Introduction to vending machines
Establishing an on-site vending machine can be a great way to provide snacks and soda to employees who can't leave the office. In some cases, it can even be done at not cost to you. Depending on the size of your office, there are a few ways to go about this.
For larger small businesses (20-50 people at a minimum), local vending services can install a full-service vending machine at your location, meaning the vendor will take care of everything from the equipment, maintenance, filling and restocking to insurance and money collection. You can also get some say in the offerings and the pricing, depending on whether you want to subsidize your employees or pay a significant premium.
If your business is too small for a full-service arrangement, you can co-operate a machine with a vendor by leasing or renting. Although the responsibilities surrounding the machine are subject to negotiation, typically the bulk of the labor is left up to you.
Another stipulation of co-operatiing a machine is that you must purchase all products from the vending machine provider (not surprisingly, the prices for these products will be slightly inflated). Although you are free to charge whatever you want, some vendors will also require a certain amount in purchases. You can expect to pay between $50-$85/month for soda machines and up to $100/month for snack machines.
This option gives you a good deal of control and is especially ideal if you have no up-front capital. But not all dealers offer this option.
If total control appeals to you, you can also purchase a vending machine outright, allowing yourself complete freedom to offer and charge whatever you please. All profits are yours.
Soda machines run anywhere from $800 to $2400, while snack machines start at about $1,000. And yes, there are even mini-machines available for as little as a few hundred dollars. In general, you'll find high-end models to offer more flexibility in terms of product prices and sizes.
As with almost any purchase, bargains are to be had if you shop around. Since most companies aren't familiar with the going rates for vending machines, you may find yourself quoted prices two to three times what is typical.
Be wary of companies that market vending machines as a terrific profit center for your business. Vending machines are better for boosting morale than your bottom line.