How to Start a Vending Machine Business in the UK

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Being an entrepreneur is difficult. The idea of acquiring a new business licence often stirs fears of:

  • Low-income start-ups
  • Long term stressors
  • Businesses requiring around-the-clock supervision

While start-ups are often full of stress, the vending machine business may be the salve to these fears, offering a quick start-up, minimal upkeep, and passive income.

Vending Machines as a Business

Vending machines are a cornerstone of everyday life. Integrated in most public venues, from cinemas to grocery stores, they offer every type of good imaginable, at extreme convenience. Standing to get a candy bar is a shared, common experience: stand, swipe, wait. The act is so common, in fact, that we rarely think of the business behind every transaction; the money behind every punch and drop of a Lion Bar.

Though the transactions are often small – generating dollar by dollar income – they are a deceptively successful business model. In 2021, the Automatic Vending Association reported that vending machines in the UK sold 7 billion products. For the year as a whole, the vending machine industry has a combined worth of £25 billion.

In this day and age, vending machines pose an intriguing business model. For entrepreneurs, it requires minimal start-up and maintenance costs. In this way, it’s an ideal job to bring in extra cash. While a vending machine may not bring in as much as a full time job, the passive income might be all you need to get off your feet.

Research before you buy a vending machine

While starting the company may seem simple, it is crucial to learn as much as you can about the business. Though the startup cost is slight, it is still the beginning of a business, and like any, you need a business plan.

How to Start a Vending Machine Business in the UK

Find Your Niche

Though vending machines offer a wide range of goods, it is crucial to find your niche, to make yourself as effective and unique as possible.

Below are steps to make the most out of your vending machine startup. Vending machines offer a variety of products. Determining your type of vending machine is crucial in setting yourself apart from the competition.

#1. Consider Your Market

Setting up a vending machine that offers the usual soft drinks and snacks might not make you stand out from the crowd. Instead, consider filling niches that are less common in today’s marketplace.

For instance, a vending machine equipped with healthy snacks might offer a clever opposition to junk food alternatives. Beverage vending machines may be appropriate for a mall environment, but not so much for a museum.

Consider Your Locale

Another important factor to narrow in on your product is your location. Some products are well-suited for some places, and ill-advised for others. For instance, coffee machines would be well suited in a place of corporate work, but not in a climbing gym. It is ideal to start with a location, and scale out from there, determining the needs and wants of your possible clientele.

Before settling on a home, visit the locale to study the traffic and density. If there aren’t many people, it may not be worth the investment.

#2. Consider Your Customers

In this day and age, proper customer service is king.

The vending industry is full of competition. Without a strong customer relationship, your business will gain little traction.

There are few activities more frustrating than standing at a vending machine and watching an item get stuck inside. Consider other common annoyances: You’re thirsty, but the machine only takes cash. The machine doesn’t provide change. The machine tries to read your card and fails.

While selecting your vending machine, it is crucial that you keep your customer’s convenience in mind. Cash is not nearly as prevalent as it was twenty years ago. Add the usage of debit cards and credit cards for added convenience. Service the machine regularly to avoid common mistakes and mishaps.

While it is easy to neglect, keeping careful consideration of your customers will keep your business reliable and (hopefully) improve your business.

#3. Find a Supplier

Due to the speed and consumption of the vending industry, it is especially important to link with a reliable supplier. Make sure that the products you invest in will sell well, and that you can restock as often as needed. Your business hinges on your supplier: You’re no more than an empty machine without the product!

Take the proper time and consideration to research your product and find reputable suppliers.

#4. Buy a Vending Machine and Obtain a Licence

Though the vending business has a lower cost of entry, like any company, there are the necessary investments. After all the proper planning is complete, there comes a time when you have to take a step forward, take a deep breath, and dive in.

The cost of a vending machine will vary based on the factors listed above. The location will dictate the size, while the specific product will decide the make and model. A typical amount for a vending machine will range from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds. While the investment can seem hefty on the outset, remember the benefits of beginning the business.

The steps for business owners to receive their business licences will differ based on the local council in your territory. Do the necessary research to know what licences you need to obtain for your specific business. Reach out to the necessary stores and locations to get permission to utilise your vending machine.

Vending Machine snacks and services

Congratulations! Your Own Part-time Business

Once you’ve put in the work, sit back and wait to track your earnings. As with all part-time ventures, taking your time and patience is important. Don’t place all your chips in one basket – ensure you continue other work, to keep yourself sustained. If, over time, your vending machine does not generate as much income as expected, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is the interface easy to use?
  • Does the product match the location?
  • Is my product specific enough, targeting a specific niche?

Addressing each of these concerns will likely amount to more purchases. Don’t be afraid to try out different products or move the vending business to another locale. If the vending machine begins generating decent income consider branching out. You can experiment with different products in different places, determining which locations and items are best suited for you and your business.

Starting a vending machine business with Franchise Local

With all the stressors of business and finances, opening a vending machine business may be the perfect step to a flow of passive income. Sporting low overhead and limited upkeep, this small business is a current way of generating income.

Explore our list of vending machine franchises to get a step toward your business today.

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