Are you looking to start your own business? Have you considered the vending machine industry? With a market size of $8.26 billion in the US alone, vending machines have grown exponentially in recent years.

From healthy snacks to hot coffee, vending machines provide quick and convenient access to goods and services. The industry has seen a shift towards cashless payments, with 46% of vending machines now accepting mobile payments.

If you're interested in starting your own vending machine business, this 10-step checklist will guide you through the process. From initial research to securing necessary permits, we'll cover each step in detail to help you get started.

  • Step 1: Research Vending Machines Market & Business Model - It's important to understand the industry and business model before diving in. Research different vending machine types and locations to get an idea of where to start.
  • Step 2: Prepare a Business Plan - A business plan outlines your goals, strategies, and financial projections. It's a crucial step in securing funding and gaining a clear understanding of your business.
  • Step 3: Develop a Financial Model - Understanding your finances is key in any business. Create a financial model to determine your breakeven point and potential profitability.
  • Step 4: Seek Initial Funding - Secure initial funding to purchase or lease machines, as well as cover any other expenses such as permits and licenses. Consider crowdfunding or loans as options.
  • Step 5: Identify Location/s for Placement - Finding the right location for your machines is crucial. Research high traffic areas and negotiate with business owners for placement.
  • Step 6: Register Business - Register your business and obtain any necessary permits and licenses to operate legally.
  • Step 7: Secure Necessary Permits & Licenses - Depending on your location and vending machine type, you may need specific permits and licenses. Research and obtain them before operating.
  • Step 8: Purchase / Lease Machines - Purchase or lease machines for your business. Consider factors such as size, payment options, and maintenance.
  • Step 9: Secure Supply Chain - Establish a supply chain for your vending machine products. Work with suppliers and distributors to ensure regular restocking.
  • Step 10: Maintain Current Accounting Practices - Keep track of your finances and maintain good accounting practices. This will help your business run smoothly and provide valuable insights.

Starting a vending machine business takes time and effort, but with a clear plan and strategy, it can be a rewarding and profitable venture. Follow our 10-step checklist to get started!

Research Vending Machines Market & Business Model

Before starting any business, thorough research is essential. It helps to identify the opportunities, potential threats, and guides you in the decision-making process. In this chapter, we'll explore the vending machines market & business model, which will help you to start a lucrative vending machine business.

Market Research

Your vending machines' success significantly depends on the location you choose. Researching the market will help you find the right location for your vending machines. Consider the following factors when researching:

  • The area's demographic information, including, but not limited to, age, gender, income level, and foot traffic.
  • The number of competitors and their machine types and services.
  • The location, accessibility, and convenience of the potential spots you are considering.
  • The availability of electricity and water, if necessary.

Business Model Research

Once you have identified the market and location, the next step is to research the business model. There are various vending machine business models. You need to identify the ones that are profitable and suitable for your location. Here are some options:

  • Buy-and-Own Model: You own the machines and are responsible for restocking, maintenance, and generating revenue.
  • Franchise Model: You buy a vending machine franchise where you'll receive the necessary materials and support to run the business.
  • Locating Services Model: You employ a vending machine locating service to find the right location for your machines and charge them for each successful location identified.

Vending Machine Types

The next step is to choose the right vending machine for your business. Here are some popular vending machine types:

  • Snack and Beverage Machines: These machines dispense chips, candy, cookies, and other snacks and beverages.
  • Frozen Food Machines: These machines dispense frozen foods like pizza, burritos, waffles, and ice cream.
  • Personal Item Vending Machines: These machines dispense hygiene products, electronics, umbrellas, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Regulations and Permits

Lastly, researching the vending machine regulations and permits in your location is critical. Failing to comply with the legal requirements may lead to hefty fines, permit revocation, or business closure. Ensure to research:

  • Licensing and permits required by the state, county, and city laws and regulations.
  • Business registration and tax identification numbers to run the business legally.
  • Health department requirements, if necessary, for food vending machines.

Tips & Tricks

  • Conduct feasibility studies before starting the vending machine business to determine the profitability and success rate
  • Partner with well-established vending machine providers to purchase quality machines and receive necessary support for maintenance and restocking
  • Follow the trends in vending machine business and incorporate them to increase your revenue and customer base

By researching the vending machines market, business model, types of machines, and regulations, you are on the right track to starting a successful vending machine business. Your research will guide your business decisions and perfect your strategy, making your business a lucrative investment.

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Prepare A Business Plan

Starting a vending machine business can be a lucrative investment. However, before taking the plunge, it’s essential to have a solid business plan in place. A well-thought-out plan can give you direction, keep you on track, and provide you with insights into the financial aspect of your venture. Here are the key chapters to consider when crafting your vending machine business plan:

  • Executive Summary: This section should give an overview of your business idea, mission, and goals. Keep it concise and highlight the unique features that set your business apart from your competitors.
  • Market Research and Analysis: This section outlines your target market, industry trends, competitors, and market penetration strategies. Conduct thorough research to know your customers and competitors better.
  • Product and Service Description: In this section, describe your goods and services and how they address your customers' needs. Also, discuss how you plan to acquire your vending machines, stock them, and maintain them.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Here, outline how you will advertise and sell your products. Include methods such as social media, local advertising, flyers, promotions, and more to attract customers.
  • Operational Plan: This section outlines how you will manage your vending machine business's day-to-day operations. Describe your staffing needs, daily accounting practices, maintenance plans, and inventory management systems.
  • Financial Plan: This chapter includes financial projections for your business. Your projections should include startup costs, expected revenue, expected profits, prospective return on investment, break-even point, and other financial metrics.
  • Appendices: Attach additional documents such as permits, licenses, tax forms, lease agreements, and any other legal documents here.

Tips & Tricks

  • Consult with a seasoned business consultant to validate your business plan before launching. This guidance can help you avoid common missteps and save you time and money in the long run.
  • Remember to factor in your machines' transportation and installation costs in your financial plan.
  • Consider installing cashless payment solutions like credit card readers or mobile payment apps to increase revenue and customer satisfaction.

A comprehensive business plan is a crucial first step in starting your vending machine business. Use the above guidelines to create a robust and unique plan that will give you an edge in your industry and put you on the path to exceptional success.

Develop A Financial Model

Developing a financial model is an essential step in establishing a successful business. It provides a roadmap for the company's financial goals and helps in decision-making. A vending machine business is no exception. Here are the steps to develop a financial model for your vending machine business:

  • Identify your revenue streams: The primary sources of revenue for a vending machine business are the sales of products and convenience fees.
  • Determine your fixed and variable costs: Fixed costs are expenses that remain constant regardless of sales volume, like rent, salaries, and utilities. Variable costs, such as product inventory, fluctuate with sales volumes.
  • Forecast sales volume: Use market research to estimate demand for your vending machines, including location, traffic, and consumer behavior.
  • Establish pricing: Determine your prices based on competition and consumer willingness to pay.
  • Create financial statements: Prepare income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements to track revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
  • Monitor your financial performance: Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and track the success of your vending machine business.

Once you have established a financial model for your vending machine business, you can use it to develop a budget and operational plan that aligns with your financial goals and objectives.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Use a spreadsheet software like Excel to create your financial model and input accurate numbers.
  • Review and update your financial model regularly, adjusting for any changes in the business environment that may impact your financial performance.
  • Consult with a financial expert or accountant to ensure your financial model is sound and accurate.

Seek Initial Funding

One of the essential steps when starting a vending machine business is to seek initial funding. This critical step requires a plan to finance all aspects of your business, from purchasing vending machines to stocking supplies.

  • Determine your startup costs: Before seeking initial funding, it's essential to determine your startup costs, including licensing fees, legal fees, vending machine purchases, and inventory expenses.
  • Create a business plan: A well-written business plan outlining your goals and strategy will help you when approaching potential lenders or investors for funding. Your plan should include basic information on your business, target market, and competition.
  • Consider your funding options: You can finance your business through a variety of methods, such as saving or borrowing from friends and family, applying for a small business loan, or seeking angel investors or venture capitalists.
  • Research grants and loans: There are several federal and state grant programs available for small businesses, and loans are also available through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Tips & Tricks

  • Consider all funding options before making a decision on which one to pursue.
  • Research and understand the terms and conditions of any loan or financing agreement before signing on the dotted line.
  • Prepare a strong pitch when approaching potential investors to increase your chances of receiving funding.

Once you have secured funding, you can move on to the next critical steps in starting your vending machine business, including choosing your locations, purchasing machines, and stocking them with inventory.

Identify Location/S For Placement

When it comes to starting a vending machine business, one of the most important decisions you'll make is where to place your machines. Without the right location, it can be difficult to attract customers and turn a profit. Here are some factors to consider when identifying locations for your vending machines:

  • Foot Traffic: Look for areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as shopping centers, airports, train stations, and bus terminals. This will increase the number of potential customers who can see and use your machines.
  • Demographics: Consider the demographics of the area. If you're selling healthy snacks, for example, you may want to target gyms, yoga studios, and health food stores. If you're selling items aimed at children, schools and playgrounds may be a good fit.
  • Competition: Research the competition in the area and try to find a location where there's little to no competition. A vending machine that offers unique products or services can standout among other vending machines.
  • Security: Ensure that the location you choose is safe and secure to protect your machines from theft or vandalism. Always make sure you have a warrant from the building owner before setting up.
  • Affordability: Make sure the location is affordable since it will impact your profits. High-traffic areas are usually more expensive, but they also increase your chances of generating good profit.

Tips & Tricks:

  • To maximize profits, consider placing vending machines in areas where there are no nearby stores or shops.
  • Be mindful of the regulations and laws in place within a city or a state surrounding vending machines placement.
  • Find locations with with lots of movement and activity like office spaces, large construction sites, schools and public parks.

By considering these factors, you can identify suitable locations for your vending machines that'll increase your chances of success.

Register Business

When starting a vending machine business, you need to make sure that you register your business properly. Here are the steps involved in registering your vending machine business:

  • Determine your business structure: The first step to register your business is to determine the business structure. You can choose to register your business as a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or as a sole proprietorship.
  • Choose a business name: Once you have determined the business structure, the next step is to choose a business name. Make sure that the name is catchy, unique, and easy to remember.
  • Register the business: After choosing a business name, you need to register the business with the state or local government. This process involves filing articles of incorporation or articles of organization.
  • Get an EIN: After registering the business, you need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is used to identify your business for tax purposes.
  • Get necessary licenses and permits: Depending on your location, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits to operate a vending machine business. These licenses and permits may include a food permit, a vending machine license, a business license, and a tax permit.

Registering your business is an important step in starting a vending machine business. It ensures that your business is legally recognized, and that you are complying with all the necessary regulations and requirements.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Make sure to do your research on the specific licenses and permits needed for your location.
  • Consider consulting with an attorney or business advisor to help you through the registration process.
  • Make sure to keep all of your business registration documents in a safe and organized place.

Secure Necessary Permits & Licenses

Before launching your vending machine business, you need to acquire the necessary permits and licenses required by your state, locality, and industry. Failure to comply with government regulations can lead to fines, legal issues, and eventual closure of your business.

Here are some of the essential permits and licenses you need to secure before opening your vending machine business:

  • Business License: This license allows you to legally operate your business in your state and city. Contact your local government to know the specific requirements for obtaining a business license.
  • Seller's Permit: Also known as a Sales Tax Permit, this permit allows you to collect sales tax from your customers and submit it to the state. Apply for this permit at the state's tax office.
  • Health Permit: If you plan to sell food or beverages from your vending machines, you need to obtain a health permit to ensure that the products you sell are safe for consumption. Contact your local health department to know the requirements.
  • Insurance: As a business owner, you need to protect yourself from potential damages, losses, and liabilities by obtaining the proper insurance coverage. Consult with an insurance agent to know the right policy for your vending machine business.
  • Zoning Permit: Some localities may require a zoning permit to allow you to operate a vending machine business in specific areas. Check with your local zoning department to know the requirements.

Tips & Tricks

  • Research your state and city's regulations carefully to avoid missing any critical permits and licenses.
  • Make sure you renew your permits and licenses regularly to avoid any penalties or legal issues.
  • Consult with a legal professional for any questions regarding permits and licenses.

Once you have secured all the necessary permits and licenses, display them in your vending machines to show customers and authorities that you are operating your business legally and responsibly.

Purchase / Lease Machines

One of the most important aspects of starting a vending machine business is choosing the right machines. You can either purchase or lease machines for your business. Here's what you need to consider when making this decision:

  • Budget: Purchasing machines requires a larger upfront investment, while leasing allows you to spread out the cost over time. Consider your budget and cash flow before making the decision.
  • Flexibility: Purchasing machines gives you more flexibility in terms of customization and usage, while leasing restricts your options.
  • Maintenance: Purchasing machines means you are responsible for maintenance and repairs, while leasing may come with included maintenance services.
  • Long-term goals: If you plan to expand your vending machine business in the future, purchasing machines may be a better option as it gives you more control over your assets.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Consider leasing machines if you are just starting out and want to test the waters before committing to a larger investment.
  • If you do decide to purchase machines, make sure you have a plan for maintenance and repair costs.
  • Research different vending machine brands and models before making a purchase or signing a lease agreement to ensure you are getting the best value for your investment.

Secure Supply Chain

As a pro business consultant, I strongly recommend that anyone starting a vending machine business should not underestimate the importance of a secure supply chain. A supply chain can be defined as the connected series of players who come together to produce and deliver a product or service to the end consumer. In the case of vending machines, this typically includes the suppliers who provide the machines, products, spare parts, and other necessary items.

Having a secure supply chain means that each player in the chain is responsible for ensuring that their part is secure and that no one along the chain is able to disrupt the process. A disruption could lead to shortages of products, missed deliveries, or delays that could negatively impact your business.

  • Find reliable suppliers: The first step to securing your supply chain is to find suppliers who you can trust. Choose suppliers with a good reputation and who have been in business for a long time. Check their references and reviews from other customers to make sure you are making the right choice.
  • Establish a formal agreement: Once you've found a reliable supplier, it's important to establish a formal agreement that outlines the terms of your partnership. This should include pricing, delivery schedules, quality standards, and other important details. Make sure you have a solid contract that covers all aspects of your relationship.
  • Use tracking and monitoring tools: To ensure that your supply chain stays secure, you should use tracking and monitoring tools to keep track of your inventory, shipments, and deliveries. This will give you the information you need to detect any irregularities or problems in your supply chain.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Regularly review your suppliers to ensure that they are still meeting your needs and that they continue to provide high-quality products and services.
  • Consider implementing a system of penalties or rewards to encourage your suppliers to meet their obligations and to incentivize good behavior.
  • Develop a contingency plan to deal with any disruptions in your supply chain, such as natural disasters, strikes, or other unexpected events.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your vending machine business has a secure and reliable supply chain. This will allow you to focus on delivering high-quality products and services to your customers, without having to worry about disruptions or delays that could negatively impact your bottom line.

Maintain Current Accounting Practices

When starting any business, it's important to establish and maintain proper accounting practices from the beginning. This ensures accurate record-keeping, compliance with tax laws, and financial stability for the business. Here are some guidelines to follow when setting up your accounting system:

  • Separate business and personal finances: Open a separate bank account for the business and use it exclusively for business transactions.
  • Track income and expenses: Keep detailed records of all money coming in and going out of the business. Use accounting software or hire a professional bookkeeper to do this.
  • Maintain proper documentation: Keep receipts, invoices, and any other financial records in an organized manner. This will make it easier to prepare tax returns and provide proof of income and expenses if needed.
  • Reconcile accounts regularly: Make sure that your bank statements and accounting records match up each month. This will help you catch any errors or fraudulent activity early on.
  • Stay up-to-date on tax laws: Consult with a tax professional or use software to stay current on tax requirements and deadlines. Make sure that you are collecting and remitting the correct amount of sales tax (if applicable).

Accounting Tips:

  • Set up automatic bank feeds to make it easier to track transactions.
  • Use cloud-based accounting software so you can access your financial records from anywhere.
  • Consider hiring a professional accountant or bookkeeper to handle your finances if you don't have the expertise or time to do it yourself.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure proper accounting practices for your vending machine business. This will give you peace of mind and make it easier to track your progress and profitability.

Starting a vending machine business can be a lucrative opportunity with a market size of $8.26 billion in the US alone. With the shift towards cashless payments, the industry continues to grow at an exponential rate, making it an attractive option for entrepreneurs.

Our 10-step checklist provides a comprehensive guide to help you start your vending machine business. From researching the market to maintaining accounting practices, each step is critical to your business's success.

By following this checklist, you'll gain a clear understanding of your business goals, financial projections, and legal requirements. With perseverance and hard work, your vending machine business can thrive, providing quick and convenient access to goods and services for customers.

Remember, the vending machine business may take time to become profitable, but with dedication and attention to detail, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling venture. Good luck!

Excel financial model

Vending Machines Financial Model
  • 5-Year Financial Projection
  • 40+ Charts & Metrics
  • DCF & Multiple Valuation
  • Free Email Support