Vending machines: Facts and figures - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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Vending machines: Facts and figures

Covering the basics of purchasing, installing, maintaining and selecting automated vendors.


Initial Costs: An operator can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for each vending machine. Quality refurbished machines with minimal options can be purchased in the $1,000 range, and a new machine with many options will be up to $5,000. Options include:

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  • Cashless payment systems
  • Security
  • Refrigeration (for a snack machine)
  • Spare parts

Potential ROI: The potential return on investment averages 10 percent per annum after all expenses. This is the figure a full-time vending operator sees, as an additional service, a carwash operator can expect a higher rate of return.

Space/Electrical Requirements: Each vending machine requires 40” x 40”, so a snack and soda machine would require 80” x 40”. Generally, it is best to have a dedicated circuit for your vending equipment with a minimum 20 amp service. Surge protection is suggested. If you plan to have just a non-refrigerated machine, a dedicated service is not necessary.


Maintenance Requirements: Vending equipment requires basic maintenance, cleaning, stocking and systems checks. As the equipment ages, the need for maintenance increases, especially with refrigerated machines. Qualified repair personnel can be supplied from local vending operators or from your equipment supplier.

Tips for success: Make sure your products are priced properly. A 100 percent markup is considered normal in the industry. Product selection is based on demographics, and information is available from equipment suppliers and trade magazines.

Be aware of product dating issues; vending products are perishable and throwing products away is costly.

Place the machines in an area where they have high visibility and foot traffic. Vending is a numbers game, the more people who see the machine, the more successful it will be.


Information provided by Larry Towner, business consultant with A&M Equipment Sales.

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