Vending machines make good investments for those who have the required start-up capital to begin a new route and acquire machines to start. However, making money with vending machines is not a passive activity, but requires a time investment in terms of monitoring your machines' performance. Starting small and then building your investment over time can help bring success to your vending machine business.
Decide on the type of vending machines in which you want to invest. Conduct a field survey or research to determine whether certain kinds of vending machines--such as soda or snack machines--are already saturating your area. Look for potential spaces in which to place your vending machines and spots that get heavy foot traffic.
Purchase used or refurbished vending machines. Start small by purchasing only a few vending machines the first time around. Look for used vending machines or the sale of existing vending routes in local classified papers, online classified sites such as Craigslist and Oodle, as well as Internet sites that specialize in vending machine resale such as UsedVending.com.
Place your vending machines in a high-traffic business location. Retail department stores, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as high schools and colleges, make great spaces for vending machines because these places get constant foot traffic. Bring a proposal to the property owner concerning the placement of your vending machines in his business. Negotiate any rental fees to be as low as possible so that you can maximize your profit.
Look for distributors or wholesalers for the vending machine supplies that you need, such as snacks and beverages. Contact several suppliers to determine the average cost for vending supplies. Choose the distributor that offers the lowest price per product. Make an agreement with this supplier, negotiating service charges, shipping fees and other costs. The cost of supplies must be lower than revenues from the sale of vending machine items in order to make a profit.
Monitor your vending machines on weekly basis. Record the level of products in each machine at the time of your visit. Collect the money from the vending machines and record the total sales. Refill the machines as needed, reordering supplies from vendors when necessary. Compare the total sales for each machine to total expenses. Find new spots for the vending machines that are not performing well and do not bring in a high number of sales.
Acquire additional vending machines to add to your vending route. Make sure that your first group of machines generate a profit before adding more machines. Repeat the process of negotiating the lowest rental fees for your machines and choosing vendors that offer the lowest supply prices. Continue monitoring your entire group of vending machines to ensure that profits are being made.