Vending Machine Business: A Complete Guide On How To Start Your Own

Camino Financial11 Jan 2024
Vending Machine Business: A Complete Guide On How To Start Your Own
A vending machine business is one of the most profitable ideas for making money as an entrepreneur. If you want to start a business in this industry, read on to find step-by-step instructions, some tips, and a complete guide that will help you on your journey.
Table of Contents
1. What are vending machine businesses?
2. Are vending machines profitable?
3. How to start a vending machine business
4. Vending machine licenses: What do you need to open this business?
5. Cost of vending machines businesses
6. Business plan for a vending machine business
7. Vending machine business: Pros and cons
8. Vending machine ideas
9. Trends in the vending machine industry
10. Tips to succeed with a vending machine business
11. FAQs

What Are Vending Machine Businesses?

A vending machine provides a convenient way for people to get food, drinks, and goods they need. The traditional model involves food and drinks. But, today, you can set up a vending machine in a mall, for example, and sell electronics, such as phone chargers. People living increasingly busy lives are often looking for ways to get what they need quickly, without having to stop into a store or take a lot of time to make a purchase. Vending machine businesses own and operate these machines. While large businesses dominate the industry sector, many smaller ones are also very profitable. If you're thinking about starting a vending machine business, you can come up with some unique ideas for how you can serve the general public. You can become very profitable if you have a good business model.

Types of Vending Machines

Vending machines come in all shapes and sizes, but they can broadly be classified into four main categories:
  • snacks
  • drinks
  • combo (snacks and drinks)
  • specialty
Snack vending machines are the most profitable and most common type of machines As the same suggests, they vend snacks like chips, candy bars, nuts, etc. Drink vending machines sell drinks like soda, juices, energy drinks, and water Combo vending machines combine snack and drink vending machines in one unit. They offer a wider range of products than either type of machine on its own. Specialty vending machines vend non-food items like cigarettes, laundry detergent, and even live crabs! These machines are less common than the others, but you can find them in high-traffic areas like airports and train stations.
#DidYouKnow You can buy a few vending machines and start your own company.

Are Vending Machines Profitable?

Yes. While profits can be as low as $50 per week, they can also bring in a substantial profit of $500 or more per month. It's kind of a passive income. Once you set up the business, you don't have to interact with customers; just restock the machines. You should also consider that the most profitable vending machine companies generate a lot of money because they have multiple machines. It's not about how much profit just one machine makes, but how much total profit your company earns. In other words, $500 per month may not sound like a lot of profit but just one machine. But if you have 20 machines, that'd be $10,000 per month!

Vending machine company profits per product

Average vending machine profit can vary widely. For example, a company that sells candy bars might make a profit of $0.25 per bar, while a company that sells soft drinks might make a profit of $0.50 per drink. The type of product sold, the price and the number of products sold all play a role in determining vending machine company profits. Product price is one of the most important factors in determining profits. If a company sells a product for $0.50 and makes a profit of $0.25 per sale, it will make more money if it sells 10 products than if it only sells 5.

How to Start a Vending Machine Business

Choose Your Focus

The first step is to choose what you will sell. You could focus on food and beverages, bulk vending (stickers or gumballs), or specialty vending (such as laundry products). The good idea is to start with just one focus and then branch out into other sectors once you have proven your business model.

Choose the Business Structure

There are a few different business structures you can choose from when starting a vending machine business. The most common are LLCs and corporations. LLCs offer liability protection and are simpler to set up and maintain than corporations. However, corporations offer more financial perks and benefits, so it depends on your specific needs and goals for your business as to which structure is best. In general, an LLC or corporation offers the most protection for your personal assets if your business is sued. So if you're looking to minimize your risk, one of these business structures may be the way to go.

Register Your Business

You will need to register your business with the relevant authorities. Depending on your location, this may be the local municipality, province, or state government. Once you have registered your business, you must obtain a permit from the relevant authority. In some cases, you may also need to obtain a special license to operate a vending machine business. For example, in California, you must obtain a Business License and a Permit to Operate Vending Machines from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Once you have obtained the necessary permits and licenses, you will need to purchase or lease vending machines.

Make a Budget

Assuming you have done your research and have a good idea of what kind of business you would like to start, the next step is creating a budget. This will help you determine how much money you need to get started and the ongoing costs. There are several things to consider when creating a budget for your vending machine business:
  1. The cost of the machines themselves. This will be your biggest initial expense, so be sure to research different types and models of machines to get an idea of what you can expect to pay.
  2. The cost of location rental or purchase. If you're planning on placing your machines in high-traffic areas, you'll need to factor in the cost of renting or purchasing space.
  3. The cost of stocking and restocking your machines. You'll need to budget for the cost of the products you'll be selling, as well as any labor costs associated with stocking and restocking the machines.
  4. The cost of marketing and advertising. You'll need to promote your business to attract customers, so be sure to factor in marketing and advertising materials costs.
  5. Miscellaneous costs. There are always unexpected costs that can pop up when you're running a business, so it's important to have a buffer in your budget for these expenses.
Once you've considered all these costs, you can start creating a budget for your vending machine business. Be sure to review it regularly and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Find and Secure Locations

The next step is to find great locations for your vending machines. Consider what you are selling and the areas where your products are most likely to sell. Food and beverages will sell well in public and private cafeterias, shopping malls, and retail centers. In contrast, retail vending products would sell well at airports or train stations. After figuring out your ideal locations, you must secure them through a contract. This is where your sales skills will come in handy. You want to communicate clearly to the building owner why they should allow you to set up your vending machines in their location. The best idea is to share the benefits you'll bring them and how you'll make their lives easier.

Get the Vending Machines

Now, it's time to acquire the machines themselves. You can go to a wholesaler, bulk vending machine distributor, or manufacturer, especially if you're looking for a state-of-the-art machine or need multiple machines. You can also purchase a singular vending machine from secondary sellers. This will help you reduce costs by purchasing used products that still work well.

Is It Better to Start an Existing Vending Machine Business?

It depends on a few factors. For example, if you're starting a vending machine business in an existing market, you'll face competition from other operators who are already established in the area. However, if you're starting a business in a new market, there's less competition, and you may have more opportunities to succeed. There are also other factors to consider, such as the cost of starting a vending machine business and the potential for profits. So it really depends on your specific situation. But in general, it's usually easier to start a business that already exists than to create a new one from scratch.

How To Own a Vending Machine

There are a few ways to own a vending machine:
  • The most common is to purchase one outright from a vending machine distributor. There are also plenty of used machines available for purchase online.
  • Another option is to lease a machine from a provider. This can be a more cost-effective option, especially for first-time owners.
  • Finally, some companies offer vending machine franchising opportunities. This option typically requires a significant investment, but it can be a good way to get started in the vending machine business.
No matter which route you choose to take, owning a vending machine can be a great way to earn extra income. With some basic knowledge and a little bit of effort, you can be well

Stock the Machines

Next is the inventory stage. You'll need to secure purchasing contracts with stores or companies that provide the products you'll stock your machines with. Naturally, the higher quality of the products you select, the better they will sell. Your profitability will depend on how much you pay to acquire the products. So, shop around and negotiate the best purchasing contracts you can.

Fund Your Business

Many small businesses fail because they don't have adequate funds. You must search for and secure the proper funding for your company. You can explore equipment financing at this stage, using your savings, borrowing from friends and family, or getting a short-term loan. While starting this type of business may not take as much capital as other industries, you'll still need a decent amount of funding to get your company off the ground For vending machine financing, a great option could be a business loan through Camino Financial, which provides many benefits and flexibility to people starting a vending machine business. Apply for a business loan today

Vending Machine Licenses: What Do You Need to Open This Business?

Like any other business, the state and municipalities where your company operates will determine whether you need specific permits or licenses in the industry. Likewise, what you will sell will determine the license needed for your vending machine business. If you decide to go for the traditional food and beverage machine model, your business will need health and food permits, depending on whether you're selling pre-packaged food or food that the machine heat and prepare. Some other legal documents you might need are:
  • an operator's license
  • a seller's permit
These licenses and permits will largely determine the cost of a vending machine business. Check with your state's regulatory agency to make sure you know exactly what licenses you'll need.

Cost of Vending Machines Businesses

Several costs go into running one of these businesses. You have to dedicate the upfront cost of a vending machine business to the initial investment or purchase the machines, get your licenses and permits, market your services, and fill your machines with inventory. The startup costs could range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to much, depending on how many machines you will start with and if they'll be new or used.
  • A refurbished vending machine could cost you around $1,200 to $3,000
  • A new one could cost approximately $3,000 and even up to $10,000
Alternatively, instead of buying a vending machine, you could just rent it.
#CaminoTip You can keep your initial costs relatively low and then build a profit that you can reinvest into more machines.
After your business is off the ground, the business costs will be related to keeping the business working correctly. This may include buying new parts and replacing them or paying someone to do it for you. Of course, ongoing costs will include inventory to restock the machines and administrative expenses such as rent for placing your machines in certain places.
Keep reading: The cost of starting a business.

Vending Machine Business Expenses

There are a few key expenses to keep in mind when running a vending machine business.
  • First, you'll need to purchase the machines themselves.
  • Depending on the type and size of vending machine you choose, this can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each.
  • Additionally, you'll need to stock the machines with products. This will also require an initial investment, and you'll need to factor in regularly replenishing inventory costs.
  • Finally, you'll need to consider the costs of servicing and maintaining your machines. This includes repairs, replacement parts, and occasional deep cleaning.
While these costs may seem daunting at first, remember that a vending machine business can be a very lucrative endeavor if done correctly. With careful planning and execution, you can make your investment back many times over.

How to Get a Vending Machine

There are a few things you need to consider when purchasing a vending machine:
  • What type of products will the vending machine vend?
  • Where will you place the vending machine?
  • How much money do you want to spend on the vending machine?
  • Do you want to purchase a used or new vending machine?
Once you have answered these questions, you can begin your search for the perfect vending machine. Online vendors typically sell used machines at cheaper prices, but there is less variety.

Business Plan For a Vending Machine Business

Before venturing into any business, it is always best to have a plan. This document will outline the steps necessary to create a vending machine business plan.
  1. Define your business goals. What are your objectives for this business? What do you hope to achieve?
  2. Research the vending machine industry. This includes understanding the different types of machines available, the competition, and the potential market for your products or services.
  3. Develop a marketing strategy. How will you promote your vending machines and attract customers?
  4. Create a financial plan. Estimate start-up costs, operating expenses, and projected revenues.
  5. Write your business plan. This should include all of the information gathered in the previous steps.
A well-crafted business plan will increase your chances of success in this industry.

Vending Machine Business: Pros and Cons


  • There are a lot of advantages of operating a business in this industry.
  • The first is the low costs associated with this startup. Not only are the vending machines relatively inexpensive, but you can also scale your business over time as you make more profits.
  • Aside from doing research and marketing on locations and getting the actual machines up and operational, the daily work is relatively minimal.
  • It's more about administrative work than it is anything else.
  • You can control the growth of your company, which in turn will influence how much you have to put out in terms of cost.
  • And finally, it's a relatively simple business to run. While the most successful business owners are undoubtedly savvy and organized, it doesn't take any particular hard-to-obtain skillset to succeed.


  • Some of the disadvantages of a vending machine business are the following:
  • You will have to commit a lot of time to the company, often running around to multiple locations to manage your machines.
  • If you have numerous machines spread out, you'll spend much time on the road just traveling from one machine to the next.
  • You'll also need to do this regularly to collect the money, ensure they're well-stocked and running well, and then deposit the money into the bank.
  • Another disadvantage is that your machines are easy targets for vandalism and theft. This is why it's essential to ensure that the locations for your machines are safe and secure, with possible video surveillance to protect your investment.
#CaminoTip As vending machine owner you could also consider buying insurance for vending machine operators.

Vending Machine Ideas

You could pursue many different vending machine franchise ideas that could result in profitability. You could go the more traditional route and provide packaged beverages and food. Or, you could go the route of a specialty vending machine.
  • Beverage vending machine: This could include hot beverages like coffee products.
  • Custom Vending Machines: It could also include locating your machines in laundromats and providing laundry products, such as detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners.
  • You could also sell retail products such as headphones, neck pillows, and phone chargers with bulk vending machines.
  • Or beverage vending machines with soda, water, or te.
  • Nowadays, with the health concerns caused by the pandemic, a facemask vending machine could do quite well.
  • A snack vending machine: with healthy products and beverages.
  • If you live in a rainy state, you could take advantage of that and sell umbrellas.
If you're thinking about starting a healthy vending machine business, there are other ideas:
  • Pill dispensing machines. People can administer medication and other pill-based products.
  • Frozen food vending machines. You can fill these machines with healthy frozen meals and snacks.
In other words, there is no shortage of profitable business ideas for how you can create a successful vending machine business.
#CaminoTip To get more extravagant and unique ideas, research Japan’s vending machines. You could say the country is the creative expert in this industry.

Vending Machine Business Names

Coming up with vending business names can feel as important as choosing what you're selling. Try to come up with something catchy yet not distracting. This could include Food and Beverage Oasis, Vendorama, or Vending Express. You want your business name to be catchy and explain what you sell without distracting. But, on the other hand, don't try to overexplain what you do or get too cute. Remember that while your name is vital to your overall success, it won't affect your day-to-day sales much. The crucial aspect is the business relationships you forge with the supply companies and places where you'll locate your machines. Vending machines are a common sight in today's society. They can be found in a variety of locations, from convenience stores to office buildings. Vending machines offer a convenient way for people to purchase items without waiting in line or carrying cash. This industry has seen many changes in recent years. One of the most significant changes has been the introduction of new technologies, such as touch screen displays and credit card readers. These new technologies have made vending machines more user-friendly and have allowed vendors to offer a wider range of products. Another trend in the vending machine industry is the move towards healthier options. Many vending machines now offer a selection of healthy snacks and drinks, such as fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and water. This trend will likely continue as more people become aware of the importance of eating a balanced diet. The vending machine industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. This growth will be driven by the increasing popularity of vending machines and the introduction of new technologies and products.

Tips to Succeed With a Vending Machine Business

Best Places to Put Vending Machines

After selecting the type of vending machine, you want to offer, and the products you want to sell, one of the most important factors in the success of your business is its location. Not all locations work for all types of vending machines. You should think about the items you are selling and then consider where people might want to buy those products. For example, if you're selling packaged drinks and snacks, good locations could be shopping malls or retail centers, grocery stores, apartment complexes, public swimming pools, and large office complexes. But the truth is that there are many vending machine locations as opportunities. No matter what products you choose to focus on selling, it's essential that your keep your vending machine appropriately stocked at all times. Some ideas for placing vending machines in businesses:
  • Offices
  • Universities
  • Malls
  • Airports
  • Movie Theaters
  • Hotels
  • Hospitals
  • Train Stations
  • Bus Stations

Market It to Consumers

After choosing your location, why not ask if you can set up a couple of posters showing the location of your vending machine? This will allow you to get more customers than you normally would.

Keep Them Stocked at All Times

You never know when you will make a sale, so you want to ensure that every product you offer is available at all times. You will miss out on a sales opportunity if the inventory is low or completely absent.

Build Good Relations

Finally, make sure to market yourself to your locations properly. Building owners and people who run locations where you'd like to place your vending machines want as seamless an experience as possible. Explain how you'll make their lives easier, and you're more likely to secure your location.

Insurance on Vending Machines

There are several types of insurance you can get from a vending machine. The most common are liability insurance, property damage, and product liability. Liability insurance covers accidents that occur at the machine, such as someone getting injured while reaching for a snack. Property damage protects the machine from damage or theft, and product liability covers any injuries that may occur from the products sold by the machine. Most insurance companies offer a package deal that includes all three types of coverage. It's important to have insurance on your vending machines, especially if you're operating them commercially. Accidents can happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Take Care of Your Business: How to Maintain Vending Machines

Assuming you already have a vending machine or are considering purchasing one, you should know a few things about maintaining your investment.
  1. First and foremost, ensure the machine is properly plugged in and receiving power.
  2. Secondly, check the products inside regularly to ensure they are fresh and in good condition.
  3. Lastly, keep the exterior of the machine clean and presentable.
If you follow these simple tips, your vending machine should serve you well for years to come!

It's Time to Start Your Business!

Are you ready to start a vending machine business? While some may not think it can be lucrative, this industry can be very profitable. While starting a vending machine business may not take as much capital as some other types of companies, you'll still need sufficient funding to get your business off the ground. A great option for this funding is to get a Camino Financial business loan. We work daily to help our clients by providing great loan options and educational resources. Apply for a business loan today


Are vending machines a good investment?

Vending machines can make a solid profit. The most important factor is your location and selling the right products.

Which vending machine is most profitable?

Packaged food and beverages often make the most profit for their owners. That's because they appeal to a mass audience and don't rely on a specific type of person or someone who has a lot of money.

How much does a vending machine cost?

It really depends on the type of vending machine. The most expensive ones are usually those that vend hot food items like pizza or tacos. But a basic vending machine that just sells candy, chips, and other snacks can be had for as little as $2,000.

What license do you need for a vending machine business?

At the very least, you'll need local licenses to operate in your state and municipality. You may also need additional ones, such as food licenses if you're selling prepared or packaged food.

Where to buy vending machine businesses?

You can always buy another local vending machine business and take over what they have already built. You can find some of these for sale at online business exchanges or through your local chamber of commerce.

How do vending machines work?

Vending machine businesses have a straightforward model: buy the machine, stock it up, and place it somewhere to attract customers. Most of the time, you'll have to pay monthly rent for that space. Then, you'd have to go back to the machine regularly to collect the money and stock it up.

Is vending machine a good business?

Yes, vending machines can be a good business for someone dedicated to putting the time and effort into building their craft.

Which businesses need vending machines?

Businesses that need vending machines typically include offices, hospitals, schools, and other places where people are likely to get hungry. Vending machines offer a convenient way for people to snack or drink without leaving the building or campus. Some businesses also use vending machines as a way to distribute merchandise, such as toys or school supplies.

How to invest in a vending machine?

When investing in a vending machine, it's important to consider the location of the machine, the demographics of the area, and the type of merchandise that will be sold. It's also important to consider the area's demographics when choosing a location for your vending machine. For example, if you're targeting college students, you'll want to place your machine near campus.

Can I put a vending machine anywhere?

Generally speaking, no. There are certain places where it is not permissible to place vending machines by law. For example, in New York City, some laws prohibit the placement of vending machines in lobbies of public buildings (e.g., schools, hospitals, and government offices). There may also be zoning restrictions that limit where you can place a vending machine. Contact your local municipality or zoning board for information about any restrictions that may apply to your specific situation.

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