How Much Do Vending Machines Make?

The #1 question we're asked is: "How much do vending machines make (for real)?"

Short answer: $300 - $600 per month per vending machine.

Long answer: That's what this article is all about!

Here's the truth about vending machines... they're not going to make you filthy rich.

But most people considering starting up a vending machine business don't expect to become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs with a vending machine. Most people fall into one of these three categories:

  • People wanting to make a few hundred extra dollars per month as a nice little "side hustle" (either for themselves or their kids)

  • People who want to create a multi-location vending machine route and do it as a full-time job (or turn around and sell the route for a nice pay day!)

  • People who own/manage a business or property and want to generate some additional revenue and profit

For all three types of people, getting a vending machine is absolutely worth the time and expense.

Let's dig into the numbers and talk about how much money you can realistically make with a vending machine.

The Profit Formula

How much your vending machine makes will primarily be driven by 3 things:

  1. How many items you sell per day
  2. How much profit you make per sale
  3. How much your monthly expenses are

The profit formula looks like this:

Net Profit = ( Items Sold Per Day x Profit Per Item Sold x Days Per Month )
- Monthly Expenses

For example, let's assume the following:

  • 50 items sold per day
  • $0.60 profit per item sold
  • Available 26 days per month
  • Total expenses of $250 per month

Your net profit would be:

Net Profit = (50 x $0.60 x 26) - $250
Net Profit = $530 per month

The numbers used above are pretty realistic averages. But let's go into greater depth on each of these key numbers.

Items Sold Per Day

The #1 determining factor for how many sales you'll make per day is the location of your vending machine. Annoying though the phrase may be, "location, location, location!!!" is key in both real estate and the vending machine business.

In Step 1 of our free How to Start a Vending Machine Business guide, we go over all the ins and outs of choosing an ideal location for your vending machine. As a brief preview, the "Big 3" success factors are:

  1. Daily foot traffic
  2. Likelihood to buy
  3. Competition

In our guide, we provide a list of over 70 great locations to place a vending machine. Take a few minutes to check out our free guide now.

Fifty item sales per day may sound like a lot, but consider how many waking/open hours there are in a day. If your vending machine is located in a building that's open 10 hours per day, that's only 5 sales per hour. If you choose a good location, that's very attainable.

Also keep in mind that it's not at all uncommon for customers to buy multiple items (which we'd count as multiple items sold). If the average customer buys 1.5 items (half buy just 1 item, and half buy a snack and a drink), that means you'd only have to make 33 separate sales (just 3.3 per hour) to sell 50 items.

Profit Per Item Sold

Most vending machine owners mark up the price of their products at least 100%... but oftentimes as much as 200% or 300% or more. For example, a can of soda pop may cost you $0.31, but you may charge your customers $0.75 (a 242% mark-up) or $1.00 (a 323% mark-up) for it.

Percentages don't mean nearly as much as dollars and cents do, though. You don't necessarily care what percentage each item you sell is marked up... you care about how much actual money goes into your pocket on each sale.

For that, let's go back to our soda can example. If you charge $0.75 for a can of soda that cost you $0.31, your profit is $0.44. Or is it?

You may not be aware of the fact that vending machine owners have to collect and remit (or pay) sales tax to their state. So a $0.75 price tag for that can of soda is actually made up of 2 parts: 1) the actual retail price of the soda (i.e. $0.70), and 2) sales tax which will have to be paid to the state (i.e. $0.05). So actual profit on that can of soda pop is $0.39, not $0.44.

This helps explain why most soda machines charge $1.00 (or more) per can of soda. Depending on your state's sales tax rate, $1.00 actually means $0.92 to $0.95 of product revenue (after removing sales tax), which translates to $0.61 to $0.64 of net profit per sale.

Days Per Month

Aside from good-ol' February, every month has 30 or 31 days in it. However, depending on where your vending machine is located, it may not actually be available all 30-31 days of the month.

If you vending machine is located in a facility/office/building that's only open on weekdays, you'll only be making sales ~22 days per month.

If it's located in a building that's open 6 days of the week (i.e. all but Sunday), you'll be making sales ~26 days per month.

Here's a handy table for quick reference...

Days Open Per Week Days Open Per Month
5 21.7
6 26.1
7 30.4

Monthly Expenses

Your biggest monthly expense (at least if you finance the purchase of your vending machine) will be the monthly payment to Klarna. But keep in mind that this expense will go away completely after the 24- or 36-month mark. Once that happens, you'll get a nice $125-160 raise each month!

Other expenses include:

  • "Rent" to the business/property owner - typically either: a) $50-100 flat monthly rate, or b) around 5-10% of revenue for low-electricity machines or 15-20% for high-electricity machines (i.e. refrigerated machines)

  • Vending machine software

  • Credit card processing fees (if your vending machine has a credit card reader, which is really a must-have in today's world)

  • Gas (to travel to/from your vending machine)

  • Occasional repairs and maintenance

Note: This list of expenses doesn't include the cost of the actual products you sell (i.e. soft drinks, snacks, candy or other products) because those costs are already accounted for in the 'Profit Per Sale' section above.

All told, expect your total monthly expenses to be around $250 while you're still paying off your vending machine... but then drop by $125-160 once your vending machine is paid off at the 24- or 36-month mark.

Final Thoughts

So... how much do vending machines make?

The bottom line is $300 - $600 per vending machine. But if an extra $300 - $600 per month isn't enough to get your excited, just multiply that number by 2 or 5 or 10 or 20!

Many of our customers have vending machine routes of 10-20 or more machines, and they make a very good full-time living (with a huge monthly raise whenever they pay off one of their machines).

If you're ready to get started, we invite you to browse our selection of vending machines or read through our step-by-step guide on How to Start a Vending Machine Business.