Owning and operating a vending machine business has its strengths and weaknesses. Depending on where you place your vending machines determines how much is sold from each machine. An operator needs to take into consideration how many people will have access to the machines, the price of the products and what the products are.
Vending is an all-cash business. The original investment is the purchase of your vending machines, although these can also be leased. In that case, you will have a monthly payment. The machines start making you money from the first sale after they are placed on location. No direct sales or advertising is involved. Vending machines are easy to assemble, and each machine takes about 10 to 30 minutes to restock. Depending on the size of the machine and the product you are selling, vending machines need to be maintained, on average, every two to eight weeks.
Vending machines provide a quick fix to hunger or thirst. Before placing a vending machine at a site, check the traffic flow and the population. Place the vending in a medium to highly populated area with high traffic. It cannot be in direct competition with a cafeteria or convenience store that can offer less expensive prices in comparison to the vending machine items. Find out in advance if a company charges a site fee to have the machine on the premises. Competition arises if other vending outfits are willing to pay more than you to place their machine on site. Companies will profit from this by obtaining a higher percentage from the sales.
When determining what to put in your vending machine, look at your potential consumer. One of the weaknesses is that vending machines can provide unhealthy, overly priced snacks and drinks. On the flip side, bottled water is a healthy alternative as are certain crackers and dried fruit. College kids who are cramming for finals and existing on minimal sleep might crave a sugary snack. Corporate employees may seek out a bottle of water. The location your machine is placed determines what you put in it.
You won't know how well your vending machine will do until you place it on location. If you sell few items, you are left with stale and outdated products and may have to place your machine in a new location. If you have a route that covers a large geographic area, obtaining trustworthy and reliable employees can be a challenge. They are handling cash and your products. You have to ensure that your cash gets to you and the products are put in the machines. Gas to transport your goods can be pricey.
Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.