vending machine

How to Start A Vending Machine Business and Make Money on Autopilot

Starting a vending machine business can be a lucrative and enjoyable endeavor. Not only do vending machines offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to make money, but they can also earn passive income and spend less.

The most important things to consider when starting a vending machine business:

  • Getting a vending machine
  • Location
  • Products to sell

With a bit of planning and some basic business knowledge, you can be on your way to making money with your very own vending machine business.

This article uncovers all you need to get started and build a successful vending business, including:

What vending machines are
How much to invest
How to start the business (step-by-step)
The pros and cons

Without further ado, let's get started.

What Are Vending Machines?

Vending machines are self-service, coin-operated machines that dispense snacks, drinks, or other items when a customer inserts money into the machine. Vending machines are typically found in high-traffic areas like office buildings, airports, and malls.

This business guarantees passive income, meaning you make money without actively working for it. For example, someone who owns a vending machine business can make money while they sleep, as the vending machines will do all the work for them.

Also, vending machine owners don't need an office or storefront; the most important spot to secure is the machine itself. This means significantly few overhead costs are associated with a vending machine business.

Investment and Costs

The vending machine business is a relatively low-cost business to start. Depending on the type of vending machines you get and the products you stock them with, you can expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on your initial investment.

You can get a used vending machine for $1500-$3000 if you have a small budget, but if you want a new vending machine with the latest features, be prepared to spend at least $4000 upwards.

How about a return on investment? Of course, the more vending machines you have, the more money you will make. But as a general rule of thumb, each vending machine should earn you about $80-$100 (or more) per week. However, the figures depend on the vending machines' location, products, and price point.

For example, a vending machine in a high-traffic area like an airport will make more money than one in a small office building. Similarly, a vending machine selling high-end items like electronics will make more money than one selling only snacks and drinks.

If you have four vending machines and each one earns you $100 per week, you can expect to make $1,600 each month or $19,200 per year. Not too shabby for a business with minimal overhead costs!

Starting the Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we've answered the question “what is a vending machine business?” and seen the investment and costs involved, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of starting your own vending machine business.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to start a vending machine business:

Decide What Products You Want to Sell

The first step is to decide what products you want to sell through your vending machines. This decision will determine the type of vending machines you need to buy and the locations you can put them in.

For example, if you want to sell healthy snacks like nuts and fruits, you'll need a vending machine that can accommodate those items. You'll also likely want to put your vending machines in gyms, health food stores, and office buildings.

On the other hand, if you want to sell drinks like soda and coffee, you'll need a different vending machine. You'll also likely want to put your vending machines in gas stations, convenience stores, and office buildings.

Find the Best Location for Your Machine

The next step is to find the best location for your vending machine. This is one of the essential steps in starting a vending machine business, as the location will determine your business's success.

Some factors to consider when choosing a vending machine location include:

The amount of foot traffic: You want to put your vending machines in locations with many people. This way, you have a better chance of making sales.
The type of customers: You also want to consider the type of customers who frequent the location. For example, if you're selling healthy snacks, put your vending machine where health-conscious people are.
The competition: You should avoid locations where there is a lot of vending machine competition. Competing in these areas will only make it harder for you to make sales.

Get the Right Vending Machine

Once you've decided on the products you want to sell and found the perfect location, it's time to get a suitable vending machine. As we mentioned earlier, the type of vending machine you need will depend on the products you want to sell.

The main vending options include:

  • Food and beverage vending
  • Bulk vending
  • Specialty vending

Choose an option that aligns with your business goals and the products you want to sell.

Also, as mentioned earlier, you can buy new or used vending machines. Buying used machines is a better option if you have a small budget. You can find used vending machines for sale online or through vending machine directories.

If you have a larger budget, buying new vending machines is ideal. You can find new vending machines for sale through vending machine manufacturers or distributors.

Get Licensed and Insured

Before you can start operating your vending machine business, you'll need to get licensed. And before getting a license, you should have some documents handy, including:

  • Sales tax number
  • Beverage license (for a beverage machine)
  • Federal employer identification number

Contact your local business licensing office to inquire about the vending machine licenses and permits you need to operate your business. Once you have all the necessary licenses and permits, consider getting insurance for your vending machines.

A vending machine business insurance will protect you financially in case your vending machines are damaged or broken into or if a client gets hurt while using your machine.

Stock the Vending Machines with Products

Now that you have your vending machines, it's time to stock them with products. You'll need to buy beverages like soda and coffee if you're selling drinks. If you're selling snacks, you'll need to buy food items like chips and candy.

You can buy these products in bulk from a vending machine supplier or a vending machine distributor. Buying in bulk is usually cheaper and will help you save money in the long run.

Promote Your Business

The last step is to promote your vending machine business. There are several ways to do this, including:

Putting up flyers and posters in the locations where your vending machines are stationed
Advertising in local newspapers and magazines
Creating a website or blog to promote your business
Using social media to reach a wider audience

You'll be on your way to starting a successful vending machine business by following these steps. Remember to choose the right products, find the best locations, get suitable vending machines, and promote your business. You can make money from your vending machine business and expand over time.

Vending Machine Business Pros and Cons

Vending Machine Business Pros and Cons


  • Earn passive income: You can make money without doing much work. Once your vending machines are in place, they will run on autopilot, allowing you to earn money passively.
  • Low investment: Vending machines business is a relatively low-cost business. You can buy used or new vending machines; the investment is relatively low either way. Plus, you don't have to pay outrageous rents, salaries, and other benefits.
  • Easy to scale: Once you have a vending machine business up and running, you can easily scale it by adding more vending machines. This expansion will increase your profits quickly and with little effort.


  • Regular re-stocking and maintenance: Vending machines are like any other machines; they require regular re-stocking and maintenance. If you don't maintain your vending machines, they will break down and cost you money. And if you don't stock them, you won't make any money.
  • Vandalism: Vandalism is a common problem for vending machine businesses. If your vending machines are vandalized, you will lose money. And that's why it is crucial to place your machine in a secure environment and get insured.
  • Competition: There are many vending machine businesses out there. So, you must find a way to stand out from the crowd. You can offer unique, high-quality products, discounts, promo codes, and loyalty rewards.

Bottom Line

Vending machines offer an excellent opportunity to start a low-cost, passive income business. By following the steps in this article, you can successfully start and operate your own vending machine business.

Remember to choose the right products, find the best locations, get suitable vending machines, and promote your business. It also helps to install a vending management system to optimize and run your business more efficiently.

Lastly, weigh the pros and cons before getting started.

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She started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, which was freedom, so she decided to venture out. She took action so that she can live her dream life and decided to help people to live theirs by helping them how to save, budget, and invest.

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