Three people trying to decide what to get from a vending machine.
From finding the right location and equipment to perfecting your customer service skills, there are several key steps to take when starting a vending machine business. — Getty Images/Ika84

Starting a vending machine business can be a profitable enterprise, thanks to the low startup costs and scalability. And you don’t need any special skills or training to get started. Let’s look at five steps you can take to launch your vending machine business.

[Read more: 10 Service-Based Business Ideas in Demand Now]

Do your homework

Before starting a vending machine business, you need to spend some time researching the industry. There are several different ways you can start your business, and each comes with advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re looking to start earning a profit right away, you can buy an existing business. Going this route can help you begin generating cash flow immediately. However, you want to figure out why the owner is selling the business in the first place.

You can also consider starting the business from scratch, which involves buying the materials and stocking the machines yourself. Starting from scratch will be the most time-intensive, but it also gives you the flexibility to build the business the way you want it.

Spend some time doing market research and verifying the feasibility of your business model. It’s also a good idea to come up with a business plan before moving forward.

[Read more: Startup 101: 3 Easy Steps to Research Your Business Idea]

Decide what you want to sell

Now it’s time to determine the types of products you want to sell in your vending machine business. Hopefully, you got some ideas for this while doing your market research.

Beverages like water, juice, and soda account for more than 30% of all vending machine sales and will usually sell well in any market. However, there is a growing demand for vending machines that offer healthy and organic snacking options.

Here are some other items you can consider selling:

  • Hot drinks, like coffee and tea
  • CBD products
  • Dog treats
  • Toiletries and personal hygiene products

Choosing the right location is crucial. If you choose a market that’s already oversaturated with vending machines, this will impact your ability to earn a profit.

Pick the location

Next, it’s time to identify the locations for your vending machines. Choosing the right location is crucial. If you choose a market that’s already oversaturated with vending machines, this will impact your ability to earn a profit.

Look for areas with a lot of foot traffic, like shopping malls, hotels, or bus stations. And make sure the location you choose is a good fit for the type of products you’re selling. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to set up a vending machine selling soft drinks in a health food store.

Find the equipment

Now that you know what you’re selling and where it’s time to find the equipment for your new venture. The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you want to buy or lease the vending machines.

If you choose to lease the vending machines, this could make the upfront investment more affordable. And the vendor will restock the machines and make any necessary repairs for you. However, you’ll have to share any profits you make with the vendor.

If you want more control over your business, you can purchase the machines yourself. When you own the equipment, you can set your own prices, earn a greater percentage of the profits, and have more control over the service you’re providing to customers.

You will need the upfront payment to buy the machines. You can purchase the machines directly from wholesalers or manufacturers. And you can even look at purchasing the equipment used off of Craig’s List or Amazon.

Deliver excellent customer service

Providing good customer service is the most critical part of any successful business. When you’re running a vending machine business, this looks like keeping the equipment well-maintained and keeping the machines well-stocked.

Come up with a schedule to visit all of your locations regularly. Check to ensure that the machines are clean and look nice since dirty equipment will be off-putting to potential customers.

And make sure the equipment is operating well and that there aren’t any problems. It’s also a good idea to have your contact information clearly visible on all of the machines. That way, customers have a way to contact you if there’s a problem.

Be sure to also track which items are selling well at each location. You can talk to the business owners at each location to determine the types of items customers prefer.

[Read more: 5 Ways to Make Your Business More Convenient for Customers]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners stories.

Event Recap: Marketing and Protecting Your Brand

Watch the replay from our latest Roadmap for Rebuilding event, where the panel discusses marketing your brand to the public and protecting it for the long term.



Published April 07, 2021