How Much Do Vending Machines Make? Profit Margins & More Shown

A vending machine requires high traffic to be profitable. In a prime location, a vending machine that costs just a couple thousand dollars can generate many times its cost in revenue each year. Margins are usually low in the vending industry, though, with small vending operations averaging a net profit margin of just 2.4% nationally. (This percentage was reported in 2011, but we were unable to find an updated statistic; the National Automated Merchandising Association has not published more recent profit studies publicly.)

Ultimately, how much money your vending machine can make is dependent on finding a good location, buying or leasing the correct type of vending machine for your location, and determining how much time you have to invest in the business.

Are Vending Machines Profitable?

Are vending machines a good investment? A National Automated Merchandising Association (NAMA) study tracked a vending machine business in Texas during 2011 and found annual revenues of vending machines varied from $904 to $9944, or between $17 and $828 per week. After factoring costs to service and stock the machines, the vending machines that were in the NAMA study averaged an annual profit of $1,153.

The most significant barrier to a successful vending machine business is finding good locations for your vending machines and determining the correct products to have at each location. For some locations, candy may be a best seller, while healthy snacks or cold drinks may be more popular at others. A profitable vending machine has a location that sees high traffic and offers products targeted to that traffic.

How to Get Vending Machine

The largest expense in a vending machine business is the vending machine itself. There are multiple ways to get started in the vending machine business, each with pros and cons based on your finances.

Buying a New Vending Machine

The costs to buy a vending machine vary widely depending on the type of vending machine you need. New standard vending machines that sell basic prepackaged foods cost between $1,500 and $5,000, while specialized vending machines that serve hot food can cost as much as $20,000. Vending machine manufacturers may be able to offer financing to help those with limited money get started.

Vending machines are available for purchase from the following manufactures.

AMS Machines

Crane Merchandising Systems

Royal Machines



Vendo Sanden

Buying a Used Vending Machine

Used machines can often be found for under $1,000, but exact prices will depend on the age of the machine, type of the machine, and its condition.Special financiang is not available when buying used.

Some locations to purchase used vending machines include:

Buying a Vending Machine Route

Another option to enter the vending machine industry is to purchase an already established vending machine business.

This option removes a lot of hassle of finding locations and negotiating agreements with property owners for your vending machines, and it allows you to see current sales numbers for the machines to ensure the locations are producing adequate sales. However, this option also requires a larger initial investment compared to just buying a vending machine.

Buying a successful vending machine route will be expensive, likely costing several times the route’s annual income. However, the proven locations and established operating agreements may make buying an existing vending machine business less risky.

In addition to using local resources such as your local newspaper, there are several sites for those looking to purchase already existing vending machine businesses:

Leasing a Vending Machine

Another option to get started in the vending industry is to lease a vending machine. Under a lease agreement, you would agree to pay the vending machine owner a fixed fee to use their vending machines.

A lease allows for easy budgeting since you have a fixed payment and don’t have to pay for unexpected repairs. A lease also allows you to keep your vending equipment up to date and requires less money upfront to begin selling products. Long term, however, leasing a vending machine may lead to increased total costs since you will always be paying for your machine.

Monthly lease costs for new vending machines that sell cold drinks or prepackaged snacks are typically between $100 and $150 per month, however exact costs vary depending on the vending machine model.

Vending machine manufacturers may offer leasing options, along with the following retailers:

There are many small vending machine leasing companies that only serve small local areas. Manta has a list of 950 vending machine leasing companies to look through.

Are Vending Machines a Good Investment?

What’s a vending machine business profit margin? In general, vending machine business profits are low. According to the National Automatic Merchandising Association, on average, a small vending machine business (classified as a business with under $2 million in annual revenue) has a net profit margin of 2.4%. Meaning that for every $1 paid into the vending machine, the vending machine owner receives 2.4 cents after accounting for expenses, such as the costs to reload the machines, costs to service the machines, and more.

However, these margins can be improved by servicing the routes yourself to avoid hiring help, finding above average locations, and finding higher margin products such as fresh food or specialized drinks.

Vending machines are also a very passive business that require very little time or upkeep. So although margins are low, very little time is required to produce those returns. Machines are typically restocked 1 to 2 times per week, based on demand. And “smart machines,” vending machines that actively track inventory and relay up to date numbers to owners, can reduce the time required to keep machines stocked.

In Summary

Owning vending machines is a venture that allows you to be your own boss and create an additional income stream that doesn’t require a lot of money or time to start. However, to be successful, you will need to find profitable locations to place your vending machines and determine the correct items to sell. Vending machine profit is generally low. For every $1 paid into the machine, the owner receives 2.4 cents of profit, on average. Are vending machines a good investment? To some maybe, but if you want to get wealthy in a hurry, you may want to focus your talents elsewhere.

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