How to start a vending-machine business to build passive income – Business Insider

Late last year, Bri Bucks was looking for a way to earn some extra cash on top of what her hair salon and business-coaching businesses. She purchased a snack-and-drink vending machine to put in her salon in the hopes of reaping some passive income.
In the first three weeks of operation, she’s brought in nearly $300 and hopes to surpass $5,500, the cost of the machine itself, before the end of the year, she said. Entrepreneurs on social media have shined a spotlight on the vendingmachine industry recently, sharing tips for getting started and detailing how they’ve earned hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Bucks shared her advice on generating passive income, finding somewhere to place a vending machine, and choosing items to stock.
This is an as-told-to story based on an interview with Bucks that has been edited for length and clarity.

During the pandemic, I started coaching other business owners, especially on leveraging business credit to buy income-producing assets like vending machines.
Income-producing assets that bring passive income are so important to me as a business owner because there’s only a limited window of time — and therefore, a limited amount of money I can make — in a day. I bought a vending machine because we are in the salon all day, our clients are here for hours at a time, and our customer base is a hungry captive audience.
This was a perfect side hustle because we’re always ordering from DoorDash and Uber Eats anyway. So, if I can provide snacks for people while they’re here, it’s a service that is convenient and beneficial to our clients and staff and gives me the opportunity to generate passive income.
I decided to purchase a brand-new combo machine, which sells both snacks and drinks, with my line of business credit, which I suggest founders get separately from building personal credit. After purchasing, it took about two months for the machine to arrive.
I decided on a machine with a card reader because I knew that many of my clients wouldn’t be carrying cash.
It’s important to realize that there are different kinds of vending machines. They’re not just snacks and drinks — you can sell beauty products. For example, a car wash could sell different types of air fresheners.
Also, the machine doesn’t have to be new. I bought a new machine because it worked best for what I needed. But if you can buy a used machine that’s already in an approved location, I highly recommend that. That way, you don’t have to go out and find a location that has high foot traffic and can ensure a customer base.
Getting to know your target customers will help inform a lot of your decisions. I landed on this specific machine for my salon because I knew the client base existed and would be interested in snacks and drinks.
But other vending-machine owners should take note of the types of products and payment systems that would most attract their target customers.
For instance, if you’re setting up a vending machine in an office building, send out a survey and ask what the employees would like to see in the machine.
As business owners, a lot of the time, we get caught up in creating a business that offers what we want, but not necessarily what our clients want. I suggest testing the market, finding out what they want, and then delivering.
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