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How To Start a Vending Business

The vending machine industry in the United States is bursting at the seams with opportunities for willing investors. With some time, learning, and effort your vending business can be cash-flow positive sooner than you may think.

How to start a vending business

  • Ask if the machines are UL Certified. This is usually a good indicator of a quality product. The UL certification is difficult to earn and maintain. Government agencies and large corporations have contractual guidelines governing the electrical and safety standards of equipment being used in their facilities, and UL Certified Vending Machines are far more likely to meet the requirements of those specifications.

  • Vending can provide a more flexible lifestyle. You really can set your hours, but it is not a passive income source, and it does require time and effort to be successful.

  • Don't be afraid to buy used vending machines. Business owners who start a vending machine company should want to grow. Finding value by doing market research and learning what to look for can help ensure your equipment costs remain low.

  • Vending Equipment is expensive, so make sure the manufacturer offers excellent technical support and a robust vending machine parts department. This is vitally important, as parts are the single most crucial resource for a vending business to be sustainable long-term. Without access to parts, a vending business will be at the mercy of eventual mechanical failure.

  • Tools are essential to a vending machine operator, and small business owners should be well-prepared when things don't go as planned. Create a Toolkit like this one with all of the vital items you need when running a vending machine business. Toolkits should include screwdrivers, pliers, sockets, wrenches, and an app-based knowledge database or user manual to reference when repairs or reprogramming are needed.

  • Do market research to determine where to put your machines and what type of products to put in them. The location for your vending machine needs to be somewhere people can see it and filled with products that people would like to have.

Types of Vending

Identify a problem to solve, and then start a business. There are unlimited opportunities and ideas for vending machines. The types of businesses below are the most common.

  • Snack machines are the most common kind of vending. Machine locations are generally anywhere people congregate or linger for more than about 15 minutes.

  • Healthy Vending is snack vending with a plan. These machines do best in public gyms and office buildings.

  • Retail Vending opens the opportunity to sell anything if you have the correct type of vending machine.

  • Candy Machines, Toy Dispensers, and other coin-operated machines are becoming less common. They have become more of a novelty as more people adopt the usage of electronic payment methods.

What you'll need to get started

Startup costs can vary. That's what is so unique about this industry. Vending operators can start as big or as small as they'd like with a low cost of entry. The things below are essential for becoming an expert vending operator and maximizing your vending revenue.

Vending Machines

  • Location Scouting

  • Inventory

  • Storage Solutions

  • Accounting Software

  • Tools

  • Spare Parts

Where To Buy Vending Machines


Franchises provide you with a business in a box. The machines are pre-branded and aesthetically beautiful.


  • Franchising is the easiest method of entry for new vending operators.

  • Branding, Product Offering, and location scouting are included in franchising fees.

  • Machines are new, technologically advanced, and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Machines are supported by a one or two-year warranty.

  • Comprehensive training is usually offered. This is how they teach you how to make money with vending machines.

  • Financing options are generally easier and happen more quickly.


  • Franchises may impose rules about what you can and can't put in your machines. They're generally very lenient, but make sure to read the fine print.

  • Customized graphic packages are generally discouraged or forbidden.

  • Franchise fees consume a small portion of your profit margin.

  • Because the machines have more complex technology than some of their predecessors, they can be difficult to maintain and...

  • Some companies fail to provide sufficient support for machines once you’ve received them, Free technical support forever isn’t a sustainable business, and you ultimately get what you pay for.

Websites like

There is no shortage of used vending machines for sale online. Some sites operate as brokerages or consignment services, selling machines for other people and offering sales protections.

Before you purchase used machines, be sure to ask questions and be diligent in your research and inspection of each machine.

eBay & Thrift Stores

It's possible to find good value in secondhand retail, but it's also a big risk if parts, service, or support are no longer available to keep machines operable.

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