How to Start A Small Vending Machine Route

Stock juice and water in your vending machines.
Stock juice and water in your vending machines. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A vending machine business allows you to earn money everyday. Corporations, education institutions, hospitals and train stations are among locations that allow vending machines in their public areas. Vending machine operators become successful by keeping machines in good working order and stocked with the items customers want. Vending machines can be purchased from vending machine companies or from warehouse retail stores.

Decide which food items to stock in your vending machines. When you get started, rotate products occasionally to find out what items sell best. Inexpensive products such as candy, snacks and drinks are common vending machine selections. You can also sell fresh food such as sandwiches, fruit and yogurt. To sell fresh food, however, you must acquire and maintain a food safety certification from your local public health department.

Apply for tax identification number, a business license and a sales tax license as required by your jurisdiction. Obtain a tax ID on the website of the Internal Revenue Service. Contact your local government's business licensing and taxation departments to find out the licensing and permit rules specific to your area.

Organize your business. Invest in vending software to help you track inventory. Design a logo for your vehicle, uniform, machines and stationery. Developing a business identity could help you attract more business. Put together a budget to know what you can afford. A budget should include machine cost and related fees, food, licensing fees, insurance, advertising, transportation and fuel.

Approach business owners and nonprofit institutions about placing vending machines in their establishments. Although not mandatory, offering a percentage of sales, or commission, to business owners could help you secure a location over the competition.

Purchase or rent vending machines. Contact vending machine companies to find out rates, terms and delivery charges. Make sure that the company offers telephone support to help with troubleshooting before you make a purchase. Consider purchasing second-hand machines, which you can buy on Internet auction websites.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rotate products occasionally to find out what will sell best for you.
  • Make sure to budget for your business within your own personal business. This is much better than taking out a loan and going into debt.
  • You will need to spend 2 to 3 days a week working on your business (purchasing products, refilling and maintaining machines).
  • Take your business to the next level by thinking outside of the box and placing your machines in unique places. For instance, place a toy machine in a doctor's office or a coffee machine wherever people are forced to wait.
  • Don't allow your machines to run out of products or you may lose your location to a more organized competitor. Instead, offer business establishments two well-stocked machines.

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