What Are Some Tips To Starting A Vending Machine Business?

Anyone who is willing to put in the time, conduct research, and make the necessary investments can become involved in this industry with little experience or training. Listed below are tips to start a vending machine business you should follow if you are interested in operating vending machines.

How to Start a Vending Machine Business:

Starting a vending machine business in the office | Bottoms Up Vending

1. Learn About the Industry

Getting into the vending machine industry won’t require extensive training, but you will need to do some research before getting started. Getting started with your vending machine business requires some market research. Here are some decisions that you can make:

  • Time Commitment: Identify the amount of time you are willing to spend on your vending machine business. The decision you make may be affected if you own another company or work full-time.
  • Startup Costs: You’ll need to decide how much money you’re willing to commit to your startup and long-term business. There may be times when you can qualify for a business loan.
  • Return on Investment: It’s important to determine how long it will take for you to see a return on your investment before you start your business.

A business plan should be drafted once you have completed your market research. Having a business plan will help you develop a clear strategy for building a successful business.

2. Select a Vending Machine 

You can start a vending machine business by opening your own company or buy an existing business. The advantage of starting from scratch is that you’ll be able to begin small with only a few machines and grow as your business grows.

Although it could be more work, you’ll need to develop a network of suppliers and find suitable locations. By buying an existing company, you can save time and money by not having to buy or rent machines and scout locations. In any case, you’ll still have to check out those locations to see how they’re doing. To make sure that you are buying a company that is profitable, you’ll also want to review the numbers.

3. Choose the Right Locations

Vending machines in the right location | Bottoms Up Vending

When it comes to vending machines, location is everything. If you want your snack machine business to succeed, you need to choose the right locations. The following qualities should be found in a location:

  • High foot traffic locations include airports, train stations, shopping malls, government buildings, event centers, and schools.
  • Office buildings 
  • A place without vending machines or food options
  • People who have to wait in line or sit in a waiting area (like doctors’ offices)

Places you can install your vending machines:

Offices: The location of a soda machine in an office with 40 or more people is ideal no matter what type of business it is. The employee count needs to be higher if you want a snack machine as well. 

Most snack machines require 75 employees or more to install since snack revenue is almost always lower than soda revenue.

Manufacturing Facilities: There are dozens or even hundreds of people on site every day, all day, so vending machines are a great fit for such locations. Throughout the workday, many workers appreciate being able to grab a quick snack or cold beverage. Manufacturing facilities are ideal locations for vending services because of this steady flow of use.

Auto Shops: Auto repair shops are some of the most popular places to find vending machines. The reason for this is that customers often have to wait at the location while the work on their vehicle is being done. An ice-cold Coke from a vending machine makes waiting a lot more bearable, along with free WiFi and a TV.

4. Know the Startup Costs

Starting a vending machine business is like starting any business venture – there are costs involved. It is important to take these factors into consideration when deciding whether to open this type of business. Costs to consider include:

  • Vending Machines – One of the most obvious expenses is the machines themselves. There is a cost difference between $3,000 and $5,000 for a vending machine in this time of writing. Your cost will vary depending on where and whether you purchase new or used machines. You may need to save up for this expense if you don’t have enough funds.
  • Insurance and Taxes – Vending machine companies must factor insurance and tax costs into their budgets, just like any other business. Be sure to research tax licenses and liability insurance policies before you begin.
  • Ongoing Costs – Rent and royalties may be included in your contract with the locations hosting your machines. It is likely that those costs will vary from month to month, but you should be able to estimate how much you will need to pay on average.
  • Maintenance – Visit your sites regularly to ensure your machines are functioning properly. Additionally, you should budget for repairs and replacements.
  • Hiring – There are often few employees working in vending machine businesses. However, you may need to hire a few customer service representatives or team members to replenish the machines.

5. Choose Your Products

Products for sale in vending machines | Bottoms Up Vending

You might not think that stocking your machines with inventory is a big deal, but it is important that you consider what type of products you are offering at each location so that you can make the most profit. It is important to consider the customers who will visit each business location and what they may want to buy from them. You can stock your vending machines with a variety of snacks such as chips, candy, and soda, all of which are popular in most locations and will make your machines popular. Creating a vending machine with healthy snacks is an excellent way to change things up if you are looking to introduce something new to your business.  

6. Invest in Your Business

Having acquired a basic understanding of the vending machine industry, it is now time to get to work. Despite being a rewarding industry, you may find it beneficial to apply for a small business loan to cover initial costs and to maintain fresh inventory in your machines. Here are some other financing options that you might want to consider besides vending machine business loans in order to grow your business:

  • Inventory Loans
  • Equipment Financing
  • SBA Loans
  • Merchant Cash Advances
  • Business Line of Credit
  • Business Credit Cards

7. Implement Effective Marketing Strategies

Having your vending machines strategically placed in high-traffic areas is a great start, but don’t underestimate the power of effective marketing to attract customers and increase your sales. Here are a few marketing strategies you can employ:

Branding: Develop a strong brand for your vending machine business. This includes creating a catchy name, logo, and design that’s consistent across all your machines. A memorable brand can help you stand out in a crowded market.

Online Presence: In this digital age, having an online presence is crucial. Create a simple website or social media profile where you can showcase your vending machine offerings, locations, and any special promotions. Engage with your customers online to build a community around your brand.

Promotions and Special Offers: Offer special promotions or discounts to incentivize customers to choose your vending machines over others. This could be a “buy one, get one free” deal, loyalty programs, or seasonal discounts.

Eye-catching Displays: Make sure your vending machines are visually appealing and well-lit. Consider using LED lights or digital screens to display attractive visuals of your products.

Customer Feedback: Encourage customers to provide feedback about their vending experience. Use this feedback to make improvements and show that you value their opinions.

Collaborations: Partner with local businesses or events to cross-promote. For instance, you could collaborate with a nearby coffee shop to offer a discount when customers purchase coffee and a snack from your vending machines.

8. Maintain Regular Maintenance and Customer Service

Consistent maintenance of your vending machines is essential for customer satisfaction and business success. A malfunctioning or empty machine can quickly turn customers away. Here are some maintenance and customer service tips to keep in mind:

Regular Inspections: Schedule regular visits to your vending machine locations to ensure they are functioning properly and stocked with fresh products.

Quick Response: If a customer reports a problem with a vending machine, make sure to address it promptly. A broken machine can lead to frustrated customers and lost sales.

Cleanliness: Keep your machines clean both inside and out. A dirty machine can deter customers from making a purchase.

Product Rotation: Regularly rotate your product offerings to keep things fresh and interesting for repeat customers.

Customer Support: Provide a way for customers to reach out to you in case of issues. This could be a customer service hotline or an email address.

Vending Machine Tools

9. Stay Updated with Industry Trends

The vending machine industry is not static. New technologies, trends, and consumer preferences are constantly evolving. To stay competitive, you need to stay informed about industry changes and adapt accordingly:

Cashless Payments: Consider incorporating cashless payment options such as credit/debit cards, mobile wallets, or even contactless payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

Healthy Options: As health-conscious consumers become more prevalent, offering healthier snack and beverage options can attract a wider customer base.

Data Analytics: Utilize data analytics to understand which products are selling well and which locations are performing best. This information can guide your restocking decisions and help you optimize your vending machine placements.

Sustainable Practices: Eco-friendly vending machines and sustainable practices are becoming more important to consumers. Consider using energy-efficient machines and offering eco-friendly packaging options.

Innovative Products: Keep an eye on emerging food and beverage trends. Incorporate innovative products that cater to changing tastes and preferences.

By staying up-to-date with these trends and continuously adapting your strategies, you’ll position your vending machine business for long-term success.


Starting a vending machine business can be a profitable venture with the right approach. From learning about the industry and choosing the right locations to managing costs, offering the right products, and implementing effective marketing, there’s a lot to consider.

Remember, success in this business requires dedication, regular maintenance, and a willingness to evolve with changing consumer demands. With the right mix of strategy, creativity, and commitment, your vending machine business can become a reliable source of income and customer satisfaction.

If you want vending machines for your business without the hassle of installing, cleaning, maintaining, and restocking the machines, Bottoms Up Vending got you covered. Visit our website or contact us to learn more about our free full-service vending for your business.