Ready to Start a Vending Machine Business? Here are 6 Easy Steps!

Vending Machine

How to start a vending machine business

If you’ve been thinking about starting a vending machine business, you are right on time to do so. The economy is perfectly positioned for new business startups and hungry customers are always ready to purchase snacks or other necessities.

Starting a vending machine business can be exciting and challenging at the same time; however, we’re here to share the 6 major steps needed to launch your business and get it positioned to grow. Let’s get started! 

Step 1:  Assess your Customers. 

Who are your customers? Depending on the location of your vending machines, you may receive a steady stream of eager customers or individuals may simply walk on by.

Examine where you want to place your vending machines and how much traffic they will receive. Carefully assess areas where you will not want to place machines, such as next to fast food restaurants, convenience stores, or other direct competitors. 

Look instead for areas near hospitals, airports, convention centers, and other places where people congregate without many options for a quick bite.

After viewing the best locations for the vending machines, assess the people who will walk by. Are they the same ages, do they seem to like the same foods?

Are they driving or walking to the general area? Every assessment of your potential customers will assist in filling your vending machines to capacity. In short, read your potential customers and take notes.

Step 2:  Build a Working Business Plan. 

Putting a plan together makes good sense for the success of your vending machine business. Without a roadmap, it will be difficult to move the business forward because you won’t be sure where you’d like it to go.

This plan outlines how to start a vending machine business and offers comprehensive coverage of the process.

Although some of the steps take time, it is well worth the energy and effort to create your unique roadmap.

Included in the business plan are segments for assessing customers and analyzing your competition, setting up marketing strategies, and creating financial plans and forecasting. These together form a plan that can be presented to lenders or investors for funding, if needed. 

Step 3:  Secure Locations and Position the Vending Machines. 

After deciding where the vending machines will need to be placed, work with the owner of the property to secure rental contracts. Position the vending machines begin to stock the machines with items.

Your research of the target audience may be helpful in this regard, particularly if you are aware of the items most chosen by customers.

Secure snack or food items from wholesalers or distributors, concentrating on generating a healthy profit margin on each sale, if possible. 

Include a mix of popular brand name items mixed with lesser-known, less-expensive items and position the easily-recognized snacks and food items with the highest-profit margin on the eyesight racks of the machines.

This creates an immediate response from consumers who won’t look further or opt for less expensive items.

Positioning in the vending machines is especially critical to maximize profits; move items around until you determine the most advantageous selling positions. 

Step 4:  Create a Rotation Plan to Refill and Maintain Machines. 

Is there anything more disappointing than approaching a vending machine with hungry-to-starving anticipation, only to find most of the items within it are missing?

When hungry customers stand before a near-empty vending machine, your business may have lost a customer forever.

To ensure this does not happen, restock the vending machines on a regular rotation and increase that rotation if the machines appear near empty at any point. The timing and predictability of restocking is an essential key to your success.

Step 5:  Create Marketing Strategies. 

Although vending machines are clearly identifiable by hungry customers, you’ll want to consider such options as the following: 

  • Place certain food-cult favorites in a few vending machines; invite website visitors to find them. 
  • Use nearby signage with arrows to indicate, “Snacks Ahead” or other words to that effect.
  • When customers have been walking near a convention center, for example, they’ll want to know cold beverages are just around the corner. 
  • Keep these strategies in mind and create signage that fits the needs and wants of your customer base. 

Step 6:  Finalize the Business Plan and Scale the Business. 

When your business plan is complete, place it nearby for easy reference and update it frequently. At this point, consider using investor or lender funding to scale your vending machine business by purchasing additional vending machines.

Locate them in areas nearby and hire a staff member to restock and maintain the growing number of vending machines, if needed. 

With your business plan in place, marketing strategies at work, and logistics under good management practices, you are now ready to scale your business for long-term growth and success. Congratulations! 

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