Vending Machine Business Plan – How To Make One That’s Profitable

Vending machines are everywhere … inside the office break room, outside the waiting room of the lobby, in the hallways of hotels, etc.  It’s estimated that 70 percent of Americans use at least one type of vending machine every day.  Many of those people might too busy to go out for lunch, working late, or just simply stuck somewhere and in need of something quick to eat.  

Ever since their invention, vending machines have provided a convenient way for people to buy a snack or drink for a buck or two.  It’s no coincidence that you can always find one right where you need one, and as you might guess, the people who own them are making a killing!

According to the site Chron, a well-placed vending machine can earn potentially $100 per week or even hundreds of dollars per day.  The higher demand, the bigger the potential payout.  And the more of times you can replicate this pattern by scaling this business model, the greater the profit you’ll earn.

If you’d like to get into this industry and start a vending machine business, you’re going to need to first give some thought into who you’ll serve, how you’ll reach them, and how much it’s going to cost you.  Here’s how to make a vending machine business plan that’s designed for profitability.

vending machine business plan

What Kind Of Vending Machine Company Will You Run?

Vending machine businesses can come in many forms.  The easiest way to start one is to buy a machine, find a place to put it, and stock it full of products every week yourself.  You could also do this for multiple machines depending on how big you’d like your business to be.

Alternatively, you could also find someone who has already done all of this legwork and buy their business from them.  It could be someone who is trying to sell their business for a profit, or maybe they simply no longer have the time to run it anymore.

Another popular way to get started would be to buy into an already established vending machine franchise.  Franchises like this are usually turn-key where the machines, locations, and product suppliers are already established.  As a franchisee, you pay a startup fee to the franchisor as well as potentially a monthly percentage of your profits.  You can browse dozens of vending machine franchise options on sites like Franchise Direct.  

start a vending machine business

What Kind Of Products Will You Offer?

It will be important to decide what kinds of products you’d like your vending machines to offer.  Popular choices are usually: 

  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Coffee

Your product selection will be based on a combination of factors:

  • Profitability – Which products are going to produce the greatest potential profit margins?  For example, a bag of chips might only cost you $0.50 when purchased in bulk but could be sold for $2.00 in a vending machine.
  • Location – Depending on where your machines will be placed, what kind of products are they most likely to sell?  For example, an office might be a good place to sell soda or coffee.
  • Perishability – How long can your products last in the machine before they go bad?
  • Personal preference – What products would you feel good about selling?  For example, you may have very strong opinions about junk food and only wish to sell healthy snacks. 

What Is The Market For Your Vending Machine Business?

Half the battle of operating your business will be finding the right places to put them.  Obvious choices could be places you already know: Offices, hotels, medical facilities, universities, event facilities, etc.  

The challenge will be that many of these types of places might already have relationships with other vendors.  You could always offer to meet with these businesses and see if there is an opportunity to become their new contractor.  

Alternatively, you could also target new businesses that were recently established and do not have these contacts yet.

Understanding the market is one advantage of working with a franchise.  Most of the time they already have a network of businesses that are ready to host your machines, or they may even already be setup.  

vending machine business opportunities

What Are The Business Financials?

Perhaps the biggest part of your business plan will be in determining if it will produce a profit or not.  Here are several aspects you’ll want to consider:

Estimated Revenue

Based on where your machines are and what prices you’re charging, you’ll want to estimate how much revenue you think your machines will bring in each month.  If you’re purchasing a pre-existing business or franchise, they should already have this past data available.  If not, you might be able to network with other vending machine operators or research the Internet to get some idea of the potential sales.

Machine Costs

According to the site CostOwl, vending machines can be leased for approximately $50 to $150 per month.  If you want to buy your own machines outright, then they can cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 each.  eBay could be one place to find used machines at a discount.


Work with a discount store like CostCo or find a wholesaler who can sell you your desired products for as cheap as possible.

Franchise Fees

If you decide to go the franchise route, you will have to pay an up-front franchise fee and potentially ongoing monthly fees.  For example, the franchise Healthier 4U Vending costs $30,000 and has no monthly fees.


Because most vending machine businesses consist of multiple machines at multiple locations, that means it will likely not be possible for you to stock all the machines yourself.  To ease the burden and enable you to scale your business upward, you’re going to need to hire some help.

Decide how many employees you will need to hire and how often you will need them to work.  You may wish to pay them minimum wage for their location or more depending on what your budget permits.

Location Fees

Most of the time you will have to compensate business or property owners for hosting the machines.  This is usually for not just the privilege of doing business but also for the use of their electricity and floor space.  Costs might be a fixed fee or a negotiated percentage of your gross sales.


Since your machines are mechanical, they will occasionally need servicing and maintenance.  Again, you could do this yourself, or you could outsource this to a trusted handyman.

Franchises will often have a dedicated maintenance service that you can contact as part of their program.

Final Thoughts On Your Vending Machine Business Plan

While there are plenty of opportunities to earn passive income, a vending machine business could be an opportunity to make money literally while you sleep. Making a business plan for you vending machine business can make all the difference in your success. Collect the facts on the financials, determine if it will be profitable, and look for ways to scale your business upward.

DJ Whiteside

DJ Whiteside is a financial enthusiast who believes in helping other people to achieve financial independence. He’s constantly looking for practical ways to optimize savings, reduce spending, and create a lifetime of passive income. DJ holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, which allows him to take an analytical approach to financial topics. He has been a financial writer since 2011 and has self-published 5 personal finance eBooks relating to saving, retirement, and financial independence.

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