How to Start a Vending
Machine Business

The Complete Guide


Looking to get into the vending machine business? Want to learn all the ins and outs of how
to make passive income while enjoying incredible freedom in your life?

You’ve come to the right place.

I wrote this guide to help you avoid all the mistakes I made when I started my vending machine
business in 2002 AND to get the most leverage, freedom, and enjoyment from it.

Let’s face it, while it sounds simple, learning how to start a vending machine route can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve broken it down into easy to follow steps.

Here are the six steps to starting a vending machine business.

There are a ton of great reasons to get started now.

The most common reasons why so
many entrepreneurs get into the vending business include:

And that’s what this Guide is all about.

You can gain more control over your life, enjoy more flexibility, achieve a higher income potential, and secure your family’s future. And you don’t have to worry about making the wrong business start-up decision and falling flat on your face.

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.)

But first…

Before you even start researching how to buy vending machines, think about this:

What is a successful vending venture really built on? Selling product? Minimizing cost? Locking down every location known to man?

Actually—and perhaps surprisingly— the answer isn’t any of these things.

Rather, any and every successful vending business is built upon an unwavering dedication to providing value at every step.

Some people call this “customer service.” We call it being a “WOW Technician”; that is, someone who can methodically and consistently deliver service, products, and results that leave locations and customers saying “WOW!”

It’s a simple concept: value received always follows value provided.

This guide will give you the necessary skill set to make this happen. To receive the value you seek, it will be on you to meet this challenge and “walk the talk.”

In This Guide You’ll Learn

Why Vending?

Before you begin any business venture you must know why you’re doing it

Take Me to Part 1

Vending Machine Equipment

Vending machine equipment

What type of technology can help you get ahead of traditional vendors and work more efficiently

Take Me to Part 2

Vending Machine Locations

The secret to finding and securing contracts with only the most profitable locations for your vending machines

Take Me to Part 3

Vending Machine Products

Vending machine products

Learn the best distributors and wholesale outlets to get products for your vending machines

Take Me to Part 4

Customer Service

How to create long lasting relationships with your accounts so that you keep their business for life

Take Me to Part 5

Startup Strategy

Discover the different types of vending business startup options are out there and which one is the best suited for you and your appetite for risk

Take Me to Part 6

Don’t have time to read the whole
guide right now?

No problem – we’ll send you a copy so you can read it when it’s
convenient for you. Just let us know where to send it:

Download our FREE Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Owning a Vending Machine Business


Who Are We?

HUMAN (“Helping Unite Mankind And Nutrition”) is a one-of-a-kind nutritional distribution platform that uses healthy vending machines to bring convenient, healthier, and better-for-you foods and drinks to people across the nation.

We’re the original pioneers of healthy vending in North America (we started our first vending route in 2002) and we’ve grown to be an Inc. 500 “Fastest Growing Company” in America.

The healthy vending movement has been increasing rapidly in the last decade and there are no signs of it slowing down.

We’ve been fortunate enough to team-up with the best partners, suppliers, and operators across the country to pursue our ambitious vision of creating “Easy Nutrition Everywhere” and “making healthy food more convenient than junk food.”

Why We Wrote This Guide

While there seems to be a massive amount of information available on the internet, much of it is outdated, contradictory, or lacks detailed, actionable steps on how to actually launch a vending machine business. This has frustrated me over the years, because I’ve made a ton of mistakes launching my own vending business and I wish I had a resource back then to help me avoid the pitfalls.

This guide will give you a detailed resource so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did!

With the huge technological advancements made over the last decade, the vending industry has also seen quite a bit of improvement in technology…but nobody seems to be talking about it.

These amazing new technologies are aimed to help you, the vending business owner, and you need to know about them if you want to get ahead of your competition.

As the healthy vending experts, we know a lot about this stuff. We put this complete Guide together to make it easier for you to learn not just how to start a vending machine business, but all the options available at your fingertips to improve your chances for success.


Before You Get Started, Consider This

What’s a complete guide without some industry stats? Here are some eye-opening numbers about the vending industry (thanks to Brandon Gaille for compiling many of the ones mentioned below):

  • There is an estimated 4.6 million vending machines in the United States right now
  • Sales of healthier snacks outpace traditional snack foods (i.e. junk food) by 3x, but most vending machines operators still stock their machines full of traditional junk food
  • The first American vending machine sold gum. The first English vending machine sold apples and postcards.
  • About 30% of total vending machine sales come from schools (see our chapter on vending machine products to see how new rules implemented in 2015 have changed the types of products that can be sold in schools)
  • 55.1% of vending machines are placed in offices or manufacturing buildings
  • You can sell just about anything out of a vending machine. Seriously.
vending machines in the US
of vending machines located in schools
0 %
of vending machines located in offices/manufacturing buildings

What Does a Typical Day Look Like When You Own a Vending Business?

This is a question that a lot people ask before they get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to run a successful vending machine business.

Here’s a quick overview:

Your day will typically start by hopping onto your computer to view the backend remote monitoring system. This technology gives you an up-to-date report to see which locations are low on product and need to be restocked.

After taking a look at your machine inventory report, the next task is to print out reports that tell you how many of each product you need (called “Pick Lists”), load your products into bins, and pack them up into your vehicle.

Then you’ll hit the road where you get to interact with your customers, provide a couple of “wow moments”, and of course, restock and service your machines.

Here’s a typical service schedule:

  • Empty the cash box
  • Refill the coin mechanism with dimes, nickels, quarters, and dollar coins
  • Restock all products in the machine
  • Wipe down the glass on the front of the machine

Once you’ve completed your onsite tasks, it’s time to get back on the road and visit your next location!

After servicing your route for the day, other daily activities might include reordering products, accounting activities, and inventory management.

Watch this “Day In The Life” video that we created that follows one of our vending operators to see this whole process in action!

The Top 5 Facts and Fallacies About This Business


Other Frequently Asked Questions

How often will I need to service my machines?

If you are in high-traffic, high-producing locations, you will typically service your machines 1-3 times per week. Servicing a machine does not require a lot of time (typically 15 minutes or less), but maintaining a well-stocked and clean machine is an absolute must. Otherwise, your sales will suffer due to the machine not functioning properly.

What type of licensing, paperwork and insurance will I need?

Each state has different regulations and licensing for vending businesses, so you will need to contact your local licensing department. It is also highly recommended to purchase insurance for your machines in case of vandalism or natural disasters. More times than not, the best options you can find is to go through local insurance agents.

While the decision is ultimately yours, the majority of vending operators establish their business as an LLC. You can use your personal lawyer or accountant to get this setup, or (if you’re more savvy) go through a service such as LegalZoom.

Additionally, please be aware that there are benefits of registering your business under one of the following categories. A basic internet search will yield all of the possible benefits of registering your LLC as:

  • A small business (through the SBA)
  • A veteran-owned business
  • A women-owned business
  • A minority-owned business
  • A business owned by someone with a disability (deaf, blindness, etc.)

This is not an extensive list – but should certainly get the wheel turning!

Do I need a truck or large vehicle to service my machines?

With only a handful of machines on your route, a dedicated service vehicle will not be necessary. You can use your personal car while your servicing a handful of machines.

However, if you’re serious about growing your route, you will eventually need a larger vehicle to transport larger quantities of products without making return trips to your storage facility.

How big of an issue is theft or vandalism?

This really depends on a lot of factors – the main one being an inside or outside placement. If your vending machine is inside of a building, you will typically deal with a lot less vandalism and theft issues. However, if you have a vending machine that is setup outside, you run a much higher risk of your machines being broken into or graffitied.

That’s why you will typically see a lot of vending machines enclosed in metal cages when they’re outdoors. The vending owner uses the caging to protect it from the elements and deter any criminal activity.

Do I have to pay a portion of my sales to the business or location where my machine is placed?

The majority of locations expect to receive some type of commission from your vending sales in exchange for “renting” you real estate from which to sell (especially if they have received commissions from their previous vendors).

You can typically negotiate a 15%-30% commission rate, depending on the location type and foot traffic. Experienced vending business owners use the tactic of offering a higher commission rate in exchange for exclusivity within a location – meaning their machines face no competition onsite.

What are the best types of locations?

You can learn more about how to land the most profitable vending locations in Chapter 3, but we’ve typically found that schools are one of the best options.

Why is that, you ask?

Here are the main reasons:

  • Schools have consistent and static foot traffic (students go to school 5 times per week and it’s the same students who go to school everyday, so they know what you sell in your machines).
  • Kids love buying from vending machines – it’s a fun experience for them.
  • Students don’t usually plan ahead to bring snacks with them to eat throughout the day.
  • Parents give their kids money to buy snacks from school. A lot of the time, those snacks end up being from the vending machine.

Some other good location types are offices/office buildings, gyms/recreation centers, YMCAs, and hospitals.

How profitable is a vending machine business?

The profitability of your vending machine route will depend entirely on the locations you secure (that’s why we dedicated an entire chapter to this topic). If you’re able to secure high traffic locations with little to no food or drink competition, your business will be a lot more successful.

In addition, being able to secure competitive product pricing will give you higher margins on each product sold, meaning more profit for your business.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Why Do You Want To Start a Vending Business?

Before you know what you want, you have to answer why you want it. In this chapter, we’ll show you the most important questions to ask yourself before moving forward with your research on starting a vending machine business. This is definitely an important chapter of the guide that you don’t want to skip over.

Take Me to Part 1

Why Vending

How to Choose The Right Vending Machine Equipment

There’s a big misconception that vending machines are “one-size-fits-all.” The truth is, your vending machines and equipment should be location-specific. This chapter will also cover the latest vending machine technology that can help you increase revenue and boost your operational efficiency.

Take Me to Part 2

How to Secure The Most Profitable Vending Machine Locations

Location, location, location! Your locations are the most important part of your vending machine business. Choose the wrong location type and you’re looking at a long road of financial pain. Follow-these 8 essential tips to make sure you’re securing only the best locations for your vending machines.

Take Me to Part 3

Source The Best-Selling Vending Machine Products at The Best Price

Since you’re selling products in high volume, the vending business is all about margins. This chapter will show you the best and most affordable sources to get wholesale prices. We’ll also cover the new nutritional standards in schools and how you can make sure you’re in compliance (and avoid any penalties that could cost your business a lot of money).

Take Me to Part 4

Provide Amazing Service to Keep Your Vending Accounts for Life

When you know how to provide excellent service to your locations, they’ll want to work with you for a long time. They’ll also be much more patient and understanding when unforeseen issues occur (i.e. coin jams, technical issues, stuck products, etc). Customer service in the vending business is equal parts machine maintenance and knowing how to communicate.

Take Me to Part 5

Choose The Right Startup Option For You

There are several different ways you can actually start a vending machine business including joining an established business opportunity or launching a business on your own. Now that you know what it takes to get this type of business up and running, it’s time to evaluate your startup options. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” here either. It comes down to what makes sense for you.

Take Me to Part 6

We want to help you get started today.

Want to learn more about the benefits of
starting a vending machine business

Download our FREE Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Owning a Vending Machine Business



Take me to Part 1