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Free Vending Machine Placement

Finding the perfect location for your vending machine without paying rent? It’s possible. Let’s help you find inspiration and willing hosts.

September 18, 2023


Finding affordable vending locations is the most important part of succeeding with your new vending business. Although they’re extremely low maintenance, vending machines still incur operating costs. These include the price of your inventory as well as the lease you pay to host your machine.

Most vending machine owners have an agreement with their location’s owner. In exchange for placement, they pay rent or commission fees to their host. Usually, these fees run between 5% to 20% of the vending machine’s monthly income.

When you’re just starting out, even 5% can set you back a lot in a vending industry. You also may not have any money for an initial deposit, which a lot of owners find appealing as part of a contract. 

But what if there was a way to host your vending machine without paying rent? It’s possible! In this guide, we’ll be covering all the places you can put a vending machine for free.

Is free vending machine placement possible?

When you’re scouting vending locations for the first time, budget is a primary pain point. You have to think about how much your vending machine will cost to operate, try to predict how much it could earn, and factor in the cost of renting a sweet spot.

There are free places to put vending machines - and they make best locations - but they’re a lot harder to find. If you’re okay taking a tougher road with prospecting, then you can find best vending machine locations to put a vending machine for free. However, you will have less options overall. That being said, many vending machine owners can strike gold if they’re willing to put in the work in finding good free spots. 

Ultimately, your success in the search for vending machine locations will boil down to geographic location. People who live in more populated areas will naturally have greater opportunities with vending machines than those in more remote or rural regions. Keep in mind that even if you don’t find a place that’s totally free, there are still other ways to negotiate with property owners and get a good deal on your vending machine rent.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s start looking into free vending machine locations that are a win-win for you and the business owner.

Where to Put a Vending Machine for Free

Make a Personal Contact

If you know someone who owns a business or works at one, you could use your connection to pitch your vending machines. Before you do, make sure it's a location with enough foot traffic to sell decent monthly amount. Ask them if you could place your vending machines on their property, or, if they’re an employee, see if they can put you in touch with the manager or key decision-maker.

The important thing is to focus on the benefits your vending machines may bring. Make sure that you pitch to your contact with just as much professionalism as you would any other business.

Reaching out to people you know is one of the easiest ways to find good vending machine locations. Because your contacts already trust you, it’s a lot easier to secure a good contract with them than with someone you’ve never met before.

With that in mind, remember that this is business, not a favor between friends. You should still draw up a vending machine contract and have the same terms and conditions as any other. It helps protect your business and relationship with your contact.

Companies With Office Space

Office buildings are one of the top-grossing locations for vending machine businesses because of the quality foot traffic. Vending machines posted front and center around people who work long hours and often looking for sports drinks, healthy snacks, and anything they can go a long way.

Workplace break rooms in corporations, franchised business locations, and even small, locally owned businesses are potential free spots for your vending machine. If you want to place your machine here without paying rent, you’ll really need to sell the benefits of whatever you’re vending.

If you offer wholesome snacks from healthy vending machines, for example, then you could present your machine as an investment in employees’ well-being. The most important thing to remember is that if you want to place a vending machine in an office space for free, you’ll have to know its benefits.

The owner will want to know that you’re a professional they can trust. This means you need to not only understand your market but also the average consumer at any location. Do your research, and put together a strong pitch. This way, you’ll feel confident answering any questions, and the business owners you speak with will be able to walk away from the conversation clearly understanding the benefits of your snack machines.

Apartment Buildings Are Great Micro Markets

Apartment buildings have foot traffic passing by all day, whether they’re tenants, visitors, or staff. You can install a vending machine in a resident lounge, leasing office, or other parts of the property. For example, maybe your healthy vending machines offer some fit snacks or sports drinks (like Gatorade) in a community gym on the property. 

Get creative! The more inventive and thought-out your pitch is, the greater your chance is of scoring a great location without paying rent.

As with offices, apartment building management will expect to have a clear value proposition from you. A few potential advantages you can focus on are improved quality of life for tenants, greater access to healthy snacks for staff, and greater amenities within the community.

Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces are on the rise as remote work becomes a normal part of society. That means there are plenty of opportunities for your vending machines in the coworking spaces sprouting up around the country. 

Pitch your vending machines as a free asset to the space’s owner or manager. They get to boost their business’s perks for workers while your vending company enjoys a steady cash flow from the professionals that frequent the spot.

You also have the opportunity to do more than just sell food or a quick snack. People in co-working spaces could find themselves in need of headphones, a spare phone charger, or a notebook. If you can diversify your inventory, you can also pitch to more co-working spaces and boost your odds of getting a contract for free. 

Reach Out to Conferences and Seminars

Another on the list of best locations to host combo vending machines is at a conference or seminar. You can meet with the owner of a conference hall or similar venue to discuss placing a vending machine on their property.

Temporary vending is also a possibility, but this will require moving your vending machines after the occasion. For some owners, this isn’t a problem, but it can be an expensive and stressful endeavor for someone who doesn't have a professional set-up or other location planned for their vending machines.

You can also look up local trade shows, reach out to whoever is in charge, and ask about providing your vending machines free of charge. Remember, local organizations may not have major budgets, so they will often appreciate being approached. Just make sure you have looked into every organization and understand them and their attendees’ needs before you reach out.

The conversation has to present more benefits to the client than yourself. Otherwise, you’ll seem like nothing more than a disingenuous salesperson who only wants to profit off other people. Not a good look, right? 

It doesn’t take long to research a conference or seminar. Write down a few interesting points, like the number of expected attendees, notable speakers, or even the mission statement of the company hosting. 

Having this info on hand makes it a lot easier to build a connection with the person you’re speaking with. It also shows them that you care about their experience with your vending business, which fosters trust. 

Fairs and Events

From summer carnivals to weekend farmer’s markets, there are tons of events happening all the time that make amazing places to host your machine. In many cases, you can get the owner or manager of these events to host you for little to no charge. They’re often happy enough that you’re willing to provide a quick snack and drinks to people who are on their grounds.

Remember, this is a major selling point for any business owner. While some may think rent is the greatest perk of letting your place your machine, the true asset is providing more comfort and convenience to their customers.

You’ll just want to make sure you’re comfortable frequently moving your vending machine if you go this route. You’ll also want to consider security measures and maintenance needs, in case your machine experiences any damages from heavy use. 

In Front of Your Home

If you want to place a vending machine outside your house, you could get your business up and running without paying much more than the electrical bill. With no retail store on the horizon in some neighborhoods, a vending machine on your own property isn’t a bad idea at all.

However, you do need to consider factors like weather, power supply, and security. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, you’ll need to either place a vending machine under a cover or 

You’ll also need to consider local zoning laws. It’s possible you’ll have to apply for a permit to resell goods on your property. You’ll also need a business license and employee identification number (EIN) to prove your operation is a legitimate operation. 

Themed Vending Machine in the Right Place

There are a lot of themed vending machine ideas you can capitalize on to make good money in the right spots. For example, you can offer healthy snacks in gyms, hospitals, colleges, and high schools. You can sell pharmaceuticals in healthcare locations. You could offer books, headphones, and travel gear in airports and train stations. Or you could sell laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and snacks at a laundromat. Moreover, the more locations you go for the better.

The options really are only limited to your creativity. The more you think about what people want when they’re in different locations, the easier it is to come up with creative vending machine concepts that make you a lot of money.

Many business owners will be glad to take you up on a free offer if it benefits their business, too. Small car dealerships also make one of the best locations; they have a lot of people waiting for an hour or more every day. They could make their business more enjoying with access to refreshments, couldn’t they? Any other types of locations could be themed just perfectly for your vending machines - manufacturing facilities, corporate offices, fitness centers, laundry rooms, party rooms, break room, school property. These are good locations to make a huge profit.

Local businesses are far more likely to give you free hosting than a franchise or corporation. Huge properties, like airports and malls, will likely want you to pay rent to vend on their property. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out! 

With a strong pitch, you might land free contracts for your vending machines in places you never thought you could.

How to pitch to local property owners?

In our guide on how to get a vending machine contract, we walk you through the main steps of pitching and landing a best location. 

  1. Write a cover letter introducing yourself, your business, and why you want to place your vending machines on someone’s property.
  2. Create a pitch deck (slideshow presentation or PDF) that highlights your business’s value to prospective clients.
  3. Provide details about your business, such as how many vending machines you operate, any specialty goods you offer, and case studies of any successful vending machines you run with figures.

You can either meet owners in person or connect with them online to kick-start locations. Make sure that you have a business card to leave with them if you visit potential vending locations in person. You should also get comfortable cold calling and sending cold emails—it takes a lot of work, but the pay-off can be long-term contracts with reputable businesses for years to come.

Make sure you have gone through all the steps of starting a vending business first, like registering as an LLC. This is your responsibility as the vending business owner. You may also want to invest in liability insurance to give businesses peace-of-mind that their staff and customers are covered from potential injuries or damages.

How do you know you need vending locators?

You can kick-start locations by yourself but it’s not always easy. In fact, a lot of people can benefit from hiring a vending locator. You might decide to go this route if you:

  • Don’t have time to do the research or scouting yourself.
  • Want to speed up the process so you can hop right into pitching.
  • You don’t have any connections or ideas on where to set up vending machines in your area.

It often takes dozens of potential locations to find great locations. You could easily spend months just putting together a list of businesses before you pitch to a single property owner. 

Hiring a vending locator saves you the time, so you can immediately begin the pitching process. You will need to be comfortable with sales, though. Many vending locators are great at finding vending locations near you, but they don’t meet with business owners on your behalf.

Having a dedicated list of properties can minimize a lot of pressure and stress on your part. There are plenty of great locating services out there that make it easy to find the top grossing vending machine spots in your zip code (or any other one you want to vend in!)

Ready to get started? You can get 50-200 great locations near you in just a few days with our vending services. 

Click here to order your list today! 

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