How to Start a Vending Machine Business

Are you an entrepreneur looking for a low-maintenance and profitable business opportunity? If so, starting a vending machine business could be the perfect venture for you. 

With the potential to generate passive income around the clock and minimal staffing requirements, a vending machine business can be a lucrative source of income for years to come.

But where to begin? In this article, we’ll go over the essential steps to starting a successful vending machine business and provide tips on how to maximize your profits. 

3 Options for Your Business

Before we go into detail about how to start your vending machine business, let’s start with choosing the right business option for you.
Here are the main 3 options you can choose from:

  1. Start your own business from scratch.
  2. Buy an existing vending business that already has established systems and customers.
  3. Buy a franchise that offers the support and name recognition of an established business.

Each option has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh your priorities and resources before making a decision.

Start Your Own Vending Machine Business

Building a vending machine business from scratch requires a significant investment of time and money. 

This includes but not limited to:

  • Vending machine maintenance
  • Finding the best location 
  • Obtaining the necessary permits and insurance
  • Marketing the business 

You also need to factor in the cost of the vending machine itself — which can range from $1500 to $10,00. (depending on quality)

Although this approach offers maximum authority and adaptability, it’s also the most costly and time-consuming method.

Buy an Existing Vending Machine Business

Buying an existing vending machine business is a more efficient alternative because the machines and locations are already in place. 

This can potentially save you time and money because you don’t have to do everything from scratch.

However, In addition to the cost of buying the business and the machines, there are the ongoing costs of filling and maintaining the machines.

It’s also possible that the original basic framework of the business wasn’t well established and needs revision or reconstruction.

Nonetheless, buying an existing business can be less expensive than starting a new one, and the potential for a steady passive income is an attractive option. 

Buy a Vending Machine Franchise

Acquiring a vending franchise is an even more efficient solution because the franchise offers a proven system and established locations. 

With a franchise, you can benefit from the company’s expertise and have access to its products and services. 

While the cost of a franchise is typically higher than starting or buying an existing business, the risk is lower, and the ROI can potentially be achieved more quickly.

6 Steps for Starting a Vending Machine Business

Now that you know the options for starting a vending machine business, let’s dive into the essential steps you’ll need to take to launch a successful venture. 

We’ll go over everything from choosing a business structure, finding the best locations, to buying the right vending machine and more! 

Here are the six key steps to starting a vending machine business:

1. Consider What Products to Sell

To start, consider what products you want to sell in your vending machine. This decision should be based on the preferences of the target audience and the profitability of the products. 

It’s important that you have a diverse selection of products, including snacks, beverages, or a different line of products such as phone appliances — depending on your niche. 

It’s also important to stay on top of the latest trends and preferences to ensure vending machines are stocked with popular products. 

By keeping yourself well informed, you can ensure that your vending machines are stocked with products that will attract and satisfy your customers.

2. Decide Which Vending Machine to Get

After selecting the products to be sold, the next step is to determine the most suitable vending machine. This decision should be based on the budget and the type of products to be sold. 

There is a wide range of vending machines, from simple models to high-tech ones with advanced features. 

It’s recommended that you choose a vending machine that is reliable, user-friendly and secure to ensure a smooth and convenient customer experience.

3. Find the Right Locations

Once you have chosen the vending machines, the next step is to determine the ideal locations for them. 

Consider your target audience and the type of products they will want based on the surrounding area. 

Will it be an area with lots of foot traffic? Or is it hidden to protect the machine from too much exposure to the elements?

Many brick-and-mortar stores swear by their location to be successful, and it’s a good argument to have prime “real estate” for your business to be noticed and appreciated.

Choosing the right location for your vending machines can big a big deciding factor in its success, so it’s best to pick wisely. 

4. Find the Right Market

The fourth step is to identify the appropriate market for your target audience. 

The products you wish to sell will determine the type of customers you will get — based on demographics and lifestyle choices. 

For example, a vending machine that sells health snacks may be better suited for a busy airport than a rural location with low foot traffic. 

Knowing the needs and preferences of your customers is critical to ensure that vending machines are stocked with the most desirable products. 

By identifying the ideal market, you can maximize your profits and provide valuable service to your customers.

5. Decide on the Business Structure

After selecting the ideal market for your business, the next step is to determine the business structure. 

From tax regulations to legal requirements, it can be a difficult task to choose a business structure if you don’t know what you’re looking for. 

And there are several options to choose from, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation. 

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages — making it essential to weigh the factors carefully and select the structure that aligns with your business goals. 

Here’s a brief explanation of the main business structures for you to choose from. 

  • Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest form of business structure, where the owner has complete control and responsibility for the business. The owner assumes all legal and financial liability, and any profits or losses are reported on their personal tax return.
  • Partnership: A partnership involves two or more individuals who share ownership of the business. Partnerships can be either general, where all partners have equal control, or limited, where one partner has more control and liability than the others.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is a hybrid business structure that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits of a partnership/sole proprietorship. Owners, also known as members, are shielded from personal liability for the company’s debts and losses.
  • Corporation: A corporation is a separate legal entity that is owned by shareholders. The corporation is responsible for its debts and liabilities, and the shareholders are only liable for the amount of their investment. Corporations have more complex legal requirements and regulations but provide greater liability protection.

Choosing the right business structure will depend on your goals and the size of the business. But you should always consider the legal and tax implications of each option before making a decision. 

And consulting with a legal or financial professional can make a big difference when it comes to establishing your vending machine business.

At doola we can do just that. Explore our one-stop shop for handling your business formation, banking and bookkeeping.

6. Stock the Machine with Inventory

The final step is to fill your vending machines with the right merchandise — meeting the needs and demands of your target audience.

It’s important to keep the vending machine adequately stocked and to check the inventory regularly to ensure its freshness and quality.

This step is critical to the success of the business because customers rely on the vending machine to have their desired products available at all times. 

Vending Machine Costs

Once you’ve gone over the 6 steps above, let’s go over some of the numbers so you know what to expect when it comes to investments and maintenance costs. 

The costs associated with purchasing and maintaining vending machines can vary depending on several factors, including the type of machine, location and the level of maintenance required. 

Here are the key points to consider:

  • The cost of a new vending machine can range from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the size and type of machine.
  • Used vending machines can be purchased for as low as $1,000, but it’s important to ensure that they are in good condition before buying.
  • In addition to the cost of the machine, there are other expenses to consider, including the cost of stocking and maintaining the machines, which can range from $50 to $200 a month per machine. 
  • Some locations may charge a commission fee, typically 10% – 20% of the sales generated by the machine, for the privilege of placing the machine in their establishment.
  • Maintenance costs can vary depending on the age and condition of the machine. On average, repairs and maintenance can cost between $100 – $500 a year per machine.

As you can see the initial investments can vary depending on quality and demand. So it’s best to shop around to find the best deal on maintenance costs, commissions and the machine itself.

Benefits of a Vending Machine Business

As you develop your business plan and organize your vending machine company, you’ll begin to see the benefits that lie ahead. 

For a clearer picture, we’ll be going over the main benefits in detail below. 

Minimal staffing

Starting a vending machine business requires fewer people to maintain which makes overhead costs much more affordable than a typical retail business. 

Passive income
Once established, a vending machine business can generate a stable income stream from multiple units that generate revenue on a daily basis. 


Vending machines provide an excellent way to reach customers who may not have access to traditional retail outlets. Plus, it’s a convenient way to grab what you want on the go if you’re in a hurry. 


Vending machines are also relatively easy to maintain and require minimal effort to monitor and refill. This lowers the cost of maintenance — requiring less hands-on work. 


Vending machine businesses can be scaled up easily by adding more machines to increase revenue and profitability. By adding more units in desirable places, your vending machine business has the potential to grow exponentially. 

Things to Consider

While a vending machine business can be a profitable venture, there are several things to consider before diving in. 

In this section, we’ll cover some things to consider when starting a vending machine business. 

High Startup Costs

Vending companies require a considerable amount of capital upfront.
And you will need to invest in supplies, equipment and merchandise along with paying any necessary business licenses or permits.  

Stiff Competition

The vending machine market can be highly competitive, making it challenging to secure prime locations and attract customers.

Theft and Vandalism

There is a risk of theft or vandalism, both of which can be costly to repair. Investing in security measures such as motion detectors or cameras can be a viable option, but also increases maintenance costs.

Limited Product Selection

Due to space constraints, vending machines may have limited product options, which can limit their appeal to certain customer groups. This makes it difficult to keep track of customer demands because there’s no review system like Yelp for vending machines. 

Maximizing Profits with a Vending Machine Business

Starting a vending machine business can be a great option for an entrepreneur to increase their revenue streams and make some passive income. 

That said, it can be a challenge to get things off the ground, especially if you have trouble managing your finances and find the technical terms of business fiance to be confusing. 

Fortunately, doola has a great bookkeeping service to help you stay organized and legally compliant.

To maximize your profits with your vending machine business, get started today and explore how we can help you set up your vending machine business for success. 


Can you buy a vending machine and put it anywhere?

So long as you adhere to the regulations required to place your vending machine, you may place it in your desired location. However, the location you choose for your vending machine is an important decision to have consistent buyers.

How much does it cost to fill a vending machine?

A typical vending machine filled with snacks will range from $50-$200 to refill.

How much electricity does a vending machine use?

According to the Public Health Advocacy Insitute, a commercial vending machine can use up to 3000 KWh per year. 

How long do vending machines last?

A vending machine can last up to 10-15 years if it is kept in a sound location with regular maintenance and upkeep. Some models can last up to 20 years.

Is 1 vending machine profitable?

One can expect to earn $35 a week per vending machine. However, this number can fluctuate depending on the location, the demand for the product, and overall maintenance costs. 

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