It seems that in times of economic uncertainty many people begin looking for alternative income possibilities separate from their regular day-to-day jobs. There are several problems of course such as:

1) Start up capital or financing
2) Which business opportunity
3) Risk
4) Technical expertise
5) How long before realizing returns
6) Time required to operate the business

There are several issues that need to be dealt with if you are running your own vending machine business. It is essential to understand the nature of problems that you may face.
  1. Right place: Placing the vending machine at the right location is the key factor to ensure that your vending machine business is profitable. Suppose, you decide to buy a toy dispensing vending machine and place it outside a pub. On the other hand, your competitor also buys a toy dispensing vending machine and places it outside a children's park. In this case, your competitor would definitely earn more than you. Your competitors' machine will sell the entire stock even before you manage to sell one toy, because your machine is not at the right location. Location plays an important role in the success of the vending machine business.
  2. Increasing competition: The fact that there is a very low initial investment needed in order to start a vending machine business is a major factor which is responsible for increasing business competition.

The vending machine business is a great way to earn profit within a few months of starting the business, and if owned solely by you, you can also enjoy the full share of the vending machine business profits. The vending machine business advantages are:
  1. Be your own boss: With vending machine business, you can be your own boss. It is you who will determine the vending machine business plan, and decide which vending machine to buy, among the different available vending machines like soft drink dispenser, toy dispenser, gum ball dispenser, etc.
  2. Low initial investment: The investment in vending machine business is small unless you are going in for bigger vending machines.
  3. Less time and efforts: Buying the right vending machine and setting it at the correct location does not take much of your time or efforts, especially if you have connections with local businesses and stores.

By owning a vending machine business, you can be a part of the ever growing billion dollar retail industry, which has proved to be a boon for both - people associated with the industry as well as the customers. By starting a vending machine business, you can earn good amount of money, even if you are not physically present at your business premises. The success of this vending machine business depends on the quality of service you provide your customers. Now the big question is - 'Is vending machine business profitable'? Given below are some vending machine business plans, which will be useful to achieve your business targets and answer all your queries.

The answer to the question -
how to start a vending machine business, is by following a properly designed and well executed vending machine business plan. This vending machine business plan will consist of setting realistic targets for your enterprise, planning well in advance for its future, inventing new business strategies, understanding purpose and future growth prospects of the business by setting right objectives and mission and arranging for initial business capital. Here is a well chalked out vending machine business plan to start vending machine business.

If you are considering business alternatives, vending machines are a good place to start. Once the experience is accumulated they can make for some hefty profits.

Here are a couple of tips for getting you started.

1. The object of the sale can be crucial to the business but it can vary from different types of beverages to hygiene products. Product demand and profit margins are to be studied thoroughly for each type of product. For example candy and gumball machines return a profit greater than the actual product value but the sales have to be larger or you need to have more than one machine in one place.
2. Once you have decided on a product you have to choose a proper location, where people stay or gather, places like lunch rooms, bus or train stations, access ways. The location is of critical importance and must be according to what you are selling – for candy, balls, gumballs the best places are where kids may wait like in front of restaurants or at zoos. Restrooms or airports are the best locations to place vending machines selling condoms or tissues.

3. The vending machines can be either rented or purchased. It is usually much cheaper to rent a vending machine but the new ones don’t come very expensive and if they are successful, studies have shown that they pay for themselves in less than a year’s time.

4. Used machines are another way to go. Letting aside the price advantages for this option you can find that many companies that sell used vending machines offer a reasonable payment plan and even guarantees that their machines will work without any problems.

5. Browse the web for special offers. Many manufacturers now sell their vending machines online and offer great deals on new or refurbished products.

Other customers have emailed the following tips and ideas which may help your business!!
  • General Vending Machine Tips
  • Bulk Vending Tips
  • Snack & Soda Vending Tips
  • Jukeboxes 
 General Vending Tips
  • A well maintained vending machine will be used more often than a neglected one.  Service your vending machine often and it will yield a bigger return.  Keep records.  Change slow moving products to alternatives.
    Spread out your route, it will bring up your sales average.  Service your machine yourself and when you're comfortable with it you may  want to hire someone to help you. Check their work regularly.  The more selections of products you put in a location, the more profit that  location will bring in.
    A colorful machine will bring in more revenue.
    Check with other vendors to compare notes.
  • Try not to go the same time to, collect your money like every Monday, on the 1st. You never no who is watching you. Try and go different times of the week or month. Its good security
  • I think I have a great idea how to avoid paying a % of your profits. Say you have one machine at Miller Auto and you want to put one at Ace Hardware but he wants a %, tell him you will put some kind of advertising of his on your vending machine at Miller Auto. If it's a franchise it just might work
  • always look below the vending machine people always drop money under i looked and found 5 dollars in one week once
  • When approaching a new location, take a "gift basket" filled with a good variety of top selling items to distribute to employees. Be sure to include several business cards so that the employees are familiar with your business name.

Your thumbprint might soon be the key to an afternoon candy bar. A Massachusetts based vending machine company is joinng the growing ranks of companies that are field-testing new technologies.
Next Generation Vending and Food Service is experimenting  with biometric vending machines that would allow a user to tie a credit card to their thumbprint.

"For a certain demographic that is pretty cool," says company president John S. Ioannou.
Next Generation is currently testing about 60 of the biometric machines in various locations in the northeast.

The company is also testing other technologies. Ioannou says the key to the transforming the vending machine business is making the consumer feel more engaged.

As you know, vending machines come in different sizes and forms as do the products the customers can purchase from them. Most electrically-operated machines can accept both coins and bills and then there are machines that only accept a specific coin denomination and reject the rest.
One of the most common problems one faces when dealing with vending machines is jamming. It is either the customer inserted the wrong coin or the bill is crumpled but ultimately, the customer loses money and does not get the product he or she wanted to buy. It also means that as an operator, you need to get the vending machine serviced to remove the coin or bill stuck in there.

Simply put, it is bad for business as the machine remains unavailable while something is lodged in the very mechanism that actually allows you to earn. This is a loss-loss situation for both the customer and the owner that should be avoided as much as possible.

In the bulk candy vending realm, the quarter vending machines reign supreme. They have become sort of de facto in this particular niche of the vending industry. Gum balls can be sold at 25 cents apiece and the machines can be calibrated to dispense the appropriate number of candies for the same amount.

Instead of just jumping into vending and hoping for the best you should prepare by doing as much research on the subject as you can. Let's consider some of the vending machine business information sources that you may use to get a preliminary understanding of the industry, some data for your business plan or some solid advice.

Advice from Other Vending Machine Business Operators
The best way to get advice and information about the vending business would be to ask some existing operators about the local industry and their businesses.

Due to the competitive nature of the vending machine business some business owners may be unlikely to share a lot of information and may even discourage you with false information.
However some of the more established operators care a lot about improving the often bad reputation that the vending industry has. They may be keen to see new operators start out properly instead of having them end up adding to the myth that vending machines and their owners are not to be trusted.

If you try to get talking to a business operator while he or she is re-stocking one of his machines you may be able to get some information out of them as part of a polite conversation but it is unlikely that they would spare a lot of time to go into the details.

What is a good location? This question is relative, based on your company's size and goals. A national vending concern considers a good account to have gross sales over $240,000 per year ($20,000 per month), whereas a small vendor working out of his garage might consider an account with sales of $6,000 per year ($500 per month) to be a good account. Start with your goals. What kind of vending machine business do you want? How much capital do you have? What are your operational plans? Is this a full time venture for you or a part time income?

For example, a vending machine account that generates $20,000 per month probably will have at least 6 vending machines (3 sets, snack/soda). These vending machines would need to be late model or new, an investment of at least $15,000 in equipment. To service an account of this nature, a vending machine operator would require:
* $2,000 in parts for immediate repair - Customers like this expect service calls to be completed within 4 hours of the initial call.
* A running daily inventory of $5,000 in vending machine product
* Service 2-3 times a day
* Fully insured - liability, workers compensation, etc.
* Paying a commission
* Driving a late model vending truck ($40,000)
* Extremely professional demeanor
* $62,000 in initial capital investment, plus ongoing expenses (telephone, office expense etc.), before the first dollar is generated

As you can imagine, this type of account is very rare, could require even more equipment than we discussed here, and is highly desirable.

A vending machine account that generates $500 per month can have as little as a single vending machine, which could be older and might even have been free. Servicing this account is much easier, requiring 2 route stops per month, service calls handled in a reasonable amount of time (within 5 days), could be run out of a car or pickup truck, would not be a commission account (unless you are crazy), and would have little ongoing expense. These accounts are much more plentiful and, therefore, less desirable.

When buying used vending machines, the best ones to buy are the ones that are 100% metal. When you see a used vending machine on sale, the price is usually a lot lower than if you purchased it new, which is a great way to get started in the vending machine business. If you are looking for a home business that you can work on your own time and for which you don’t need to hire staff, then take a look at some of the used vending machines that are available. 

You have to be careful when buying used vending machines. This is because the coin receptacle doesn’t usually get replaced if the currency changes, such as dollar bills being changed to coins. This is something that you do have to check out. Check over the used candy vending machine if that is the kind of vending machine you want to use by putting in coins and seeing how easy it is to get the candy. This will give you an idea of how well your vending machine business may go. If the machines are easy to use, you will have many repeat customers. If they are difficult to use, then customers will avoid your machine when they want candy, a snack or a drink. 

You will find many used vending machines for sale if you do an online search. Some of the companies that have the vending machines for sale offer a guarantee that you will not have any problems with the machines that you buy from them. When you compare the price of a new snack vending machine with the price of a refurbished machine, you can save yourself thousands of dollars. With this saving, you don’t have to wait as long to recoup the cost of the used vending machines from the sales of the products.