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Is starting a small vending machine business a good fastlane idea?

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Anthony C.

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I am a college student that is always trying to think of ways to start and build a millionaire fastlane business. I am not expecting to hit it big with a vending machine business. However, I do believe it is a business where you can make positive cash flow and have low barrier to entry.

Does anyone have an opinion on vending machine routes/businesses? Is it not worth the time you put in because business route business don't have a good multiple? Does anyone have any experience with the business?
 

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Deleted52409

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I've read that in Japan they have vending machines everywhere. Vending machines that sell hot food, coffee, cigarettes, candy, junk food, YOU NAME IT!!!

But the thing about Japan is that it's highly urbanized. You don't need a car. You can literally walk, train, or bike to anywhere you need to be. It's because of this that Japan is the perfect place for vending machines. The more walkable the area the more likely someone will use your vending machine.

There are definitely way more places to put them in Japan than here in America where people drive everywhere. Unless you live in a walkable area in the Texas, this is a major issue to consider.

I don't run a small vending machine business so I'm not going to claim I'm an expert. But I just wanted to share my thoughts as a customer.
 

Woodsman81

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I have thought of this venture myself in a town near by. This town does have a ton of foot traffic, shoping, long lines for restaurants during busy seasons.
The downside would be finding spots to put them where they would not be getting vandalized, and the property owner is not taking all your profit.
I remember hearing an ad on the radio a while back for an ice cream vending machine they were selling you a franchise. Somehow they found locations for you. I'm not saying buy into the franchise, but maybe you could figure out their structure and do it yourself with vending machines.
 

RobD88

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The more walkable the area the more likely someone will use your vending machine.
Or areas where multiple people are "trapped" with few options. Think waiting rooms of any kind...automotive dealerships, repair shops, medical clinics, etc.

Where I live there is always a wait at the DMV and they are private contractors to the state, not state run. Being small businesses themselves they may go for the added income of leasing space to vending machines.

I fully believe self service is the way of the future. Look at the way stores are going with self check out. Back in the early 1900's there were automat diners. I can see this making a comeback. Starting small with a few vending machines and scaling up to be the pioneer that brings back the automat wouldn't be the worst idea I've ever heard.
 

Scot

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Run it through CENTS.


Do you have Control?

Do you have Entry?

Sure, scale, time and need (maybe) are there.

But violating Control AND a Low as hell barrier to entry, you’re either making someone else’s fast lane or you’re setting yourself up for failure.
 

Ioachim

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I was on a Korean cruse when I was a kid. There was a vending machine for hot ramen noodle. It was very delicious.

I own a soda and snack vending machine myself. I will try to share my humble perspectives based on my experience.

My vending machine is placed at a relatively small family-run store. It provides me some okay pocket money, but not a substantial amount of money at all. In a good day where few hundred customers come, I make maybe 20-30 dollars minus the cost of the wholesale products (but that will depend on the area, people, weather, etc). I just fixed a broken vending machine I found and put it there for my relative, who works there. If the store had more traffic, the money would be at least a few hundred dollars a month.

But here are the catches;

1. Vending machines need physical/manual labors. It's not an automated business. You (hopefully) will need to check on and refill the machines daily. If you have several vending machines spread out in a big city with heavy traffic jam, it will eat up a lot of your time. You will need to maintain the stocks (shopping at a wholesale store, analyzing which products sell more, and checking on expiration dates) yourself manually. A non-automated business that eats up a lot of YOUR valuable time is not a fastlane business in the fullest sense. My relative considered having another company bring their machine and run it for her, but there would have been nearly no money that way. You will have to find and read the manuals and do handy works if a machine malfunctions. Machines break and people do stupid things to vending machines.

2. Of course you need to place it at a high traffic and safe area. I live in East Coast of US. When I did my research on vending machine markets, there were plenty of businesses already that are trying to put their machines at different businesses and stores. Most of them also sell and repair the vending machines. The competition may be fierce and you may need to be very creative and aggressive in finding places (street, businesses, etc) for your money makers.

3. You may have to sell some less usual and trendy stuff. I had a church neighbor that started his own vending machine business, which only sells healthy food. He did it at a small country area and placed them at several different places. I don't know how well it worked out for him, though. The reason why I don't know is because he got very busy. He had a trouble coming to church on weekends. Again, it's not an automated business. And as far as I know, he did not become a millionaire with that business.
 

LeoK

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I had the idea many years ago to set up a vending machine in halls of residence at universities. People are stuck there and can't be assed walking for toothpaste, washing powder etc etc.
I never executed but caught wind of a company a few years later doing very well from it.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
 

ZCP

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My kids took money from their other company and bought several small candy machine routes. I wrote some calc sheets to build their routes for maximum effectiveness per stop. They own about 40 machines and clear about $300 a month for working 4 to 5 hours one day a month.

There are a lot of people retiring from this line of business. So deals are there.

Try it and see!
 

Mattie

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Does anyone have an opinion on vending machine routes/businesses? Is it not worth the time you put in because business route business don't have a good multiple? Does anyone have any experience with the business?
My ex-husband started a vending company, but I'm not sure how he's doing with it. What I can tell you, is that you'd have to answer calls in the middle of the night and fix the machines when their out of service. That means you get up and go and fix it no matter what you're in the middle of unless you have the company already built where you have vehicles, drivers, techs.

He worked for a company for many years first, and than decided to go at it alone.

One you have to order your products. This is a job in itself. You have to know what people love eating at every place you have a vending machine, what they love drinking, warm, hot, junk food, health snacks.

Accounting is another job in itself. Lots of paper work.

Technical skills for what kind of vending machines you have. Hot or cold. That means being a mechanic of the vending machine, being able to take it apart, put it together, wires, screws, bolts, computer technology, coin and dollar bill mechanics. I don't remember the extent of education, but you need to know a lot about how they run or you end up getting yelled at by customers, because you're not providing the service they need.

This is a 24 hour job if you have a vending company, because you have three shifts of workers. They want it now. Especially if they're working third shift. You're on call all the time, and must have reliable vehicles to transport vending machines, another vehicle for delivery of food and products. One is usually a moving truck, and the other they usually use a caravan for techs, and sometimes bigger vans or trucks for products.

You have to know what kind of machines to buy, and you need to know who you're buying them from.

You're dealing with a lot of food and drink companies.

You have to quality service. The customer is always right. You can have very busy days, or very slow days on technical repairs and deliveries. Frankly, it's not a one man job. You'd have to have at least 5 to ten people to get started or you'd end up overworking yourself, never have time to sit down, or rest.

Not a bad job at all. Sure you can make money at it, the one's in my local community back home were always thriving in business.
 

becks22

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I had the idea many years ago to set up a vending machine in halls of residence at universities. People are stuck there and can't be assed walking for toothpaste, washing powder etc etc.
I never executed but caught wind of a company a few years later doing very well from it.

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
My college had vending machines that sold coffee and food (the norm) but also school supplies like external hard drives, flash drives, pencils, pens, notepads, folders, report covers (this was very common for kids to buy if they needed to hand in final papers in report covers and didn't have one and needed one right before class).

There was also other ones with 'medical/ health' supplies like condoms, Advil, tweezers, even shampoo and soap. If you find high-margin products that can be used in a vending machine in a good location, then you much better off than just chips and energy drinks at a car dealership.
 

minivanman

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Depending where you are at in Texas you might be in business against my friend. He is in the DFW/Austin/Houston area. I'm sure people like my friend are in about every area..... he has been in the business for several years and if a place makes money, he has his machines there already. He is RICH from the vending business but he got in 50 years ago. He & I had a friend that started a small vending business and he just passed away owing lots of taxes and lots of bills because he just wasn't making enough to get ahead. I'm not saying there isn't lots of money to be made in the business, but I'd say the odds are slim that the amount of work that it takes would be worth it. I knew a lady in Omaha that bought 5 machines because she thought they would be easy to place.... they were the 1st time but she didn't understand that just because they are easy to place doesn't mean that machine will make money.... like I said above.... a place that will make money is probably already taken by the pro who has been in business several years. I commented on a post like this a few months ago and spoke with my friend Ray since then so I understand a little more.

He took his first profits many years ago and bought bars, now he owns 40 bars and rents them out.
 

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ZCP

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Interesting in the black and white vibes to the posts..... either 'great idea' and here are some scaling ideas..... OR all the negatives and trudgery of my cousin's aunt's neighbor's attempt at a small business.

@Anthony C. there are a few threads on the inside. Vending forums are a great place for info too. Craigslist is a great place to find a few routes. Give it a try. Extra income helps fuel the machine!
 

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