When we were kids, my brother and I couldn’t wait for our dad to come home from work. We were happy to see him naturally because it’s our dad. But we were also excited to get the candy and bubblegum he had for us.
My father had a successful vending machine route. And every day he would come home with extra candy. In addition to the treats, he would test our growing strength by letting us lift the huge bags of coins.
But what does this story have to do with you? It’s simple, he made money and so can you.
I’ll skip the basics of how to start a business, get a business license, incorporate, etc. Although important, let’s focus on the specifics of investing in vending machines.
1. Decide which type of machine to offer.
They come three ways: electronic, mechanical, and bulk. And there’s a good chance you’ve seen them all. The food and beverage (electronic) vending machine are the most advanced version. So, let’s start there.
These dispensers are usually about six feet in height and start around $3,000 dollars. They usually have soft drinks, candy bars, chips, etc. The electronic type is the most expensive but is also the most reliable.
Next up are bulk machines. Think a giant piece of bubble gum or handful of M&M’s. Not as large as electronic, but they hold a single product. You can easily start a vending machine business with these. And the cost is fifty to two hundred bucks.
The third type is specialty (mechanical) machines. You’ll find these at a laundromat, carwash, or break room. They have a few products and cost about $2,000 dollars.
2. Location is everything.
So, we have answered what type of vending machine to choose from. Now, where are you going to place them?
You must get money makers into locations with a good amount of foot traffic. Auto dealers, office buildings, schools, etc. Look at the places you come across running errands. Make a note of them and network with the owners and property managers of those facilities to get your machines placed.
3. Be professional.
The single biggest key to how to run a vending company is professionalism. Treat your new venture with the respect. Treat every customer, and missed opportunity, with respect.
A family friend proved that being professional and serious go hand and hand. Dwight was able to scale his vending empire because he became an expert.
He stayed on top of maintenance, inquiries, restocking, and all other aspects. He is the kind of person that is always positive. Always glad to see you.
And that takes me to my next point. Your attitude. The combination of a great attitude and professional character will bring in the profits you were hoping for.
4. Name your vending machine business idea.
Why is this step important? As previously mentioned, you’ll want to always come across as a specialist. A simple way to do that is with the naming process.
More tips on how to name a business here, but check out this quick list for now.
• Use a name generator like Shopify
• Check with friends and family
• Pull out a dictionary
• Pick easy to spell and remember
Basically, give the naming a fair amount of your time to consider something special.
5. Find machines.
Start with small or medium sized soda machines. One or two. See how well you do before branching out and buying more and taking on additional responsibility.
There are several sources for distributors too. You can go the wholesale route, specialty vending sales outlet, or platforms like Craigslist or Ebay.
Check Google and navigate the local and national results. Prices vary, so a little due diligence is wise. Depending on your budget of course, you may look at new or used inventory.
Since you will be spending a fair amount of money, use caution before pulling out your credit card. You’ll want to check the following:
• Seller references
• Test machines
• Maintenance records
• Any financing
• Delivery options
6. Stocking Products.
The next tip is checking in with your state. Today, healthy eating is promoted everywhere. And that is a good thing. You might be required to dedicate a certain amount of our space to these healthier options.
Often healthier choices will cost a bit more. But as a rule, make certain that the wholesale contacts that you make are giving you their best price. I don’t have to tell you that saving money here is vital to your bottom line.
7. Build your own route or get help.
Starting a vending business on you own is doable. With the list of tips above you’ll be a success. Earn the trust of a building owner or manager, and you’re off to the races.
But just like starting a janitorial franchise, you can buy a vending machine franchise. So, if you don’t want to start your business from scratch you don’t have to. Franchises like Healthy You Vending have been around since 2000, and do not charge a royalty or franchise fee.
Another option is to buy someone’s existing route. And in case you’re wondering why someone would sell a profitable route there are several. Some owners may build routes and sell them as a business model, others may want to start a different company, and it may be time to retire for someone else.
In conclusion, starting a vending side hustle, and becoming successful is hopefully easier with this information. If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone check your bags when you get home each night.