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If you want to earn more money, vending machines can be a good side hustle or passive income stream. YouTuber influencers make owning a combo vending machine seem easy. Just buy one, fill it with drinks & snacks, then wait for money to come in.

But is it really that simple? Can vending machines make money without much effort?

When it comes to additional sources of income, vending machines often appear as an attractive choice. They have low overhead, easy maintenance, and the allure of easy profits. However, is the idea of generating passive income from vending machines achievable?

Don’t believe every influencer you see on the internet. Running a vending machine business takes strategy, communication, and resources. To answer this question more fully we’ve outlined what’s involved in starting a vending machine business.

Step 1: Find a Good Location for Your Vending Machine

Identifying a good site for your combo vending machine is important.

With the convenience of having drinks and snacks together in one machine, demand from potential customers is high. However experts might warn that large vending services have a monopoly on high-revenue locations. To keep those accounts, those companies may provide a percentage of profits to the business owner. Although smaller locations may be accessible, they present their challenges.

So how do you find the perfect location for your vending machine?

Things to think about when picking a spot for your vending machine:

  • High Foot Traffic - People passing by means more potential buyers for your products. Consider tourist spots, busy streets, and popular businesses.
  • Accessibility - Make sure your vending machine is easy to find and use. Keep it visible and clear of any obstructions.
  • Competition - If there are many vending machines nearby, it might be hard to make regular sales.
  • Security – Well-lit and high-traffic areas tend to see less crime.
  • Rent and fees - Check that the fees are fair. Ideally, your vending machine will make enough money to pay for itself.

Researching Potential Vending Machine Locations:

After finding possible spots for your vending machine, research them well. Use these tips to find the best location for your machine:

  • Visit the location - Before choosing a spot, visit it in person to conduct market research and learn about potential clients. Pro Tip: Observe people's movements in the area to find ideal spots for your vending machine.
  • Talk to the Landlord – Be willing to negotiate terms and fees to secure your vending machine in a top location. Once you have negotiated terms with the landlord, make sure to sign a contract detailing your agreement.
  • Market Research – Understand your target market and demographics. Determine whether the products you will stock are appealing to the clientele in that area.

Time Investment: Dispelling the Myth of Passive Effort

After finding a place, the next steps are easy to follow:

1. Install the machine

2. Stock it

3. Enjoy the extra cash.

Yet, as shared by those with firsthand experience, the reality is far from passive.

“People think vending is easy money but if I were to run down some numbers from the final year, we averaged about $50 per machine in revenue. We had over 20 locations that we serviced and each location would require about 30-45 minutes for a stop on average if nothing went wrong. That’s 10 hours of servicing and filling the machines a week minimum. When I did it alone, I would start at 6 am and finish around 8 pm. That’s just for filling the machines. For my example, I’ll take that and say 14 hours.” Explained one user on Reddit.

Taking care of snack machines involves many tasks, like refilling them, fixing problems, and understanding customer behavior.

That same Reddit user also emphasized the importance of inventory management. “Depending how good you are at inventory, add some more time into doing that. Everyone we knew who didn’t keep track of their inventory went into debt fast. Everyone who kept track of inventory, but poorly, went into debt slower.”

Managing a vending machine route demands a considerable time investment. Even with just a few places, you'll need to spend a lot of time each week taking care of the machines. Neglecting this responsibility can swiftly lead to lost accounts and diminished profits, dispelling the notion of passive income.

Step 2: Financial Realities

Thin Margins and Overhead Costs

Despite the allure of profits, the financial returns from vending machines may not always match the effort invested. When costs are high and profits are low, the idea of making money without much effort starts to seem unlikely.

The Redditor wrapped up by saying, that an entrepreneur can work 30 hours a week and make 20-35k a year from their investments. Of course, a lot of factors go into that estimate.

Step 4: Adjusting Expectations

Viewing Vending Machines as a Part-Time Venture

Success in vending machine ownership requires dedication, perseverance, and a realistic mindset. Rather than a source of passive income, vending machines may be better viewed as a part-time job or supplementary income stream.

While vending machines offer potential for profitability, the notion of passive income remains elusive. Those considering venturing into this industry should prepare for hands-on involvement and adjust their expectations accordingly. Success in vending machine ownership hinges on planning, strategy, and good old fashioned hard work.

Explore options for used and new vending machines at Contact us today to learn about all the great available options.

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