That’s so great that you want to do this and give a percentage back to charity – props to you! I’m not sure what kind of vending machine you’re thinking of – the big ones or the small ones, but the principle is the same. I hope you find the following information helpful
etting into the candy vending business turned out to be fairly simple. Here are the steps one needs to take:
- Find places where you can set up a candy vending machine. Think of high-traffic locations where a lot of kids pass through with their parents. When I started, I asked my two relatives who own restaurants if I could place a coin-operated candy vending machine in their restaurants (see picture above). Both said yes.
- Talk to the owner(s) of the location(s) where you would like to set up a machine. If they agree to it, discuss things like royalties with them. You could promise to give them a certain percentage (~20% – 50%) of all your income in return for allowing you to place a candy machine in their business. Note that even though you’re giving them a royalty, you’ll be doing most of the work.
- Order a vending machine online or look up vendors on Google (make sure they’re legit and trustworthy!). A three compartment coin-operated machine will generally cost anywhere between $120 to $160. See what kind of dispensing wheels they come with. I found one online (not sure if this is a legit seller) that comes with a gumball dispensing wheel and two candy dispensing wheels, which is probably the best way to go.
- At the same time, figure out the applicable laws in your state/province regarding vending licenses and taxes.
- Decide on what kinds of candy you want to vend. Gumballs are certainly great in terms of profits (each gumball only costs around 3 to 5 cents!). I was vending gumballs, M&M’s, and Skittles. Candy such as Mike and Ikes tastes great, but not everyone likes them, and they tend to stick together after sitting in a machine for a while (plus they are slightly more expensive).
- Buy your candy in bulk. Costco and Smart & Final (don’t know if that’s in Canada) both sell M&M’s and Skittles in three pound bags for around $7 to $9. You can also try eBay.
- Set up the machine. Put it in a prominent location but make sure it doesn’t get in people’s way. Place a little sticker with a price on the front (usually 25 cents is standard) and a label informing people what kind of candy is in each compartment. And you can determine how much candy will be dispensed every time somebody puts in a coin by adjusting the dispensing wheel inside the machine. You can decide to be generous or stingy, though you must remember that people will remember you for being stingy and not buy from you again.
- Fill up each compartment with candy or gumballs. Unless you expect a lot of traffic, you don’t want to fill each compartment to the top or else the candy at the top won’t be fresh.
- Collect money and add candy to the machines periodically. Distribute the royalties and make sure your machines are in good condition. A broken machine makes the business and its owner look bad. Learn to make repairs on the machines. Not every part is reachable (e.g. the coin mechanisms on the sides), so some day, you will have to just put up with the cost of a replacement machine.
- Learn to keep track of your income and expenses, which means you must keep records of everything, including your receipts. It’s a great way to learn about accounting. I wish I was more serious about this.
- Expand. I never got to this stage, but if you are growing really fast, you can hire someone, a friend for example, to help you manage part of the business.