“I only have to work 6 hours a week”

Before the pandemic, I worked at an ad tech startup in California and made $240,000 a year including sales commission.

But as the country went into lockdown in March 2020, many of my retail, restaurant and entertainment customers did the same. Even after putting in long hours, I struggled to reach my sales quota.

That spring, I read on Twitter that someone was making passive income by placing vending machines in office buildings. This immediately piqued my curiosity.

So, in June and July, I bought two machines for $5,000 to get things going. Things were slow at first, but I was hopeful that I could scale the business. I left my day job that summer to devote all my time and energy to it.

I’m glad I took the risk: Today, I have 57 ATMs scattered around my hometown and bring in an average of $30,000 in monthly revenue.

Over the past two years, I’ve spent about $160,000 on machines, but have positive cash flow and zero debt. I only have to work six hours a week on vending machine operations. I can spend the rest of my time on other projects, like my online coaching business and trying to find new machine locations.

Here is my five-step process for getting started in the vending business:

1. Land in a busy place.

For my first location, I called a friend whose father owns a mechanic shop. The store had 10 employees and only sold $181 worth of product in the first three months, but that got my foot in the door.

My second location was in an apartment building and I sold $1,200 worth of product in the first month.

The best way to get a location is cold calling. I target buildings that have a lot of employees or foot traffic. I recommend to use D7 Lead Finder, which helps you find different types of businesses in a specific area and contact information.

Ask to speak to the owner or manager of the business and tell him that you would like to place a machine at his location. Explain the benefits (eg convenience of snacks and beverages for employees or customers) and explain how you would handle all responsibilities.

Many sites simply want the vending machine services without having to pay a premium for installation and maintenance. A vending machine business owner, for example, owns 21 locations but only pays one location 15% of his monthly profits.

2. Buy a quality machine.

A stackable beverage machine only sells a few types of products and is more suitable for beginners.

Photo: Quinn Miller

I only buy three types of vending machines. For snacks I use the Crane 167/168. For drinks, I use the Royal stackers or the BevMax 4.

3. Buy a credit card reader.

4. Pay someone to move the machine to your location.

Once you have a location, you can visit to scout where it will be.

Vending machines are heavy and dangerous to move, so it is difficult to install them in tight spaces.

It costs around $100 to $150 to pay a professional mover, but it’s worth it. Your machinery dealer can put you in touch with a local, experienced mover.

5. Buy products from wholesale stores.

I quit my $35,000 job to grow my side business - now it's making $141 million a year

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