One of the greatest human inventions is the vending machine. These devices are great to have at schools, parks, and zoos and are just about anywhere where there are people. As an entrepreneur, you may see them at the office for employees to get a snack or a drink.
But because of their widespread use, they are not even a niche business. However, if you are a young entrepreneur looking for a startup or just a person who wants a side hustle, then consider the vending industry.
You might have cold feet about the vending industry. If you live in a smaller town, you may see the old and worn vendor and wonder if that thing makes any money. The vending industry actually makes over $23 billion every year.
While you may not be making millions right away, a vending machine is a great way to get a start in business. Here are the steps to getting started.
The Cost of a Vending Machine
Costs for a vending machine are usually just two things: the vending machine itself, and the items stocked inside. Really all you need is just about $2,000 to invest in this side hustle. That money can get you a decent vending machine though operators recommend that you get a used or even a refurbished machine. Those you can find between $1,500 and $3,000 while a new one can get up to $10,000, but that depends on what kind of vending machine it is.
Think of the Options for a Vending Machine
What comes to mind when you think of vending machines? Most think of soda, water, juices, chips, and candies to be the main dwellers inside a vending machine. But, there are actually four different kinds of vending machines to operate. Let’s take a look.
Food and Drink
Easily the most common one around in the United States, these vending machines make up a third of their sales. However, there are variations from what the typical vending machine is like. You could try healthier snacks or more off-brand items rather than the common brands that you see.
If you want to have just a normal snack machine then you need to find a good location for it. With location, you can decide what to put inside of it. For instance, at a park, you may want water and granola for joggers. Or, at a zoo, you may want a variety of snacks and candies for people of all ages.
The next type is known as bulk vending. These are the ones that contain things like gumboils or rubber bouncy balls. These have extremely low costs, just about $50 dollars to buy one and you can be making up to $30 every month. Location is important so consider putting one of these where children congregate.
Specialty Vending Machine
In this day and age, vending machines can have more than just snacks in them. Consider huge public areas such as translations and airports. These have items such as warm beverages like coffee, retail, beauty products, and more.
Franchise Vending Machine
Finally, this type is for those who do not want to start from scratch. Instead, you can work your way into a franchise that provides business assistance and support to get you on your way. This option allows you to pick out your machines and how many you want. But, the franchise does get some of your profit.
Where to Put It
Vending machine location will depend on where you want to put it and what you will put in the machine. If you are having trouble finding a location, contact your local Chamber of Commerce so that they find potential locations for you.
Just like any business, you will need to get permission to place your vending machine somewhere where you live. Where it winds up, you will have to pay the property owners a portion of your profits. Make sure that you have all paperwork and permits signed and ready so that you start your business.
Where to Get One
To obtain a vending machine consider some of the following options:
- Manufacturers and Suppliers: This is the most expensive option if you just want to buy a new one.
- Secondary Market Sellers
- E-Commerce such as eBay: This option is best for first-time buyers.
When you buy one, consider the features that it has. This can affect pricing and profits for your machine.
Stock the Machine
Once you have your location and the machine, you will need to locate a supplier to help you put in new items. Selection will determine sales so make sure that you are making smart choices with location as well as item selection.
From there, you just need to work on maintaining your vending machine. It may seem easy to forget about, but these are important and need to be monitored a lot. A full-sized machine will have you collecting every week.
This business can be easy for its low costs, multiple choices, and easy to scale. But, it does have a large time commitment and you do need to worry about vandalism and theft as vending machines are an easy target.
Should this not deter you, then you can be making anywhere from $30-$400 depending on location and items. Now get out there and see if you can get into the vending industry!