Let’s talk. Is your vending machine business performing as you expected it would? Are you generating profit from your business that is satisfying your needs? If your answer to either question is “no,” it’s time to make some improvements to the performance of your vending machine business. We’ve collected some strategic tips and hints to help turn the business you have into the business you desire. It’s time to get to work.
Before any other consideration or suggestion, the completion of a business plan for your vending machine business is of extreme importance because it contains the entire story of starting a vending machine business. In addition, your business plan outlines the major portions of your business that drive the business to the growth phase, which is where your profits are compounded and the return actually begins.
In addition to compiling an assessment of the target audience, and analyzing your competitors, you’ll complete a financial plan and forecast, an operational plan and a strategic marketing plan. You may also include a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for your entire business. The development of the complete plan will allow you to present your business to lenders or investors for startup or growth phase funding. As such, you’ll want to complete it and use it often when making business decisions.
The location of your vending machines is your virtual office. If you have vending machines in several locations, you’ll need to amend this statement; however, the truth is, your business needs to be effectively conducted where your vending machines stand. That being said, oversee the cleanliness of the location, the products stocked in the machines, and the maintenance of the machines to ensure they are in good working order. It is not in your best interest professionally to leave any vending machine in a partially-filled state, or worse yet, an empty machine. This says to the customer that there is no longer a viable machine in that place and they will ignore it going forward.
Research food trends and stay on top of the most popular items. If your machines are near any areas where traffic includes younger adults or teens, you’ll want to ensure the latest brands of enhanced water and protein bars are in stock. In addition, you’ll want to include their favorite soda and chips are stocked, as these things could go either way with teens. Consider the likes and dislikes of your customers and watch which items disappear quickly.
If you find that your days are long and the servicing requirements for the vending machines are endless, consider hiring a service technician. Although this will add to the overall expenses, your time will be freed to add vending machines in new locations and pursue growth in your business. This is essential for effective, long-term growth.
Vending machines may need to be switched to another location from time to time. If your vending machines have not been generating a constant flow of revenue, consider moving them and changing the contents to increase profits. If the inventory has been food items, change to toiletries or medications. Consider stocking machines with office supplies or toys and stickers. Use your imagination and see what develops.
Cost increases for rent, inventory, maintenance and fuel charges can add up, especially in an economy with considerable inflation. Minimize increases by mixing less-expensive, lesser-known brands of some items with popular, well-known brands. Speak with your wholesaler to determine if other options for food or inventory items are available. Also, negotiate a better rent price by agreeing to a higher rental price with a 2-year option, or switch locations, if needed.
Finally, consider purchasing a security camera system for all of your vending machines. Vandalism and theft of products from vending machines is an ongoing problem. Cameras may not result in any arrests; however, the presence of cameras may deter vandals and thieves from breaking the machine to obtain the products inside.
Considering each one of these strategies to equip and grow your business will propel your vending machine business forward, however, the single most important pathway to funding and growth is through your completed business plan.