The vending machine is one of those items we see constantly, but never really put much thought into. They’re everywhere, yet people don’t know how they work or why they work.
However, owning and operating vending machines can be a very profitable, low-effort business if you do your research.
So, how much do vending machines make and how do they work?
Keep reading to find out!
How Do Vending Machines Work?
Before we get into how much a vending machine makes, it’s important to know how one actually works, especially if you’re considering starting a vending machine business.
Choosing What to Stock
The vending machines are stocked by the company that operated the machine. Usually, each machine has a general category they fit into:
- Drinks (soda, water, juice)
- Unhealthy snacks (bags of chips, candy)
- Healthy snacks (fruits and items like what this site offers)
- Full meals (sandwiches, cups of noodles, rice bowls).
Once the Machine is stocked, it can now accept money. The machine measures the size of each coin, scans dollar bills with a laser, and may also accept credit and debit cards, using a reader just like any retail store would use.
Once the form of payment is accepted, the person will press the button of the item they want, an electronic code is sent through the machine and signals the coil to push the item forward.
Collecting Money and Restocking the Vending Machine
Each vending machine will have a set schedule for when the money is collected from the machine and the machine is restocked. This depends on two factors:
- How much traffic does that machine get?
- Are the foods in the machine perishable?
If the machine gets a lot of traffic, it will need to be cleared of money and restocked much more frequently than a machine will very little traffic. The last thing a business wants is a highly profitable machine to be empty because that means they’re missing out on additional profits.
The second factor is whether the food is perishable. Food and drinks in vending machines are highly processed and won’t perish for a long time. But there are items that can go bad, such as milk, fruits, and sandwiches.
You must make sure you clear the machine of any perishable foods once they hit their expiration date. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of angry consumers to deal with.
Who Profits Off of Vending Machines?
Vending machine companies receive profits from a vending machine. However, some of this money goes towards renting a space.
So if a business allows a vending machine to operate in its building, the vending machine company will need to pay the business to put their machine there.
Places with high traffic will probably charge more per machine placement than somewhere that doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic each day.
How Much Do Vending Machines Make?
So, now we can answer the question every aspiring vending machine owner wants to know: How much can you make from a vending machine?
Well, there is no set answer. As with any business, success is reliant on several factors. Here are the main factors you must consider so you can maximize your profits.
The Vending Machine’s Location
This is the most important factor you’ll face. Location means everything, and not just for vending machines. You can look at any restaurant or retail store and see that location is the most important consideration if you want to be successful.
If you choose a poor location for our machine, you will probably end up losing money. But if you choose a great location, the profits can be sky high.
So, look for businesses and office buildings with high-traffic areas, and with people who are likely to spend a long time in that building.
If you put a machine somewhere that has a lot of foot traffic but does not have people stay for more than an hour, you won’t be very successful. People rarely want to buy food or drinks from a vending machine. They choose to when they have no other options and are pressed for time.
Place a vending machine in the lobby of a big office building so people can grab a snack or drink while they’re at work. Or, a vending machine at a school where students spend most their day and often forget food or drinks.
What Items Are Offered in the Machine
The items you offer in a vending machine should depend on the location. The two go hand-in-hand because not every type of machine will be successful in every location.
For example, stocking a school vending machine with quick snacks and drinks is a great option because students are in a hurry and are looking for something to tide them over until their next meal.
But a vending machine at an office building might be more successful in offering bigger items, such as rice bowls or noodles. You might also consider offering healthy options if your vending machine is in a place that prioritizes health (a doctor’s office or a hipster business).
Every business has expenses that cut into the profits earned. For a vending machine company, you must account for renting a space, whether the owner of the building wants a portion of the profit, maintenance, and stocking.
So, What’s the Answer?
While there is no single answer to how much a vending machine will make, we can guestimate a profit range.
A vending machine in a poor location or one that offers poor items may make only $5 per day after business expenses. But a vending machine in a great location, offering good options can make upwards of $100 per day after expenses.
But considering vending machine businesses often own several dozen machines, you can see how the profits can be massive. Even if you own just ten vending machines, if you put them in quality spots, you can make a profit of $1,000 per day!
Vending Machines: Are They Worth It?
So, how much do vending machines make? Well, that depends on you! By using the best locations and stocking with quality items, there’s no ceiling on how much you can make.
Looking for more business advice? Check out the rest of our blog for more helpful tips and content!