Vending machines are an excellent way to earn extra income and, if followed with passion, can be scaled to generate a handsome amount of passive income.

This simple business can become profitable with a good strategy and does not require much effort. The vending machine industry generates over $23 B in annual revenue. This vending machine market was worth over USD 51.91 billion​ in 2021 and is expected to register an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7% from 2022 to 2030, reports Grand View Research.

Isn’t that enough reason to explore how to start a vending machine business? 

But there’s a lot to this business than simply buying the machines and placing them anywhere. There are a lot of in-between steps which decide the success of your vending machine business. 

See how Marcus Gram, 31, turned his side hustle into a $300,000 vending machine business:

In this guide, we’ll help you understand all the nitty-gritty of starting a vending machine business to set yourself up for success.

How does the vending machine business work?

You must have noticed snacks, beverages, cigarettes, or even lottery tickets dispensing Vending Machines near airports, Hotels, Malls, or recreational areas.

Vending machine business is all about offering a product to people who need it through an automatic machine that does not require a salesperson. 

There are various types of such machines, and every day more sophisticated ones with greater ease of operation, more forms of payment and greater security in operations are being produced. 

In this business, you find a suitable location, see what people demand, place the Vending Machine, and earn profits. 

Modern Vending Machines have internet access, and you can check the inventory of your vending machine, as well as the sales history and the profits of the day or month. With this, you can manage the amount of merchandise you will have to replenish. This is very important because when consumers require a product from the machine, and it does not have it, they probably will not try to buy there again. Well, people who use these machines mostly need more time on hand.

What are the Advantages of Vending Machine business?

In the United States and European countries, vending machines have gained a lot of ground and are available for various products. In other countries, the demand is on the rise. This type of service pleases and makes life easier for consumers. 

Not only for customers but Vending Machines have several advantages for business owners.

  • It’s an ‘all cash’ business. On sales of products, you will receive instant money. You need not worry about cheques or recovery of pending dues. It’s instant money with regular sales and profit.
  • It generates passive income (well, almost!). Your Vending Machine operates throughout the week, 24 hours a day, even while you are on vacation or absent. It keeps generating sales even while you are not active. So, you don’t need to be physically present, after the machines are stocked.
  • Vending Machine business is a perfect fit for those searching for a home-based activity. For students, stay home mothers, and retired people, this business is proving lucrative and earns a good amount of side money.
  • Another benefit is tax deductions. In this business, you will not get additional taxes generally levied on computers, telephone infrastructure, electricity, etc. You save on a huge chunk of taxes that are laid on other similar businesses.

With all the advantages come some disadvantages too. You will have to regularly collect the money and also ensure that the machines are well-stocked and running. 

Another drawback is that your machines are easy targets for vandalism and theft. That’s why it is important to choose a safe & secure location for your machine, along with possible video surveillance to protect your investment.

How to start making money with vending Machines in 6 steps?

Step 1: Don’t buy machines yet

This simple advice will help you not to lose money in your business. This business is not done with money or with machines. It is done with spaces and negotiating power.

Step 2: Look for spaces, not machines

The key to the business is to have attractive spaces. Even with the best machines, you will never succeed if you don’t have a good point of sale. So, focus on the spaces/ locations.

Considering the traffic and product demand, it is important to consider the characteristics of the space/place where your vending machines will be placed. 

With a good location and strategy, investments in vending machines can be recovered quickly and achieve profitability quickly.

Step 3: Learn to negotiate

You will have to learn to deal with people trained to negotiate spaces, such as managers and administrators, who aim to obtain the best rental prices in exchange for the least amount of space in their shopping centres.

While dealing with them, tell them the benefits, such as- 

“I was wondering if you or your staff require vending machines stocked. Or if you don’t have any vending machines, would you like me to place our own in your office?”

If they deny, respectfully say –

“No worries! But if anything changes, just let me know. We are much easier to work with than Canteen. And moreover, we give faster service, and since we’re small, we can also stock anything you want. Good day!”

And if they agree, tell them that “We provide refrigerated soda can machines and snack machines such as for chips and candy but are open to other products. We pay for everything. We just need a space where your workers can access our vending machines, and we can start serving you in just a few days”.

Do not offer a commission unless asked for, which is approximately 10% of the PROFIT and not sales. 

Step 4: Finalize what products you want to sell

Depending on the spaces/ locations, research and brainstorm the possible product you can sell through Vending Machines.

Some products like coffee, water, soda, and snacks can do well almost everywhere. In comparison, others such as salads, sandwiches, and microwaveable meals, may appeal to people with particular interests or preferences. 

Salads, sandwiches, and microwaveable meals might be most attractive to people in offices or colleges. Keep in mind that food and drink items have expiration dates. And if you’re selling perishable items, you’ll need to be especially conscious of matching your order volume with what you can sell.

You should also consider non-food items, like over-the-counter pain medications, which attract customers in restrooms at office buildings, malls, shopping centres and transportation hubs.

Step 5: Choose and buy the right machines

Once you are ready with your point of sale, you must choose and buy the right machines. There are all kinds of vending machines: 

· Vending machines that deliver products, 

· Challenge machines, 

· Machines for small spaces, 

· Machines for large numbers of people, 

· Machines that sell food, sweets, toys, toilets, all of the different  manufacturers, 

· Some that consume electricity, others that do not, 

· Some that require more maintenance, etc.

You must have the best combination of Point of Sale + Type of machine; otherwise, you will lose your money.

Generally, there are three types of machines: 

  • Bulk. They hold a single product in bulk and dispense a certain amount for a dollar or a quarter. You often find them in restrooms, dispensing items like sanitary products. These machines can cost between $50 to $200 to start.
  • Mechanical. These machines are the classic break room vending machines that dispense multiple products. These cost about $2 – 3 K but also provide higher profits than bulk machines.
  • Electronic: These are the most sophisticated ones and may cost $3,000 upwards per machine. These machines are often equipped with touch screens and allow credit card payments easily. These are very reliable & intuitive, and as they allow credit cards for payments, they receive a lot of business as fewer people carry cash and coins. However, you must ensure you choose a payment gateway that charges reasonable fees.

Step 6: Ensure the safety of your machines. Develop a schedule

You will have to regularly collect the money and ensure the machines are well-stocked and running. 

Another important aspect of this business is ensuring your machines’ safety. You have to choose a safe & secure location for your machine and possible video surveillance to protect your investment.

Finally, turn your business into a passive income

Once set up and running, the vending machine business is ideal for generating passive income.

You can set up this business without giving up your job, neglecting your other businesses, or abandoning your studies. You can create a million-dollar business just by dedicating a few hours a month.

By now, there must be some questions coming to your mind. Let’s address them!

What are the best places to place your vending machine?

The best places for vending machines are those where there is a good movement of people and the machines can be accessed easily. 

However, a moderate flow of people is ideal since the idea is that those with little free time can be satisfied. If there is a crowd, they will not stop to buy something to eat or drink. 

Profitable locations can be:

  • Companies where you can offer snacks, drinks, and even meals to employees who take advantage of any break to eat something fast.
  • Recreational areas.
  • Hotels.
  • Malls.
  • Football or baseball stadiums or other highly frequented tourist spaces.
  • Theatres, cinemas.
  • Study centres (schools, colleges, universities).
  • In certain places, people normally must spend time in waiting rooms to be served, providing the ideal moment to resort to machines to eat something like Health centres, Airports, passenger terminals, etc.

Remember that the closer the locations are to your home base/office/home, the more the profit (and satisfied customers!) due to quick vending and gas.

While you are finding an excellent probable location for your vending machines, chances are that potential good places already have a vending machine. But the odds are also high that these vending machines are old and vend mainly junk food, and here’s your opportunity.

If you can offer the latest, high quality, customized vending machine that accepts multiple payment methods (mobile/credit cards/ cash) and contains the guaranteed vend sensor along with options of healthy food options, then it’s easy to convince the space owners to replace their old vendor and put you in there.

How much do you earn with a vending machine?

The profit depends on the number of products sold and the number of machines you own.

Also, if your vending machines are located on a nearby route, the costs of supervision, maintenance, merchandise replacement, and collection withdrawal will be lower, hence more profit.

Average vending machine profit can vary widely. The type of product sold, the price and the number of products sold, all play important roles in determining the profits from the vending machine.

For example, profits for a vending machine selling candy bars might be $0.25 per bar, while selling soft drinks might be $0.50 per drink, and so on.

Similarly, if a company sells a product for $0.50 and makes a profit of $0.25 per sale, it will make more money if it sells 20 products than if it only sells 10.

While profits can be as low as $50 per week, they can also bring in a substantial profit of $500 or more per month.

$500 per month may not sound like a lot of profit, but it’s from just one machine. Say if you have 10 machines that’d be $5,000 per month!

What permits do you need to put vending machines?

Not much, really. However, you must consult the state authorities where you intend to place your vending machines. Ask them about the requirements for a small business, how to pay sales tax etc.

If you intend to stock your machines with food items, you must obtain pre-established permits from the Department of Health. In this context, sanitary permits are very important, wherever applicable.

Additionally, the machine must have a company identification card visibly. 

Also, you will have to establish a contract with the company owner, where you will place the machine.

How to Get the Vending Machines?

It’s time to acquire the machines. There are a few ways to own a vending machine:

  • The most common way is to purchase a new machine outright from a vending machine distributor. A new one could cost approximately $3,000 and even up to $10,000. The most expensive ones usually vend hot food items like pizza or tacos. But, you can buy a basic vending machine that sells candy, chips, and other snacks for as little as $2,000.
  • Buy a used machine. There are a lot of such machines available for purchase online. It is best to buy a used machine when starting a new business. It may cost between $ 1.5 – 4k and save you lots of money for other expenses.
  • Another option is to lease a machine from a provider. This can be a more cost-effective option, especially for first-time owners.
  • Finally, some companies offer vending machine franchising opportunities. This option typically requires a significant investment, but it can be a good way to get started in the vending machine business.

Vending Machine Ideas: What to sell?

You could go the more traditional route and provide packaged beverages and food.

Or, you could go the route of a speciality vending machine.

  • Beverage vending machine: This could include hot beverages like coffee products or beverage vending machines with soda, water, or tea
  • A snack vending machine: with healthy products and beverages.
  • You could also sell retail products such as headphones, neck pillows, and phone chargers with bulk vending machines.
  • Custom Vending Machines: It could also include locating your machines in laundromats and providing laundry products, such as detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners.
  • If you live in a rainy state, you could take advantage of that and sell umbrellas.

In general, packaged food and beverages vending machines often make the most profit for their owners. That’s because they appeal to a mass audience and don’t rely on a specific type of person or someone who has a lot of money.

To get more unique ideas, google and research Japan’s vending machines. Japan is a creative expert in this industry.

What are the latest designs of vending machines?

Vending Machines are getting more and more sophisticated. We can already find vending machines controlled by applications that you can download to your phone and order and pay from there.

Some are without an electrical connection. They operate with a solar panel to self-generate the current they need.

Others recycle the heat generated during the process to cool and use it to heat other products.

Some vending machines are very fast. For example, there are food vending machines that manage to serve hot dishes in a very short time.

Vending machines are a way to have a business without stress and offer good service. These machines allow sales to be made automatically, making life easy for the buyer and the business owner. 


As you can see, the vending machine business offers thousands of different options, from generating income that allows you to pay for what you like to creating a million-dollar company like so many who started with a small machine and now enjoy a true empire.

If you are interested in this type of business, take ACTION and start building your new column of passive income. In a couple of years, you will enjoy a little machine to print money that will allow you to live as you deserve.

If you want to know about some interesting and practical Side Hustles or Passive Income sources, read the following blog posts:

Best Passive Income Ideas that works- A Definitive Guide [2022] – Hustlershark- Passive Income Ideas that work

9 side hustle ideas for earning fast money in 2023 % (