Florida is an attractive place to do business because of the lack of a state income tax, its pro-debtor asset protection laws and an overall business-friendly climate. Florida's economy is very cyclical, however, and prone to wide swings based largely on the real estate and construction businesses. Nevertheless, its many large cities and colleges provide ample opportunities for vending machine placement for enterprising individuals who aren't afraid to canvas, present themselves, and sell their vending machine business services.
Identify a market. In order to run a successful vending machine business, you will need to find vending machine locations. Look for high-traffic areas full of busy people with few other immediate options for snacks or refreshment. You can try office buildings, colleges, schools, workplaces, auto shops and waiting rooms where people must wait in one place while waiting for services, etc.
Contract with necessary vendors. You will need to buy items such as soft drinks, candy, chips and other snacks in bulk. Generally, the larger the orders you are prepared to make up front, the better the pricing you can secure and the higher your overall profit margins. However, many successful vending businesses simply rely on wholesale outlets such as Costco and Sam's Club.
Arrange for reliable transportation. You must be able to pick up and deliver vending machines to locations, as well as regularly restock your vending machines. This will require a reliable truck or van for larger routes, though smaller routes can be serviced with a sedan. Ensure your car insurance is paid up, including collision coverage, if you can't immediately get a new vehicle and get back to work if your delivery vehicle should get damaged beyond repair.
Register with the appropriate government agencies. At a minimum, you must register with the county and obtain a county business license. Since you will be driving a lot, you should also consider forming a corporation or limited liability company, which protects your personal assets from seizure if your company should get sued as a result of misunderstanding or accident. To register a corporation, or LLC, contact the Florida Office of the Secretary of State, Business Services Division.
Establish your business name. You should conduct a search for your business name using the State of Florida's search and name reservation service. You can also use the federal Trademark and Patent Office's online search tool, as well. Have business cards made up and stickers listing your phone number for vending machine request services.
Develop revenue share agreements. Under these agreements, you agree to provide a vending machine in a public place free of charge or at a reduced rate. You agree to split profits with the management of the vending site. They provide the traffic and the electrical outlet, you provide the snacks and beverages.
You can also buy a vending machine route. Essentially, when you do this, you are simply paying a lump sum in exchange for the potential for a steady stream of payments from your vending route. Understand the attrition rate, however, when you do this: You may lose 25 percent or more of your vending route just to competition, clients relocating or closing their doors, or putting in their own vending machines. Protect yourself with contracts and don't overpay for the route.
- You can also buy a vending machine route. Essentially, when you do this, you are simply paying a lump sum in exchange for the potential for a steady stream of payments from your vending route. Understand the attrition rate, however, when you do this: You may lose 25 percent or more of your vending route just to competition, clients relocating or closing their doors, or putting in their own vending machines. Protect yourself with contracts and don't overpay for the route.
Jason Van Steenwyk has been writing professionally since 1998. A former staff reporter for "Mutual Funds Magazine," he has been published in "Wealth and Retirement Planner," "Annuity Selling Guide," "Registered Rep." "Bankrate.com" and "Senior Market Advisor." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from the University of Southern California.