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Five Ways to Expand Your Vending Business

Five Ways to Expand Your Vending Business

Entrepreneurship comes in many forms, and finding additional sources of income is never a bad idea. One great strategy is to find an option with the capacity to make money somewhat passively, meaning with less direct time and work from you. Vending machines have long been popular in that arena. Whether you’re considering a vending machine business or have one and you’re looking to grow, there are different ways to capture further market share and profits.

How Do I Grow My Vending Machine Business?

To grow a vending machine business, there are several strategies you can take. We’ll focus on five key approaches to improve your market share and profits:

1. Research Your Customers and Select Products That Meet Their Needs

Consider your market and the demographic profiles of your customers. Their age, gender, and income level may guide what kinds of products they’d want to buy and how much they’d be willing to pay. Your product selection should reflect what the traffic in that area would want to eat—otherwise, your machine will never get used. For instance, if you have a machine near a fitness center, you’d want to focus on health-conscious products to capture the interest of that specific group. Candy and cookies would likely not sell as well as protein bars or organic items. If you’re looking at placing machines in a new location, evaluate the foot traffic, the time of day people tend to be around, and what activities are in that area to help tailor your product selection.

You could also consider customer surveys as a way to gather direct information. Paper surveys with a submission box are an option, but an online survey accessible with a QR code found on a posted sign could be more practical. The questionnaire could be set up as multiple choice with potential stock you’re debating on, or it could allow free text so that respondents can let you know their desires. Entice people to fill it out with a chance to win a drawing for a gift card or similar prize.

2. Choose Interesting or Unique Products

Popular and trending items can also be a great hook, though it will take due diligence on your part to keep an eye on the market. As new drinks or foods come about, they may trend on social media or be heavily advertised. It may be worth taking advantage of whether you can swiftly get inventory and get it into your machines. Seasonal products are another consideration—if there is an upcoming holiday, order related products in advance so that you can have your machine stocked and ready for Halloween, Christmas, or any other special day. In the fall, be sure to have a few pumpkin spice options available, and depending on the location, it could be a major hit.

You may also want to provide local and regional specialties. While many standard vending machines carry similar options, this would give you a unique angle. It will appeal to customers looking for authentic experiences while also supporting local businesses and improving community presence.

3. Partner With Local Businesses to Place Vending Machines

Forge partnerships with local businesses to strategically place your vending machines and expand your customer base. Find complementary businesses that don’t already offer food and drink options but would benefit from their availability. Examples include gyms, schools, hospitals, and recreation centers. By collaborating with these establishments, you can fill a need they have and customize the inventory based on their input for what their traffic would most be interested in.

Offer partnership incentives such as a percentage of the profits or a reduced rate on your products. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that motivates the business to support and promote your vending machines, increasing your visibility and reach. For large organizations that may be able to place multiple machines on one or several properties, you could offer an incentive for a multi-location contract.

4. Implement Effective Marketing Strategies

How you present your business and get the word out about it plays a crucial role in your growth. Are you asking yourself, “How can I promote my vending machine business?” With the right strategies, you can tap into new markets, attract more customers, and maximize profitability. Start by developing a strong brand identity that helps your business be instantly recognizable. Passersby will connect it with past experiences involving your brand; if those were positive, they may be more likely to buy again. If you’ve used your branding in advertising, that establishes recognition when someone comes across your machine and may increase their likelihood of using it. Choose colors and patterns that stand out to catch their eyes and attract attention.

If you’re comfortable with social media, leverage it to establish an online presence. Regular updates and posts with where the machines are located, what new products are in them, or promoting special events can engage viewers. In turn, they may be more likely to seek out the machines or use them when they come across them. Collaborating with local influencers or bloggers who can promote your vending business to their audience creates a buzz and provides social proof, which further shows the value in your product. Even if you aren’t comfortable with social media, you could hire a virtual assistant or marketing specialist to handle that venue.

5. Leverage Technical Advancement

Consumers are attracted to the latest and greatest—any technology that improves the convenience of a task has a greater draw. Modern vending machines offer cashless payment options with mobile payments and contactless cards that make it easy to buy items from a vending machine. Make sure your machines are capable of these payment methods so that you capture a larger market of customers, since many people don’t carry cash that older machines require.

As a vending machine owner, you may consider using machines equipped with an inventory management system that can provide you with data analytics. This allows you to track sales data, monitor inventory, and use that information to determine what’s a hit and what needs course correction. Being able to see what products are selling most often and whether it’s consistent or variable gives you the ability to decide whether you need to adjust what you’re stocking in the machine.

How Can I Make My Vending Machine More Profitable?

Boiled down, increasing profits means decreasing costs and increasing sales. Having vending machines in a high-traffic area where people are frequently present increases your odds of sales from the start. Even better? Put them where there are a lot of hungry and thirsty people without other options nearby. Schools, health facilities, community centers, and sports complexes are all prime locations to capture traffic.

You should also fill your machine with products that have a higher margin, meaning the cost for you to buy the inventory is low and the amount you can sell it for is high. This could depend on your supplier as well as the type of product. If you’re able to buy in bulk or strike a deal with your source, that could be an excellent way to clear additional profit. Just be certain what you buy will sell—you don’t want to end up with boxes of snacks no one ever buys.

Find cost-effective strategies to stock and maintain your machines. Consider clustering your work so that you aren’t wasting time and gas driving all over the place to tend to your vending machines. If you’re able to stock identical or similar inventory across your locations, restocking is simpler.

Finally, you can increase profits by having more machines. Distributing them across a large footprint helps cast a wider net and balances some of the loss that may occur in a seasonal or slower location. The key is buying machines that are reliable, like the ones we sell at S Vending Solutions. Vending machines that require little maintenance, have guaranteed vending technology like iVend, and accept multiple forms of payment have a higher likelihood of use and will need less of your direct time for troubleshooting.

If you’re interested in a vending machine to solve your lack of options at your workplace or other facility but don’t want to buy one, consider a vending machine service instead. This allows you to host the vending machine, share in the profit, and do none of the maintenance. Any good vending machine service should focus on taking care of their customers. With S Vending Solutions, we provide hassle-free service with easy inventory change requests, frequent upkeep, and high-quality products. Whether you want to request a specific item in the inventory or want to move the machine to a new spot, we’re happy to answer your call and meet your request.

Looking to purchase a vending machine or hire a vending machine service near Nashville? SVS can meet either need with ease—email us at or contact us through our easy website form for a free consultation so you can start the vending solution that’s best for you.

Steve Caldwell
Steve Caldwell

Steve Caldwell is the owner and CEO of S Vending Solutions. As a former vending equipment salesman and later the National Sales Manager for PBS Vending Services from 2001-2008, Steve learned the industry inside and out. In 2018, Steve started his own vending company and quickly established routes in Nashville, Knoxville, and West Tennessee, expanding from there. As his personal routes grew he decided to sell his company and help new and existing vending operators market their businesses. Steve currently sells both new and used vending equipment and specializes in helping new operators start and grow their vending companies. He has become a certified Service Entity for the USI/Wittern brand of equipment.

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