending machines without having a clear and definite answer to this question. 

The idea is if you know where and what to sell, then you’ll know how much money to make and how to run a vending machine business. 

Here’s a quick list of products to sell in a vending machine and where they’ll make the most money:

  • Coffee and other hot beverages-Coworking spaces, multi-story commercial buildings, subways, malls, nature parks, ski and snowboarding parks, and libraries

  • Candies, chocolates, and other sweet treats-Schools, malls, amusement parks, and children’s play centers

  • Ice cream vending machines-Camping parks, lake parks, beaches, universities, libraries,  and multi-story commercial buildings

  • Healthy snacks-Gyms, fitness centers, and beaches

  • Toys-Schools, malls, amusement parks, and arcades


In connection, these products might be great but we don’t recommend them for some reasons:

  • Burgers and sandwiches-Burger and sandwich vending machines are expensive. Also, a lot of burger joints are around and people prefer them

  • T-shirts-T-shirt vending machines don't make money in all locations. Most likely, these will only generate revenues if placed in nightclubs or venues of festivals and other special events


Buy Your Vending Machines 

Buy your vending machines after knowing what products to capitalize on and where to sell. The thing is how to own a vending machine without spending much anyway?

Before we answer, let’s first take a look at the different types of vending machine you can purchase:

  • Drink only-Drink only vending machines use a snake-shaped dispensing mechanism. Ideal for selling canned drinks. Expensive but has a long life-span and low dispensing failure rate

  • Spiral vending machines-Spiral vending machines can sell almost anything such as drinks, snacks, clothing, etc. They’re cheap too. However, spiral vending machines are known to malfunction from time to time. And so, they require a lot of investment on maintenance 

  • Conveyor belt vending machines-Conveyor belt vending machines use a series of belts and gears. A software is also used to control the interaction of the belts, gears, and products in the vending machine. Ideal for selling fragile items, raw goods, and groceries 

  • Smart vending machines-Smart vending machines utilize a touch screen interface where customers can select the products available. Advanced features for cooking and assembling food might be added. Most use these to sell sandwiches or burgers

  • Refrigerated vending machines-Refrigerated vending machines are either conveyor or spiral vending machines added with a fridge system. Might be costly to maintain. Ideal for selling drinks, chocolates, candies, and other products that must be chilled


Now going back to your question earlier, you can own a vending machine without spending much by buying second-hand ones. 

It’s easy to find second-hand vending machines. Great deals are on Amequipmentsales.com, Globalvendinggroup.com, Usedvending.com, Vendingworld.com, and eBay. Most of these are refurbished so they work like brand-new pieces. 

You can always go for brand-new vending machines if you don’t like used and refurbished ones. What makes brand-new vending machines is that they certainly won’t require a lot of maintenance and won’t be hot to the eyes of health inspectors.

Places, where you can get brand-new vending machines at great prices, are DiscountVending, Vending.com, and Southern Equipment Sales. By the way, tested and


Get a Vending Machine Business License

All states require vending machine operators to secure a license or permit. You need to submit these application requirements:

  • Federal employer identification number

  • Sales tax number

  • Supporting documents that prove you have the location to install the vending machines

  • Liquor license but only if you sell alcoholic beverages in your vending machine


Talk With the Owner or Property Custodian and Install Your Vending Machines

You need to talk with the owner or the property custodian of the location where you desire to place your vending machines. You can email, call, or schedule a meeting. If they’re okay with your offer, then what comes next is the signing of contract agreements. After this, you’ll only need to install the vending machines and start making money. 


Don’t Forget About Vending Machine Insurance

Vending machine insurance is a specialty product that will take care of costs if your vending machine zaps customers, crushes them, or causes any other accidents. You can also use this to cover the repair or replacement of the vending machine itself. Vending machine insurance can also help cover legal expenses if your vending machine is used for credit card fraud, unauthorized use of third-party personal information, and so on. 

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How Much to Start a Vending Machine Business?

The required capital for starting a vending machine business differs from one individual to another. Some only start with two vending machines while others start with several units. Also, there are those who like to sell coffee while others sell candies in their vending machines.

That said, in order to answer your question about how much to start a vending machine business, we’ll assume that you’re starting with 4 vending machines and selling snacks only. Here are the figures:

  • A new vending machine will cost $3,000-$7,000. Starting with four will require $12,000-28,000

  • A second hand vending machine costS $1,500-$1,750. Four will require $6,000-$7,000

  • Stocking a vending machine with food snacks will cost $500-$1,500. If you need to stock four vending machines, then the capital will be $2,000-$6,000

  • Repairing and maintaining a vending machine will cost $20 per hour. Technicians require 6 hours of work. And so, the repair or maintenance budget for four vending machines will be $480


You need $12,980-$22,230 to start a vending machine business excluding fees for business license and other related expenses. Again, this figure is based on vending machine costs, maintenance,and the type of goods sold.

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How to Start a Vending Machine Business for Free?

The question of how to start a vending machine business for free has no definite answer. It’s because you have to make some investments. Instead, we’ll teach you how to start it even if you don’t have the adequate funds. 

Angel investors are a great way to get funds for your startup vending machine business. You’ll get an investment if your business profile has an annual gross profit of $5,000-$150,000 and has clean financial and legal obligations. Angel investors are free in a way that they’ll only get paid once your company establishes itself in the market.

You can try crowdfunding too. In essence, crowdfunding is where you’ll ask numerous people to contribute money for your vending machine business venture. For example, if you ask for a $5 investment and 1,000 individuals decide to take their chance on you, you’ll raise $5,000 which is enough to buy one brand new or secondhand vending machine. 

So where can you crowdfund? Platforms exist that help you do so such as Indiegogo, SeedInvest, MightyCause, GoFund, and Patreon. 


How to Buy a Vending Machine?

Buying a vending machine might not be as straightforward as you think. Sure, you can just purchase one anytime and have it delivered. But here are some questions you need to answer about how to buy a vending machine the smart way. 


How Long Will the Vending Machines Last?

Vending machines aren’t cheap. And so, you don’t want them breaking down and needing replacement every 1-3 years. And so, it’s important to think about the length of use when buying a vending machine. 

And so, look at the build of the vending machines when buying. Can they withstand impact when hit by a vandal? Is the wiring durable? If your answer to these questions is positive, then proceed with the purchase. 


Will Repairs Be Costly?

A vending machine business will pour a lot of investments into maintaining its vending machines. 

Some vending machines are easy to fix while others are difficult. For example, a smart vending machine will need hefty maintenance expenses as its software can get defective aside from its mechanism. 

On the other hand, a spiral vending machine doesn’t require a lot of service charge for repairs as it works straightforwardly. 


Vending Failure Rate

How prone are the products to get stuck in the vending machines? This is a very important consideration. Vending machines that get stuck frequently will chase customers away and don’t serve your money making goals. A spiral vending machine is known to get stuck from time to time and make customers stressed. On the other hand, conveyor belt vending machines work like a breeze. 


How Much Do Vending Machines Make?

So how much do vending machines make? There are a lot of factors to consider. Like for example, do you mean the monthly revenue or annual revenue? Are you inquiring about income based on products sold? And so on. 


How Much Does a Vending Machine Make a Month?

A vending machine makes $400-$1,700 per month on average. How much does vending machines make a month will depend on the location and types of goods sold. The condition of the vending machines is also a significant factor because frequent repairs result in downtime that contributes to lost income. 


How Much Money Can a Vending Machine Make Annually?

Some earn a $50,000-$100,000 annual income from their vending machines. However, successful operators generate an annual revenue of $1 million or more.


How Much Money Do Vending Machines Make?

If you have four vending machines, then expect that they’ll make $980 per month. This assumes that each makes $35 of sales everyday. 


How Much Can Vending Machines Make Based on the Type of Products Sold?

Here’s a run-through of how much money can you make from a vending machine depending on the products sold:

  • Vending machines that sell candy, chocolate, and other sweet treats in subways, amusement centers, and parks make $250-$500 per month. 

  • Healthy snack vending machines placed in gyms, fitness centers, and recreation centers make $200 per month. 

  • Coffee and hot beverages vending machines can make $2,500-$3,000 per month, provided that they’re placed on high traffic areas

  • Vending machines that sell drinks and food make $900-$1,500 per month


How Much Money Can You Make From a Vending Machine That’s Placed in the Countryside?

Unless it’s placed in tourist spots, a vending machine in the countryside will make 30%-50% lesser revenue than those found in cities. Because of this, many say that a vending machine business is best done in urban locations.


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