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What to know before starting a vending business.


I want to buy a vending machine, but I don't know where to start.

Before buying your first vending machine, do your research. Know what you're trying to accomplish with your business and build value in the product you want to provide your customer. Once you do that, you'll need to find customers looking for the products and services you provide.

  • Learn the basic requirements for starting a business in your state. For sole-proprietorships it's usually a few forms and a fee, but some states have special requirements for vending operators, so be sure to check your local and state regulations before opening your business and to avoid potential penalties and fees later.

  • Create a business plan and try to stick to it. The Small Business Administration provides great, free resources that will help you better understand what it takes to run your business effectively.

  • Learn how to generate leads.

    • Build a website. Set up a contact form that asks questions about your prospective customer's needs and then respond as quickly as possible to potential customers. Want a free option? Register for a free business listing using VendPart's listing tool.

    • Register with Google My Business. It's free and your business will instantly appear on local searches, google maps, and more so long as you maintain it properly.

    • Follow up with prospects by visiting them in person or giving them a call. An in-person visit tends to be easier to close the deal because it creates a real, personal connection between yourself and your new customer.

    • Be social with other people in person and online. It will open doors to opportunity and create relationships that can literally last a lifetime.

  • Learn how to maintain and repair your machines.

  • Buy machines with easy access to parts and support. Avoid machines made by companies like XY for this reason. While they are stylish in appearance, their construction tends to be sub-par when compared to other vending manufacturers with a larger presence and American-based support. These machines are not UL-rated for use in the United States and are prone to serious malfunctions, electrical issues, and are difficult to work on and replacement parts are often expensive, difficult to find, and take a long time to arrive because they may need to be shipped from China. These kinds of machines are especially prevalent in the Franchise Vending category like Healthy Vending, Beauty Products, and Makeup. They tend to be adorned with attractive, eye-catching vinyl wraps and large video screens. It is best to stick with major brands like Crane, USI, Wittern, Seaga, and a handful of other manufacturers with a presence in the country where you operate. This will ensure your vending business' access to the parts needed to keep your machines functional and earning you money.

  • Be good to your customers and they'll be good to you. Don't split hairs over a literal dollar. Consumers are fickle, so if they say the machine took their money, believe them. That dollar may mean the difference between them buying another product from you in the future.

  • How do I know what to sell?

    • Your customers will tell you what to sell based on what they're buying. Have you noticed that Snicker's bars sell better than anything else? Maybe you need to fill two rows with that product instead of one. By identifying sales trends, you'll quickly improve your bottom line by having a higher sell-through rate and wasting less product to expiration.

    • Ask your customers directly when you're filling machines.


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