BY AUGUST NOBLE
MARKETING COORDINATOR FOR HUMAN AND SNACKNATION
Starting a business in the vending machine industry can be overwhelming. It is often hard to know who to trust, and where to find reliable information. After realising this ourselves, we decided to put together a complete guide for the people out there looking to start their own small business in vending.
Although sometimes overwhelming, there are a ton of great reasons to get involved with the vending machine business. As with all entrepreneurial endeavours, running your own vending machine business allows you to be your own boss. You have control over your own destiny and reap all the benefits of your hard work. It also offers the flexibility to work when you want to, because you make your own schedule.
If this sounds interesting, all you need to do is read this guide, understand what starting a vending machine business is all about, and determine if this business is aligned with what you want to do and who you are. (Hint: the first question isn’t how, it’s why.)
So, why vending? Maybe you’ve done some homework and you think the $42bn-dollar vending industry might be the right fit for you. Or, vending sparked your interest because you heard it has less overhead, no rent or electricity bills. Perhaps you like the idea of a permanent escape from the office where you can interact with your neighbours and make an impact on your community.
Before you dive too far in, it’s important to know why you want to get into this business. The last thing you would want to do is invest a lot of time and money, and then suddenly realise that you made the wrong decision because it doesn’t actually align with your long-term goals.
The first step to starting a vending machine business is to make sure it aligns with your “three why factors”. These factors are purpose, time, and money.
What is your purpose of getting into the vending business? Is it the flexibility? Control over your financial future? Or more time with your family? Whatever it may be, you need to decide this up front. It will help keep you focussed down the road.
Next is time. How much time do you have to invest? There are typically two ways that people go about this. The more fiscally stable can quit their full-time job and fully dive in, while others ease in by starting their business on the side. Either way this is a decision that you need to make before you start so you can realistically manage your expectations.
Lastly, what is your money factor? Note that this answer will depend on a couple of other factors. Generally speaking, the more support offered by a business opportunity, the more expensive it becomes. However, that investment might be more beneficial for you, depending on your why, and your time-investment level.
In other words, don’t make the mistake of choosing a business option solely based on your initial expenses without considering the other important factors. Understand the difference between what you want to invest, or finance, and what you can invest. Write down both numbers and keep them in mind as you continue to read through this guide.
After figuring out your “three why factors” the next step is starting your research on what vending equipment you are going to use. The biggest mistake we’ve seen business owners make is to buy vending machines before they even secure a location for it. The problem with this is you never know what your demographic is going to be at the location that you find. For instance, if you find an opportunity to place your machine in a location with mainly working adults (who prefer using credit card) but bought a cash-only vending machine. You are going to miss out on a great opportunity.
In this new age of vending machines, there are a lot of decisions to be made on what type of equipment you should purchase to start your business. From LCD screens, to conveyer belts, there are plenty of options to shop over these days. One thing we have learned through our experience in the industry since 2002 is that card readers are no longer optional. They are crucial to the success of your vending machines. So make sure you “put them in the cart” when doing your shopping.
Once you’re done shopping, and have some ideas of what equipment you want to use in your vending machine business, its time to find locations for your machines. If you don’t know already, the vending business is all about location. You can have the greatest machines in the world, but if they are in bad locations, it is going to be difficult to make any money. The first step in finding great locations is generating high quality leads. Generating leads is not a one and done process, but an ongoing one, that is crucial to your success in the vending machine industry. You need to approach lead generation with a plan. Once you are generating leads you can then start to qualify, meet, and close the deal with them! Remember this is critical to your success in the vending machine industry. So learn the strategy and go start generating your leads!
So now you have a location, and an awesome vending machine in it, its time fill it with some snacks. With the current health trends in America, people are starting to demand healthier options. If you are planning on putting your vending machines in schools, you are going to need to adhere to the Smart Snacks in Schools regulations. Remember this when deciding on your product mix and vending locations.
HUMAN – or Helping United Mankind and Nutrition for full – is the publisher of The Complete Guide on How to Start a Vending Machine Business, which gives a full range of tips on entering the vending sector for different startup options (own, buy or franchise). It is available on the company’s website.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020