How to Start a Vending Machine Route
By some estimates, over forty billion dollars is dropped into vending machines
by Americans every year. A vending machine business represents a great
opportunity for entrepreneurs to start a home-based business with realistic profit
potential. Smart businessmen and women realize that quarters and dimes can
quickly add up to a lot of money when you own dozens of machines in good
locations. This article looks at the vending machine industry in the US and offers
an overview for those wanting to how to start a vending machine route that is
A Growth Industry
The vending industry in the US has grown at a phenomenal rate over the past
few decades and that growth rate looks set to continue well into the future. This
growth is driven by an expanding population, an expanding variety of new
vending concepts and the increased need for convenience. An increasing
variety of payment options also now means that consumers never have to pass
up on a machines offerings due to not having any coins in their pockets.
Most sectors within the industry are seen as being insulated from economic
downturns due to the fact that they are price competitive with retailers. Vended
products such as coffee often represent a much cheaper option compared to
The industry is certainly competitive, like any business is, but competition is not
always a bad thing. In some cases vending machines placed in the same
location mutually support each other by forming blocks that offer better variety,
value and convenience than nearby stores.
A Seasonal Business?
The industry is not seasonal overall. Certain machines doing hot or cold
beverages for example certainly will fluctuate in sales volume throughout the
year. Some locations can be better in summer or winter. Don't forget that some
locations may completely close down for short vacation periods leaving you with
no sales at all.
Start a Vending Machine Route - Regulations and Compliance
Some states require vendors to have a business license (usually around $100),
sellers permit, a sales tax license, or all of these things. Before you set up your
vending machine route you should inquire and find out how to comply with local
regulations. Depending on what products you are vending you may also have to
comply with your local health authorities.
Most vending business owners go for sole proprietorship but a limited liability
company also has advantages to offer. It is best to speak to an attorney or an
accountant and try to determine the best legal operating structure for your
Startup costs in this industry are reasonable. It is possible to start a vending
machine route for less than a few thousand dollars. However, if you have more
funding available then obviously you can start off in a better position and grow
The Nature of Vending Work
The work of a vending machine business operator can be divided into two basic
areas. Firstly there is the maintenance and re-supply of the machines that the
owner has in various locations. Secondly operators have to continually find new
locations to place even more machines.
As a vending machine business owner you can choose to work by yourself, with
a partner or hire teams to work for you. Most highly successful business owners
in this area take on a sales role, continually trying to get more of their machines
out there, while they hire teams to re-stock machines and maintain them when
required. If you wish to hire staff to collect cash and re-stock machines then you
need to develop systems to account for inventory and cash so that your staff
don't take advantage and steal from you.
Vending Machines and Repairs
The great thing about vending machines is that they are essentially your best
employees. You can have a great deal of success even as a sole operator while
leveraging on the productivity of your machines. Vending machines never need
vacations and only require electricity to function in some cases (instead of a
wage) and are thus the ideal workers.