What it is like to run a vending machine business

The Hustle interviewed over 20 vending machine operators to learn about the ins and outs of the business. On average, one vending machine brings in $309. but don't forget the operating costs:

  • General liability insurance (~$500/yr for <$100k in annual sales)
  • Commissions paid to locations (5-25% of revenue)
  • Transaction fees for card purchases (~5-6%)
  • Card reader analytics fees ($10/mo)
  • Storage space for unused machines (~$100/mo)
  • Gas and transportation ($50-$100/mo)
  • Taxes (10-37% of adjusted gross income)
  • Routine maintenance and vandalism repairs ($50-$250/yr)

Even something like logistics can be a burden: Vending machines are extraordinarily heavy — 600-800 lbs. — and often require special equipment to pick up and move.

All costs considered, an operator who makes $5k per month in revenue might take home something like $2k in profit.